"For people ‘of a certain age’ technology can be mind boggling......

My first job was in a bank in the pre-computer era, and involved doing the ‘waste.’ No, that didn’t mean sweeping the floor.  Each morning, bags full of cheques would arrive and have to be sorted into alphabetical order, checked for dates and then the details typed by two separate employees, one onto the ledger, the other onto the statement. They would then be individually compared to ensure they had been posted on the correct account. Boring but simple, you might think. Not quite. Those were the days when there were no account numbers and no names printed on the cheques. The only way to find who had written it was by deciphering a scrawled signature, and deciding to which of the thousands of customers it belonged. Apologies Mr R Smith, but there were rather a lot of you.

 

With the introduction of technology things became slightly easier, but the individual allocation of account numbers, and setting up of files, involved many hours of hard labour. This was in addition to the normal work, so starting at eight a.m. and finishing at ten or eleven every night became the norm. The comment ‘Banks are only open from 10 until 3, so they have an easy job,’ didn’t go down well.

 

How things have changed since those early days, but despite being ‘ever so old’ I have learnt to love and hate technology in equal measure. Here are some tips I have picked up along the way."

Kindles

 

Formatting

 

 

Facebook and Social Media

Skype and Facetime

Love it or hate it, technology is here to stay. Learn to use it to your advantage, but as those old enough to remember the programme will say, ‘Be careful out there.’

Sometimes known by the pen name 'Voinks', Val Portelli has published a wide variety of books and short stories. You can find out more about her work by clicking on the titles below.

Author and Blogger, Val Portelli, shares her experience of using technology over several decades to offer advice to technology users of all ages.

Did you know that as well as downloading eBooks from Amazon, you can also send personal files to your kindle? This could be a word document you have received via email, or, particularly useful for authors, a copy of your own book so you can see how it looks. First you need to go into your Amazon account and ‘accept’ the email address from the recipient. This is to prevent your Kindle being bombarded with spam. Then, send an email to your Kindle address which is usually something like ‘You@kindle.com,’ attach the file and subject to gremlins, it should appear on your kindle in the same way as a downloaded purchased book.

 

What’s the first thing you need to do as an Indie author before uploading your manuscript? No, don’t start typing yet. Your first job is to set up the layout of the page. Set your margins, page size (possibly 5 x 8) and then you will have a more accurate page count for your manuscript.

‘Page break’ means the next block of text will begin on a new page (useful for chapters). ‘Section break’ splits up the text into the ‘bumf,’ (acknowledgements, copyright and so on), from the main story. This is particularly important when allocating page numbers for paperbacks so Page 1 becomes the first page of the interesting bit, and not the blank page at the beginning.

Formatting for paperback and for eBook are two very different animals. Although this will probably be out of date by the time you read it as technology moves so quickly, it is worth keeping two separate files, one for paperback, one for eBook. Online books don’t like spaces, tree books do.

Another two-edged sword. I have learnt more geography from having friends on the other side of the world than I ever did siting in a classroom. My local groups keep me better informed on what is going on in my area than waiting for the local paper ever could. Avoiding a certain road because of an accident, finding a trusted tradesman, and seeing genuine comments on restaurants all make modern hectic life easier.

Everyone has to start somewhere, but check out friend’s requests carefully before accepting. Remember, once they are your friend, they can access your other friends’ posts and spread their venom if they are not genuine. An older person with few friends might look suspicious as they tackle modern technology, but you can learn a lot about them from looking beyond the initial profile. Even if you don’t like cats, their membership of the RSPCA and local cat charities can give you an insight into whether they would be suitable friends.

The main thing to remember is if you feel the slightest twinge of uncertainty, even if you don’t know why, it’s your prerogative to decline the request. Better safe than sorry and if, over time, you learn more about them and change your mind, you can always approach them at a later date.

On a brighter note, how wonderful that Grandparents can connect with their family who have immigrated to other countries, and remotely watch the next generation growing up. Perhaps not quite as good as an actual hug, but a vast improvement on the snail-mail occasional photo from their first day at school or graduation.

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(Currently being reprinted)

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