Student Snippets


Dissecting Computers

I blog and I'm in library school, so sometimes people think I know a lot about computers. While I can understand why they would make this assumption, to be perfectly honest, technology really intimidates me.

This goes back to a when I was in the second grade and my family got a new peripheral device and remote control for our cable television. There were so many colorful buttons! I started pushing away at them, trying to find the guide channel. As result, the TV froze and would not turn back on. It took two days to get someone from the cable company to reset everything, and by the time it was all over, I had a fear of touching expensive machines and always tried to get other people to handle technology for me. My first personal computer? My boyfriend set it up. My first iPod? My brother put all of my music on it and on every iPod I've owned since. When I moved away from home for the first time? My boyfriend at the time configured the wireless and router and hooked up the printer.

I really hated depending on other people like that, and I felt like my actions perpetuated negative gender stereotypes about women and machines. But as time went on, the most important point for me was that I couldn't become competitive in information science without first becoming comfortable with technology.

So when I decided to study Archives, a big reason I chose Simmons was for its SLIS Tech Lab. The lab has long hours and a knowledgeable staff to help me and other students troubleshoot or learn the latest or most basic computer stuff--- and they do it with a pleasant attitude and no judgment. You can't beat that!

My first time there was when I was completing the mandatory Technology Orientation Requirement (TOR) over the summer. I was using a text-editing program called Text Wrangler for the TOR's HTML section, and even though I saved my work, when I went back to it, it wasn't formatted properly, and I couldn't restore it. I started to panic. The TOR was due in two days.

When I took my laptop into the lab, the Technology Reference Assistant (TRA) on duty was a little stumped too. He spoke with one of his supervisors, Annie, who suggested I try new editing software. At this point, on the verge of hysteria, I cut her off, telling her I couldn't do that, because I'd lose all my work. She smiled and very patiently explained that she would walk me through installing the new software and show me how to import my work.

Annie was right, of course. After all, she practically designed the TOR herself.  And since that day, I've been really comfortable visiting the Tech Lab for any problem or question I have. I am even going there tomorrow (a SUNDAY), because I am doing a tutorial for a class about an open source self-publishing platform called Omeka. I can't seem to get Omeka to download to my computer, even though according to its website, my computer meets the compatibility requirements.

Many classes use the Tech Lab too. Last Thursday, my Technology for Information Professionals (LIS 488) class used the lab during our second meeting. LIS 488 is one of the most basic technology classes SLIS offers, and like me, many students take it to fulfill their technology core curriculum requirement. Our class will have several more sessions in the lab this coming term, and these will allow us to apply everything we've learned in our lectures and readings in a hands-on way. It's great for kinesthetic people who learn better through doing. On Thursday, for example, after discussing our reading on the parts and structure of a personal computer, the class went to the Tech Lab, split off into teams of two or three, and each team dissected a Dell computer. Armed with screwdrivers and instructions with diagrams, we located all the drives, the motherboard, the CPU, the heat sink, the battery, and much more. After taking a computer apart and putting it back together, I have a newfound confidence around these machines. It's hard to believe I was ever so afraid to break one!

Want to know more about SLIS Tech? Here's a link to their webpage:

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Above: Teammate Taylor removes the cover.

Below: We are in search of the hard drive.

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