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Long Beach California, 90815-0679
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From Issue: Volume XXII - Number 13

By Jay Beeler

For the second time in my lifetime I must admit that I was wrong. Readers of this column will recall in our June 13 issue that I miscalculated by seven months how soon the Long Beach Register would fold its tent and leave town.

This time the topic is “fail safe” computer systems.

When Beeler & Associates was created in 1978 life was pretty simple with IBM Selectric typewriters, a two-line phone system, film-based cameras, a fax machine and a reliable messenger service for anything that could not be faxed.

Today we have eight computers, five printers, multi-line phones that can be set up for use by anyone with an internet connection worldwide, digital cameras, scanners, cell phones that can send/receive calls, emails and photos, and a fax machine that seldom gets used for anything but unwanted, illegal, incoming junk faxes. We haven’t used a messenger service in decades.
I find that there is an entire generation of older Americans who do not use computers or cell phones. They think the best thing ever invented is voice mail, which blocks unwanted sales pitches.

When my wife was working at the Long Beach Police Department homicide bureau she used a computer. Now that she is retired – some 18 months later – she limits her computer to keeping track of finances in an Excel program and playing Solitaire. No emails for her, except for a rare outbound communiqué.

So if you want to reach my wife in this digital age you must go through me. All emails and photos get printed for her to see or she must come to my home laptop to witness the various “firsts” videos of our grandchildren.

But getting back to the topic of “fail safe” computer systems, six weeks ago both of my mirrored hard drives on my office computer failed. Since my weekend computer technician was not available, I tried the Easy Tech associates at Staples to make things better. They could not.

Next another office computer was commandeered to serve my needs. Despite a new, solid-state hard drive and new motherboard, dozens of hours talking to support professionals and several new software programs, it too displayed signs of failure after three weeks of high tech hell.

During this very aggravating period I discovered that the Carbonite “cloud” for backing up files was a very worthwhile investment last year. Another important new tool is, which allows for remote operation of computers between home and office, working in either direction.

A business today cannot survive without working computers and software for handling financial, graphics, word processing, desktop publishing and communications tasks. The time had come to order a new computer from Dell, which arrived three days after it was ordered.

Understand that I was trained in electronics while in the US Air Force to work on Minuteman ballistic missiles, have a 1st Class Radio-Telephone license from the FCC to work on radio and television transmitters and an associate arts degree in electronics from Long Beach City College. But I could not find the off-on switch for the new Dell computer.

A call to Dell’s technical support pointed me to the cleverly hidden switch in the upper left corner.

By now I’m beginning to see my wife’s wisdom in distancing herself from computing. We still have an IBM Selectric gathering dust in the garage rafters. Given another six weeks of techno hell, I’m tempted to go back to the future.

A little earlier than planned, we are introducing the products portion of our Best of Long Beach contest. On page four of this issue you will find the first of two ballots to be published, with a submission deadline of August 1.

If you fill in 15 or more categories with the names of businesses you think are “best,” you will be eligible to receive a portion of the $10,000 gift cards donated by local businesses, whose names appear at the top of the ballot. Numbskulls who fill in one category – along with a name, address and phone number hoping to cheat the system – will again find their entry in our trash can. (Don’t they ever learn?)

Winners will be announced in our September 5 issue. Good luck!

We’ll leave you with BREAKING NEWS: The Washington Redskins have decided to delete “Washington” from their name because it’s embarrassing.