Madelyn Armstrong Cooks Up a Computer Lesson Called ‘Still Learning’

Image JMcCT, 2016

‘Learning in Retirement’ is a goal at Carleton Willard Village, a local retirement community in Bedford. But there may have been some surprises in May when Madelyn Armstrong, with a twinkle in her eye, opened the annual business meeting with a computer lesson:

Today, I [will] say a few words about technology. OK, go ahead and roll your eyes. Or maybe think about what you’re going to eat for dinner. “Food” and “Technology?” I think maybe there’s a connection!

Do you tend to get the “munchies” when you’re on your computer or iPad? I often do and now I know why!

First of all, there’s usually a menu. And of course, there’s always a server — somewhere. Have you noticed how many websites say, “We collect cookies?” This lets the servers identify and track visits to sites. It’s like a cookie jar that knows where your hand has been. And computers have “chips” – not in the cookies, nor served with a sandwich.

And speaking of sandwich, did you know that when you see three parallel bars that appear in the top left or right-hand corner of a pulldown menu, it’s called a hamburger. Honest!

Then there’s “phishing,” though spelled with a “ph” and not “f.” That’s when scammers try to reel you in by pretending to be legitimate companies and ask for your passwords, or bank account numbers.

How about “feed,” an innocent food word. But now it also means a feed of electronic information. Then there are “bytes.” And half a byte is called a “nibble.” Honest!

I probably shouldn’t mention “bugs” which are not uncommon in computer software. But spaghetti code is when a programmer has written too many lines of code and made a disorganized tangle.

As Anna Russell would say, “I’m not making this up, you know!”

OK. Enough. I really am getting hungry.

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