Life's a Curve ~ a Learning Curve

by Ralpapajan

A short story ~ how one needs to learn the Internet, Search Engines, Google and Research today when writing books. My history on Computers. A Panasonic and Commodore taught me.

The Joy of Learning "How to."

How to test your mind and keep active despite advancing years.

Learning, to me, has always been a thrill.  The discovery of new ideas, of new concepts, has created moments to cherish.  For as long as I can remember I have been studying.  I am still at it. In the past it was from books either borrowed from the library or bought.  Today I use the Internet using my computer.

Change is inevitable but none in my lifetime has been so much or so fast as the internet.

There is so much to learn about Computers and how to use them.And then we get the World Wide Web thrown at us.  No wonder older people and those not computer literate get bemused.  

I have been using computers in my businesses since 1984.  Initially though, I was a simple data processor using systems that were organised by other.  In fact my first Computer oriented job was with an old established top-drawer men's clothing and tailoring company based in London that had customers among British servicemen around the world.  My job was to check the data that was being put in, or inputted. The computer occupied half a floor in the building and was in an air-conditioned room. The old fashioned tailors and clerks in the shop treated the computer staff like traitors to the class.

That was way back in 1968 when I was on a working holiday in Europe from my home in Rhodesia. I didn't get much opportunity to work on computers again until after I left Rhodesia, even though that country was used by one computer company to test out a banking program at the local post office.

The next opportunity came in South Africa when I bought a really old fashioned computer that took two 71/4 inch diskettes, one for the program and one for the data.  Although old-fashioned it was brand new, having been surplus to requirements at the Railways and stored. I got it for a song when it was thrown away.  Primitive it was but it taught me a lot.  My 11 year old son learnt programming on it using Basic.Six years later he was asked for his Matric Exam in Computer Science to design a Program he had already compiled on my old fashioned Panasonic.

Then I graduated to learning programs myself; not the language I hasten to add, but Word Processing, Spreadsheets and Presentation software.  

My first ever computer was a simple one, a Commodore, with a 64k RAM and a 10 MB Hard-drive.  After that came a bigger version, I cannot remember the details but do recall that the HardDrive was several times bigger that the one I worked for in London in 196 and sat on my desk.

I bought a Kindle a few weeks ago.  The memory in it is  4 gigabytes or 400 times as big as my second computer. And it has the ability to store your books, downloaded without needing a computer connection of even a wi-fi connection almost anywhere in the world.  

You can read any of those books, and it holds over 3000 of them, at the touch of a button.  

You can also let the device read them to you either with the built in speakers or using earphones. On a recent flight to Japan my daughter noted that you could charge Kindle using a built in USB socket.  

Do you prefer music or inspirational messages and meditation when on a long flight?  You can save audio files and listen to them.

 As a writer I find this exciting.  I've written books and I have published them.  The first one was published by a company, the second one was published for a small specialist market but after that I used Lulu.Com. Now I am converting my books to Kindle format to sell on Amazon.

If, in 1968, someone had told me that forty years later I would be designing and publishing books of any kind using a computer, that I would still be learning to use a computer's features, I would have laughed at them.

Today, I am learning how to use Wizzley for Marketing purposes for writers today need to be salesmen as well as Authors. I am learning to convert documents into a MS Word format, and a .pdf format, for I do not use Word or other MS Office programs. I am building book covers and making them into .jpg format; changing and manipulating photographs for publication, and the list goes on.

One of the most challenging things facing a writer today is the Selling of his/her product.  Writing the book is the easy part.  If you are writing a novel that has a specific background then it is necessary that you get your details as correct as possible. I never forget the occasion when I was in Germany during my working holiday and was selling encyclopaedia's to American Serviceman.  I carried a sample volume containing snippets of information.  I looked up the reference I knew best of all, my own country.  And there it was "Salisbury, a small town on the railway line from Cape Town to Mazoe."  Now Salisbury is now Harare and is the capital city of Rhodesia.  Mazoe is what we call a dorp, with a Post Office, a Police Station, Government offices, a hotel, a General Dealers Store a Motor Garage and a few houses.  Nearby is the dammed Mazoe River with the dam supplying the Mazoe Citrus Estates. And that is it.  So much for Research at that time if you did not actually know the country you had set your story in.

So if you can't believe one of the biggest encyclopaedias in the world who can you believe?  

And here is the rub, for by learning how to use the computer, by familiarising yourself with the Internet and Google search engines, you have at your fingertips the largest reference library ever in existence.   But you have to be circumspect. 

For my research for Reap the Savage Whirlwind I reinforced my direct knowledge (or belief?) by checking the data on the web.  But I also spoke to others who know the history of the different tribal people of South Africa and acquired books in PDF format from places as diverse as Canada, UK and South Africa.  And that does take time, an awful lot of it.

However, this wasn't needed for my first successful publication of a Kindle book.  That learning curve again,  My first attempt resulted in a badly compiled book that will have to be re-done.  This latest one ~ We had two jobs ~ has come out well.  And the writing was easy.  Initially published in 2007 it has been updated and enlarged.  It contains some anecdotes of my time in Rhodesia when I was involved in my civilian occupation of an Insurance Inspector but also served in the Military.

So now I have half a dozen books ready to convert.  Then I have to sell them.  So whilst I am not converting them into Kindle, which does take time ~ and imagination ~ I am back to that learning curve.  Now I am studying Marketing on the Internet.

I believe that here on Wizzley we ~ I am assuming that I am not alone in the learning curve ~ are indeed fortunate because we have access to some very bright and knowledgeable people who know what they are doing.  And believe you me there are some charlatans out there wanting to take your hard-earned cash with the promise of gaining riches beyond the dreams of Croesus.


We had two jobs ~ Kindle Edition

A small book of Anecdotes about my life as a civilian in Rhodesia whilst also serving in the Military
We had two jobs

A few reminiscences of Rhodesia and my job as a Fire and Accident Inspector with the Prudential Assurance Company during the Rhodesian Bush War. Take a look with me at the ...

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My Lulu Storefront

for all my Published books

We had two jobs
The second, updated and increased book of anecdotes about Life in Rhodesia during the Bush War. A little book of memories that shows how the part-time Rhodesian Army, Police and Air Force members led their life whilst not on call-up during the Bush War, including stories of life in Rhodesia during and after the start of the war. They are all true!

Buy Reap the Savage Whirlwind ~ a Novel set in Early Rhodesia
During the formative years of British East Africa and Central and Southern Africa quite a few young men were sent away from England by their families because they were, in the opinion of those families, beyond the pale. They were instructed never to darken the shores of Britain again and to ensure their agreement were awarded a periodic stipend that was remitted to a chosen bank in the destination country. This periodic payment gave rise to the term 'Remittance Man” and this book shows what it was like to be such a person. Set in the late 19th Century it tells the story of one young 'Remittance Man,' his triumphs and travails as he makes his way in the booming country of South Africa during the Boer War. His peccadilloes continue on the Diamond Fields of Kimberley and he moves on to the new country that is being settled and which lies between the Zambezi and Limpopo Rivers. The country that has just been christened Rhodesia after its founder, Cecil John Rhodes.

Books by Ralpapajan ~ Storefront
Here one may acquire any and all of my published books in Hard Copy of PDF Format. All my own books will soon be published in Kindle Format and available at Amazon.

Updated: 08/17/2011, Ralpapajan
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