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The XY Files — The Computer Widow Exposes Herself

March 6, 2000

By Nattalia Lea

One day, I wasn't one. The next day I was a geek. It happened so quickly. I crossed the Digital Divide. Last November, I was in a meeting at a Calgary-based multimedia company. A pony-tailed internet wizard stepped into the boardroom for a nanosecond. Cordial greetings were exchanged. I don't even remember if we shook hands. With time being of the essence, I felt a surge of adrenalin as I ranted, "Just give me your e-mail address."

We were going to go for coffee? I e-mailed David the next day. He replied, not now. I e-mailed him again. Still, no coffee. But now, every day without fail, David sends me an e-mail. Three months later, I'm safe to assume that human contact is now out of question. As I look back, I've come to realize it was during that uneventful meeting (ended up that I never got the contract I was bidding on), I became a geek.

However, my journey into geekdom began much earlier. Years earlier, in fact. When I embarked upon the journey of interviewing 500 computer geeks for the book, Revenge of the Computer Widow, I admit that some of that geek wisdom may have been possibly passed on to me.

Real geeks would never do or admit this. But I immersed myself in a year of night school computer immersion training. Still, I wasn't a geek. I had to refer to manuals for the answer. My confidence in Windows grew (although my faith in Microsoft is hardly secure) to the point that I grew at ease sliding my fingers across the keyboard. I even lived the day to show my husband, the certifiable geek how to save files for business cards. The fact that my computer crashes daily is somewhat irrelevant. I think its just part of the Windows operating system.

The true test of my geek knowledge was yet to come. With my geeky husband out-of-town for a week, I thought I would re-wire a few things at home. He had a phone line in his room that I needed to hook up my computer modem too. Normally, I would have waited for the GEEK to do this for me…..But all that surfing has made me so impatient. I took matters in my own hand. I trekked over to the computer section of that red and white office supplies store (that I'm so addicted to) and invested in some new wiring. Now I realized that being a geek was kind of fun. Playing with hardware was definitely like playing with Lego.

I was on a roll. I started looking at dissatisfaction with the telephone system that I was using. I didn't want to blow $150 bucks on a new cordless headset phone, but I wanted to have that kind of freedom. I mean it's such a drag speaking into a speaker phone while keying in on the keyboard. I needed the headset phone, but then since I was the type of person to change my mind, I also wanted the convenience of conventional telephones. Well, the geekiness got to the better of me. Before I knew it, I was rummaging our basement looking for line splitters and back to that red and white office supplies stores for a hands-free phone set. There we have it, an upgrade to a telecommunications unit that cannot be purchased in the real world today. But mine works and well. Ohhhh, I'm sooo pleased with myself.

Since finishing my book last September, there are few things to report about the status of people in the book. We invited 200 geeks to our house for the book launch. There was free food, Coke, Chinese pot stickers, Oreo cookies, chips, etc. They came, cleaned out the kitchen and left. I am ashamed to report that I burnt the Chinese pot stickers and under normal circumstances, I would have thrown them out. But since I was behind schedule, I had to have some food ready (so I served them burnt and all.) The pot stickers went before the pizza. Trying to impress the guests with a whole wheat gourmet pizza stuffed with olives, onions, green peppers, two types of cheese, fresh tomatoes, basil and herbs, I have to report the industrial strength pizza that came in a box was consumed first. It was no surprise that we ran out of Coke in the first hour and had to get some more.

Now the old retired geezer across the street had posted a sign about a car across the street up for sale. My geeky husband said to me, "How in the heck does he expect to sell it?" After all, our street is pretty quiet. But I thought myself before the geek party (from the research I've done), surely some geek who comes to the party is going to buy it. And true enough, Gary (who I did not know likes cars) shows up eyeballing the priceless rust bucket. The next day, he makes an offer and by Friday, the car has been transported to his house. Two months later, I call Gary to see how he is doing. His wife answers the phone and praises me for what I did. Of course, I don’t know what she's talking about. She is just happy that Gary is in the garage now, so she can spend more time on the computer. That's good news.

Then there was this geek I interviewed who made his gazillion dollars before 30 years. He set up his venture capital company like he planned and now has even a second company up and running. It looks like he's after making another gazillion dollars.

Since the book, I have learned that paranoia can come with the territory of being a geek. Some geek called me up and told me how shocked he was that I had my phone number listed in the Calgary phone book. I explained to him, that's what I wanted. I want people like him to call me up and buy my book. He would never give out his phone number to anyone or keep a listed one. Furthermore, he told me that he would never give out his personal e-mail address out to people, (except his dog, I'm guessing). His e-mail address was comprised of alpha-numeric symbols, so people couldn't figure out what he was. Just for kicks, I checked out the e-mail address of the geek in my Toastmasters club. Guess what? It was only comprised of alpha-numeric symbols, too.

Of course, to be a geek, one needs to hang out with them. So in January this year, High-Tech Women for the 21st Century was launched in Calgary at The Palliser Hotel. Some 86 ladies and 1 guy showed up. Originally, we were going to call ourselves, DIGI-Chicks, but that did not receive unanimous approval. We don't have any real mission, except to have fun. We are not restrictive about our membership either. We have some guy geeks who insist on coming and we don't care if members are purple and green or another carbon life form. Our unofficial slogan is, "If you're gay, that's okay." (Check us out www.HTW21C.Calgary.ab.ca).

Now didn't one of you geeks tell me a characteristic of being a geek is being called up for techie help?

That actually has happened a few times now. Strange that the last person to call was a geek with a graduate degree in computer science working in the high-tech world. It seems they were having problems with Windows. But then again, who doesn't?

It's here... Revenge of the Computer Widow!
Whether you're a newbie, an average computer user, or a professional geek.. . if technology's got you wired up, and you're finding that you just can't hack it anymore, your best bet is to turn off your computer and unwind by reading Nattalia Lea's new book...

The Revenge of the Computer Widow

Revenge can be sweet, claims Ms. Lea, who's been in matrimony one year and committed to computer widowhood for 13 years.

If you confess to being a luddite, The Revenge of the Computer Widow will delight you with its easy to understand description of what the hot technology of the 1990's is all about.

Author/cartoonist Lea, an engineer cum freelance writer and entrepreneur has spent many hours researching some of the techno-lingo that's a must for survial in the next millennium.

Read the Introduction!
Check out the back cover!

Now Available!
Only $29.99 plus shipping and handling.

Or you can treat those Prozac moments in your life with a dose of...
Miracles for the Entrepreneur

-- a must have funny book for anyone in business.