Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Don’t be programmed to resist

ESC. ESC. ENTER. BACKSPACE. ESC. CTRL-ALT-DELETE: That’s pretty much my answer to problems I face with my computer. My method has a 1 percent chance of actually fixing the issue and a 98.5 percent chance of making things worse. The other .5 percent is the chance that I beat my computer senseless.

I am not, nor will I ever be, a technologically advanced person of modern society.  So naturally it makes perfect sense that I’d start dating one. He knows what C++ language, 404 errors, codecs and bug trackers are. He can design scalable and creative algorithms.

I know that the line and open circle symbol turns on my computer.

So, my faithful reader, you can understand my hesitation when he asked me to accompany him to a super tech conference he would be speaking at over the summer.

Before graduating with a computer science degree last May, Elliott, my computer boy wonder, worked for a web application and software development company that mainly used Adobe’s rapid application development platform, ColdFusion.

With me?

In July, they ran their 12th annual, four day CFUnited, dubbed the “ideal conference for [ColdFusion] developers to discover the latest in CF/FX/AIR technology.” They shared ideas, listened to colleagues discuss techniques, and made client/project connections.

To explain (and potentially butcher), ColdFusion was originally designed to be an easier way to connect HTML pages to a main database. It’s since become a full platform including, but obviously not limited to, a complete scripting language.

Props if you followed that.

Elliott has tried on numerous occasions to explain what he does as well as what he spoke about at the conference. By the time the glossy-eyed phase of my deer-in-headlights look kicked in, he knew his efforts were futile.

I’d like to take this moment to remind you of my caution in attending an event where over 400 people would actually know what he was talking about.

I walked into the front of the resort where the conference was located and took a deep breath. The view behind the building was breathtaking, the architecture inside was stunning and comfortable, and the staff was extremely hospitable. So far, so good.

Then again, the conference hadn’t started yet.

My outlook on the world of computer engineers and developers was starting to settle as I got ready to immerse myself in the imagined pocket protectors, horn-rimmed glasses, cubicle-induced hunches and nonstop tech chatter.

Stereotypical, yes, but I am the same girl who once cried over not grasping why my wireless wasn’t working all the while ignoring the fact that the wireless switch had been un-flipped. Yeah, I know computers.

By the time Elliott was getting ready for his first presentation, I had already started to chill out a bit. But not much. He had been nervous for days and I tried my best to continue telling him that he was going to do just fine despite me not having a clue what exactly he was presenting.

He began speaking and my deer was wandering back into the headlight brightened street as I noticed the people around me enthralled with what he was talking about and nodding in a “I definitely didn’t know that” kind of way.

So it wasn’t just me. Sort of.

As the business part of the conference began closing up for the day, I met a few of Elliott’s associates and friends from previous conferences. It was a sweet bunch made of younger single guys, the married with children kind and the smart but pretty females.

I noticed that the “tech chatter” I feared began to die down. Instead conversation gave way to families, friends, jokes, games and a whole bunch of fun ridiculousness. We sat out behind the resort laughing and talking, even singing and dancing at one point.

Then I even forgot why we were there. I forgot that these were the intimidating people I didn’t want to look dumb in front of. I realized the lack of comfort I felt was only my own fear that I wouldn’t understand and wouldn’t be accepted.

Many of the attendees I spoke to claimed that they would have been lost or even caught dead at a writers’ weekend shindig. “You put the comma where?” one said.

It’s like us to not want to be somewhere new, in a surrounding that’s as unfamiliar as Antarctica. In a way though, it’s what propels us into the next step of our lives. Experiencing the new is what teaches us not only how to learn something we wouldn’t have about how the “other side” works, but also that the “other side” is not as different as we think.

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