June 10, 2020
I couldn’t think of one nicest thing that was done for me by somebody close to me, but this is the nicest things that were ever done for me by perfect stranger. And they both involve a computer. They both involve periods during which I had a computer.
I got my first computer through an organization that they used to have in Queens and it was mostly dedicated to helping youth get into computers during the 1990s. The early 90s, late 90s. But they did help a couple of disabled people, as well, get into computers. And when it was no longer … I don’t know if you guys remember when they had DOS. The first operating system for the computer that most people ever knew about was … And I was using DOS for a long time after everybody else was because they let me use it at work.
And then I needed something else and I still wanted a text-based operating system. The people at this organization that had helped me with my DOS computers got me someone to give me Linux. Linux is a free operating system that you don’t have to pay for. It’s very safe. It doesn’t usually get viruses or anything. And this fellow who came and installed Linux on my computer was a very interesting person. He had lived in Germany for a while, was Israeli originally. And he came and he installed Linux on the computer and started to teach me a little bit about how to use the speech and told me enough to get me started.
And then I had this computer for a few years. I was enjoying myself very much because … I couldn’t do everything on it but I learned how to do quite a few things. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn how to do podcasts but I used to do email and the web and everything and playing music and making CDs and sharing music with people and all that. It was great. That was during the time when everybody was putting illegal files up and everybody was sharing with everybody else. It was just a wonderful time when everybody learned so much about music because you could share. And then my computer went on fire and I lost my computer. It burned.
And I was very sad for a long time. I didn’t have a computer for like six months. And I was going around to every person I met and every organization that I belonged to, which was quite a few. And going around asking if anybody knew somebody who knew how to use Linux and could help me get it on another computer so I could get back to where I had been. And I was asking people and asking, and nobody, nobody, nobody. Finally, I was telling somebody about my predicament in the street and he said, “My friend knows how to use it. And he’s a very nice person. He does volunteer work. And he might be willing to help you.”
I gave this person my number and his friend called me up and he was going to move out of New York. He was going to leave, so he didn’t want to take both his computers with him. So, he donated his second computer to me and put Linux on it, came over and set me up again. And so, for seven more years I had a working computer that I could do things with and have fun. And I told him how much I appreciated it and I was hoping maybe I would hear from him after he left the city but I never did. He was gone. And he had said to me, “If you get a chance, since I did something nice for you, do something nice for someone else. Pass it along.”
And then he went out of my life. But he had given me this wonderful gift. So, I had two strangers help me have a computer for a long time.
I do not have one now. I hope … My second, strongest wish, if I find one more Linux strange that can set me up one more time.