Isn’t it time to name a plant after me or something?

I’ll let you in on a little secret: While compared to the general public I may appear to know a lot about computer-related stuff, I really don’t. I mean, I know some stuff, and you could probably classify me as a Word “Power User,” and I can make my way around Access. But really? What appears to be computer prowess is actually… bravery and guessing. I do a lot of “what happens when I hit this button?” “What happens when I click here?” “What happens…?” You get the idea. Also, the internet is a great source of information. Did you know that? [Sidenote: there are occasions when I find myself unable to solve a problem that I have, and there is no one to turn to for help. It is at this point that I am quite frustrated with 1) all the knowledge I do have, 2) my inability to fix said problem, and 3) no one around me having any idea what I’m talking about.]

Now, lest you think I walk around telling people how awesome I am at all things computer-related, let me be clear. I frequently attempt to tell others that I know absolutely nothing about [insert problem here]. Examples: networks, Groupwise, Internet Explorer. Alas, while this usually makes someone who was seeking my help go away, it’s only temporary. It is rare that someone remembers that I said, “I have no idea; go ask —-.” They just keep asking me.

And that’s fine, really, because every once in a while I’m rewarded with someone actually remembering the thing I taught them last time (and so they’ve consequently come up with a harder problem to solve), and people are always grateful when you fix their computer problems (unless, of course, you’re actually in IT – if you’re expected to do that stuff as part of your job, people tend to get snippy).

All that to say, I generally don’t think too highly of my computer abilities. I consider myself “above average,” but “average” is not very computer literate (in the general workforce, in my experience).

So, when someone comes to me and says, “can we do this on our website?” and I tell them, “I have absolutely no idea why it works the way it does, and I’m pretty sure I can’t make it do something different,” I’m fairly confident that I’m right. If that’s confusing, let me say it another way. If you ask me to change the way a list looks on a web page, and I tell you that it’s just borrowed javascript code that I don’t understand so I probably can’t do anything for you, you’re pretty much sunk, unless you want to find someone else who can do it (good luck with that).

Today I was presented with such an occurrence (quite everyday, really). One one of our web pages, I have a list that expands and collapses depending on where you click. I totally took some javascript from the internet and used it, and I have no idea how/why it works. It just does. I can make it do… exactly what it does. Nothing more. But someone wanted… spacing. And primary list items that were links (not expanding). And I was all, “yeah, I’ll look into that, but I don’t think I can make that happen for you.”

And then (here’s where it gets interesting, if you can call this story interesting, which you can’t; it’s just long and rambly and probably no one has made it this far), something amazing happened. I opened up my web page editing program, and I copy-pasted some stuff and moved some other stuff around and made up some CSS, and… miracle of miracles, I made it do exactly what I was requested to.

The moral of the story: click on that button and see what happens. Or just try something to see if it works. Experiment with your computer. It’s unlikely that you’ll actually break it (unless, of course, you go surfing the internet and get some viruses, in which case you’re totally on your own). You will be amazed at what you discover you can do. Really.

[My apologies for the super boring story. It really was quite exciting to add some spacing into a list. There may or may not have been a short victory dance in my cube.]