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E-mail with problems still better than past

HarperD_color.jpgI have a new e-mail spam filter. It seems to work. Our corporate technology departments seems to be ahead of the spammers this week. I am grateful. Regular readers know what kind of up-and-down battle this is.

The e-mails I need to see seem to be coming through now. The e-mails I don?t really want to see are now captured and quarantined. A report is sent to me every morning telling me what e-mails were prevented from reaching me. If an e-mail is one that I truly do need to get, I can retrieve it. This is great. I appreciate what the IT department did for me and the rest of the employees here.

Of course, though, I do not know how many people tried to reach me but failed in the past several months of my difficulties. I am grateful to all readers who telephoned me or wrote a letter when their e-mails bounced, or they noticed that I had not responded.

I even had one person place a hard copy of his original e-mail in an envelope and then put it into the regular mail for me. He was quite right to do this. I had not seen the original e-mail.

At this point, I would like to thank all readers who took steps to assure that I became aware of things that I needed to be aware of. I know it was extra work. I know you didn?t have to do it.

As frustrating as it was to not get e-mails, there is always some humor in a bad situation. Times past were not always great, either. I am reminded of that today. I have been expecting a fax from Jay Beeton, who works at headquarters of the American Numismatic Association. Some information that is not available in an electronic file is being sent.

Well, on the first try, I did not receive the fax. How do I know? Well, I am exchanging e-mails with headquarters about it. That?s amusing. I am using my now-functioning e-mail to check up on another mode of communication that for some reason is not functioning as it should.

Adding to the amusement, while I was conversing yesterday with Beeton by telephone, the line went dead. He called back and said a new phone system was being installed. He had to talk to me using a cell phone. But we got the job done, that?s the important thing.

I have been in this chair long enough to remember how far we have come. I started with an IBM Selectric typewriter. Chet Krause had installed the then advanced technology that allowed what I typed with a special typewriter ball to be optically scanned when each sheet of paper was inserted in a machine that could read the special typeface.

A scanner nowadays is taken for granted. Then it was sophisticated technology. However, it wasn?t all that sophisticated. It was not able to hyphenate correctly. The result was columns of type that had the widest and wildest spacing problems. The cure for that was the necessity of writing not in words, but in syllables. I could not type American Numismatic Association. I had to type Amer//ican Numis//matic Asso//ciation. The double slash marks were what were called discretionary hyphens. Can you imagine writing this way? I did it for years. (No wisecracks, please).

When we got the first rudimentary computers, the discretionary hyphens went the way of the dinosaur. I have to tell you that it is much easier to think when you don?t have to try to simultaneously figure out where the hyphens go. My writing speed immediately doubled.

However, we made up for that. I could only have the computer for half the time. I had to share it with another editor, the co-editor of Comics Buyers? Guide. Computers were so expensive that we all couldn?t have them. The terminal was on a lazy Susan setup where we would turn it back and forth as needed. Fortunately, our deadlines were sufficiently different that we did not threaten to kill each other.

When I think back to what I had to put up with, it makes my current problems with e-mail seem miraculously easy to overcome.

The one thing that has never changed is the readers. They have been helpful no matter how messed up things get here in the office.

Send comments to Numismatic News editor Dave Harper at e-mail address david.harper@fwpubs.com.

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