Category Archives: Technology

Word Processing: Definition of a Character

I teach CIT (computer information technology) to everyone grades Kindergarten to adults. One thing I can’t emphasize enough when teaching word processing is the basic principle that EVERYTHING is a character. I use Microsoft Word in the classroom, but if you don’t have access to it, you can download Open Office for FREE from This word processing program similar features.

What is a Character

The computer sees EVERYTHING you type as a character. Not just the letters, numbers, and what YOU think of as characters. Spaces you create with the space bar, the tabs you create with the tab key, and the new line characters you create with the enter key are all characters.  People (kids and adults alike) get so frustrated over formatting issues. Ninety percent of those frustrations can be alleviated by understanding this concept.

Microsoft word and Open Office both have a feature you can toggle on and off called “Show/Hide ¶”. You can find the “Show/Hide” toggle on the home ribbon (ribbon definition post coming soon). The button has the paragraph symbol (¶) on it.

Illustration 1: Circled in red on the Microsoft Word window above is the Hide/Show toggle.
Open Source
Illustration 2: The Hide/Show toggle is circled in red on the Open Source window above.

The “Hide/Show” toggle not only shows you the paragraph symbols in your document. It also shows you a dot for each space created with the space bar, and a tab character (tab ) where every there is white space created with the tab key.

It is imperative that you only use the space bar to create a space in between words. The tab key should be used to create indents or to align columns of text, and the page break to start a new page. I will create a video tutorial to demonstrate all of this as soon as I have time and will put a link to it in this post when I do. If you have any questions on this subject, please feel free to post them below, or email me at

Fascination with Electronics

It Started Early

I believe that hyper-focus is very much an issue for me in certain situations.  I found a couple of supporting articles in case you are interested in researching further:


My issue with hyper-focus presents itself primarily with electronics; specifically with computers.

Electronics 1When I was in high school, I lived with my grandmother on my dad’s side of the family. She bought me a VIC-20, and then a COMMADORE-64. I remember sitting in front of the television (that was the monitor back then) and writing lines and lines of code at the age of 15 just to make a ball bounce across the screen . And I knew at the end of the day, or if we had a power outage, that my hours of work would be gone. I had no way of saving the program.

Electronics 2Then the day came! My grandmother happened to work for IBM. The day came that IBM offered their first home computer to employees (at a discounted price I am sure). She brought one home for me! I sat in front of that computer for hours and hours with nothing but a three-ring-binder copy of the IBM DOS user manual to refer to and taught myself to program in BASIC.

I have been fascinated with computers ever since. A lot of people I know that work with computers want nothing to do with them when they get home because they have been working on them all day. For the most part, I could sit in front of a computer and work on it 24 hours a day if I allowed myself to and be content.


Hyper-focus can be a wonderful thing. But on the other hand, it can also be a dangerous curse. When I was a young adult, hyper-focus caused me to be late for EVERYTHING. I would get so engrossed at the task at hand that I could set an alarm to be on time for something, it goes off, and before I could get out the door (or sometimes off the couch for that matter), my mind would return to the task I was working on and I would completely forget the alarm ever went off. I’ll leave you with the clip from “Flubber” below. It is so funny on film, but in reality it is a downright depressing situation for both the person dealing with it and the people around them: