Adventures with a Windows Computer After Being Away for 10 Years

After working at home for more than 10 years with a variety of Mac computers, I now have an office job that requires me to use a Windows computer for the first time in more than a decade. These are my adventures.

The last Windows computer I owned was in 2004, and I believe it was running Windows 95 which, despite its larger number, was invented before the kind of Windows I have today. I haven’t touched a Windows computer in so long, I have no idea what version this computer is running.

I Google which windows do I have?

Microsoft’s official “help” page

Well, it might look like that, but it doesn’t. And I see there are Windows 7, 8, and 10 versions, but I don’t see a 9. Am I missing something?

When I follow all the complicated instructions, this is what I get:

Some Windows screens never change

Oh, oops. My fault! I right-clicked on the word Computer that appeared in the Start menu instead of searching for the word Computer and then right-clicking that. So stupid of me.

I pay more attention and start over. At long last, I find out that I’m using Windows 7.

Whew! Onwards and upwards.

Eyeballs, Eyeballs, Burning Bright

Today is a rainy, overcast day and my monitor is too bright.

How to turn down the brightness? Time for some more Googling.

Another official “help” screen from Microsoft

Well shoot, that’s not very helpful as I now know I’m running Windows 7, and this information is for Windows 10. And I sure hope I don’t have to find and update some drivers because it sounds complicated and I forgot what a driver even is.

Nonetheless, I follow the instructions and I get to what looks like the correct screen to adjust the brightness.

The first rule of changing your display is never talk about changing your display!

I find a number of screens like this that offer me lots of different things to adjust — but never the brightness.

I finally give in and type “Display” in the search box of the “Start” menu. I see “Change Display Color” but it requires me to put in the admin password which I don’t have. And the colors are fine anyway. I just want to turn down the brightness.

Is there anything I can do to stop my eyes watering?

I continue to Google, finding this from

I know what the “F” stands for, and it isn’t “function” :P

A much nicer answer but I’m using a desktop computer, and there are no icons on my keyboard for adjusting the brightness. I press a few function keys anyway but to no avail.

A full half hour of my life has now been irretrievably lost. For the first time in years, the internet has failed me. I give up. I feel useless and pathetic and stupid.

I interrupt a coworker and ask him how to change the brightness.


There are buttons on my monitor, as in physical buttons to press. I didn’t see them because they’re hidden under the bottom right hand corner with very faint gray writing on black.

One button says “Auto” and has a triangle pointing downwards. What is that? The second button has the letter “I” inside a white square and a triangle pointing upwards. Mysterious! The third button is a gear symbol with a triangle pointing left, and the last has a symbol I can’t comprehend and the word “OK”. I feel like an archeologist deciphering Maya hieroglyphics.

I press each of the buttons. I get quite a scare when the “I/up triangle” button changes the screen ratio after a briefly terrifying switch to all black. The “auto” button shows a slider bar when I press it and a number that rapidly counts up to 100, but I don’t know what just changed. But hey, now my monitor is “auto” something. Progress!

Finally, I learn that the “gear/left triangle” button actually adjusts the brightness. After a few missteps, I get it. Champagne and caviar all around!

Now I can get back to work. Which is good because next I’ve got to figure out how to schedule a meeting on my Outlook calendar for 3:10 pm.

Wish me luck!

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