Name: Wesley Ferguson.
Hometown: Originally from Anacortes, Ferguson now lives in Bellingham.
Family: He lives with his wife, Julie, and helps care for his mother-in-law.
Man of many hats: Ferguson attended Fairhaven College off and on in the late '60s. A friend who worked at The Picture Show movie theater in Fairhaven trained him to be a projectionist, which led to a job in a theater in Mount Vernon.
After working in Mount Vernon and Seattle theaters for a few years, Ferguson returned to Bellingham and studied motorcycle and power equipment mechanics at Bellingham Technical College. Over the next few years he switched back and forth between projectionist jobs in Seattle and Bellingham, and mechanic positions in Bellingham auto shops.
Computer helper: Now that he's retired, Ferguson volunteers at Bellingham Senior Activity Center, answering people's questions in the center's computer lab and serving on the advisory committee.
He also volunteers twice a week with RELectronics, which recycles electronics in Whatcom, Skagit, Island and San Juan counties. The group refurbishes old computers to donate or sell to nonprofits and underserved populations, and recycles unusable waste.
Started with a Mac: Ferguson got his first computer in the early 1980s, choosing a Macintosh with advice from his wife, who had learned to use computers while attending the University of Washington.
Much of his computer savvy came from WhatMUG, the Whatcom Mac Users Group, which holds forums for new and experienced users to ask questions and give Mac-related presentations.
Cautious upgrader: When the time comes to replace an old computer, Ferguson usually doesn't go for what's brand new.
"When I upgrade, I upgrade to something that's been around a couple years," he says. "Then you can find resources as to what's wrong, what you need to do, and how to take care of it. Problems have all been sorted out."
One of Ferguson's favorite resources is LowEndMac.com, which helps users get the most out of their Macs and offers troubleshooting advice.
Compuer lab: Ferguson has volunteered in the senior center's computer lab since 2010. With the help of RELectronics, he helped expand the lab from three to six desktop computers, with two laptops available for checkout from the front desk.
Usually, he answers basic questions and points people in the direction of educational seminars and training programs as needed.
Common questions stem from such things as email providers upgrading preference settings and changing the way their service works. Ferguson recently worked with a woman who had set up her contacts to send mail to different groups of people.
"Well, Microsoft changed Hotmail to Outlook, and now her contact sheet is just a big long list of people," Ferguson says. "All the preferences and presets she had are just gone. Bingo. And there's no going back."
Talking systems: Though he is a longtime Mac user, Ferguson frequently works with the Windows operating systems in his work with RELectronics and at the senior center.
He says working with old PCs is a little easier than old Macs because many can run Windows XP, an operating system more than 10 years old, and still upgrade to newer versions of other software.
On Macs, a newer version of the Mac operating system is usually needed to upgrade software.
Ferguson also works with some RELelectronics volunteers who use Linux, an open source operating system. He says Linux can be even more versatile than Windows, because there are "lightweight" versions that can run on old computers that couldn't handle other systems.
Other hobbies: When he's not volunteering or helping family members care for his mother-in-law, Ferguson enjoys reading historical fiction and seeing live acoustic music. One of his favorite venues is Nancy's Farm, on East Smith Road.
"For reasonably priced entertainment, Bellingham's a great place," he says.
Samantha Wohlfeil is a freelance writer in Bellingham.
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