Smart People, Stupid Computers

I'm really very pleased that my computer has chosen THIS MOMENT to become psychotic, just as I was preparing my annual Grumpy Person's Gift Guide.

Yes, I was all set to go with my list of basic minimum gifts for Holiday Conscientious Objectors, when for God knows what reason my computer began freezing up. Just like that. I'm writing along, writing along, writing along and SPRONG! My computer's face is frozen in a hideous mask and won't answer me. Like it's still fascinated with the thing I told it two minutes ago. I snap my fingers before it. It's dead, Jim.

This, if you ask me, is the secret character of the computer. Not malignant or angry, but always in delicate health. Always being a good Eagle Scout and trying to do as instructed, but sometimes being unsure, and sitting down on a log to think about it, and-

Damn it! SORRY! I don't mean to swear but the damned thing froze again and I had to go through the whole asinine process of getting it going once more which involves: Powering off the system (allow two minutes for swearing), powering on the system (one minute), starting up Windows (one hour), starting up MS Word (two hours), calling up the file (allow 10 minutes for fiddling with the menus), and writing (45 seconds.)

For transmitting this column I have taken the precaution of setting up a backup communications system utilizing a fax machine, a second telephone line and a large signal fire. But I hope it won't come to that. If the signal fire becomes necessary I shall throw this ... darned machine into it.

Surprisingly, though, I have fewer problems with the computer when it's running Windows, suggesting this whole problem might be a conspiracy by Microsoft. Has anyone thought about this? Wouldn't it be possible for Microsoft to put something in their programs that quietly ruins computers for non-Microsoft products, thereby forcing everyone to buy from them?

And if you study the Zapruder film, you can practically SEE Bill Gates on the grassy knoll.

Oh, wow, my computer is starting to snow now. I wish you could see this. Little asterisks are floating all around my screen and winking and blinking and disappearing, and it's like my own special Christmas greetxzzzzzzzzLKJLLLLLLLLLFFFlkjlkjLKJLOIU )U)((YIUHIUHFI)A(UF)JGOKJOJOi

Hello again! Everything's OK! I got through to the tech support people at my computer dealer. They said I should take out half my computer's brain and see what happens. Well, it totally fixed it. I have the bad memory chip on my desk right now, where I can jeer and gloat over it and tweak its little electric nose.

And I've already decided I like this machine better with half its brain gone. It no longer runs any program more complicated than that stupid game where Gorillas throw bananas at each other. But I get work done! No more three hours playing Windows Solitaire.

So my first gift idea will be a pamphlet of my own composition: "Smart People and Stupid Computers: How to Live Lower Tech and Reclaim Your Life."

© Rob Laymon 2002

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