Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – November 9, 2004
The On-Going Saga Of My Computer Woes
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – November 9, 2004 – You may recall my heightened state of anxiety last August when my computer’s hard drive crashed, leaving me data-less, bereft, homicidal and in a rather nasty frame of mind. It wasn’t a pretty sight to behold and it was even less than enthralling to be me at the time.
My twisted and burned drive went off to a data recovery spa and I learned just how much my computer’s information meant to me. Since then I’ve been faithfully backing up my system and making nice with my computer. It’s been a polite, business-like relationship. I provide a desk, electrical power bars, friends to play with like a pair of HP printers, technical intervention if required and a support system of off-site professionals like the Bell Sympatico man, to attend to her every need.
All I ask of my computer in return is that she doesn’t tease me with pop-up ads or unintelligible messages announcing the possibility of doom and gloom.
Since August, when the drive came back from the spa, we’ve been getting along rather well, so you can imagine my dismay last week when this message appeared on my computer screen shortly after the cursor froze in place and refused to move. “One of the USB devices attached to this computer has malfunctioned and Windows does not recognize it”.
I gave the mouse an extra bit of cheese, but to no avail. I had to turn the system off, with programs still running, and that is a very, very bad thing to do. I stumbled along for the next few days, alternating between a mouse that was happy and one that was downright naughty. Finally on Saturday, after three emergency shut downs I shook him.
I know it was wrong – shaken mouse syndrome might well have developed. Fortunately it didn’t and my computer re-booted. But I don’t think a shaken mouse ever forgets and he may even be vindictive. I have no way of proving this, but it’s very evident to me that the mouse had the last laugh. When I opened up my Palm Pilot – my calender was blank. All my appointments from the last four years – gone.
Fortunately my database of contacts was unaffected. It’s a good thing I didn’t shake the little blighter twice, or actually get out my trusty claw hammer. The thought did cross my mind. I remained calm (the new me) and called for help. The data is on my back-up drive but Palm will not allow it to be transferred back to my hard drive. So close and yet so far.
When I was a little girl, I believed that very small people lived in our radio, and that they came out at night to go grocery shopping and to the movies, at a little invisible town near my home. I now know that I was right then, just as I’m right now. There are miniature people living in my computer, printer, fax machine, pager and cell phone. Some of them are really very nice and others are quite evil. Right now the evil elves are in the ascendency over the good gnomes and it’s the mouse’s fault.
I showed the little rascal and replaced him with a little, blue optical relative. I’m not sure it will matter – they’re all in cahoots, these technological wizards with their compressed files, gigabytes, RAM, devices, interfaces, links, defragmenters, messengers and ports – parallel and serial. Just think about it – “serial” as in killer. I
’m not sure that homicide is on the minds of the little computer people but I do believe they are capable of driving us big people to utter despair. How much further is it to apathy, total surrender and eventual committal? You laugh – but I think there is method in the minds of these twisted little computer elves.
If you wanted to rule the world without ever firing a shot – much less unleashing a shock and awe campaign – how would you do it? You’d simply get rid of homo sapiens by driving them crazy. Think about it the next time you turn on your monitor. There are little people in there looking out at you, just waiting for the slightest sign of stress, impatience or annoyance.
Once they see it they will pounce on you when you least expect it. When a project is due, at five o’clock on a Friday night, in the middle of sending an important E-mail, at a critical point in a power-point presentation or while printing a crucial document. Bam – shut down – blinking lights- then black screen. You know I’m right, don’t you?