Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Have Spurs, Will Word-Process

I'm working on a novel y'all are going to be required to buy someday, and all of a sudden something screwy happens with my computer. It's a sad old Dell that sits off by itself and isn't allowed to play on the internet, and from time to time it just expresses itself as only a Word machine can. Previously, when I came to the end of a paragraph, I hit "enter" to make it go to the next line. Now it goes one space forward instead. To get it to the next line, I have to hit enter twice, which will make it skip a line, and then I have to hit the backspace button. This just started up for no reason. End of paragraph, enter-enter-backspace. Not too tricky, but not ideal.

I'm not as annoyed at this as I could be, because when I was coming up I used to have to do things like type a period and backspace and shift-apostrophe just to whomp up an exclamation point, and I didn't feel put out about it at all. Actual exclamation point keys were a computer development and led to exclamation-point abuse among some users, and you know who you are. Anyway, it might have seemed like a burden, but at least I didn't have to pluck a goose and dry a sheep like my parents did just to write something down, and they were happy they didn't need to chisel granite.

Still, after a while I got to thinking I really shouldn't have to enter-enter-backspace every time I want a new paragraph, and so I went about fixing it, by which I mean I called Beth next door. "Sounds like a formatting issue," she said. I'm familiar with the term. In fact I had already set up a format in which there was no extra space between paragraphs, and there was a five-point indent to start out. That format had just been obliterated by my machine, which elected to institute the "because I can, nanner nanner" format on its own. Or possibly there was a fatal combination wherein I hit some shortcut button while the cat walked across the function keys, but in any case, I didn't know how to undo it.

We have a house next door to us that we bought and set up as a hothouse for talent. We stock it with smart young people and ingratiate ourselves in various ways hoping to maintain a ready supply of tech wizards and, eventually, butt-wipers for our dotage, because we did not have the foresight to spawn on our own. It's worked out really well so far. Beth might be a little older than some we've cultivated. She's only about fifteen years younger than I am, but that's a whole generation in some of the red states. And Beth was the one who taught me the only thing about computer repair that I ever remember, which is that the machine is a lying sack of shit and you shouldn't believe anything it says for one second. One time when I was working on something really important, I started getting an error message accompanied by the dreaded Windows Chord of Doom, and I was frantic by the time Beth breezed in with her characteristic cool. She tried the same thing I did and got the same error message. "Bullshit," she said, and did it again. And again. And the fifth time the machine said "oh, all right" and did her bidding. So now I know that you need to saddle up and sit tall and give 'er a little kick with the heel or the damn thing will try to scrape you off on a low branch every time. Never show fear.

Anyway the issue resolved itself as mysteriously as it had appeared, and I called Beth off the duty. It's still nice to know she's standing by. She's really smart. She's so smart she'll probably be out of the place before we need our butts wiped.

80 comments:

  1. It's a gender thing. Somehow my wife has all kinds of issues with her machine, me, none with mine and I use mine ten times more than she. The same with previous wife and workmates. But keep up the good work girls. You keep help desk folks employed.

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    1. You mean even though you use your computer ten times more than she does,you STILL understand it better?

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    2. Of course, it takes a while to figure these things out. ;o)

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    3. It is NOT a gender thing. Every time my husband's cellphone buzzes with a text message, he holds it in his hand and stares at it like a puzzled chimp. Once, he couldn't get the printer to work and pretty much rebooted/troubleshot the entire computer before our geek son showed up and (cautiously) showed him the unplugged USB cord that caused the problem.

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  2. My remedy always is just take the battery out..Ha! works everytime for my laptop...so far..

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    1. So you give it a time-out to think about what it's done.

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  3. If I may, I think I know what the problem is. The wobbling rod and jiggling pin have become dislocated from the framus, to the point of being at the wrong dangle angle. A technique which was shown to me by my then eight year old daughter involves a two-step sphincter operation. The trick is to close your eyes while scrootching up your mouth (aka, piehole) and the unseen sphincter (aka, the bung thingy) at the same time, while franticaly pounding on the otherwise useless escape key, at least fifty times. Walk away...have a large glass of Merlot...come back and repeat if necessary.

    I hope this helps.

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    1. That was the first thing I tried, but the snordwit kept jamming.

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  4. I think I know who at least ONE of the exclamation point lovers might be! Moi! I just can't get enough of them!! Your expression in these pictures is familiar! To me!! :-)

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  5. I remember the first computer I had that needed to be turned on, given a start-up diskette, allowed to become conscious, prompted with arcane commands typed on the keyboard, given another diskette to tell it that it was a computer, allowed time to digest and process this idea, prompted with different commands, given yet another diskette. . .

    Murr, I think you need a new word processor. Hurry, hurry with that wonderful book. I want six copies!

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    1. I'm putting you down for six.

      Oh yeah, remember when you'd turn on the computer and then go make a pot of coffee and sometimes it was ready to roll when the coffee was done? Then you'd fly on line to snag your mail and jump right off because you only had five minutes a month. Good times.

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    2. And dial-up - that searching for connection noise. Sort of a geek mating call.

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  6. We did have the foresight to spawn a computer techie, but my older neighbors keep stealing him. Maybe you should just come live here.

    Also, he found me a perfectly decent laptop for 270 dollars (on sale at Best Buy). Tell your neighbors to keep an eye out for a good deal for you.

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    1. I bought a used IBM Thinkpad for taking-with if I happen to be away from home when the urge to write strikes. There may be a tablet in my future. I don't like to jump into things. I'm still getting used to my cell phone. Do you know you can call people with it from dang near ANYWHERE? What won't they think of next?

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    2. Did you know you can use your PHONE to TAKE PICTURES? It's like being electrocuted by pink flowers. I have fuchsia shock.

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  7. I can't quite recall a certain torture involving two horses and a length of rope but I'd sure like to see a certain computer mogul on that Youtube video. Maybe that's why I use a Mac. The computer this is written on cost $35!!! Three cheers for the resident computer geek!!! And that's about the only time I'll use exclamation points.

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    1. I use a Mac too. Just not so much to write on. That is because my Mac lives in the kitchen where people can be so distracting. So I write upstairs in a little room and slorp it into the Mac later.

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  8. To err is human; to really foul things up takes a computer.

    As we both understand.

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    1. I think my Dad used that expression, and that would have been forty years ago. Nothing's changed.

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    2. Ditto my Dad. He was talking about an automated production line over which he had human supervision, but still. He fought with 'em long before I was ever introduced to one.

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  9. Not only English exclamation points, but ¡Spanish ones too! As John Paul Jones said, I have not yet begun to abuse!

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    1. I turned my keyboard upside down and found it, but then .i.,nmhvyj /.ym mco,'xe

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  10. I like to think techy-geniuses have no soul. In fact, Im going to stick with that thought. I recognize your travails, I do.

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    1. If they don't have a soul, they can find it on a search engine. Unlike ourselves.

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  11. Do you think Beth might be able to tell me how to make Google let me unsubscribe to the blogs of people who have either died or stopped blogging? It seemed to right itself a few weeks ago, but it's back to balking again. Did you know there's no way to contact Google? They just don't want to hear about your problems with them.

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  12. I try shutting it down and restarting. If that 50-50 shot doesn't work, I shut it down again...and call my son.

    Oh, and I am one of those darn !!!!! people, too. Just sharing the joy, baby!! Sharing the joy!! ;)

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    1. I keep forgetting about that one. And also unplugging my Mac when things get sludgy.

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  13. Well, I am psyched your writing a novel, because I cannot wait to get my hands on that. And, I am glad your mysterious enter-enter-backspace issues have been resolved!!

    PS: Beth is totes amazeballs.

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    1. Unflappable. Truly, I've never seen her flap.

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  14. I used to have an aura that caused computers to fail if I was within five feet of them. Seriously. But I learned, like Rita above, that a good deal of the time all you need to do is shut it down and restart. I like to think the computer realizes if I can shut it off temporarily, I can also shut it off permanently.

    Not that I actually could/would, but the computer doesn't know that. Yet. Please don't tell it ...

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    1. Too late! It's a network. They all talk to each other. Mine says "huh?"

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  15. We know how to fix those kinds of computer tantrums at work. We call for a co-worker to come to our aid. She then does exactly the same thing we did except she holds her tongue right. Works every single time and is much faster than calling the IT department in Newfoundland, Scotland, or Australia.

    So...when's your book coming out?

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    1. Gee, I'm still lacking about 20,000 words in the novel, an agent, a publisher, a five-year wait for the above, and the ultimate self-publishing, so no time soon. Unless you mean my Murrmurrs collection, Trousering Your Weasel, available (conveniently enough) sometime before Christmas!

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  16. Wait... what's that big huge black thing you are staring into... your monitor?!? This is flat-screen era, Babe. Everyone in your neighborhoods lights probably dim every time you turn that monster on? Go Green - get lean - flat screen!!

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    1. Ha ha on you, Robert. I don't turn it on. I never turn it off! [glow]

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  17. Just last week I was vacuuming the biscuit crumbs out of the keyboard when I hit a mysterious combination of keys and *presto zap* the entire monitor turned itself sideways. I went through everything I could think of and finally googled the problem in desperation (the neck was giving out). Naresh Kumar (his name, honest) at an "Answer this Scream for Help" place said hit Alt Ctrl Up Arrow and there it was, back to normal.

    But the freakout component in that sideways episode made my face look just like yours in pic #1--except I think my mouth was open because I was panting in desperation.

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    1. I have the coolest little rubber condom on my Mac keypad. It doesn't even look like anything's on it and then presto zap you whip it off, shake it out, and let it float back down.

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  18. Dry a sheep? Am I the only one who didn't know sheep needed drying?

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    1. No, I wondered that too! Sheep-ink? Or, maybe a wet sheep is just too distracting to the creative process.

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    3. To make parchment to write on :)

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    4. And now of course I wonder if youse guys already knew that and were just having fun!

      (Murr, I typed that exclamation mark using the period-backspace-apostrophe method, does that make it okay?)

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    5. Wow... dried sheep parchment! I never knew. Do you use some kind of roller to get it flat?

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    6. Yes, jenny, that makes it okay. And you are correct. The ink always gets all smudgy on the damp sheepskins. Denise, if you get your dead sheep off the highway, there's no need.

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  19. Maybe you need a typewrite instead.

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    1. I used to be a crack typist but now that I can fix boo-boos so easily I've gotten really lax. I'd be up all night with the white-out.

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  20. I am so curious about your novel! Have you given us any hints about what it's all about? (I'm new to your blog so I may have missed it).

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    1. No, I haven't. I've written one already about a very, very, very, very old woman--no immediate plans to publish it yet--and the one I'm working on now is about zombies. Sort of. I will say writing fiction (which I couldn't even have imagined doing until I tried it) is the most fun I've ever had. Do you realize you get to totally make things up?

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    2. Yes...after trying all the other art forms out there, I've found fiction writing too. It's like entering a dream world that you control. Very cool. Can't wait to see yours!

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  21. Ahhhh Murr. Ever the amuser. These computooters do such self important little Shenanigans don't they?
    And we love them so much partly for that very reason I'm sure.

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    1. You know, not really. That's not what I love them for.

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  22. I will assuredly buy your novel - but I want an autographed copy. Please.
    Here when the computer has hissy fits we put it down to a screw loose in the operator - and are usually right.

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    1. I always put it down to that, but you know? Maybe sometimes they just bollix themselves up for no reason whatsoever. Maybe.

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  23. Hey Murr! I think I may be straying into the dreadful place where younger people will be sorting out my problems. I do not welcome this. And now I forget where i was going with this. Send help. Roth x

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  24. Those little diskettes. I had forgotten about those. I had one of the original macs. Its little brain required frequent application of diskettes, which was bad enough. But when I wanted to stop, the dang thing insisted on seeing all the diskettes over again before shutting down. But is was such a fun computer anyway!

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    1. I can't even imagine how cool they'll be in ten years. If I even try to think of something new they can do, it turns out they already make them, and everyone on the block has one.

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  25. They ARE lying sacks of shit, and I have an ancient Dell at home that will agree with me.

    Of course, it will be lying, which is not to say that it is telling the truth.

    I remember when computers took whole climate-controlled rooms...

    Pearl

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  26. Dang... I trust my computer! She sounds like a great neighbour to have.. but I suspect she feels that way about you, too.

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  27. I got a black screen last night. My son had just arrived home from college and I accused the computer of being sentient and sensing his button-punching presence. The next day, I get a message from McAfee telling me how to fix it. It seems their recent update caused the whole mess.
    Moral of story: Keep your lonely computer off the internet. There be dragons out here.

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    1. My computer is too old to go on the internet. Last time it tried, it pudged along in the left lane for miles with the turn signal on.

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  28. Computer geeks are amazing and we should elevate them to the platforms they deserve. How innovative of you and your husband to entice them to come live next door to you - never under estimate old folks - we are clever!
    I periodically and very mysteriously move an entire folder into another folder, so it looks like a document instead of a folder. Then I have to quickly remember what folder it was next to (because it's gone now and I don't know what it was next to - kind of like when they tear down the house down the block and you have no idea what it looked liked, even though it had been there 75 years, but now it's gone so your mind immediately dis-remembers it and after a few days you wonder what used to be there) and re-find it and then create a new folder and "save as" each document in the previous folder to the new folder so now I have my folder back because - - - I have no idea how I moved it to the wrong folder in the first place and therefore no idea how to re-move it back to the place it was. (Got that???)
    ps - Send Beth!

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    1. Folders? I just have five thousand icons on my desktop. I remember where everything is, almost.

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  29. I am NOT a computer geek. I am actually a therapist!!!! Which is almost as useful...

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    1. Be it noted, I never said geek. Helpful neighbor!!!

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  30. It's all relative, Beth. To Murr you are. (I would have used an exclamation point, but don't have the nerve now.)
    There exists somewhere a photo of my dad with a room-filling Honeywell computer that he was trained to operate back in the sixties. By the time he retired, he wanted nothing to do with those new personal computers. I can understand why (again, non-exclamation point).

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  31. Thanks, Murr!!! That felt good!

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  32. The computers get twice as fast at half the price approximately every 18 months. Get a new one. They can migrate all of your old stuff over and you'll wonder why you waited this long.

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  33. NOoo! If I start buying things just because they're better and cheaper, why,...hm. I know there's a reason not to.

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