Wednesday, December 26, 2012

An Open Bag Of Internet

If there's an open bag of potato chips in the house, I'm going to hoover them up, and I'm the same way with the internet. You open a bag of internet and I'm going in head-first, and I'll still be up at one in the morning dabbing at the little salty bits on the bottom. So if I want to air out my brainwaves, I try to go places it can't reach, like our backwards little cabin. Or I go for a walk without taking any of the fun-size internet snack devices. If I don't respond right away to your comments, it's probably because I'm deliberately off the grid.

But not always. Sometimes I'm just dealing with random computer obstrepery. The other day I'm flying along tacking up comments in this space when for no reason whatsoever I click on the "reply" button and nothing happens. I have a plan, because I wasn't just born yesterday. If I had been born yesterday, I'd probably have a better plan. I click harder. I really do. I center the cursor, I press down with due deliberation, I wait an extra beat, then I let up. I do this because every now and then the computer, which is having gastric distress, happens to relieve itself at the very moment I am pressing on the button. So I have convinced myself I fixed it. Because that's how cause-and-effect works. It works however you want it to. If it didn't, there wouldn't be so many people using the phrase "job-killing taxes."

But most of the time clicking harder doesn't work. And if I decide to ignore its little snit, and play somewhere else on the internet, I soon discover that the whole thing is acting up. It is acting like the sullen teenager you have given a simple task to, balking and scuffling its feet. Sometimes you can even see its impudent little eyes rolling. That's when you give it a time-out. That's what the techies usually tell me to do when I call them--pull the plug.

What a quaint expression! It harkens back to the days when things had A Plug, and you could Pull It. What I have in the nether regions of my desk looks like it should come with meatballs and a nice Chianti. I hover over the assemblage with the trepidation of the new guy on the bomb squad. I have a black cord, a white cord, a green cord, and a yellow cord, and several boxes they are servicing. One of them is a modem, I don't know which one, and one of them is, I believe, the Flux Capacitor, function unknown. I select the black cord and pull it out of the two boxes. The chip clip is now back on the bag and it's on a high shelf in the cupboard.

Now it's time to get something useful done.

Well, that's the trouble with kids. You'd think the moody little bastards would be real easy to ignore, once you've sent them to their room, but after a while you start thinking about how great they could be if only they applied themselves, and you let them back out.

The adolescent computer is better than my new printer, which is more like an alcoholic husband. When it's working, it's fast as hell. Spits out a page like it's throwing a beer can across the room. Other times you ask nicely and it starts to work and then shuts right down in the middle of it, and that's supposed to be your fault. Next day it's sweet as pie. Classic abusive behavior, designed to keep you off balance. But I'm no dewy-eyed bride. I am going to fix that thing, as soon as I locate a hatchet.

This stuff used to get to me more than it does now. Dealing with computer moodiness in the early days used to aggravate me no end, because it made me feel so stupid. My friend Walter used to talk me down, using an observation I never heard anyone else make. "These machines haven't been around very long," he said. "They're just not that good yet."

Pointing out another classic cause-and-effect fallacy, he told me: "just because you have trouble with them doesn't mean you're stupid." And that is true.

Of course, it doesn't rule it out.

52 comments:

  1. It's a well-known fact that many computer problems can be solved by having a screwdriver in one hand. And not the vodka and orange juice kind of screwdriver, although come to think of it, that would be helpful too. The other kind of screwdriver. "I'm not afraid to use this, pal." Good luck!

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    1. I think you're right. And I've never had enough of an edge. Any time I try to exert authority, even kids and dogs can here the undertone of pleading.

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  2. It's a well-known fact that many computer problems can be solved by having a screwdriver in one hand. And not the vodka and orange juice kind of screwdriver, although come to think of it, that would be helpful too. The other kind of screwdriver. "I'm not afraid to use this, pal." Good luck!

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  3. Part of my current job description is "equipment manager". (They'd call me the IT guy, except they don't know what IT means, I have no training for such a position, and, well...I'm not a guy.) I got it by default, because nobody else was brave enough to take it, and we're too small an outfit to hire a real IT person full time. The sharpest tool in my box is the edge in my voice when I say "Did you reboot?" It really does fix damn near everything. And if it doesn't, I have a number I can call for real help. (Fairly often, I just sit down at the offending computer, check settings, maybe open a dos window, and say "That ought to do it, but we'll have to restart you for it to take effect." Then I reboot. The remarkable success rate of this procedure makes people think I know what I'm doing. If I end up calling tech support, they assume it's a "server issue" and ask if they should just go home for the rest of the day.

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    1. I wrote about it before: my friend who came over to make my machine do something I'd been trying for hours to make it do, and mostly what she did was sternly tell it "I don't think so," and keep repeating the same thing I was doing until it capitulated. It's like riding a horse. They have to know who's boss.

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  4. And by "they" in that last sentence, I mean my co-workers, not the tech support people.

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  5. My dad had a catchall phrase I still remember, and it fits: "I.P.O.I.O." (Innate Perversity Of Inanimate Objects) But now that they are no longer obstreperous teenagers, I'm pretty sure my computers just need a good hard reboot in the nether regions now and then. :-)

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    1. I agree. That is why it's called booting.

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  6. So funny, I can so relate. Consider this tweeted.

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    1. Ten years ago, would anyone have ever used the phrase "consider this tweeted?" I love that.

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  7. I was the go-to person for computer related problems at a couple of schools. My philosophy is to kick em till they work. But restarting, to rebooting usually works. Sometimes they don't access all the stuff they need to work in the first start.

    And this is a good time to reformat the hard drive and reinstall all your programs. But FIRST back up your documents and pictures. Get it done professionally, if you don't feel able to do it yourself, to get rid of all the junk that various programs put on your computer.

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    1. I was good with your first paragraph, but the second one made me break out in a cold sweat. I'm much calmer than I used to be, but still. I do have a nice back-up hard drive on my desk, and my machine helpfully told me the other day that it hadn't done a back-up for 30 days. That's what it does. I call it the "oh by the way" message. I will reboot. Sometimes that works.

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  8. I have ordered your book, and this reminds me of why I have. Because you're funny.

    And affordable.

    I like that in a woman. :-)

    Pearl

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    1. And you just made me laugh out loud AS USUAL, and that's why I love YOU.

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  9. It's surprising how many times a good reboot is all it takes. Computer are not only like teenagers, they're like angsty teenagers.

    Oh, that was redundant. Sorry :)

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    1. Plus, mine even has acne. I should probably clean my screen.

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  10. I love the joke, which I probably could have remembered all of, twenty years ago, but which would have been meaningless twenty years ago, which makes it a wash... where was I? Oh yes, there's a car-full of engineers of various sorts, and they can't make the car go, and there's three little engineer jokes, which I can't remember, and then the support engineer proposes that they fix it by all getting out of the car and then getting back in again.

    It's a funny joke, when it's told properly. Or at least I remember it that way. As Calvin says, "you woulda laughed!"

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    1. Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha huh? ha ha ha!

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    2. Dale, Ha ha ha ha . . . . your way of telling the joke is definitely funnier. Still chuckling . . . .

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    3. Dale, I laughed.

      A few (well, maybe 20) years ago, I phoned my engineer brother, living 'way across town, because my car had stranded me out in the boonies. Whenever I started it and put it in gear, it made horrendous clunking noises. I had dared to get it off the railroad track, but no more.

      We waited an hour or so, outside the car for safety, he arrived, started the motor, moved a few feet, (Clunk, CLUNK!!) stopped and said, "Have you checked the trunk?"

      Problem solved.

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  11. Chez Dinahmow, I am known as High-tech Chicky Babe.This is an indication of how non-tech The Man is.
    And when rebooting I find it helps to be wearing very sturdy brogues, not flimsy sandals...

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    1. This is one of the reasons we here in the Pacific NW wear heavy socks with our sandals.

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  12. So if the boots don't work, then do you progress to trying the hip-waders? Then a wetsuit? SCUBA gear? Argh!!! Elaine

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    1. Hey, we've got hip-waders. It's worth a shot.

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  13. Nothing bad lasts for long with a Mac. The computer gods will probably get me for that now. If I disappear, you'll know why.

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    1. You're living on the edge. But it's true. I tend to think I'm getting better with these things, but the main thing is I bought a Mac a few years ago. Ouch! Quit with the pointy lightning!

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  14. In the oilfields, they encase the computers in steel wraps so they're not dinged too badly by banging wrenches, which is a driller's method of getting everything working again.

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    1. I'm thinking oilfield computers are on their best behavior.

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  15. As a geeky gurl from way back, I just adore this post. Chortling so much! Nothing like a chortle and a good reboot to put everything to rights :-)

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    1. I have to double up on the chortles because I never remember to reboot. Maybe I'll do it now. Yeah! Yes I will! Don't make me come in there!

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  16. When my husband's computer malfunctions, he acts like a 3 year-old who had his all-day sucker stolen. I want him to read this...lol

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  17. It could be something as simple as a bad mouse...but then again, what do I know.
    the Ol'Buzzard

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    1. There are bad mice? My mind is boggling.

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  18. Sometimes ostentatiously checking the warranty date helps. And/or a catalog from a computer store.

    Then reboot.

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    1. Lord spank a springtime duck, I actually believe you.

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  19. I think it was either Edison or the Maytag guy who said, "you can reboot all you want but don't forget planned obsolescence".

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    1. Bill, I want you to know that just now--JUST NOW--before replying to you, I plugged in my external hard drive that I'd unplugged a half hour ago, and it's working again. Yes. I am a capital-J Jenius.

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  20. I have never used my printer as a hat rack...definitely unique idea.

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    1. There's nothing unusual about any horizontal surface in the house accumulating crap on top, though.

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  21. Sadly, a lot of the trouble I have with the computer can be tracked down to screw loose in the operator problems. The trouble is I never know whether it is me - or it. Sigh.

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    1. Those with self-esteem, and the deluded, believe it is the machine.

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  22. One of the nicest features about having a Mac is that almost always if something is amiss, turning off the computer, counting to ten and turning it back on fixes whatever the problem was. I have used this with Mouse problems, loading issues, font foul-ups, refusal to cooperate with what I want it to do.... Love my Mac. This technique Never worked with any of my former PCs.

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    1. And the PC I had before my Mac ran Windows Vista. The horror!

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  23. The IT guy at a former workplace of mine used to tell people that their BCD interface was damaged. Sensing shenanigans, I asked him what that meant and he told me BCD stood for "between chair and desk".

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  24. Reminds me of an old Dilbert cartoon. Catbert was working tech support. Call comes in, voice says, "I'm having trouble with..." and Catbert shouts, "Shut up and reboot!" The Voice replies, "Oh, my goodness, it works! Thank..." and Catbert shouts, "Shut up and hang up!" He then comments on the improvement of his ticket times.

    When I or anyone around me has computer trouble, I tell them to shut up and reboot.

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    1. I'm pleased to report that the amount of time between the onset of the problem and the moment it occurs to me to try rebooting is going down.

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  25. Never discount the innate animosity of the inanimate. I am currently practicing one digit hunt and curse on th iPhone because air book is in the shop. One morning, it refused to start. Black screen. I'm goin nuts without it!

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    1. I'm happy to report that my acquisition of new things that I suddenly discover I can't live without has NOT included my Mobile Cellular Telephone. I don't even remember to take it with me.

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  26. I love my Macs. If something goes wrong I can make an appointment at the Genius bar at my local Apple store. Usually I can figure it out myself, though.

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