The Care and Feeding of Computers

You sit down to your computer and press the start button; or you are happily emailing your old buddies or writing your treatise on the mating habits of the razor-beaked fanark. The computer does something other than what you expect; the whole screen turns blue and there is an unintelligible message on the screen telling you something very important. It has to be important; it’s keeping you from what you want to do. It had better be Earth-shattering important.

Your heart sinks into your shoes. You don’t want to admit it but you have a [insert diabolical music here] computer problem. What can you possibly do? Computers sent men to the moon. Computers are powerful monsters, at least in some movies. What have you done to deserve this?

It’s not like a flat tire. You don’t even know how to open the hood of this contraption. Even if you did, you wouldn’t have the slightest idea what is in there.

You are going to need “someone who knows computers” and you hear the cha-ching of a cash register. The last time you heard that sound was when you bought this high-tech GigaHertz RAMMED MegaDual Processor Computer System with a 200 HurtaByte hard drive and the optional fatherboard cooler for more money than your first child cost to get through high school.

Just as your heart slows to a stop, you realize that you do know “someone who knows computers”. He’s your old classmate’s son or your nephew or that strange fellow living in your basement.

“And he just might not charge me an arm and a leg! I can’t expect him to do it for free; I’ll make it worth his time.” You chortle in delight. And you haven’t chortled in quite a while.

“Dude, seriously, I can, like, come over and look at your machine right after [insert some activity that you do not condone].” And you wait.

And you wait. This is followed by more waiting. You eye your computer and think, “You know, maybe, just maybe it’s okay now. Maybe it was just a fluke.” So you try it again, hoping that you will not need to have some strange person spending time in your home after all.

Somehow, you know deep in your heart that you are only fooling yourself. “If I try this thing again, it’s probably going to disembowel me and then burst into flame.” Then you reassure yourself, “Ha! I’ve never heard of that happening.”

Of course you’ve never heard of it happening; dead men tell no tales.

But by now you’ve already got it up and running (or you’ve “booted it up” – yeah, I know what I am talkin’ about here). There’s a familiar beep or two. Things are going okay. Now the computer starts this maniacal never-ending beep which the devil himself must have composed. And that awful blue screen with the warning message from some alien civilization; they are coming and you can’t do anything about it.

Now you’ve gone and done it! You’ve made things worse. This can never be fixed or it can but you will have to use up your retirement funds to finance this. You never wanted to go to the moon. You just wanted to do your thing. It isn’t too much to ask.

Is it?

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