I have a love-hate relationship with my computer, particularly with Microsoft products. One reason is that you can never, ever win an argument with a computer or a program. Whatever gremlins inhabit those tiny bits and bytes use many tricks to make sure I lose.
One of the gremlins’ favorite tricks is the “spinning circle” trick. It usually happens when I am in a tearing hurry to get something done and the program decides it doesn’t want to have five windows open at one time. Once the computer has had enough of me, it dispatches a gremlin from the word processor or internet browser to the CPU, the disk, or the memory, (or all three), shouting, “Stop the presses!” The program then refuses to work, showing me a snarky circle that keeps whirling. The odds of this hiccup happening increase geometrically when I am working on something 1) with a deadline breathing down my neck, and 2) I have spent 30 minutes or more working on a critical document without having saved it. And yes, I know that’s why Microsoft invented automatic backup, but somehow my computer never has saved the best part of whatever I didn't save before the crash occurred. And there is nothing more irritating than having to rewrite something you already wrote.
Another favorite trick is the hidden update that improves my life by changing the program. To up the difficulty factor, the change is something important enough not to ignore and subtle enough to require digging through umpteen different settings menus before I can fix the issue. I think the gremlins wander through the setting menus, changing them at random right before I reach them just to confuse me.
Automatic updates are another pet peeve. The computer used to ask me nicely if I wanted to install updates. I would politely answer “Thanks, but no thanks.” So now it takes matters into its own hands. As I get ready to unplug my computer and pack it up, the computer announces it is installing updates, and forbids me to turn it off, implying that world destruction, fire, flood, and earthquakes will ensue if I do.
But the biggest problem with arguing with a computer is that when all else fails, the computer has the last word with the blank screen of death, a blue/green/black screen with just one tiny cursor in the bottom left corner blinking in time to a chorus of gremlins singing, “Ha. Ha. Ha. Ha.”
What drives you most crazy about the tools you use for writing?