Monday, September 27, 2021

My Computer: Can't Live With It; Can't Live Without It by Nancy L. Eady

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? 


Jim Jackson said...

Nancy, To tame the savage computer beast, one must frequently employ the hard reboot -- aka turning off the computer, waiting 30 seconds, turning it back on again.

Teaches the thing who is really boss.

E. B. Davis said...

Jim's solution is true! I use both Mac and PC. I much prefer the Mac. Before I bought a Mac, my pet peeve was finding out their "new" release was really a beta version. I would have a problem and call for a solution to the problem, go through all sorts of diagnostics, all to no avail, wasting hours of time when...the problem would suddenly resolve itself with the next release. It was a bad joke on their customers.

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

I'm conscientious about updates, because I hate trying to turn my laptop off to discover an hour's worth of updates have started loading.

Marilyn Levinson said...

For the most part, I've very little to complain about re my Mac. We are so dependent on our computers, arent' we?

KM Rockwood said...

Perhaps the worst (and best) thing about computers is that they just don't care.

You have to do everything just right (and their way) or they merely fail to perform.
And you can get as mad as you want, yell awful things about the computer's mother, etc. and it will just continue to operate as normal. It doesn't care if this is the first or the first thousandth time you've tired something. It will do what it always has done.

Perhaps the thing I find most frustrating is when I get truly annoyed and start trying everything I can think of, in rapid succession. All of a sudden, the computer does what I needed it to, and I have no idea which of the various combination of key punches & cursor points provided the magic.

Korina Moss said...

They tried to warn us in 2001: A Space Odyssey!

I hate when they change things up -- whether it's where things are located or how to do things. I know it's supposed to work "better" but it's only better if I know how to use it!

Jennifer J. Chow said...

Yes, those gremlins, Nancy!

The updates always get me--waiting for them and then figuring out everything that changed!