“Computers are incredibly fast, accurate and stupid; humans are incredibly slow, inaccurate and brilliant; together they are powerful beyond imagination.” — Albert Einstein
Computers: You can’t live with them and you can’t live without them
Cantankerous Old Coots are dealing with the scourge of modern existence today- computer problems. This week Bob’s computer just won’t connect to the internet. And you know what that means – we finally found a way to shut Bob up. It’s not a complete solution because Bob still can Skype. He can still write too ( if that is what you call his rambling rants) but without the internet he can’t share his wisdom. And that pisses Bob off!
Bob is no computer whiz but what he lacks in knowledge, he more than makes up in brute force. Any moment now, I expect to feel the blast of hot air from the Georgia backwoods when he finally wills his computer into submission and gets connected with civilization again. Meanwhile, it’s just another rainy day in California while I fill the vacuum here at Coots.
Computers have changed our lives
Bob’s misadventures with computers, just remind me how dramatically computers have changed our lives. We haven’t reached the deadly evil genius computers like HAL in 2001, a Space Odyssey. What we have today is actually much worse. Computers have become something far more destructive and insidious than HAL ever dreamed of being. We used to joke about government bureaucracy and senseless rules and red tape that stopped us from living our lives. That was then. This is now. That government stuff hasn’t gone away but today we are far more constrained by computers constantly telling us no than we ever were by bureaucrats. And when you are fighting you computer, there is no recourse.
We understand humans
Bob is a good example. When Bob gets messed up by a bureaucrat, he knows what to do. He knows who to talk to and what buttons to push. Not everybody has Bob’s connections, outweighs the police department and knows how to start a strategic lawsuit, but most of us know how to talk to people and bug them until they have to respond. None of that stuff works with computers. You can sit on them, threaten a law suit and talk at them until you are blue in the face. It won’t make a difference. No wonder Bob is flummoxed.
Who are you going to call?
But Bob is not alone. Sure you can call the Geek Squad or whatever the marginally computer literate computer service guys call themselves in your neck of the woods but once you do that, it is all over because first they will babble some nonsense at you. Then they will fuss around for a while and sigh. And finally they will happily sell you a new computer because something got corrupted in your old one. If you try to debug on your own, the computer pretends to be helpful and gives you cryptic messages but it is all a sham to make you feel guilty. Soon you become frustrated and buy the idea that it is not the computers fault that it won’t work. It is all your fault. So when you finally give up in desperation, you are no longer mad at your computer, you are mad at yourself. Buying a new computer is your penance for being so stupid and ruining you old one. They have us cowed!
Here’s hoping that Bob prevails and gets his computer back in line. If anybody can do it, it will be Bob. Me, I no longer fuss at my computer. I don’t pretend any knowledge or mastery at fixing problems. I give up and buy a new one immediately.