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Damned computers
by Mike Jennett
2008-02-09 08:30:07
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One day Bill Gates and his partners in this miserable existence we call the computer age will be called to task. No heaven for them. They off down below, to the place of everlasting warmth – and I don’t mean Florida.

Every time I approach the beast on my desk with a view to simple tasks – writing a letter, a list, maybe a little table, for example – I’m expecting a hard time. It happens a lot. The machine might freeze, a session might disappear, Word might forget its formatting and change half my document or a previously used file might have wandered off and lost itself in a vast black hole, presumably somewhere off the edge of my desk.

Those or a myriad of other mini disasters could occur, all of which might have known names and be termed ‘functions’ to be turned on or off, but of course I don’t know those names so can’t turn them off. Yeah, yeah, I know there’s HELP but how do I ask a question like, ‘That nasty thing you just did to me – what was it and please don’t do it again’? Am I’m doomed to forever suffer at the keyboard?

This whole technical spaghetti nightmare is just so like the old days of hi-fi, when your record was only one part of a long chain of components that all affected the sound and replacing any one component might not do much, except deplete your bank account. It might even make the whole thing sound worse.

That was always assuming that component A actually plugged into component B – remember the problems between DIN plugs, RCA plugs and jack plugs and having to try and solder them up? Even if it did actually fit, it wasn’t guaranteed that a signal of the right level went from one to the other. Maybe your new record turntable isn’t powerful enough to feed the cassette deck and hardly anything gets through except hiss. Perhaps the tuner is so powerful, all you get is a buzz of distortion.

No one under the age of fifty will understand a jot about things like that, having grown up with simple compatible components that always work just fine, but now it’s all happening again with computers.

I paid a fortune for a Roxsan turntable, tone arm and cartridge and the only benefit was wonderful reproduction of scratches and dust and the extra exercise I got by having to run over to the thing to lift the tone arm at the end of a side. Bollocks. Two thousand quid down the drain.

After 10 years of irritation every time the arm came loose and flopped about, I lost my cool and gave it away for a curry.

Wish I could do the same with this bloody computer.

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Sand2008-02-09 08:44:48
I am well over fifty and my computer is my doorway to the world. It is my correspondence file, my reference library, my drafting table, my ear to New York radio, my picture file, my easel, my TV, my poetry notepad, my typewriter and creative file, my messenger to publishing sites, my newspaper and it has its bad days but considering what it gives me I see complaining about it as silly.

Rinso2008-02-09 11:49:39
I do recognize your HiFi struggle, but it could be avoided with some common sense. If you don't understand the whole process, don't start interfering with its parts. The same is valid for your computer. Stick with the default settings until you understand what's under the hood. I admit that the older operating systems could be a pain in the ass, but that's long gone now.

Emanuel Paparella2008-02-10 01:48:06
The problem is not the computer but the mind that thinks that it is nothing else but a computer.

Sand2008-02-10 06:56:29
Some minds, obviously need a cold reboot to permit them to start computing instead of making meaningless noise.

Linda Lane2008-02-10 09:14:09
Computer systems are in the age of infancy, and we are not likely to see really useable systems for many years. One of the advancements would be not only sound recognition but semantic knowledge of our languages. Some sound systems built into high end cars are taking the first steps so that "Computer, play Mozart" is becoming reality.

Rinso2008-02-10 13:05:56

The semantic meaning of words is not fixed, but changes over time. Furthermore, the meaning can vary greatly between different social groups. To deal with that, a computer should make assumptions about our life before it can interpret the right semantic meaning. I'm glad this "perfect" computer is still a long way of. I don't like to be classified by a computer.

TheAmazingSanguine2008-02-13 01:01:05
THe computer is only as smart as the person who runs it.

Ghost|BTFH2008-02-13 01:23:09
Might I humbly suggest www.ubuntu.com and try that on for size? You'll find crashes and horrible errors practically a thing of the past, and only a slight learning curve to finding programs that are all 100% free.


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