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Fear of Fritterware

Last night I had one of the most frightening dreams a man can have. I dreamt that someone, someone who hated me deeply, had given me a brand! new! computer! for Christmas. I woke up screaming, but the dream persisted.

A new computer! I could just see it. It had everything: a processor so fast that it was measured in googlehertz rather than megahertz, more ram than the entire sheep population of New Zealand, a hard drive bigger than the Great Plains, and a megaplex sized-monitor capable of displaying 2.5 trillion ordinary colors at warp six and with such a blistering intensity that your eyes boiled in your skull. A broadband connection so huge it could suck the Library of Congress dry in a nanosecond. The CPU was covered in sable. The keyboard fashioned from rare woods. The wireless mouse was surgically implanted in my finger tip so all I had to do was gesture mystically.

It got worse.

This Christmas puppy came loaded with Fritterware. It had Openfly OS, BrokenWindows Version 6.66, HomelessOffice 2020, Chrome Crunch, TurboSax, iEverthingEverywhere and Schlong. Ye Olde Paperclip was back as the host of my new computer’s “interactive” training program aptly named RageMaker. When I opened the box in my nightmare my first impulse was to rip open all my other presents in hopes that someone had given me a gun so I could just shoot myself.

Nothing is worse than a fully loaded new computer, and I’ve been using them for nearly 40 years. Setting up a new computer is like getting ready to French Kiss an elephant; you know it will be a new experience, but you know it won’t taste like Veal Cordon Bleu.

I presently own and operate three computers (One hopefully named “Power Macintosh.”) I hate all of them in a separate but equal ways. I am not alone.

Given the death-dwarf invasion of Windows 10 and the eternal retail desperation of Welcome to Best Buy Can I Help You Find Something?, I know that all over the world this holiday season, millions upon millions of people will be receiving new computers, and that those computers will truly be the “gifts that keep on giving.”

Those gifts will be:

  • confusion,
  • puzzlement,
  • frustration,
  • despair,
  • disgust, and
  • homicidal rage.

As people across the globe attempt to install backup drives, get routers to WiFiCast through six feet of solid lead,  cheat at Solitaire, and sign-up for an Internet connection so fast is puts Light in a walker, suicide hotlines will begin jam as human beings come face to face, not for the first time, with the only machine in history that makes its customers into human lab animals. And makes them pay thousands of dollars for the pain.

How did we get here?

Why have we become a world of sheep begging the Bill Gates’ of the Silicon City to not only impoverish us, use us, keep us on hold to their aptly name “Help Lines” for hours at a time, and then clip us again with “upgrades” to programs that are less than six months old?

When did we become like junkies who don’t even get the first one free, but have to go back time and again to get the latest, greatest, fastest version of something we didn’t really need in the first place?

The truth is that, over the last 30-40 years that personal computers have been a part of our lives, we have been trained to expect computers to fail. We’ve accepted that they will screw around with our lives and our fortunes. We have slowly and without any organized protest, been suckered into being the Beta Testers for new software and hardware that not only screws up in predictable ways, but is known by the manufacturers to screw up in predictable ways (“The inability for the program to connect with the Internet? Oh yes, that’s a known bug. Well have a patch soon. Just go to our web site and download it.”)

If General Motors were to release an automobile whose steering wheel froze without warning, whose engine took three minutes to load and start itself and then came to a halt when turning left and going downhill five percent of the time, whose windshield suddenly went from clear to black, whose trunk made ten percent of the things put inside disappear forever, whose radio went on and off without warning, whose passenger compartment came with a dog that ate homework daily, and whose Owner’s Guide was the size of a phone book printed in Farsi, would the consumers of the world line up in droves screeching Feed Me!?

If life is brief, how can we go on and on spending oceans of time dicking around with what is, for most people, only a very expensive version of an electric typewriter, adding machine, and mailbox? What can be the reason behind the thirst of millions to own computers with more and more features to fail, and software programs whose primary advance over the previous program is to enable you to put a drop-cap in a thank you note while it secretly emails   your credit card numbers to Bobs Wild World O Porn in Bosnia?

It can only be that besides being junkies and sheep, computer users are also masochists willing to pay for being abused, degraded, humiliated and made to feel as if we hand the intellectual capacity of a Planeria.

Well, this worm is turning. I, for one, am kicking the habit, leaving the barnyard, and getting the whiphand. After almost 20 years of getting bigger, “better,” more powerful computers, I am now going to search for a smaller, slower, more dependable model. I want to find the way-new old computer.

Here are the specs for the computer I really want for Christmas:

1) I want it to go on and off with the touch of a button like a light or a television.
2) I want the mouse to go where I steer it.
3) I want the monitor to be big and bright and never fail.
4) I want ALL the drivers in place so I can drive it.
5) I want it to save everything I do in the background all the time so I never lose anything.
6) I want it to keep track of everything and never lose anything.
7) I want to never again see an error message that reads “Memory Fault at 000E461”( Nobody knows what that means, not even Bill Gates, but the preferred translation is “Neener, neener, neener!”).
8) I never want to wait to wait while we download new art again.
9) I don’t want to see there’s a 40 megabyte $99.00 upgrade for this software. Download? I want the software to be finished when I buy it the first time.
10) I don’t want it to eat my homework, I want it to do my homework.
11) I want it bug free, freeze free, and fritter free the first time.
12) I want it to cost about what a decent rack of babyback ribs costs and be just as delicious.
13) I want it to listen to and understand my voice so I can never again feel I have to run Typing Tutor just to answer my email.
14) I want it to incinerate the junk email that fills up my hard-drive quicker than you can say “Make Money Fast.” and send a letterbomb to spammer.
15) I want all the technoblather that this machines fills the world with to just stop right now! I never, ever, again want to wake up in the middle of the night staring at the ceiling thinking, “JAVA? What is it and why do I have to care about it?”

Personal computers for human beings have been around for over twenty years and it is long past time for the industry’s ‘experimental’ phase to end. Its time for everyone who is tempted to buy a new computer to just say, “We’re mad as hell about being roadkill on the Information Highway and we’re not going to buy in any longer! Use some of your billions to make these machines fit for human consumption before you dump them on the market, or we’re going to force our governments to issue global recalls on these tainted, virus ridden rotten machines! If they can do it to beef, they can do it to silicon.”

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • BillH December 18, 2017, 9:57 AM

    a). Learn a little about their physical structure. b). By the components and software you want. c). Assemble and load the PC yourself. You probably will pay a little more, but you will get what you want and need with no fluff. Been doing it for more years than I can remember. Last pre-built machine I bought had a Pentium II CPU that went into a slot and MSDOS 4.something.

  • R Daneel December 18, 2017, 10:00 AM

    You owe me a new screen cover. The coffee I spit on this one ate it.

  • Rob De Witt December 18, 2017, 10:31 AM

    The technology geniuses of the ’50s envisioned a time when the entire population would be as fascinated as they were with gadgets – NerdsRUs, ad infinitum. “Build your own computer in the evenings after work! Oh Boy! Won’t that be fun, and rewarding, and exciting?!?!?”

    In fact most people’s response is that of our host, i.e. resentment at being forced through circumstance to play with this shit that only a Gyro Gearloose could find of interest. Truly smart people end up being Luddites almost by default, which is to say that they recognize early in the game that all complexity is to be avoided on principle; some of us still haven’t seen a need for mobile phones, for example.

    “Keep It Simple, Stupid” remains the apex of engineering insight.

  • rabbit tobacco December 18, 2017, 10:53 AM

    I use to have a hard drive now all i have is a floppy disk. (old computer joke)

  • pbird December 18, 2017, 10:57 AM

    I enjoy setting up a new computer. Its harmless fun. I think next one I will build myself.

  • Chris December 18, 2017, 11:27 AM

    Windows 10 isn’t a shitshow…it’s actually not too bad. And if you really want something simple get an iMac….took a bit to get used to the CMD-C vs. CNTRL-C, but at the end of the day it’s a great machine that will run longer than I likely will.

  • Gordon December 18, 2017, 1:59 PM

    I used to be in the biz. I knew a lot of obscure Unix commands and I could make MS-DOS sit up and beg. But now, I don’t remember as well as I did back in the 1980s, and I have less patience with computers. It annoys me that if I want to read reviews and comments on Home Depot’s website, I have to switch from Chrome to Firefox. We should be grateful; I remember back in the 8086 days, we had to reboot about every 3 hours, on average. Now my phone goes for weeks without a restart. I’ve used it as an altimeter, an infrared detector, a TV-remote battery tester, a thermometer, a level, and I found out yesterday I can use it as a Geiger counter, in case the terrorists dirty bomb us.

    Sometimes I make calls on it, also.

  • Anonymous December 18, 2017, 1:59 PM

    My undoing, annually, is going to Fry’s mega electronics store (the Las Vegas Blvd branch to add a frisson of degradation to this tale) on Christmas eve prior to dinner and midnight Anglican mass. Wait, it is just “to pick up a few things” at Fry’s. These “things,”and now there many of them, lie dead in my rural Pennsyvania linen closet. Let’s see…a not yet a year old HP laptop which has flummoxed two repair guys who cannot remove it from a permanent state of blank “safe mode,” a doohickey promised to connect two monitors to one monitor that does none of the above and furthermore a bit at the outlet, and let me count the ways with assorted, failed “tablets.”


  • Anonymous December 18, 2017, 2:37 PM

    and furthermore SMOKES a bit at the outlet

  • Din C. Nuffin December 18, 2017, 3:12 PM

    If you cell phone emissions are frying your brain, what do you suppose your laptop emissions are frying?

  • Sixty Ville December 18, 2017, 5:00 PM

    I’ve stuck an add-on hard drive in my Window 7 machine and loaded Ubuntu Linux with the Mate desktop on it, the purpose being to learn how to create a virtual Win 7 machine running under Linux in order to keep all my existing software and not have to worry about viruses for it.

  • Eskyman December 18, 2017, 5:50 PM

    The last computer I had that did things the way I wanted to do them was my old Amiga 2000, way back in the long-distant past. It was wonderful: I could have text boxes any size I liked, try out software without installing it, and my (huge!) 100MB HDD could be totally cloned to one Zip disc. Any hint of failure, and I’d wipe it and reinstall it; took about 5 minutes. It was also pretty much instantly on, unlike PCs. (Sigh.) I still miss that machine, it was fun.

    Nowadays I put up with Bill Gates’ nefarious contraption, which has a charming way of giving me a BSOD when I am most pressed for time; I’m not alone in the fact that never once, never ever, have I actually been helped by any of the Farsi-cal “help” that Mr. Gates’ contraption offers. Even Mr. Paperclip was powerless to offer any useful advice!

    I once studied law, and was disturbed by the fact that software packages you buy are legally protected by being sealed in cellophane, with a disclaimer: once the cellophane is opened then all responsibility for any failure is the owners’. The company selling the dreck is absolved of any guilt; once you open the package, it may cause your computer to melt, cause your toilet to overflow, even burn your house down, and it’s All. Your. Fault.

    I think the answer lies with a typewriter, and several small boxes. The typed information fits nicely on 3×5 cards, which then are arranged alphabetically or numerically in the small boxes.

    Who knows, maybe it’ll catch on!

  • RosalindJ December 18, 2017, 6:11 PM

    14) I want it to incinerate the junk email that fills up my hard-drive quicker than you can say “Make Money Fast.” and send a letterbomb to spammer.

    My way around that particular bit of hell is to not use an email client. Ever. Can’t help with the incendiaries. Not online, anyway.

    The rest, well, I’ve reached my saturation point with the newest this and the whizbang that. I have 10TB of offline backup space (none of that ‘cloud’ crap for me, whatever that is), use a couple of good quality non-smart TVs for monitors, keep in my lane of what I’m familiar with, what I use most, and feel no compulsion to join the lemmings of what’s-next. I mean, it’s a computer, used for my convenience. Not the Borg’s. Things are better that way.

  • lpdbw December 19, 2017, 5:37 AM

    The full book cover, for those who are interested:


    It kinda makes me want to read the book.

  • Grizzly December 19, 2017, 6:38 AM

    Have a Merry Christmas, Gerard, and a blessed New Year.

  • Dan December 19, 2017, 8:08 AM

    I felt this way till I bought a Mac. Like any other household appliance, it works for me, not the other way around.

  • the gold digger December 19, 2017, 8:08 AM

    If I weren’t married to an engineer, I wouldn’t even have a computer at home. I am not a stupid person, but I am just not interested in learning how to build a computer and to design software.

  • Uncle Mikey December 19, 2017, 8:30 AM

    Some of us work at companies that make those things. Just be glad you’re on the outside

  • Ray December 19, 2017, 9:07 AM

    homicidal rage
    Isn’t that the description of what happens to a women’s studies major taking the college algebra course?

  • Mikey NTH December 19, 2017, 9:47 AM

    That all sounds familiar. I was sent a new modem and based on past experience I was reluctant to put it in place because the old one was working just fine. I finally did get it hooked up, restarted everything, and for some reason it works. Is there any other piece of technology that when you hear “We’ve improved it!” you wince and wonder what fresh hell you are going to experience now?

  • Nori December 19, 2017, 9:51 AM

    I turned my Vista desktop into a steampunk ice-maker. At least it’s useful now.

  • John Venlet December 19, 2017, 10:14 AM

    Interesting that the day you post “Fritterware” (yesterday) a brand spanking new computer is plopped down on my porch with, horrors, Windows 10 installed. Surprisingly, and with my longtime distaste for techie stuff, getting it up and going was not that bad, though setup did eat up about six hours of my time. The most disturbing aspect of getting it up and running was how many items appeared on this brand spanking new computer; bookmarked favorites, a desktop photo and a couple other items; without me importing a dang thing. Privacy is largely dead, it seems, if one is in the habit of utilizing anything electronic like a cell phone, PC, or tablet.

  • ghostsniper December 19, 2017, 12:29 PM

    My first taste of a computer was in the summer of 79 at a large engineering firm I was working at. It was a large beast, about 6′ square and as high as a desk, in fact, it was a desk. The monitor, as it was, was built into the top of the desk itself, a recessed piece of glass about 12″ square and you looked down into it at the maze of weirdness therein. Another engineer had been trained on it for a couple months and supposedly knew what was going on but didn’t. This machine was built by WANG, had no mouse and the keyboard only vaguely looked like what you think one should look like. Firing it up in the morning was a 15 minute process and really, it never was fully powered down, but then, my desktops today ALWAYS have little lights on in them even when they’re turned off.

    My next job 2 years later had a computer that was located off-site, in 1982, and what was in my office didn’t resemble anything you ever seen before. I was issued a small Texas Instruments terminal that I kept in my shirt pocket and it was plugged into a device that consisted of 2 large sucker cups that I finagled a landline phone handset into and it was linked to the main office via the phone lines to the main office on the other side of the state (Florida). The 3rd piece of this trifecta was an A sheet size plotter that used Flair marker type pens to draw graphic depictions of stuff my little hand held terminal told it to. Sometimes. But mostly it wasted paper.

    Another year or so goes by and my young son and I are strolling through Toys-R-Us and while trying to ignore the constant stream of “Dad can I have this, Dad can I have this?” I spied a curious device all presented up on an end cap, right next to the Entenmann’s. Why, it was a Commodore computer and it only cost $79.99 and I was instantly smitten! I had to have it! So have it I did.

    Took that VIC-20 home and plugged it right into our non-remote 19″ color TV and stretched out on that triple color shag carpet in our living room with a manual this thick and started pounding that keyboard. And I pounded and I pounded and I manualed and I manualed some more. After 2 long days and nights I hit the “Send Key” and the nightmare ensued. “Syntax Error line 323”. OMG I scrolled to line 323 and found that error, corrected it, hit the send key and “Syntax Error line 575”. WTF??? And so it went, for another day. 2700 lines of hard wrought code later and suddenly seeing my sons name in 8 different flashing colors popping up in random places all over the TV made it all worthwhile. I called him into the room, anticipating the look on his face when he seen it, and he smiled as he always did and said, “That’s neat dad.” and scurried back to what he had been doing. I was deflated. I don’t know what I was expecting but it was more than that. The first in a long line of computer disappointments. I called a friend to come by and check it out but Florida being what it is an afternoon rain storm caused the electric to flicker and all was lost. I had no permanent storage, only 64kb of RAM. I cried like a little gurl. Not really but I wanted to kick the whole shooting works out to the yard. But I didn’t. After a few days of mourning I was back at it, bigger’n badder’n ever. But I eventually bored with the thing and it ended up in a box on a shelf in the garage.

    I started my new architecture business in 1986 and 2 years later a dood stopped by to tell me about this wonderful new thing called CAD, Computer Aided Design, and as naive as a new born babe I signed the paper and he dropped a bunch of boxes in my office and showed up to teach me how to use it. After an hour or so of the s l o w instructions I told him I have to get back to work making money and chased him out the door and told him not to return. Occasionally I’d turn that IBM 286 DOS machine with a 13″ color monitor on and play around for a few mins but it mostly just sat there in the corner furthering it’s dust collection hobby. It too ended up in a box in the garage.

    Then about 1993 a read about the new IBM 486 computer with the all new Windows 3.11 and I had to have it. WOW! This thing was in full color and made instant sense, now maybe I can get some use out of it. I bought a 9 pin Panasonic printer, you know, that tractor feed mess, and since I was subscribed to dozens of computer mags I decided to upgrade the RAM from 4mb to 8 at a cost of just $250. Now I’m cookin! More upgrades ensued, all done by me, and eventually I had 8 computers all based on the 486 format and all of them built from mail order parts by me. I also bought AutoCAD R12 for Windows and spent a year of my spare time learning it and in 1996 I converted from hand drawings (pen and ink on crystalene) to full time AutoCAD. That software cost me $3000 which was quite a bit of coin in 96. Next came the pentiums and I was right in the middle of it, in fact, I was in the front of it. I was so advanced in programming and computer assembly that none of the computer stores in the entire county had the parts I required. I had 2 56k modems in my main machine and I learned about Ebay and then I shifted into high gear. Daily the UPS guy was dropping stuff off at my office and home. My son and I became robots, talking HD’s and CPU’s and specs and statistics at the supper table til my wife put her foot down. This was about 1998. My wife and son were heavily involved with computers too but my wife kept it on a short leash. She didn’t find the same pleasure my son and I did in everything computers. To her they were a job requirement and another way to stay in touch with her family in different states and that was all. My son was very advanced in the programming world and had his own global BBS system with 12 landlines and 3 machines and that is what he does to this very day cept on a much larger scale.

    In 2000 my architecture business was renown and the allure of building computers was receding. Designing giant custom homes on islands that put thousands of dollars in my pocket was much more appealing and all I wanted was a computer that worked every single time without fail. I bought my first DELL in 2002 and have bought half a dozen or more since. As an ex-builder I was initiallt embarrassed to admit that to anyone. In fact, I didn’t tell anyone for a couple years and even then it was just sort of eased into conversations with camouflaged lead-in’s and out-tro’s and I did my best to ignore the side glances around me.

    1-1/2 years ago I bought a new machine with Windows 8.1 and I didn’t know what to do with it. It was not like my Windows XP machines, nothing at all. WTF is this thing? I spent some serious time with this monstrosity and made very little headway. I did the free upgrade to Win 10 and unbelievably everything got worse. For Christmas last year my wife gave me a Dell notebook computer with Win 10 and it mostly just sits over there. I turned it on once when it was new and it had a life of it’s own and wanted to take over my life so I pulled the plug and shut the lid. This Win 10 desktop machine threatens to get the same sentence every single day.

    I still use old XP machines for my AutoCAD and other business related stuff but those machines no longer work for online stuff, they’ve been left behind. sigh So that is what my Win 10 machines are for, online stuff and that’s all. And they don’t do a very good job of it. Piss poor in fact. The best I can figure is all computers now are created for playing games and an internet connection is for social media and everybody else can go pound sand. Web based email? Please. Email is how I get my work and when people want their stuff I have no time for retarded messages like “We are unable to complete that task right now, try again later.” “WHAT??? BITCH, I OWN YOUR ASS AND YOU’LL DO WHAT i SAY!!!!” Nope. Win 10 is not cooperative and doesn’t play well with others.

    My old AutoCAD doesn’t work on the Win 10 machines and AutoDESK no longer sells the software, subscription only, for boocoo dollars and it requires a reliable broadband connection which our Hughes satellite is not. When it rains or snows there is no internet here in the sticks and that’s not likely to change in my lifetime. Right now I have 5 computers here in my office, 3 XP and 2 10, and some are working for me and some I work for. I also have an android Tablet and Phone but those are as retarded as my Win 10 stuff. The light at the end of my computer tunnel looms large and gets twice as big each day and one day soon all of them will be in boxes on shelves out in the garage. But wait, I don’t have enough shelves nor space to make more. So I guess I’ll call the dumpster company, set them all up in the driveway and take a picture or 2 with me standing in the middle, then send them all to their new eternity, absent me. Then I’ll go sit on the porch with a shotgun and a cup of mud and think about the “old daze”.

  • Vanderleun December 19, 2017, 12:33 PM

    Sorry, Ghost, but that one was hidden deep in the filter and I had to dig it out with a pick axe.

  • Suburbanbanshee December 19, 2017, 2:25 PM

    Epic comment, ghostsniper!

  • Snakepit Kansas December 19, 2017, 7:26 PM

    Great read. In 1979 I was in high school and still learning drafting with straight edges and a pencil. I learned how to properly print and when writing, still to this day, write everything in capital letter print. I still have my old tools and use them to make mechanical drawings before building a piece of furniture, finish wood trim on the inside of a window, etc.

    Skills that are becoming obsolete. Like map reading & pace counting.

  • Ed December 20, 2017, 12:08 AM

    It’s late and there’s a big day coming tomorrow. So, I’ll return to finish reading from the ghost on down. But here’s a bit of history for y’all before I forget.

    The first computer users were Adam and Eve. She had an Apple and he had a Wang.

    Good night.

  • ghostsniper December 20, 2017, 1:37 PM

    @Snake. Good for you. To have the knowledge of how to use that equipment is invaluable and expands the mind in ways not otherwise available.

    It comes with a price however. To design you must see beneath the skin of the thing – what makes it work.

    I am educated and trained in all types of drafting but prefer architecture. I draw everything. Next summer I plan to remove the bed from my 1991 S10 that I bought brand new in 1990 and install a universal flat bed that will accept a variety of options from a stake bed, to a small camper, to a cargo hold, etc. I found a large profile picture of the 1st generation S10 online and imported it into autocad on it’s own layer, then, on an overlay layer I am carefully tracing the outlines and details which I will then harmonize with actual measurements of my own truck. I will use this drawing as the basis for the design and fabrication of the other things I mentioned.

    Not a day goes by that I do not “design” something in acad and currently have about 80 working files on my desktop alone and over 40,000 files on the hard drive. It has become an extension of my mind, thoughts, and endeavors. I use acad for things not normally used for. Grocery lists, calendars, to-do lists, colorwheels, with google maps – training patterns for my mutt Shannon, anything I can think of.

    I am forever handicapped by my education and experience from never being able to appreciate things, naively, as a novice. I could stroll through one of Donald Trumps mansions and while the average person will be spellbound I will be noting the unnecessary seams in the 11″ crown molding, the irregular spacing between the door blanks and the casing, the variances in the tile grout widths, trying to figure out the floor joist centering, etc., etc. Can’t help it and it has always driven my wife insane. She sees the beauty and I see the errors. Can’t help it. The pathway to perfection is strewn with disappointments and the uphill journey is never ending. Sometimes I wish I could have normal person eyes but then I let that foolish whim pass and relish my eyes of inquisition. I hafta know why, I just hafta. And my autocad is a helpful tool in that regard. It is an extension of me.

  • Jay Dee December 20, 2017, 4:16 PM

    My friend in IT says,
    Buy a tablet. You press “on” and it comes on. Immediately. Press “off” and it turns off. If you create content, buy a WiFi keyboard. Store your documents on the cloud so if your nursing home roommate steals your tablet and pawns it for heart medicine, you don’t lose your documents.

  • Smokey December 21, 2017, 11:52 AM

    Me, I just want an old flip phone…

  • JiminAlaska December 19, 2018, 10:30 AM

    lpdbw posted a link to the full book cover, at flicker, above. With my wood fired Dell and my clothesline internet connection up here on top of the world, it took a full minute and a half for the link to load. It’s a good thing I’m a drinking man.

    BTW; Most of the desired functions Gerard lists used to be available via a filing cabinet, a book shelf and a good secretary. I’ve been out of the work force for quite a few years now but I do remember secretaries, including the good ones, started to rapidly disappear with the advent of desktop computers.

  • theduchessofkitty December 19, 2018, 10:42 AM

    “If I weren’t married to an engineer, I wouldn’t even have a computer at home. I am not a stupid person, but I am just not interested in learning how to build a computer and to design software.”

    See, I’m married to an engineer. And I’m not afraid of a computer.

    But when the hubby put a fist on his work laptop, thus causing lines upon lines of plastic screen to look like a shattered car windshield, I wised up. I took one class in computers at my community college. Then, two more. Then I learned computer programming is nothing less than applied algebra… and I had loads of fun doing it! Soon enough, I learned three or four programming languages. And then, came a diploma in the mail. Graduated Phi Theta Kappa.

    I found go on, but now I my household, two people can fix a computer, and the kids are slowly learning as well. Of course, the hubby still punches holes on the wall… from time to time… But I know how to fix it.

  • Teri Pittman December 19, 2018, 6:08 PM

    It could be worse. You could do tech support for a living. Even though I support their internet connection, people call me and ask me to sort out how to set up their new computer. With Windows, you need an outlook.com address. And, another great feature, you have to put your contacts in through the web interface and they will trickle down to your email program. Macs aren’t a lot better. Mac Mail sucks big time. New Macs are designed so that you can’t do your own work on them. Even old time Mac users are unhappy about it.

    I run old computers. I have Linux Mint on the two PCs. (I use a ThinkPad R500 to connect to my work PC remotely). I have two iBook G4s and a Powerbook G4. What kills old computers is the browser. It’s not so much that they are slow (and they are) but the older browsers don’t handle modern websites. The computers work fine for everything else. When I finally upgrade to an Intel based Mac, I’m going for a 2012 Macbook Pro. Supposed to be one of the best Macs made. (And I am using my Palm again too. It’s sort of nice to have a device that doesn’t require the internet).

  • Ulysses Toole December 19, 2018, 6:20 PM

    I’m still working on this stupid Heath-Kit TS-80! Keyboard is still good.

  • jwm December 19, 2018, 7:01 PM

    Confusion–> Homicidal rage.
    Yep. Went through the whole sequence a few times over after getting a new computer with Windows 10(th level of hell) last summer. There is nothing whatsoever to recommend the experience.
    It reminds me of getting a Brooks bicycle saddle. They tell you that the Brooks is very comfortable after you break the saddle in. That takes a year, at which time you find out that the saddle hasn’t conformed to your ass, your ass has conformed to the saddle.
    What can you say? You just get used to the damn thing eventually.

    oh yeah– just got a new cable company/ phone provider. That was fun, too.


  • Sam L. December 19, 2018, 8:19 PM

    Gerard, this was the RANT of Rants! The RANTIEST Rant I have ever read. Thou hast nailed it with a thousand nails from a .50 caliber nail gun. DAMN, you GOOD!!!!!

  • sTevo December 20, 2018, 3:16 AM

    In the unlikely event you end up with a W10 machine, search for ‘Make Windows 10 Great Again’ and then run it. It will take about 20 minutes on the first pass to delete the bloat, set up the spygate firewall settings, turn off cortana and a bunch of other things. Then you can go through and turn off all the stupidly configured scheduler updates. But like you say, who wants to have to paint their own new car…

    I, for one, will never bow the the Apple gods but I am slowly coming around to sitting at the feet of Linux.

  • H December 20, 2018, 3:46 AM

    Well back when compooters were fabricated from wrought iron and ran on steam power, I got trained up as a graphite draftsman and was pretty darn good at it if I say so myself. My first job out of school was with a construction company and over time, wandered into project design and management and then project sales. So I definitely relate to what Snakepit and Ghost are saying, although I did my time working with processing plants and large bulk storage facilities that weren’t as elegant as what Ghost worked with. I got into the project management/sales thing about the time AutoCAD was coming in and never became proficient with it, although I can open it up and lookit things and snap dimensions as necessary.

    And I absolutely get the ability to work in layers and import blocks of machines and other things and spin them around and move them without manually erasing and redrawing things. What an improvement that is. But here’s the thing.

    Once up on a time, a guy could wander into the drafting department before or after regular work hours and keep an eye on what the graphite draftsman was doing with, or in some cases, doing to his project and head off problems early. This because the drawing was on vellum and on the drafting board for all to see. Then all those jack-wagons got AutoCAD and drawings were only visible on the little compooter screen and disappeared within the magic box when the machine was turned off. The electronic drafts-people learned right quick (instantaneously, in fact) that they could control what the project manager saw and could do. Also they could be tap-tap-tapping away and you had no idea what they were actually working on. Those inmates absolutely ran the asylum. Perhaps in Ghost’s shop it was different because it was HIS shop and people served at HIS convenience, but in most of my corporate experience, that’s the way it was and it sucked.

  • H December 20, 2018, 3:59 AM

    Oh yeah, what I initially sat down to write. I was a long-time HP/Compaq user based on what my employer used even after I changed jobs and could run what I wanted. And I noticed about 24 to 30 months was all they would run before suffering a massive failure. Eventually I became aware that the newer solid state hard drives were getting big enough to be useful, and got a recommendation to switch to Toshiba, which I did. The SSD drives fire up a heck of a lot faster than normal disk drives. Also I’m on my second Toshiba laptop. The first one, I retired as a precaution at 3 years without any problems and the second one is coming up on 4 years now, also trouble free. That’s a heck of a lot better than the HP/Compaq folks could manage. Anyway is what I think; your mileage may vary.

  • Larry Geiger December 20, 2018, 5:40 AM

    “7) I want to never again see an error message that reads “Memory Fault at 000E461”( Nobody knows what that means, not even Bill Gates, but the preferred translation is “Neener, neener, neener!”).”

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  • ghostsniper December 20, 2018, 6:43 AM

    H, I worked for 22 years (1972-1994) with pens and pencils and paper, professionally, before ever getting involved with AutoCAD. My goal was simple, find a CAD program that could replicate my “style” of drafting as closely as possible. I had spent many a year perfecting my “style” and it was almost bullet proof. Clients and Contractors loved my drawings, building and zoning dept’s swooned. This was important. After previewing more than 30 CAD programs in great detail it was clear that only one would even come close to what I needed, AutoCAD R12 for Windows, so I purchased it. It was monstrous all the way around. I bought a book, a very large book, don’t remember the name now. I started the AutoCAD class at the vo-tech twice and quit twice as it was so slow, I was much faster on my own. Believe me, nobody makes mistakes faster’n me when I’m on a mission to do so. HA! It was a full year before I created my first set of acceptable drawings that believed adequate for a client. It was a small remodeling job on an existing home. I have every drawing I ever did in Acad and when I loo at that first drawing now it is embarrassing.

    AutoCAD is like the perfect employee that does EXACTLY what you tell it, so you have to be very precise and careful in what you tell it to do. It doesn’t think, it has no personality, and it can’t make decisions. It can only do what you tell it. Working with Acad causes one to think about how they do what they do. After 20 years much of my drawing was based in muscle memory. I traded a parallel bar and a pen for a mouse and keyboard so muscle memory had to be re-established.

    Last week I was about 14 commands into a transparent command and the electricity flickered and shut down the machine. DAMN! Hate it when that happens. It had been about 10 minutes since my last save (I do’nt use AutoSave cause it interrupts my CPU when it saves and causes problems) and I cover a lot of territory in 10 mins. And I didn’t know when the power was coming back on. All of this stuff over the last 10 mins had to be suspended in my memory until I got some juice. It was then that I vowed to make my own battery back up with industrial strength to keep my systems running no matter what. It will be powered with solar panels.

    BTW, if you type “Time” without quotes at the command line you can see how the user is using his/her time. If the workstations are networked the master can see what’s on any given monitor anytime. So that tabbing back n forth between acad and online pr0n is a thing of the past.

  • John December 20, 2018, 7:44 AM

    @Pittman 6:08 pm
    “When I finally upgrade to an Intel based Mac, I’m going for a 2012 Macbook Pro. Supposed to be one of the best Macs made.”
    I agree completely. Some of them had a video problem which should have been fixed in a recall but not everyone did, since you’re buying used, watch out for that. Otherwise they never got any better. I had one with the video problem and one I accidentally physically destroyed, but they’re available pretty cheap used and if you don’t kill them they last forever and work great. Apple should get a clue and just keep making them like they did the old AppleII. (1977 to 1993 if I remember correctly).

    As for the original post…. don’t get me started. Even Macs are rage generators now. Windows has gotten better, Mac has gotten worse, Linux hasn’t changed, they are all now equally infuriating.

  • Kevin Dickson December 20, 2018, 8:00 AM

    It’s almost like you’ve been reading my email. I got up this morning sat down and found that my wife had crashed my computer. It took 15 minutes and two cups of cold coffee to get her up and running again.

    This was a great piece……one of the funniest you’ve done this year.

    Finest regards…………………………KD

  • GaGator December 20, 2018, 6:00 PM

    Like I told my kids some 40 years ago, our first TV was kerosene powered and cranked up
    with a pull cord like the lawnmower. We had to watch it by candle light since REA’s wires
    hadn’t yet reached our chicken farm. Missing those good old days here, boss.

    Ga Gator

  • Anonymous December 21, 2018, 4:55 AM

    Ghost, exactly. You said ‘spent many a year perfecting my “style”’ and that’s what AutoCAD lacks, any form of soul or style. There is no flair, there. The old guys worked damn hard perfecting their style and for the rest of you, in large departments a draftsman hardly needed to identify himself in the “drawn by” box in the title block of the drawing; his style of work and lettering was instantly identifiable at a glance. I just knew you’d know what I was talking about.

    Well. Time marches on. In balance that’s probably a good thing but something subtle has been lost. I wonder if you can even buy graphite drawing instruments and Leroy lettering guides these days. Yard sales, maybe.

  • ghostsniper December 21, 2018, 9:02 AM

    Anon knows! HA!
    While it was possible to create my “style” in AutoCAD to replicate my hand drawn style, some things had to be left behind due to speed and ease.

    A thing I learned in school was that where two or more lines cross, to extend the lines beyond their points of termination, so as to create a “crisp” corner. Try it and see. Drawn a line, then butt a perpendicular line into it, then hold it at arms length and observe. The corners appear slightly round and sloppy. A trick of the eye known way back in Vitruvius’ day.

    Now draw another line like before, but when you draw the 2nd line perpendicular to it, continue the 2nd line past the 1st line a little bit – maybe an 1/8 of an inch. Hold it at arms length and you’ll see the corners seem more crisp and accurate.

    In AutoCAD, to make that line cross over the 2nd line and continue for a little bit, on every single crossover, is quite the chore. It would take 10% more time throughout the whole set of drawings to do that. So I don’t. There are lots of little things like that that the average observer wouldn’t see, but I see it and that’s what mattered. For me it was never about just an accurate set of drawings, but an accurate set of drawings that were easily understood, adhered to traditional drafting practices, and a celebration for the ocular glands.

  • H December 22, 2018, 5:54 AM

    Sorry about that, Ghost, ’twas I, ol’ H the curmudgeon his-own-self what wrote the “exactly” comment.

    Lots of little tricks of the graphite draftsman are now lost on the ash heap of progress. If that’s what passes for progress these days.

  • Casey Klahn December 19, 2019, 5:54 PM


  • ghostsniper December 19, 2019, 6:59 PM

    Well here we are again, a year later and a lifetime of horror. I’m still using an XP machine to do my work and I have purchased a 2nd XP machine for when the current one stops. I cloned the HD in XP1 and installed it in XP2, so all is well with the world as far as that goes.

    But that’s not as far as it goes. Not by a long shot. I was having multitudes of problems with 2 different Win10 machines and finally kicked both to the curb and gave my friends at Dell a call. On the 1st of Dec they delivered a brand new Win10 desktop tower and on the 10th they delivered a Win 10 notebook, then on the 15th I got a new Samsung cellphone. About $1500 worth of technology just like that. Took a few days to get all of it running for the most part but all these new things want to “talk” to each other. For MY convenience. Convenience comes at a cost. Robocallers were now showing up on my desktop screen. My neighbor texted me asking if we were still on for shooting on Sat and I replied in the affirmative. 10 minutes later my sister in San Diego called and asked me if I knew a guy named Chad (my neighbor) and that she received a text from him asking about gun stuff. WTF? So I had to go through all 3 new devices turning stuff off. Yes, I put a piece of bluetape on the camera and mic of the notebook. Just this very moment my phone made a melodious sound, I looked at it but the screen was black as it should be, and I have no idea what that sound meant. I’ll take a look tomorrow.

    I’m under the suspicion that we are now at the stage to where computers do whatever they want and if you ask pretty please wif brown sugar on top they might let you in for a few brief moments. But you can’t trust them, now more than ever. They run til they don’t and even after you turn them off they are still on. Why do Dell computers have a green LED light on the back that stays on all the time even when it’s turned off? The only real way to turn em off is to pull the plug, but alas, the motherboard had a flat battery that has a lifespan of at least 8 years so truly you can’t really turn them off at all. They, like us, only die from major calamity or old age. Someday that may not be the case and computers will live forever unless a maniac like me takes an axe to it. Careful though if you do that and make sure that bluetape is still working otherwise Cortana might SWAT your ass.

  • Larry Geiger December 20, 2019, 5:24 AM

    The other day you posted a picture of Orville and Wilbur. Our current computer situation is comparatively just after that picture was taken. Maybe a year or two. It’s still going to take a couple of decades to get to the equivalent of 747s. In 2035 people will have no idea what we are talking about here.

  • Annie Rose December 20, 2019, 6:11 AM

    I run my own business and must have a reliable computer that’s easy to use. My suggestion: get a basic Mac and a backup hard drive. Current Macs are basically plug and play with automatic connections to devices such as WiFi routers, printers, etc. Unless you are a gamer, graphic artist, or web nerd, basic is best. Finally, never ever ever allow your computer to auto update. Wait a couple of months for all the glitches to be worked out and then manually update. CNET will probably have an article comparing newer basic computers according to the use.

  • Jack December 20, 2019, 8:22 AM

    I’ll say it once and then repeat it: Mac, Mac.

  • Francis W. Porretto December 20, 2019, 8:30 AM

    You young folks don’t know how lucky you are. Why, when I was your age, a byte only had two bits — and they were both ones! Everything was in Roman numerals. We had to do long division on an abacus!

    Seriously, Gerard, I sympathize. Computers were my trade for nearly fifty years. I was good with them. I was the “go to guy” for problems that terrified other engineers. But here I sit, four and a half years into retirement, and I share virtually all your complaints despite my former (and mostly current) expertise.

    Probably the thing I resent most is having to repurchase software when I get a new computer. Why aren’t the licenses transferable? No answer…or at least none that would please. And this new bit about leasing software yearly rather than purchasing it outright has me sweeping up copies of all the prior versions for which the license is good in perpetuity. Though I don’t doubt that the Powers That Be are working on a way to invalidate all those older, mostly reliable programs.

    So I maintain three “working” machines. The first, which runs Windows 10, is Internet-connected and serves me for Web access. The second, which runs Windows XP, is air-gapped, and is my software development platform where all my tools are staged. The third, which runs Windows 7, is for fiction, accounting, and other unsavory pastimes. A fleet of thumb drives allows transportation among them, though in recent years that’s become less necessary. And I never, ever throw away a CD or a license key!

    Merry Christmas to all, and may your New Year be a blessed one filled with all the good things in life.

  • Vanderleun December 20, 2019, 8:38 AM

    And a merry and holy Christmas to you old friend.

    I too have three computers. First is this iMac from about 8 years back on my table in the dining room with a view of the trees and the apartment across the way where the bong smoking never stops.

    The other is a windows machine in the small back room that I hope to transfer to once I can get that room sorted out after moving in last July.

    The 3rd is a Samsung portable Chrome book for travel.

    Been on the Internet since 1987 and the six letter command string on Compuserve and The Source.

  • leelu December 20, 2019, 8:39 AM

    Take you oldest box, move all of your files to one of the other two, then download either Bodhi or Mint 18 Linux. Either one will have the Debian software library, which has a very nice office suite, video playing app, disk burner, e-mail client, browsers, graphics programs, oh, and it figures out the drivers you need and installs them. It keeps track of the upadates you need, and can install them automagically without ever disturbing you you. I finally got to where I run all Linux all the time a couple of years ago. And, if you *need* a Windows program, there are ways to make that happen to.
    You can test run either from a bvoot CD/DVD/thumb drive. so you can take it for a spin before you make any changes.
    I’d be happy to help.

  • James ONeil December 20, 2019, 12:34 PM

    Hum Gerard, think it’s time to upgrade your old iMac, I was just reading the other day you can get Mac’s latest and greatest tower for $51,000. Of course if you want the wheels put on it, that’ll be 400 more bucks (Nope, I’m not being facetious, those are real numbers.).

    I’d been an Apple only user for around 30 years, starting with the Apple II Plus, but 10 years ago I was disappointed once too often by the latest iteration, unplugged my Mac Mini and moved over in to the Linux world.

    I’ve no complaints regarding the time I spent in the Apple orchard but today’s Apples are a bit too wormy for me and I find far more versatility in the open-source plowed Linux fields.

    (This post typed using a Dell Inspiron tower costing less than 400 bucks with a free Ubuntu Linux operating system running mostly, free, open sourced, applications and programs.)

  • leelu December 20, 2019, 4:54 PM

    Tell yew whut… I’m gonna gin up a Linux Mint disk, and a Bodhi thumb-drive, and send them off to you via snail mail of some brand or another. You can boot from them nd fiddle around a bit.

  • BGarrett December 20, 2019, 5:47 PM

    Every cellphone I have bought operates different from previous and NONE have instructions. I have had to ask children how to turn them on!

  • Vanderleun December 21, 2019, 7:51 AM

    Okay, leelu, I’ll keep an eye peeled.

  • James ONeil December 21, 2019, 12:54 PM

    It’s relatively easy to set up Oracle’s VM VirtualBox or another virtual box in and under just about any computer operating system wherein you can run/test the Mint system leelu sends you without affecting your existing system system, programs or data.

    Also, as I suspect you already know, you can partition your hard disk and have two or more bootable distinct operating systems on the same machine.

  • Wade Hampton December 19, 2022, 4:03 PM

    “…1) I want it to go on and off with the touch of a button like a light or a television…”

    Orale, mi hermano.

    I’ve been saying for as long as I can remember that personal computers need to be as simple to operate as a television or a vacuum cleaner. Plug it in. Turn it on. It should do what you want it to do without having to read a user manual. At one end of the spectrum is the Internal Revenue Code. At the other end is a toaster. The personal computer needs to be as close as possible to the toaster end of the spectrum.

    I used to be a Windows person, someone who had contempt for Mac people who were willing to pay twice what I could pay for comparable functionality. Then I switched to Mac in August 2008, and my stress level for my personal computing world went from 10 on a scale of 1-10 down to 1. I’m willing pay more to not to live in fear of my computer.