Sunday, May 8, 2016

229. Computers Are Stupid

      I hate computers because they’re stupid, just plain, flat-out stupid.  Oh yes, I know they can do fantastic computations and beat us paltry humans at chess, but that’s not smart in the true sense of the word.  They can’t reflect, weigh alternatives carefully, and make logical decisions.  They can only do what they’ve been programmed to do, which makes them the equivalent of a moronic robot, or maybe worse.  Here are some examples of their stupidity.

     When I turn my computer on and want to go online, I get this message:

None of your preferred networks are available.
Choose the Wi-Fi network you want to join from the list below.

This makes no sense to me, nor can I comprehend the gibberish in the boxed list accompanying this message.  So I click “Cancel” and try again, at which point I get the same message and have to click it off again.  And when I do get online, I get a message that I am not online, even though I obviously am.  When I consulted an Apple genius at my local Apple store, all he could suggest was to keep on canceling the first two messages and ignore the third.  So the merry little game continues.

     But there’s worse.  If I touch the screen ever so lightly, it magnifies; the print becomes ten times larger.  So I touch it again, this time intentionally,  usually what’s on it jumps around.  After several more attempts, finally I get back to normal-sized print … maybe.

     On other occasions I get a message that I’m not connected, which in this case is usually true.  Why this should suddenly happen isn’t clear.  So I click the keyboard on, which may or, more often, may not help.  Then I click the mouse off and then back on, likewise usually to no effect.  So with great reluctance I turn the computer off, turn it back on, and wait.  Sometimes this works, and sometimes not.  If it doesn’t, I have to turn the modem off, turn it back on, and wait.  And wait.  And wait.  Slowly the little lights start flashing, informing me that the power is on, then USB (whatever that is), then DSL (ditto), and finally, at long last, the Internet.  But if I didn’t save whatever I was working on when the connection went out, that material is lost.

     And the much-vaunted memory of computers is, to say the least, flawed.  They think they know what I want, based on some past venture, which may have been an error on my part.  As a result, I am offered items that are totally irrelevant.  If I check the stock market, I’ll get offers of low-cost trading, and unsettling announcements about how the market is about to plunge to the nethermost depths, or maybe soar to celestial heights.  None of which interests me in the slightest.  On other occasions I’ve been offered Viagra.

     Then there’s spam – tons of it.  It used to be rare, but now – probably because of some innocent digital foray of mine – it assaults me daily with sweet irrelevancies like these:

·      Mediterranean cruises
·      24-hour road assistance for my nonexistent auto
·      No-hassle life insurance
·      A home warranty that will save me big money
·      A reverse mortgage calculator
·      A program to take off two pounds of belly fat daily
·      Surface coatings to protect my wood, steel, or concrete floors (they should see my floors – all splinters!)
·      A device to charge my devices without cables
·      Help in finding an attorney (“Don’t procrastinate!”)
·      A free (so they insist) cellphone with unlimited texts
·      Burial vs. cremation
·      A degree in marketing
·      An offer to fly business class
·      A camera system to provide security and surveillance in my business
·      New tires at a discount
·      Energy-efficient windows that pay for themselves
·      Help in shopping around for a sports utility vehicle
·      Photos of singles 40+ in your area, free (Wow!)

These offers aren’t just irrelevant; they’re farcical.  But when I try to implement the promised spam detector, I go in circles.

     Granted, some knavish souls might suggest that I’m the stupid one, not my or any other computer.  But computers are supposed to make life easier for us humans, they’re supposed to be docile and helpful servants; instead, they are tricksters, rogues, and morons, depending on their mood of the moment, and the opportunities that arise.  When they aren’t just plain dead stupid, they are cunning and malicious, a real threat to our sanity and well-being.  So take your choice: they’re either abysmally stupid or fiendishly clever.  If the latter, we’d better watch out.

     A clarification: I have a Mac and swear by it.  My quarrel isn’t with the computer itself, but with its programming and whatever else may be involved.  The computer itself is fine; the software is another matter.  And these current problems are nothing compared to those of my first computer, a product of some company whose name escapes me, a company that has since, quite appropriately, gone out of the computer business.  With that computer I would get, when least expected, this message:

This computer has performed an illegal operation
and will be shut down.

And shut down it was, with consequent loss of any material not saved.  This problem, probably embedded in the software, was never solved; it ended only when I changed computers.  On this merry note I conclude.

     The book:  No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World, my selection of posts from this blog, has received a second award: the Tenth Annual National Indie Excellence Awards for Regional Non-Fiction.  It also won first place in the Travel category of the 2015-2016 Reader Views Literary Awards.  (For the accompanying review by Sheri Hoyte, see post #223 of March 27, 2016.)  As always, the book is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

No Place for Normal: New York / Stories from the Most Exciting City in the World

     Coming soon:  Little shops of 14th Street, and after that, New York graffiti.  In the offing somewhere: Mysteries of New York.

     ©  2016  Clifford Browder

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