Saturday, January 20, 2007

Very Superstitious
I made the mistake of clearing 3 browser hijack objects from my wife's computer. Now, "everything looks different" since I started "clicking around." I'm in the doghouse.

I have four years of university schooling in computer programming, a tech degree in electronics, and 20 years of continuing education to maintain my professional licenses. I'm the GM of a firm specializing in custom automation design and coding for utility companies. On the side, I like to click around and screw up the computers of unsuspecting housewives.

The problem (as I see it) is a superstitious mindset. I encounter it often.

Customers will often call to complain about something not working properly and will claim it's my fault, even if it's completely unrelated to any issue I've corrected. It usually begins somewhere along the lines of "the lightbulb in my desklamp was working fine until you installed the mux board in the computer room" and ends with me saying something damaging to my career.

People like to ascribe causes to events - any cause. It makes no difference at all to them if they don't understand the cause they're claiming - in fact, blind faith strengthens their resolve.

Imagine calling a microwave repairman and telling him that the microwave was working fine until your husband stood on one foot. He might listen and nod, but he'll not care. He'll poke around, find a bad magnetron tube or a blown xfmr winding, and fix it. If he's feeling generous, he might give you a cause you can understand: "It was an act of God," he'll say.

Anyway, I fixed the "looking different" problem with my "clicking around" while she was in the shower. It was completely unrelated.

I foresee a day when science will downplay causality. They'll claim that it's an illusion which occurs in macro systems, and you shouldn't worry too much about it. Perhaps one day we'll believe it and move on.

That'll probably happen about 2 days after the rapture.

posted by Carl Bryant @ 6:03 PM   4 comments Literary Shirts

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At 12:07 PM, Blogger Beau Blue said...

The thousandth time

"Hi Dean, your phone message sounded serious, what's up?"

"I CAN'T DO X ANYMORE! And I've GOT to get this report out. It used to work, but your guy Justin was in here playing with the machine and now I CAN'T DO X any more! I'm completely hosed. This is a disaster and I wish you'd keep your guys from touching the computers."

"Dean, they're the I - T guys we hired, it's their JOB to touch the computers."

Well then, FIRE Justin, he doesn't know what he's doing, he's hosed mine and I'm screwed and it's all your fault!"

"OK, slow down .. and show me what's going on .."

"See, see this icon it's always done Z when I click it and now it gives me some blank scre... oh .. well .. it didn't work a sec ago. Really! It WAS hosed. ....... But now, it seems to be doing what it should. Hmmm ..."

"Yeah, I get that a lot. It's 'cause the damn things are afraid of me. They straighten up the minute I walk into a room."

"But it was hosed! Really!"

"I know, Dean, it's OK. I believe you. When it happens again, call me, I'll come scare it again. Or, you can call Justin, the damn things are afraid of him, too."




At 11:53 AM, Blogger Carl Bryant said...

That's hilarious, Blue.

Chips fear you. :)

I can stare at Windows Millenium and make it crash, but I don't think that's a fear issue.



At 9:49 PM, Blogger C. E. Chaffin said...

I find, though nowhere near as qualified as you, that whenever you delete an unwanted program for a computer, unintended consequences ensue, as if the machine's history cannot be altered without altering its performance. I recently did something that stupid and it cost me $100 at the computer store. That a man of your education and accomplishments does not understand the computer fiat, "Don't disturb the necessary accretion," gives me hope I'm not a complete dumbass.



At 1:56 PM, Blogger Carl Bryant said...

CE, I take full responsibility for altering the look of a browser window by maliciously deleting a toolbar bundled with a search hijack.

The problem about which she was complaining was an outlook express window she'd never before seen. It was there because a file too large for hotmail was in the sendmail queue.

We tend to think that the way we see things on our computers is the "right" way they should be seen... but honestly... few people view things the same on the internet.

I changed her default encoding last year, when I found out she wasn't seeing many of the characters on the web.

It was a scary change, but we lived through it.



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