Nothing Works and Everything is Broken

It’s a favorite saying of mine:

Nothing works and everything’s broken.

Lost Keys The funny thing is, it’s one of those things that we may say because it sure feels like the truth, even if it isn’t true, and then it more or less happens. Let’s get to specifics, cause the specifics will allow me to vent. I have to fix all this stuff. My ladyfriend’s desktop computer is broken. The hard drive shorted out and I’ve been recovering data since. Her laptop has this funny thing where it’ll overheat if it’s not turned upside down or vented every once in a while. Both fans are ok, according to her uncle who bought the stooopid thing. My computer has a hard drive that randomly disconnects, every couple weeks or so, and must have its IDE cable detached then reattached. This involves opening the case and finding the particular drive. That’s always fun. Today, my iPod wouldn’t work. None of the programs was recognized as a “valid Win32 application.” And all that was caused by one file, one file that was improperly copied and so left an unfinished bit dangling off the end, causing Windows to ceaselessly, uselessly read the damned bit. Fucker.

Decorating SuppliesEnough techno-talk. What am I saying here?

You know, they always say people die in threes. Like, three famous scientists will all pass away within a couple of weeks, and maybe a couple months later three famous television personalities will die—one of a heart attack, one of old age, and one from a freak accident involving a blender and a foreign voltage outlet? These things seem to happen a lot. Of course, it’s probably just a perceptual fallacy. Human beings are pattern-seekers. It makes sense in our evolution that we should discover patterns in nature so we can predict and exploit them. Hence, the “laws” of physics. Dependable things those are. Trouble is we tend to seek patterns in everything, even those place where there are no patterns: like the letter pi. And then we go crazy.

Hopefully the computers are just circumstantially entropic. They are complicated systems. Complicated systems tend to gather more entropy as they have flaunted so far in becoming as complex as they are. Entropy: the Grim Reaper dressed like an accountant. And who likes an accountant, really? Not me.

Caveman I.T.

Let me address, for a moment, a subject of male preoccupation: machines.

Damnable machines. The intricacies and interminglings of mechanical and electrical, the mystery and lure of esoteric knowledge, the elusive and seductive usefulness of them—such aspects evoke what the ancient ones would call the summoning of spirits. Caveman call to God with the same sticks and stones. A key turned, a button pressed, and a powerful and nigh-understood beast is yours to command. As spoken by Arthur C. Clarke: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Think about it. I haven’t.

Years ago American lore tells us that we men were fascinated with automobiles. We knew all the intricacies of engine parts, created mythologies (such as the ever-faulty Knuter valve), and “talked shop.” How quaint. Today these honored traditions are mostly just useless and annoying distractions. Example. Example. Example. Which of course makes them dishonored traditions. Because people have pooped on them.

Today, modern machines of manliness aren’t built from aluminum, but rather silicon wafers. By my scientific calculations the average american male knows a hefty 1.8 terabytes more in the category of “shit about computers,” as compared to the relatively clueless american female. Bear in mind this fake statistic takes no account of age and there are often pleasant exceptions. But by and large, I think you’ll agree, womenfolk have to deal with us cause it’s a man’s job to take care of the computers.

The ramifications: if you’re like me, there will be occasions when every-single-person-you-know will want you to fix their computer. Recently I had two computers break on me—the same day. The first, the PSU simply exploded… or, uh, imploded… I don’t know cause I wasn’t actually there… but am told the sparks were impressive either way. And the second? It’s PSU was momentarily temporarily disconnected. This (of course) caused catastrophic driver corruption. It’s now stricken with the condition I like to call “POS syndrome.” And, the day before, I’d picked up an old-timey laptop which needed to have everything reformatted, reinstalled, and re-gotten-working-again. Windows ME doesn’t seem to even exist on the internet.

And so, my essential caveman nature was faced with three highly sophisticated (highly busted) thinking machines. We’ve only evolved so much in 10,000 years, people. Let me assure you that only the best-placed utterings of damnation can sway a determined machine. General cursing helps, but not as much as besmirching the name of Engelbart. They hate that kind of besmirching.

How I eventually managed to fix all these problems isn’t actually important. Even though you probly’ve been lead to believe it is, by me. Although hint hint—my method did involve money and throwing. Needless to say the computer that’s mine is working again.