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what does your pc really think of you?
a light hearted look at the technological age
by louise arnold

When you are using your computer, do you:

a) Try not to eat in the near vicinity

b) Eat, but be careful not to spill anything

c) Eat and drink regardless

d) Discover you could exist purely on the food you can salvage from beneath your space bar, left from that drunken time you ate a kebab and six packets of biscuits while typing.

I’ve never really been into computers – well, not before I met my man. Truth be told, before I met him, if you could get me an EtchaSketch with Word and Solitaire installed, I’d have been happy as Larry. It was my boyfriend that really opened my mind to computers. For example, did you know there’s a level of hell reserved solely for people that use Windows Millennium? It’s true, it’s right next door to the level reserved for people who leave crumbs in their keyboard, and it’s not quite as warm as the level dedicated to People Who Open Attachments That End In Exe.

All things taken into account, I’m doomed to cyber hell. Until a few weeks ago, I had a pet ant that lived off the crumbs in my keyboard. I kept this relationship secret, sure that my boyfriend wouldn’t understand. I’d type away, and Eric would scurry about, eating and waving his little antennae at me.

I got rumbled the day Eric invited some thousand ant friends over to share the riches. Kieran (my long suffering man) found them busily building a new citadel beneath The Router, and followed the trail back to my guilty collection of sticky tea rings on the desk, chocolate wrappers, and all sorts of things that categorically Don’t Mix With Computers But That Ants Positively Love. An ant trap was bought, and Eric and his extended family soon disappeared. A few disparaging comments were made, and I’ve been gently advised not to eat biscuits and type at the same time.

I don’t think I’ll ever properly understand that bond between man and computer. They say diamonds are a girl’s best friend, and that dogs are man’s best friend. They way I see it, computers are the fair weather friends. The friends that come round for free food and drink, that are there all the times you are laughing, but the second you leave them alone with your partner, your vintage wine, your brand new dress, or your latest secret, their true colours shine through. Your computer will betray you. It’s just a matter of when.

Do not ever give the lie that your printer broke when you are late to hand in an essay. Your computer will somehow ascertain that you used this lie, and will deliberately and maliciously break next time you print off an essay, knowing full well that using that excuse twice will make you look like a fool.

My dad used to love his computer. It was an ugly hulk of plastic that coughed and whirred like an asthmatic cyberman, but dad and computer bonded nightly over games of Minesweeper. Man and computer locked in a battle of wits. Except, one day Minesweeper decided to levitate up the page, and would constantly load up hanging half off the screen. Poor dad, unable to see half the potential mines, decided to uninstall the game and start again. Now, I have a sneaking suspicion that all the hours invested interacting with this game had somehow imbued this game with sentience. Tasting its own impending mortality, minesweeper took over the PC, and locked dad out.

For weeks.

“I’m scared Dave.”

In the end, my brother managed to coerce the PC back into life, on the condition that Minesweeper stayed exactly where it was. An uneasy truce was reached.

Kieran and his PC regularly fall out. Most of the time they are the best of friends, laughing together, working together, a great partnership. Like Morecombe and Wise, had Wise been made entirely from plastic, circuit boards and wires, and was constantly plotting Machiavellian style the downfall of Morecombe. Many’s the time I’ve left the room with those two happily interacting, and returned some few minutes later to see Kieran desperately rummaging through the PC’s entrails with a screw driver and using language that would make Tarantino blush. The next day, it’s as if nothing ever happened. But I know, Mister PC, I’ve cottoned onto your game.

Girls have all known the friends that smile sweetly, laugh appreciatively and then stab you in the back with a well honed stiletto heel at the first opportunity, so I feel we have a slight advantage in this game. Spare a thought then, for the poor men who have yet to be broken into the world of Dallas style friendships, the men who blindly trust their PCs with their secrets, their unsaved documents, their favourite games. The men who time and time again are let down by their PC’s, swiftly and brutally betrayed by technology. While I may have accidentally installed the pretty park virus on my PC one time (Hey Damini, would you like to see a picture of a pretty park? CLICK HERE!!), and while I may not be able to tell a CPU from a GPU, from an AGP, from a PCI, I can tell a fair weather friend at forty paces.

I couldn’t live without my PC these days, and boy, does it know it. But I think a few crumbs and a colony of ants go a little way to help balance out the status play.

Drink near your PC. Eat biscuits, chocolate, three course meals while you type. Decorate it with fake ears, stickers, and gooey rings of what used to be coffee or hot chocolate. Give it an embarrassing name. I can assure you, if the roles were reversed, it wouldn’t hesitate to do the same.


A work in progress.

more about louise arnold


the outing of an adult
secret confessions of a reformed teenager
by louise arnold
topic: humor
published: 8.23.02


sarah ficke
3.4.03 @ 10:23a

I think my old computer was unionized, as it used to refuse to shut down properly if I left it on for too long. The new one and I haven't quite worked out our balance of power yet.

erik myers
3.4.03 @ 10:39a

Just feel like you didn't have Eric the 'Alibut living in your keyboard. Things could have been much worse.

sarah ficke
3.4.03 @ 11:07a

Or Eric the (h)alf Bee.

I could use some ants to clean out my keyboard now and then.

russ carr
3.24.03 @ 12:02a

Heh. Not too long ago I spilled a beer into my keyboard. It worked fine for a couple of minutes, but then the "a" key stopped working...instead, it would show a "2" when struck. I tipped the keyboard up, and shook a good tablespoon of ale from it. The typing (I'm a good typist) became more and more garbled, as if my poor Mac had become...drunk. Mere inebriation gave way to alcoholism within minutes. Faced with a keyboard which refused to go dry, I cast it off into the gutter. My new keyboard has chosen to remain sober. So far.

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