I went to visit my mother a couple of weekends ago. She usually has a task or two for me to do while I'm there, something that she needs help with, heavy lifting, that sort of thing. This time was no exception. One of the easy little jobs she had for me was to investigate why her computer printer was misbehaving. It would print a page just fine, but then it would act like it was running out of ink, even with new toner cartridges.
I gave it a look over, and then decided it was time for a new printer. She doesn't need anything fancy, so we went to the office supply store and found her a decent new HP printer for seventy bucks or so. We got it home and hooked 'er up, and then the trouble started.
Mom has an iMac, about 5 years old. I went to delete the old printer and install the new one and that just threw the thing into a tizzy. It just locked up and wouldn't do anything, so eventually with no other recourse I rebooted the thing. Or I should say, tried to reboot it. It just stared at me, its little Apple logo taunting me in the center of the screen.
Had I had a week on the visit, I might have insisted upon continuing to tinker with it. Having just north of 24 hours together and other things to do, we decided it was time to replace the old girl (the computer, not my mom) with a new model. I'm a pragmatist, so Mac was really our only option. Life is too short to teach your mother the Windows operating system. So thanks to the magic of credit cards, we soon brought home a bouncing baby iMac. It all got set up and running with no trouble at all and I am terribly jealous of that pretty little machine she has in her basement.
On another computer note, I recently got to assert my pack dominance, which was a bit of fun. We have a computer in the FM studio that feeds us Associated Press news stories. It gets these stories from a computer in the AM studio that acts as a server. Well, the FM machine wasn't keeping current with its feed, so I restarted it in hopes that doing that would fix things. Upon restart, it acted like it couldn't communicate with the AM machine to get its news. So I wandered back to the AM studio to see what that machine was acting like, and it didn't seem too happy either. No big deal, I thought, I'll just restart that one, too, and that'll probably take care of it.
Well, I've never been so insulted in all my life! “You are not authorized to restart this machine” said said machine. I didn't panic, though I did consider that perhaps this was some opening gambit in the computer world-takeover that is doubtless coming someday. I tried again to request a restart, and got that same haughty message. I mean, does that computer know who I am?! It's one thing if you want to pull that kind of power play on the weekend overnighters, but I'm the Operations Manager, damn it, and if I can't manage to restart a computer, how exactly can I manage the operations of this place?
I gave it one last chance, asking it to restart just as sweetly as I could. “You are not authorized to restart this machine” was its unimaginative response. Obviously it was time to assert my supremacy. With a glint in my eye, I pushed and held the power button in for about five seconds. As expected, the machine shut off. “I win!” I hollered at it arrogantly. I'll admit, it wasn't my finest moment. I turned the thing back on and all was well. I guess you could say I authorized myself to restart that machine.
I just know now, though, that someday when the machines do take over, that one of them is going to get revenge on me for that. I just hope when it pokes my power button, it remembers that I pushed gently.