Jewish World Review Jan. 21, 2004 / 27 Teves, 5764

David Grimes

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Consumer Reports


It's a computer! No, it's a side dish! Skeptical? Look under the hood


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | In breaking news that could explain those infuriating error messages, a German man returned his computer because he said it was packed with small potatoes instead of computer parts.


I was skeptical of this story until I tried to make a copy of it on my computer and — for once in my life I am not making this up — the screen made an electronic belch (I'm guessing my personal computer is full of Budweiser rather than small potatoes) and said: "This page cannot be displayed."


Clearly, my computer did not want me to let the world (the "world," in this case, being those areas between Greater Parrish and Solana) know that PCs are full of immature Red Bliss potatoes which, unlike silicon chips, are wonderful when sliced, grilled and then tossed with olive oil and rosemary.


You have to wonder how long computer manufacturers thought they could get away with this. Clearly, companies like Gateway and Compaq (correctly) figured that the average computer user would be far too timid to pop open his computer and peer under the hood. After all, if your computer malfunctions simply by sitting down in front of it, imagine the havoc that would result from prodding its innards with a ballpoint pen. (The preferred tool of professional computer repairpersons is a stout, long-handled pair of barbecue tongs.)


A few years ago I purchased a computer that had previously been owned by Satan. None of the cords were long enough so I had to stretch them until they were as tight as harp strings. If a large truck passed within a mile of my house, the vibration would cause all of the wires to pop loose with a loud sproing, resulting in the tragic loss of much downloaded porn.

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Even when connected, the computer showed signs of demonic possession. I could not scratch myself without the computer telling me I had performed an illegal operation and shutting down. Finally, in desperation (and you have to be truly desperate to do this), I called the toll-enhanced number for technical services, reaching, after about a $45 wait, a nice fellow by the name of Ahmad.


"Do you feel comfortable going in?" Ahmad asked me.


"Yes," I replied. "I feel very comfortable going into the living room and plopping down on the couch for a nice long nap."


"No," he said. "What I mean is do you feel comfortable going into your computer."


Again, I was not entirely sure what Ahmad meant. Did he mean go into my computer in a metaphysical sense? Perhaps attempt some sort of Spockian mind-meld with whatever dark forces inhabited it? Get in touch with my inner motherboard?


"I'm not sure ," I answered hesitantly.


"It's not hard," Ahmad said. "Get a screwdriver and I'll talk you through it."


(I flashed back to movies I had seen where the pilot dies while the plane is at 20,000 feet and one of the passengers — invariably the one with severe emotional problems — has no choice but to take the controls. "Just slowly push forward the red handle to your right," ground control would advise. The hapless replacement pilot, who forgot to pick up his Prozac prescription on the way to the airport, pushes a handle forward tentatively. Suddenly, the nose of the plane pitches violently earthward. The plane picks up speed. "No, you fool!" screams ground control. "Pull back! Pull back!" And then silence.)


This story ends rather anticlimactically with me clumsily trying to follow Ahmad's instructions until he finally lost patience or had to go to the bathroom (he didn't say) and I closed up the computer, which sits today in the garage, offering a high-tech home to the cockroaches.


So the point I'm trying to make — if I can remember correctly; it's been so long — is that a computer that is full of potatoes (shop for models containing French Fingerlings and/or Klondike Rose) could perform as well, if not better, than one stuffed with circuits, relays and wires.


Plus, Spudputers are loaded with vitamin C and potassium and they're a great way to annoy the heck out of people on the Atkins diet.

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JWR contributor David Grimes is a columnist for The Sarasota Herald Tribune. Comment by clicking here.

Up

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