Friday, October 01, 2004

Alice in Computerland 

I hear tales, from my PC consultant friend who administers IT for a small company, about computer users who, no matter how many times they are told, ignore instructions about not opening unexpected attachments in emails. Viruses ensue; thus the world goes round.

I try not to be too harsh in my opinion of such people because, really, computers are incredibly complex devices that even technically savvy experts have trouble keeping in control. I myself have a mathematics degree and work for an engineering firm, and still get stumped by seemingly unexplainable problems.

Two cases just today. I installed some new software. (OK, it's the latest Myst game, Myst IV: Revelation.) Install went fine. Launching the game advised me that I needed to update my graphics card driver. OK, went to the Nvidia site, downloaded the appropriate file, executed the file, and halfway through the installation an alarming notice informed me that the driver had not been certified as safe for Windows XP, that I might compromise my operating system if I completed the installation; Microsoft advised me to cancel immediately. Well, OK, I clicked the option to cancel the install. Subsequently, the install program advised me that installation was successful and complete. So, did the new driver install or not? I don't know. Yes is no, or maybe no is yes.

Meanwhile, my laptop, currently the PC in the house that I manage my email from, was fine this morning but dysfunctional when I got home from work. Both Outlook and Internet Explorer said no connection available. Network Connections advised me that the wireless signal from the router downstairs was enabled and very good. I rebooted. I carried the laptop downstairs and connected it by cable to the router. Still nothing. After an hour of various trials and errors, powering the router off and back on solved the problem; the laptop abruptly found its connection and was fine. What happened? Why today? Who knows. Alice knows.
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Mark R. Kelly

The opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of Mark R. Kelly, and do not reflect the editorial position of Locus Magazine.
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