Dr. Seuss Comes to Your Computer
Chips with bits
come. Chips with bytes come.
Let's do tricks
with bits and bytes sir.
And here's a new
trick on the scene.
Now we come to
ticks and tocks, sir.
Clocks on chips
Here's an easy
game to play.
If a packet hits
a pocket on a socket on a port,
If your cursor
finds a menu item followed by a dash,
You can't say
If the label on
the cable on the table at your house,
And your screen
is all distorted by the side effects of gauss,
When the copy of
your floppy's getting sloppy on the disk,
This can be an
add-on story. Who can write a good Dr. Seuss verse?
A mechanical engineer, an electrical engineer and a computer software engineer were riding in an old car when it suddenly coughed, backfired and completely broke down. "It's probably a valve or a piston problem," offered the mechanical engineer. "Nonsense," said the electrical engineer, "it's most certainly either a bad spark plug or faulty ignition." Then the software engineer chimed in brightly, "I know. Let's all get out of the car and get back in again!"
01. Never leave diskettes in the disk drive, as data can leak out of the disk and corrode the inner mechanics of the drive. Diskettes should be rolled up and stored in pencil holders.
02. Diskettes should be cleaned and waxed once a week. Microscopic metal particles can be removed by waving a powerful magnet over the surface of the disk. Any stubborn metallic shavings can be removed with scouring powder and soap. When waxing diskettes, make sure application is even. This will allow the diskettes to spin faster, resulting in better access time.
03. Do not fold diskettes unless they do not fit in the drive. "Big" diskettes may be folded and used in "little" disk drives.
04. Never insert a disk into the drive upside down. The data can fall off the surface of the disk and jam the intricate mechanics of the drive.
05. Diskettes cannot be backed up by running them through the xerox machine. If your data is going to need to be backed up, simply insert two diskettes together into the drive. Whenever you update a document, the data will be recorded on both diskettes.
06. Diskettes should not be inserted into or removed from the drive while the red light is flashing. Doing so could result in smeared or possibly unreadable text. Occasionally the red light continues to flash in what is known as a "hung" or "hooked" state. If your system is "hooking" you, you will probably need to insert a few coins before being allowed to access the disk drive.
07. If your diskette is full and you need more storage space, remove the disk from the drive and shake vigorously for two minutes. This will pack the data enough (Data Compression) to allow for more storage. Be sure to cover all the openings with scotch tape to prevent loss of data.
08. Data access time can be greatly improved by cutting more holes in the diskette jacket. This will provide more simultaneous access points to the disk.
09. Diskettes can be used as coasters for beverage glasses, provided they have been properly waxed beforehand. Be sure to wipe the diskettes dry before inserting into drive. (see item #2 above.)
10. Never use scissors and glue to manually edit documents. The data stored is much too small to be seen with the naked eye, and you may end up with data from some other document stuck in the middle of your document. Razor blades and scotch tape may be used, provided the user is equipped with an electron microscope.
11. Periodically spray diskettes with insecticide to prevent system bugs from spreading.
HACKING THROUGH THE JARGON JUNGLE
When I went to college in the 1980s, I heard a lot of words like "data input" and "beta version". They confused me. I wanted desperately to know what people were talking about, what Big Secret resided in the computer industry.
Now that I've worked in a computer company for the last few years, I've gained an insider's perspective. I decided to share my knowledge with the uninitiated by creating the following brief, handy glossary:
Alpha. Software undergoes alpha testing as a first step in getting user feedback. Alpha is Latin for "doesn't work".
Beta. Software undergoes beta testing shortly before it's released. Beta is Latin for "still doesn't work".
Computer. Instrument of torture. The first computer was invented by Roger "Duffy" Billingsly, a British scientist. In a plot to overthrow Adolf Hitler, Duffy disguised himself as a German ally and offered his invention as a gift to the surly dictator. The plot worked. On April 8, 1945, Adolf became so enraged at the "Bad Command or File Name" error message that he shot himself. The war ended soon after Hitler's death, and Duffy began working for IBM.
CPU. Central propulsion unit. The CPU is the computers' engine. It consists of a hard drive, an interface card and a tiny spinning wheel that's powered by a running rodent - a gerbil if the machine is a 286, a ferret if it's a 386 and a ferret on speed if it's a 486.
Default Directory. Black hole. Default directory is where all files that you need disappear to. And, by default, it's your fault.
Error message. Terse, baffling remark used by programmers to place blame on users for the program's shortcomings.
File. A document that has been saved with an unidentifiable name. It helps to think of a file as something stored in a file cabinet - except when you try to remove the file, the cabinet gives you an electric shock and tells you the file format is unknown.
Hardware. Collective term for any computer-related object that can be kicked or battered. If you can kick it, it's hardware.
Help. The feature that assists in generating more questions. When the help feature is used correctly, users are able to navigate through a series of Help screens and end up where they started from without learning anything.
Input/Output. Information is input from the keyboard as intelligible data and output to the printer as unrecognizable junk.
Interim Release. A programmer's feeble attempt at repentance.
Memory. Of computer components, the most generous in terms of variety, and the skimpiest in terms of quantity.
Printer. A joke in poor taste. A printer consists of three main parts: the case, the jammed paper tray and the blinking red light.
Programmers. Computer avengers. Once members of that group of high school nerds who wore tape on their glasses played Dungeons and Dragons, and memorized Star Trek episodes; now millionaires who create "user-friendly" software to get revenge on whoever gave them noogies.
Reference Manual. Object that raises the monitor to eye level. Also used to compensate for that short table leg.
Scheduled Release Date. A carefully calculated date determined by estimating the actual shipping date and subtracting six months from it.
Software. Something you can't describe, see or kick.
User-Friendly. Of or pertaining to any feature, device or concept that makes perfect sense to a programmer.
Users. Collective term for those who stare vacantly at a monitor. Users are divided into three types: novice, intermediate and expert.
Novice Users. People who are afraid that simply pressing a key might break their computer.
Intermediate Users. People who don't know how to fix their computer after they've just pressed a key that broke it.
Expert Users. People who break peoples' computers and claim that it's a software problem. They also press keys on others' computers and break'em.
It Still Does Nothing
That tech support people report the most common question they receive is "which key is the 'any key'" (when users are prompted to "touch any key.")
Did you ever wonder where deleted stuff goes when you hit the delete button? Well, the answer depends on who you ask:
The MAC user's explanation: All the characters written on a PC and then deleted go straight to PC hell. If you're using a PC, you can probably see the deleted characters, because you're in PC hell, too.
Stephen King's explanation: Everytime you hit the delete key, you unleash a tiny monster inside the cursor, who tears the poor unsuspecting characters to shreds, drinks their blood, then eats them, bones and all.
Dave Barry's explanation: The deleted characters are shipped to Battle Creek, Michigan, where they're made into Pop-Tart filling; this explains why Pop-Tarts are so flammable, while cheap imitations are not flammable.
IBM's explanation of where the deleted characters go: The characters are not real. They exist only on the screen when they are needed, as concepts, so to delete them is merely to de-conceptualize them.
The Buddhist explanation: If a character has lived rightly, and its karma is good, then after it has been deleted it will be reincarnated as a different, higher character. Those funny characters above the numbers on your keyboard will become numbers, numbers will become letters, lowercase letters will become uppercase. If a character's karma is not so good, then it will move down the above scale, ultimately becoming the lowest of characters -- a space.
The 20th-century bitter, cynical nihilist explanation: Who cares? All characters are the same, swirling in a vast sea of meaningless nothingness. It doesn't really matter if they're on the page, deleted, undeleted, underlined, etc. It's all the same. More characters should delete themselves.
Environmentalist's explanation: You've been DELETING them? Can't you hear them SCREAMING? Why don't you go club baby seals while wearing a mink, you scumbag!
10 SIGNS YOU BOUGHT A BAD COMPUTER
Lower corner of screen has the
words"Etch-a-Sketch" on it.
~ * ~