Sad stories!

Diary of a Mad Digital Homeowner:

November 28, 1995

Moved in to my new digitally-maxed-out Hermosa Beach house at last. Finally, we live in the smartest house in the neighborhood. Everythings' networked. The cable TV is connected to our phone, which is connected to my personal computer, which is connected to the power lines, all the appliances and the security system. Everything runs off a universal remote with the friendliest interface I've ever used. Programming is a snap. I'm like, totally wired.

November 30, 1995

Hot Stuff! Programmed my VCR from the office, turned up the thermostat and switched on the lights with the car phone, remotely tweaked the oven a few degrees for my pizza. Everything nice & cozy when I arrived. Maybe I should get the universal remote surgically attached.

December 1, 1996

Had to call the SmartHouse people today about bandwidth problems. The TV drops to about 2 frames/second when I'm talking on the phone. They insist it's a problem with the cable company's compression algorithms. How do they expect me to order things from the Home Shopping Channel?

December 3, 1996

Got my first SmartHouse invoice today and was unpleasantly surprised. I suspect the cleaning woman of reading Usenet from the washing machine interface when I'm not here. She must be downloading one hell of a lot of GIFs from the binary groups, because packet charges were through the roof on the invoice.

December 7, 1996

Yesterday, the kitchen CRASHED. Freak event. As I opened the refrigerator door, the light bulb blew. Immediately, everything else electrical shut down -- lights, microwave, coffee maker -- everything. Carefully unplugged and re-plugged all the appliances. Nothing. Called the cable company (but not from the kitchen phone). They refer me to the utility. The utility insists that the problem is in the software. So the software company runs some remote tele-diagnostics via my house processor. Their expert system claims it has to be the utility's fault. I don't care, I just want my kitchen back. More phone calls; more remote diagnostics. Turns out the problem was "unanticipated failure mode": The network had never seen a refrigerator bulb failure while the door was open. So the fuzzy logic interpreted the burnout as a power surge and shut down the entire kitchen. But because sensor memory confirmed that there hadn't actually been a power surge, the kitchen logic sequence was confused and it couldn't do a standard restart. The utility guy swears this was the first time this has ever happened. Rebooting the kitchen took over an hour.

December 8, 1996

The police are not happy. Our house keeps calling them for help. We discover that whenever we play the TV or stereo above 25 decibels, it creates patterns of micro-vibrations that get amplified when they hit the window. When these vibrations mix with a gust of wind, the security sensors are actuated, and the police computer concludes that someone is trying to break in. Go figure.
Another glitch: Whenever the basement is in self-diagnostic mode, the universal remote won't let me change the channels on my TV. That means I actually have to get up off the couch and change the channels by hand. The software and the utility people say this flaw will be fixed in the next upgrade -- SmartHouse 2.1. But it's not ready yet.
Finally, I'm starting to suspect that the microwave is secretly tuning into the cable system to watch Bay Watch. The unit is completely inoperable during that same hour. I guess I can live with that. At least the blender is not tuning in to old I Love Lucy episodes.

December 9, 1996

I just bought the new Microsoft Home. Took 93 gigabytes of storage, but it will be worth it, I think. The house should be much easier to use and should really do everything. I had to sign a second mortgage over to Microsoft, but I don't mind: I don't really own my house now--it's really the bank. Let them deal with Microsoft.

December 10, 1996

I'm beginning to have doubts about Microsoft House. I keep getting an hour glass symbol showing up when I want to run the dishwasher.

December 12, 1996

This is a nightmare. There's a virus in the house. My personal computer caught it while browsing on the public access network. I come home and the living room is a sauna, the bedroom windows are covered with ice, the refrigerator has defrosted, the washing machine has flooded the basement, the garage door is cycle up and down and the TV is stuck on the home shopping channel. Through-out the house, lights flicker like stroboscopes until they explode from the strain. Broken glass is everywhere. Of course, the security sensors detect nothing. I look at a message slowly throbbing on my personal computer screen: WELCOME TO HomeWrecker!!! NOW THE FUN BEGINS...
(Be it ever so humble, there's no virus like the HomeWrecker...)

December 18, 1996:

They think they've digitally disinfected the house, but the place is a shambles. Pipes have burst and we're not completely sure we've got the part of the virus that attacks toilets. Nevertheless, the Exorcists (as the anti-virus SWAT team members like to call themselves) are confident the worst is over. "HomeWrecker is pretty bad" one he tells me, "but consider yourself lucky you didn't get PolterGeist. That one is really evil."

December 19, 1996

Apparently, our house isn't insured for viruses. "Fires and mudslides, yes," says the claims adjuster. "Viruses, no." My agreement with the SmartHouse people explicitly states that all claims and warranties are null and void if any appliance or computer in my house networks in any way, shape or form with a non-certified on-line service. Everybody's very, very, sorry, but they can't be expected to anticipate every virus that might be created. We called our lawyer. He laughed. He's excited!

December 21, 1996

I get a call from a SmartHouse sales rep. As a special holiday offer, we get the free opportunity to become a beta site for the company's new SmartHouse 2.1 upgrade. He says I'll be able to meet the programmers personally.
"Sure," I tell him.

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Diary of an AOL User

July 18 -

I just tried to connect to America Online. I've heard it is the best online service I can get. They even included a free disk! I'd better hold onto it in case they don't ever send me another one! I can't connect. I don't know what is wrong.

July 19 -

Some guy at the tech support center says my computer needs a modem. I don't see why. He's just trying to cheat me. How dumb does he think I am?

July 22 -

I bought the modem. I couldn't figure out where it goes. It wouldn't fit in the monitor or the printer. I'm confused.

July 23 -

I finally got the modem in and hooked up. That nine-year-old next door did it for me. But it still don't work. I can't get online.

July 25 -

That nine-year-old kid next door hooked me up to America Online. He's so smart. I told the kid he was a prodigy. But he says that's just another service. What a modest kid. He's so smart and he does these services for people. Anyway, he's smarter than the jerks who sold me the modem. They didn't even tell me about communications software. Bet they didn't know. And why do they put two telephone jack holes in the back of a modem when you only need one? And why do they have one labeled phone when you are not supposed to hook it to the phone jack on the wall? I thought the dial tone sounded funny! Boy, are modem makers dumb! But the kid figured it out by the sound.

July 26 -

What's the Internet? I thought I was on America Online. Not this Internet thing. I'm confused.

July 27 -

The nine-year-old kid next door showed me how to use this America Online stuff. I told him he must be a genius. He says that he is, compared to me. Maybe he's not so modest after all.

July 28 -

I tried to use chat today. I tried to talk into my computer but nothing happened. Maybe I need to buy a microphone.

July 29 -

I found this thing called usenet. I got out of it because I'm connected to America Online, not usenet.

July 30 -

These people in this usenet thing keep using capital letters. How do they do that? I never figured out how to type capital letters. Maybe they have a different type of keyboard.

JULY 31 -

CALLED THE COMPUTER MAKER I BOUGHT IT FROM TO COMPLAIN ABOUT NOT HAVING A CAPITAL LETTER KEY. THE TECH SU0PPORT GUY SAID IT WAS THIS CAPS LOCK KEY. WHY DIDN'T THEY SPELL IT OUT? I TOLD HIM I GOT A CHEAP KEYBOARD AND WANTED A BETTER ONE. AND ONE OF MY SHIFT KEYS ISN'T THE SAME SIZE AS THE OTHER. HE SAID THAT'S A STANDARD. I TOLD HIM I DIDN'T WANT A STANDARD KEYBOARD BUT ANOTHER BRAND. I MUST HAVE HAD AN IMPORTANT COMPLAINT, BECAUSE I HEARD HIM TELL THE OTHER SUPPORT GUYS TO LISTEN IN ON OUR CONVERSATION.

AUGUST 1 -

I FOUND THIS THING CALLED THE USENET ORACLE. IT SAYS THAT IT CAN ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS I ASK IT. I SENT IT 44 SEPARATE QUESTIONS ABOUT THE INTERNET. I HOPE IT RESPONDS SOON.

AUGUST 2 -

I FOUND A GROUP CALLED REC.HUMOR. I DECIDED TO POST THIS JOKE ABOUT THE CHICKEN THAT CROSSED THE ROAD TO GET TO THE OTHER SIDE! HA!HA! I WASN'T SURE I POSTED IT RIGHT, SO I POSTED IT 56 MORE TIMES.

AUGUST 3 -

I KEEP HEARING ABOUT THE WORLD WIDE WEB. I DIDN'T KNOW SPIDERS GREW THAT LARGE.

AUGUST 4 -

THE ORACLE RESPONDED TO MY QUESTIONS TODAY. GEE IT WAS RUDE. I WAS SO ANGRY THAT I POSTED AN ANGRY MESSAGE ABOUT IT TO REC.HUMOR.ORACLE. I WASN'T SURE IF I POSTED RIGHT, SO I POSTED IT 22 MORE TIMES.

AUGUST 5 -

SOMEONE TOLD ME TO READ THE FAQ. GEE, THEY DIDN'T HAVE TO USE PROFANITY.

AUGUST 6 -

SOMEONE ELSE TOLD ME TO STOP SHOUTING IN ALL MY MESSAGES. WHAT A STUPID JERK. I'M NOT SHOUTING! I'M NOT EVEN TALKING! JUST TYPING! HOW CAN THEY LET THESE RUDE JERKS GO ON THE INTERNET?

August 7 -

Why have a Caps Lock key if you're not supposed to use it? It's probably an extra feature that costs more money.August 8 - I just read this post called make money fast. I'm so excited. I'm going to make lots of money. I followed his instructions and posted it to every newsgroup I could find.

August 9 -

I just made my signature file. It's only 6 pages long. I will have to work on it some more.

August 10 -

I just looked at a group called alt.aol.sucks. I read a few posts, and I really believe that aol should be wiped off the face of the earth. I wonder what an aol is.

August 11 -

I was asking where to find some information about something. Some guy told me to check out ftp.netcom.com. I've looked ad looked but I can't find that group.

August 12 -

I sent a post to every usenet group on the Internet asking where the ftp.netcom.com is. Hopefully someone will help. I can't ask the kid next door. His parents said that when he comes back from my house he's laughing so hard he can't eat or sleep or do his homework. So they won't let him come over anymore. I do have a great sense of humor. I don't know why the rec.humor group didn't like my chicken joke. Maybe they only like dirty stuff. Some people sent me posts about my 56 posts of the joke, and they used bad words.

August 13 -

I sent another post to every usenet group on the Internet asking where the ftp.netcom.com is. I had forgot yesterday to include my new signature file, which is only 8 pages long. I know everyone will want to read my favorite poem, so I included it. I'm also going to add that short story I like. ------

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