The Humbling of the Shrew

The Humbling of the Shrew – a tale of sixty-four bits or less…
by Michael Lynes

So…I hate computers and computers hate me.

I suppose it’s only fair. After all I have misspent the last three decades of my youth assembling, tinkering, compiling and probing their convoluted silicon innards, and what creation does not harbor hatred for its creator? My reciprocal loathing is similarly well founded as the rewards of a career in embedded software engineering are few and fleeting. For instance I’ve long ago given up any hope of explaining what it is that I do to any other human being on the planet, save for the one-tenth of one percent who are either fellow engineers or children, (and believe me most days it’s hard to tell them apart).

When asked, for instance at a cocktail party, my best off-the-cuff answer is, “I type for a living…”, earning me a sharp elbow in the ribs if my wife is at hand. I have also used, “I poke turtles with sticks until they turn into racecars…”, said with complete sincerity and a deadpan expression, (which gets an elbow and a dirty look), on occasion. Now if my interrogator happens to be an engineer, (one who has given the correct counter-sign identifying herself as a fellow mage), I can wax poetic about memory leaks, clock duty cycles, pesky stack overflows, the joys of eliminating a sneaky uninitialized variable or the warm glow you get from a well-tuned ring buffer…but I digress.

We were talking about hate, and I want to stay on point.

Computers hate me and the feeling is mutual. They are malodorous, vindictive, ungrateful little bastards, who will monopolize your time, waste your money and leave you nothing to show for it all but a sink full of dirty dishes in the morning, an empty snack cupboard and a pile of smelly laundry…hold on a minute…that would be teen-agers…but, you get my point.

Computers are spoiled and willful and devious and occasionally indispensable, but for the most part hardly worth their keep. The shades of Babbage and Turing and even Goedel may oscillate wildly in their respective rest states but I will stand firmly by my conviction. Succinctly – computers just suck – full stop.

“But…”, you say, “…computers are our helpers! Our guides, our entertainment and our gurus! How did we live before we had them? They are our lifeline, our pictures, our voices and our personas! Without them we would be lost…less than human!”

“Balloney!”, (or some such), I say with desperate conviction, “They are nothing but parasites on the body politic, nattering on about how they need a bigger hard-drive, a brighter bazillion-more-color-STX500Z display screen or an updated Windows-Leventy-Seven operating system”. Wild-eyed and spittle flecked I conclude, “Together, we must expunge this curse upon our society!”

But even as my futile exhortation echoes unheard past bud-plugged ears and mega-pixel-glazed eyes I know it is too late. Sadly….and it gives me great pain to admit it…they are right.

We have met the enemy…and Pogo-esque…they are us.

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Just so this post will not be a complete waste of time – below are some time-honored computer care and feeding tips that you are free to use without attribution…your results may vary. Have fun stormin’ da castle…!

COMPUTER TIPS: (for experienced users and/or dummies)

  • Never address computers politely (they love abuse)
  • Never feed them after midnight (no one likes FAT16, FAT32 or any sort of FAT)
  • Always rub your lucky mouse pad when you really, really need your install, upgrade or MS update not to fail. Rub harder when this does not help.
  • To promote good computer behavior lay a loaded carafe of salt water, a ball-peen hammer and a wickedly sharp pair of wire-cutters down in view of your computer’s built-in-camera prior to starting any important project with a deadline. After all, everybody should have some skin in the game.

When any (or all) of the above paths to enlightenment fail – find a kid, (basically anyone over the age of eight), and throw yourself on their tender mercies. You will learn humility and gain great wisdom…and your computer will respect you in the morning – I promise.

About the Author

Michael Lynes

MICHAEL LYNES is a serial entrepreneur who has founded several startup ventures.

He enjoys dry red wine and the occasional single malt scotch. When not occupied with arcane engineering projects, he spends his time playing with his two grandchildren, baking bread, feeding seasoned hardwood into his ancient Timberline woodstove, working on his various cars, birdwatching, and taking amateur photographs.

His current menagerie includes one short-haired turtle shell cat and a pair of actual turtles.

Mr. Lynes was awarded a BSEE degree in Electrical Engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology and currently works as an embedded software engineer. He has a consuming interest in the science of emotion as promulgated by Dr. Paul Ekman and has made a comprehensive study of his Face and Emotion courses. He has four sons, has been married for over thirty years, and currently lives with his wife and youngest son in the beautiful secluded hills of Sussex County, New Jersey.

These are some of the fine retailers where you can find his debut book, There is a Reaper, ** WINNER of the 2015 TISBA Award ** FINALIST for the Independent Author Network 2015 BOOK of the YEAR **

Amazon (US) Amazon (UK) B&N (US) Google iTunes KoBo

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