Server Reboot Wednesday: Your Computer's Just Not That Into You Edition

This from our IT maestro Paul Jensen...

As the computer age marches on, we jaded users tend to think of our computers as nothing more than boxes full of wires, chips and flashing lights. We forget that amidst the circuitry, computers have feelings too. This came up yesterday during a routine call. I was fixing an email problem for one of our employees whose name I won't mention here. "Paul," she said, sitting at her desk in her office next to Kenny's, "Why does my computer hate me?"

Good question, mystery employee. Let's find out together...


First off, in my years of IT work, I have found most computers don't really hate you - they just don't know you. Sure, you sit banging away at the keyboard day in and day out, but we rarely stop to think about our relationship with our computers. They're like people, people: treat a computer with respect, dignity and care, and computers respond in kind. The reverse is true as well - treat a computer badly, and they will turn on you like a cornered dog in a butcher shop.

A few common causes of computer hate:

1) They're Overworked - Computers live to please their owners, but even the newest, fastest computer has its limits. Let's see - you're downloading video, streaming audio, trying to attach a large PDF to an e-mail, watching a slide show on the Weekly website, have twenty Firefox tabs going, and you're cursing your computer for being a little slow? That's just cruel. Your computer is dancing as fast as it can. If your PC was a 1950s housewife, she'd be on her second Valium...or on her second torrid affair with the young McCormick boy across the street.

2) Puffy Stickers - Nothing will crash a hard drive faster that cutesy little stickers adorning the monitor. You may think they improve the look of your computer, but how would you like it if someone made you over by adhering puffy bird and clown stickers to your face? I know the answer to that one - you wouldn't like it at all. Save the stickers for your high school Trapper Keeper.

3) Jealousy - Oh, look! You've plastered the side of your computer chasis with photos of friends, family members, loved ones, that guy/girl you met at Ozzie's after five Irish Car Bombs, some hot celebrity photo from US Weekly etc. So where's the photo of your computer? You know, the computer that's with you eight or more hours a day, five or more days a week, working, slaving, being your pal and confidante when you don't even deserve its love? Computers get jealous, and jealous computers get even.

Now, what can you do to prevent computer hate? Three easy steps:

1) Names - Have you taken the time to name your computer? I'm not talking about its given name (Dell, HP, IBM) or what you call it when you're angry ("piece of shit" is popular). I'm talking about a nickname, a term of endearment - a little moniker to let it know that it is cared for and loved. For example, I have named my laptop Thor, God of Thunder. I believe giving it such a strong name empowers it, urges it to work harder and faster, and so far I've had very few problems. (Note: don't give your computer an ironic, "Little John"-type of name, like "Slow Bastard." Computers don't do irony.)

2) Go On a Date - My laptop Thor and I are inseparable. We go to lunch together, dinner sometimes, rent a movie, even a couple of trips to the beach (tricky, 'cause Thor doesn't like the sand.) You don't want to be couped up in your office all day, and neither does your computer. For those of you who don't have laptops, invest in a hand cart, red wagon and/or used baby stroller to take your PC out. Also: a really long extension cord.

3) Treat Your Computer to a Reboot - Giving your computer the updates and reboots it needs shows you care. A reboot is kind of a day spa for computers - it can kick back, relax, and let the complicated world of integrated chips and spyware slip away. A reboot once a week can do wonders for your relationship. Since tonight is Server Reboot Wednesday, why not treat your computer to a nice gentle reboot? Simply close all your programs, click Start > Shut Down and Restart. It's that easy. That little whirring sound you hear coming from your computer as it shuts down? That's the sound of love.*

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