The Computer Gods were not kind to me today.
I can’t imagine why they would forsake me, one of their most loyal followers — and one who’s constantly hunched over praying at the computer altar. I work with computers. I play on computers. I’m soaking in the faint phosphor glow of a computer right now, for the love of silicon wafers. And I rarely ever smack or abuse any sort of computer equipment — only when it refuses to print, or send, or add, or display, or start, or stop, or run, or play, or behave.
Okay, So I may have answered the ‘why‘ question. Still, I don’t see why I’m singled out. Everyone else is doing it, too.
And most computer users operate under a common — though dangerously false — misconception:
“Computers only do what you tell them to do.”
That’s a bunch of rancid horse puckey.
“Like all gods, these are fickle and capricious beasts, hell-bent on wreaking as much havoc and mayhem on mankind as possible. Think Zeus, on a wild drunken bender. Or Charlie Sheen with a paintball gun.”
In reality, the behavior of computers is governed by a legion of all-powerful and unseen Computer Gods. Like all gods, these are fickle and capricious beasts, hell-bent on wreaking as much havoc and mayhem on mankind as possible. Think Zeus, on a wild drunken bender. Or Charlie Sheen with a paintball gun.
And today the lowly quivering mortal in their sights was me. I might at least have worn protective goggles today, if I’d only known. And I’d have certainly worn a cup. The Computer Gods are not above a few low blows when you’re down and bleeding.
The day started innocently enough — I made it to work, and went to check on a new hire in our group. I’d just set his machine up yesterday and gotten him started, so I wanted to see what sort of progress he was making. Or whether the circus music and scary clowns around the office had scared him away yet.
When I got there, he was having trouble installing some software. ‘Ah, the young,’ I thought. We’ve all been there, but I — with my years of installing and configuring and troubleshooting experience — I’ll set him right in no time.
That’s when the Computer Gods stepped in. And cleared their collective throat and said:
‘Hey, dumdum. This Windows 7 box. What you know of Windows 7? You not even count to 7! Hah!‘
Very funny. But this is a simple problem; I solve these in my sleep between bouts of snoring and drooling on the pillow. And I’ve installed this piece of software a dozen times myself. This is ‘back of my hand’ stuff.
‘Oh, that your game, mortal? Fine. We throw up little teensy roadblock — you jump right over, then, tough guy.‘
Hrm. It says you don’t have permission to install this. Well, that can’t be right; I set you up as an administrator. Just click this button over here and… oh. Yep, you’re an admin. But you don’t have permissions? That… doesn’t compute.
‘How that roadblock coming, dumdum? You jump over yet? Just a teeny little glitch, like a matchbook on the sidewalk. You big man, you show us, right?‘
Well, since you’re an admin, just go up to the top level and set the permissions for yourself. Okay, good — that should do it. Now just go back to that directory and… wait, what does it mean, you’re not allowed to access the directory? We were just there!
‘Silly human, expecting logical outcome. If we want computer to squawk like a chicken when you type, it squawk like a chicken. Silly cause and effect irrelevant when we decide to bitchslap you. Take it like a mortal.‘
Maybe we didn’t set the perms right — check them again. Okay, read-only access. Now change them to ‘full control’ right here… good, it’s working… still working… listing all the files it’s changing, good. Now check the perms again right away, just to be sure they changed, and–
I’ll be damned. Read-only. It’s unpossible.
‘Unpossible, maybe. But high-larious. We spill half our popcorn laughing at you for that one. You owe us six cups Orville Redenbacher kernels, mortal. Extra butter. Make it snappy.‘
I’ll spare you the next three-and-a-half hours of failed solutions, aborted fixes and bewildered gazes in the direction of a computer that steadfastly refused to cede to any of the perfectly reasonable things we asked it to do. And we never beat it. I’ve been home for hours, and that machine is still there, flaunting its lack of tenable user permissions to all of the other computers in the office. Probably there’ll be a revolt when we arrive in the morning, with logins denied and keycards nonfunctional and automatic urinals refusing to flush far and wide. All because the Computer Gods set their sights on me for a day.
To be fair, at that point they could well have been aiming at our new guy — since it was his computer, and he tore his hair out for a while over the issue before I got involved.
But just as I was contemplating that possibility this afternoon, my website here came screeching to its knees and remained locked up and unreachable for the next eight hours or so. A quick look through the logs when I was finally able to connect again revealed… nothing. I can’t find any obvious reason why the server RAM suddenly sucked itself bone dry and effectively yanked itself off the network. There’s no plausible reason for it whatsoever.
So I choose to believe an implausible reason. The Computer Gods in their infinite sneering bullyness decided it was my turn today to be technologically pantsed and hung by my underwear from the motherboard flagpole.
Fine. There doesn’t seem to be a damned thing I can do about it, so I’ll just rolled with it as best I could. And now this site is back up — with apologies to anyone who may have missed it this evening! — and I think I may have uncovered a solution to our mystery permissions problems that I can try out in the morning. So things are looking up. As nasty as getting roughed up by the Computer Gods is, at least now the troubles are over.
‘Silly mortal. We just warming up. We translate this post to Cyrillic and back, fry your monitor and download Photoshopped Estelle Getty porn onto your hard drive. That just for starters. Tomorrow, you better wear that cup, if you know what good for you.‘Permalink | 3 Comments