Friday, March 12, 2010

When Computers and Cars Rebel

Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes inanimate objects are not quite as inanimate as they are purported to be? Case in point, yesterday I was dropping my wife off at work before heading to a meeting on the west side. As we were driving I mentioned that I was getting paid next week and maybe now would be a good time to buy plane tickets to Europe for our summer vacation. No sooner had I uttered the words when the "check engine" light illuminated on the dashboard and our '96 Volvo began to shudder violently as it idled.

It was as if our car was telling us, "Uh-uh, oh no you don't go buying plane tickets to Europe when Mamma needs a new pair of brakes." Needless to say one trip to the mechanics and several hundred dollars later, and plane tickets to Europe will have to wait.

Not to anthropomorphize too much but I also sometimes get the feeling my computer likes to mess with me. It seems to know when I'm stressed out, behind schedule or otherwise harried, and choose theses moments to slow down for no apparent reason. I'm scrambling to meet a 5pm deadline, trying to pull the necessary research up on the web and suddenly my web browser decides it wants to play like it's 1998. Back when you would click on a page, get up, make a cup of tea, come back and check to see if your page had loaded yet.

Now being a writer as well as someone who creates music, I realize I ask a lot of my computer. I expect it to be always at the ready, lean and ready to go, like a star soccer forward on the line, waiting for the whistle to blow. And while I ask a lot of my computer, it's arguable whether I do much in return for it.

Maybe just as a good soccer coach knows when to rest his star striker before a big match, I should know when to give my computer a rest. Finish work for the day, leave the social networks, soccer news and tech blogs alone and shut her down for the night.

And just as prime athletes get rub downs after a match, perhaps I need to do a rundown of the files taking up space on my drive and delete the ones that are simply, well. . .taking up space. For athletes to maintain optimal performance they need to be trained, rested and even pampered a little. Perhaps the same is true of inanimate objects in our life such as computers and cars.

So I guess the bottom line is that if you'd rather spend your money on plane tickets to Barcelona than new brakes or registry cleaning software, perhaps it's best to talk about it where your cars and computers can't hear you. They may be listening!

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