• I’m employed at a computer security company and have a colleague whose name is M. Alware. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
• My ex-boss’s name is R. Stone. His e-mail was email@example.com.
• My name is James Pan. Every other permutation of my name was taken (e.g., jpan, jamesp), so I’m stuck with firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a question. = I have 18 questions.
I’ll look into it. = I’ve already forgotten about it.
I tried my best. = I did the bare minimum.
Happy to discuss further. = Don’t ask me about this again.
No worries. = You really messed up this time.
Take care. = This is the last you’ll ever hear from me.
Cheers! = I have no respect for you or myself!
Michael Ward, via mcsweeneys.net
Before google, there were librarians. Here are some queries posed to the poor, suffering staff of public libraries:
• A woman wanted “inspirational material on grass and lawns.”
• “Who built the English Channel?”
• “Is there a full moon every night in Acapulco?”
• “Music suitable for a doll wedding to take place between a Shirley
Temple doll and a teddy bear.”
• “Can the New York Public Library recommend a good forger?”
Client to designer: “It doesn’t really look purple. It looks more like a mixture of red and blue.”
Instagram is just Twitter for people who go outside.
Scene: A conversation with my friend’s father, who knows I do
Father: I have a business idea. How hard is it to make a Facebook?
Me: Oh, very easy.
Friend: He doesn’t mean to make
a Facebook profile. He means to
remake all of Facebook.
Me: Oh. Very hard.
Father: Oh, OK.
After i-messaging back and forth with my wife, I jokingly commanded Siri to pass along this message: “You need to get back to work now; you have a husband to support.”
Here’s what Siri sent: “You need
to get back to work now; you have
a has-been to support.”
John Brown, Jenks, Oklahoma
The closest I’ve been to a diet this year is erasing food searches from my browser history.
Hate to break it to you,
Facebook, but the entire Internet
is already a Dislike button.
I’ve given up social media for the New Year and am trying to make friends outside Facebook while
applying the same principles. Every day, I walk down the street and tell passersby what I’ve eaten, how I feel, what I did the night before, and what I will do tomorrow. Then I give them pictures of my family, my dog, and me gardening. I also listen to their conversations and tell them I love them. And it works. I already have three people following me—two
police officers and a psychiatrist.
Submitted by Nancy L. Clark,
Points, West Virginia
I put so much more effort into naming my first Wi-Fi than my
@1followernodad (Sophia Benoit)
Jimmy Fallon asked his viewers to tweet #IGotBusted and share
the most embarrassing times they got caught.
“I was on Facebook at work, and my boss walked up. I slammed down what I thought was my laptop screen, but it was actually my desktop
“I lied and told my dad school
was canceled. He said, ‘Let’s go see
a movie.’ We got in the car, and he dropped me off at school.”
“I was Facebooking in church, and the usher passed by and whispered, ‘You better be texting Jesus.’”
Source: The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon
Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.
I was in a couple’s home trying to fix their Internet connection.
The husband called out to his wife
in the other room for the computer password. “Start with a capital S, then 123,” she shouted back.
We tried S123 several times, but
it didn’t work. So we called the wife in. As she input the password, she muttered, “I really don’t know what’s so difficult about typing Start123.”
A. R., via Internet
A client called my help desk saying she couldn’t send an e-mail. When I was done troubleshooting the problem, she interrupted me to ask, “Wait a minute, do I type @ in lower- or uppercase?”
Swati Khatri, New Delhi, India
Student: I don’t understand why my grade was so low. How did
I do on my research paper?
Teacher: Actually, you didn’t turn in a research paper. You turned in a random assemblage of sentences. In fact, the
sentences you apparently
kidnapped in the dead of night
and forced into this violent and arbitrary plan of yours clearly seemed to be placed on the pages against their will. Reading your paper was like watching unfamiliar, uncomfortable people interacting at a cocktail party that no one wanted to attend in the first place. You didn’t submit a research paper. You submitted a hostage situation.
MapQuest really needs to start its directions on number five. Pretty sure I know how to get out of my neighborhood.
Aaron Karo, from ruminations.com
• If an anonymous comment goes unread, is it still irritating?
• What is the sound of no hands texting?
• If nobody likes your selfie, what is the value of the self?
• To see a man’s true face, look to the
photos he hasn’t posted.
Looking for a job? Here’s one posted on Craigslist:
“$40K a Year to Attend Harvard University as Me.” Requirements include a 4.0 GPA in high school or a 3.5 GPA in college. Only males need apply, since, as the listing tells us, “I have a male name.” The lucky person tapped for the gig doesn’t have to do much other than “attend all classes, pass all tests,
and finish all assigned work while pretending you are me.” Don’t worry about having to actually get into
the Ivy League school: “I’ve already taken care of that,” he says.
While taking stock of our
products, I read aloud the final
numbers to my boss. As he entered each one into a calculator, I deleted it off my mobile device. Only after
I’d finished did we realize that he had entered the numbers on his
desk phone’s keypad.
David Marland, on quora.com
I’m at the library, and for some reason, when I plug my flash drive into the computer, it doesn’t show up. I keep trying, but nothing happens. As an IT major, I know I can figure this out. So I spend 15 minutes changing settings and inserting and removing the flash drive. Then a girl sitting next to me taps my shoulder and says, “You’re plugging into my computer, not yours.”
Food blogs are rife with pressing questions, helpful hints, and caustic comments from readers. One site took a jaundiced look at what one might expect to find on such boards.
• “I don’t eat white flour, so I tried making it with raw almonds that I’d activated by chewing with my mouth open to receive direct sunlight, and it turned out terrible. This recipe is terrible.”
• “I don’t have an oven; can
I still make this? Please reply
• “A warning that if you
cook this at 275°F for three hours instead of at 400°F for
25 minutes, it’s completely
ruined. Do you have any
Mallory Ortberg, on the-toast.net
I can still remember a time when I knew more than my phone.
The cool part about naming
your kid is you don’t have to add
six numbers to make sure the name
Texting acronyms can stump even the best parents:
Mom: Your great-aunt just passed away. LOL.
Son: Why is that funny?
Mom: It’s not funny, David! What do you mean?
Son: Mom, LOL means Laughing Out Loud.
Mom: I thought it meant Lots
of Love. I have to call everyone back.
Daughter: I got an A in Chemistry.
Daughter: Mom, what do you think WTF means?
Mom: Well That’s Fantastic.
Mom: What do IDK, LY & TTYL mean?
Son: I don’t know, love you, talk to you later.
Mom: OK, I will ask your sister.
The water I was heating for pasta refused to boil, and if my 12-year-old son was right, I wasn’t helping by constantly checking on it.
“It’s like that old saying,” he said. “ ‘A watched website never loads.’ ”
Helen Russ, Medford, Oregon
Scene: Me using the Siri app on my iPhone.
Me: Siri, call my wife.
Siri: Samantha McLaughlin is not in your contacts.
Me: Samantha Gibbs is my wife.
Siri: I’ve added Samantha Gibbs as your wife.
Me: Call my wife.
Siri: Which wife?
Taylor Gibbs, Visalia, California
I. What You Need to Know Now About the Lord Totally Being God
II. At the Beginning He Had
Me Confused, but by Minute Two I Knew that I Shouldn’t Have Other Gods
III. Are You Making This Common Mistake with Graven Images?
IV. How I Work: Read This
Life Hack from God, Your Only Creator
V. She Admitted to Doing
What Every Sunday?
VI. Seven Morning Habits of
People Holier than You:
#7 No Killing Before Lunch
VII. 37 Things in Your Bedroom That You Need to Get Rid of Right Now, Like Adulteresses
VIII. What the Government Doesn’t Want You to Know About Stealing Your Neighbor’s Servants
IX. This Little Girl Bore False
Witness, and the Results Will Shock You
X. Doctors Hate Her, but You Shouldn’t Covet Her
From DAVID TATE, on McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, mcsweeneys.net
I tried to explain to a client why I couldn’t help him with a project that was written in a program code that I didn’t know.
“Let’s say you’re asking me to write something in a specific language. Now, I’m fluent in English and Spanish, but your project is in Chinese. Since
I don’t understand Chinese, I’m not your best option. You need someone who is fluent in this specific language. See?”
He said he did and thanked me.
The next morning, I got a call from another developer asking, “Why is
So-and-So asking us if we’re fluent
You’re sending me something via fax? What is it, an important document from 1993?
As we waited for a bus in the frosty weather, the woman next to me mentioned that she makes a lot of mistakes when texting in the cold.
I nodded knowingly. “It’s the early signs of typothermia.”
Phil Noyes, Yakima, Washington
Google: “Warning! You may find more than what you’re looking for.”
Apple computers: “Warning! High Smug Advisory.”
Wikipedia: “Warning label does
not exist. Would you like to create warning label?”
Match.com: “Contents may just be settling.”
“I hate audio correct.”
Richmond Hill, New York
“Time heals all wombs.”
“The seizure salad … is so good.”
“I have no clue why people don’t like hammy downs … Who doesn’t like free clothes?”
Richard Branson has announced plans to develop a new type of plane that can fly
from New York
to Tokyo in one
the engines are
We were at a red light when a car pulled up, its music blasting. “He’ll be deaf before he’s 25,” I said.
“It won’t help us,” my wife replied. “He’ll only turn it up.”
Kenneth Skaught, Lakewood, Washington
One hard thing to explain to teens is how legitimately exciting it used to be when someone would wheel in an overhead projector.
While he was visiting, my father asked for the password to our Wi-Fi.
“It’s taped under the modem,”
I told him.
After three failed attempts to log on, he asked, “Am I spelling this right? T-A-P-E-D-U-N-D-E-R-T-H-E-M-O-D-E-M?”
Sharon McGinley, Talbott, Tennessee
On Facebook, the English
language has few friends.
Post: I can’t stand people
that don’t know the difference between your and you’re. There so dumb.
Response: Their, their, calm down.
Post: Is it me or does nobody have manors these days?
Response: I just have a normal house.
Post: I do not have patients for stupid today.
Source: studentbeans.com, lamebook.com
“Can I safely look at a picture
of the sun?”
“How can I be sure I’m the real mom of my kid?”
“How do you get spaghetti
stains out of underwear?”
Can a 3-D printer make ink
cartridges for a 2-D printer?
Comedian Joe Mande
I told the kids I never want to
live in a vegetative state, dependent on some machine and fluids from
a bottle. So they unplugged my
computer and threw out my wine.
Submitted by Beverly McLaughlin,
I never feel more privileged
than when I get angry about a website design.
Comedian Kelly Oxford
Before LinkedIn, I didn’t know any strangers.
I wish people were like Internet videos and you could tap them lightly to see a clock of how much longer they’re going to be talking.
I bet cats have
a secret website where they
upload clips of cute humans
trying to open DVD packaging
I used to find buying books from Amazon slow and inconvenient, until one day the
I use their website.
The only people who don’t click Skip on ads before YouTube videos are people who died during that ad.
The parody Twitter account
@boredElonMusk figured that if
Musk could cofound PayPal and also develop the Tesla electric automobile, he might invent these next:
• A TV that gets louder to compensate for when you are chewing.
• An indoor trash bin that keeps
getting taller until someone finally decides to take the garbage out.
• Eye-tracking software that will not allow you to share a link on Twitter or Facebook until you’ve read 70 percent of the article.
I’m thinking of opening a firing range where all the targets are shaped like computers with screens full of pop-up ads.
Comedian Dan Burt
Give a man a fish, and he’ll
Instagram it; teach a man to fish, and he’ll still Instagram it.
I Renamed my iPod The Titanic, so when I plug it in, it says, “The
Titanic is syncing.”
#UnlikelySequels: Titanic 2
#failedchildrensbooktitles: The Very Hungry Tape Worm
#nicerfilmtitles: Snacks on a Plane
#GeekPickupLines: My name’s
Microsoft … can I crash at your place tonight?
@tillinghast (Mark Dryzcimski)
#RobotPickupLines: “You had me
#ThatAwkwardMoment: When someone says “Hello!” and you say “Good, thanks!”
#MySexLifeinMovieTitles: Home Alone
@iowahawkblog (David Burge)
• Were Moses alive today, the Ten Commandments would be known as the Ten Best Practices, presented in PowerPoint and followed by 40 years of status meetings.
• The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world
that he didn’t invent PowerPoint.
• No one ever says, “Boy, that ‘I Have a Dream’ speech could’ve been a lot better if Martin Luther King Jr. had used PowerPoint.”
I hide photos on my computer of me petting animals at the zoo in
a file named Fireworks and vacuums so my dog won’t find them.
If someone from the 1950s suddenly appeared, what would be the most difficult thing to explain about life today? One answer: “I possess a device in my pocket that is capable of accessing the entirety of information known to man. I use it to look
at pictures of cats and get into arguments with strangers.”
• The ad for the 14k white gold engagement ring in “like-new condition” included a caveat:
It was worn “by Satan herself.”
The ad then warned, “Ring may be cursed, as it tends to leave
a path of destruction behind it. Possible events associated with this ring include but are not
limited to: damage sustained to house, vehicle, heart, downed power lines, fallen trees, and swarms of locusts.” The upside: “Other than that, a very nice piece of jewelry.”
• This man’s ad addressed someone he’d met only fleetingly: “Hi. I am the guy whose house you tried breaking in to this morning around 9:30 a.m. on Gale Street,” he wrote. “Our
conversation was short. You only said, ‘Oh my gosh, oh my gosh …,’ as you saw me staring back at you through the door blinds. Still,” he continued,
“I feel we made a good connection, separated only by the door and the two locks you were
trying to pick. Please don’t break into my house again. But
if you’re up for a legal encounter, I’m game.”
Me: I have a Roundup Multi Purpose Sprayer that is defective.
Customer Rep: Ma’am, we’ll need the exact name of the item. Do you have the box?
Me: No, but it’s the Roundup Multi Purpose Sprayer.
Customer Rep: Ma’am, we’ll need the box so we can have the exact name of the product.
Me: Hold on. I’ll run out to my garage and get the box. [Long pause … ]
OK … [huff … puff] I have it. It says … Roundup Multi Purpose Sprayer.
Customer Rep: Thank you for that information, ma’am.
—Linda Mowry, Midlothian, Virginia
On the subway, untangling earbuds is the new knitting. The woman across from me could have finished
a cardigan by now.
—Greg Preece, on humorlabs.com
I mentioned to my sons that some teens used Facebook to plan a robbery at a local mall.
“How did the NSA miss that?” my 21-year-old asked.
“I told you guys,” said my 17-year-old. “No one uses Facebook
—Mary-Heather Reynolds, Prattville, Alabama
Historic headlines reimagined for a social media–obsessed audience:
•1912: 6 Titanic Survivors Who Should Have Died
•1920: 17 Things That Will Be
Outlawed Now That Women
•1928: This One Weird Mold Kills All Germs
•1929: Most Embarrassing Reactions to the Stock Market Crash [GIFS]
•1948: 5 Insane Plans for Feeding West Berlin You Won’t Believe
•1969: This Is the Most Important Photo of an Astronaut You’ll See
•1989: You Won’t Believe What
These People Did to the Berlin Wall! [Video]
Did you hear about the new e-reader? Reader’s Digest and
Amazon created software that will condense books when you download them. It’s called the Dwindle.
—Kristin Maurer, Evansville, Indiana
On February 4, we’ll celebrate ten years of people posting unintentionally funny status updates from their office cubicles when they should be working. Here are some of the crazier ones:
• STATUS: My baby boy is officially one year old!!!! Can’t believe it’s already been 656 days!
• STATUS: Craving food I don’t
have. My first world problem
COMMENT: Well, it’s kind of
a third world problem too.
• STATUS: I think about him 31/7 cause he’s on my mind even when I’m sleeping.
COMMENT: There’s still 24 hours in a day when you’re sleeping.
STATUS: Wait, huh?
• STATUS: Dear Facebook, Thanks for informing me it’s my wife’s birthday today. Do you know what would be more useful?!?! Some kind of warning system … i.e., notification that it’s her birthday in a few days!
I was showing my kids an old rotary phone when my nine-year-old asked, “How did you text on it?”
My 15-year-old daughter roared with laughter, until a thought occurred to her: “Wait, where did you store
Tara Price, Leesburg, Georgia
My grandmother called to tell me she’d gotten an e-mail account. “Great,” I said. “Send me a message so I’ll have your e-mail address.” I waited and waited, but she never sent it. Several days later, an envelope arrived—Grandma had written her info on a piece of paper and mailed it to me.
Meagan Lundgren, Calgary, Ontario
“Not Waldo, Not Waldo, Not Waldo, Not Waldo, Not Waldo, Not Waldo, Not Waldo, Not Waldo, Waldo, Not Waldo.”
—Where’s Waldo audiobook
Did you hear about the cell phones that got married?
The wedding was terrible, but the reception was terrific.
I realized my little nephew will never know life without Facebook. He’ll never know what it’s like to go, “I wonder what happened to that guy Chris from high school?” and then just shrug his shoulders and move on.
Comedian Ophira Eisenberg
Here’s what your e-mail address says about your computer skills:
Own domain (e.g., @joesmith.com): You’re skilled and capable.
@gmail.com:When the Internet stops working, you actually try rebooting the router before calling a family member for help.
@hotmail.com:You still think that Myspace is hip.
@yahoo.com:You send e-mail chain letters saying that Bill Gates will eat your hard drive unless you forward this message to everyone you know.
@aol.com: You phone friends to tell them about a neat website, then say into the receiver, “OK, go to … h … t … t … p … colon … slash … w … w … w … dot …”
I finally convinced my mother that it was a good idea for her to learn to text. Her first message to me? “Whereisthespacebar?”
After an enthusiastic recommendation from my wife, I began listening to the audiobook version of Frank McCourt’s Teacher Man.
“I love it, but his writing style is so disjointed,” I complained. “He refers to characters I don’t know and introduces them a half hour later.”
My wife was as confused as I was, but I soldiered on, disoriented by the jumpy story line. It wasn’t until the end of the book that my dilemma was explained—I had set the iPod to Shuffle.
The computer in my high school classroom was acting up. After watching me struggle with it, a student explained that my hard drive had crashed. So I called IT. "Can someone look at my computer?"
I asked. "The hard drive crashed."
"We can’t just send people down on your say-so," said the specialist. "How do you know that’s the problem?"
"A student told me."
"We’ll send someone right over."
Not everyone has mastered the art of texting. Case in point:
Mom: Stop at dollar store on way home and get lunch maggots.
Me: Lunch maggots?
Mom: Ziploc lunch Baggies.
Mom: Spell-check is not helping me.
Mom: By the way, this is Dad.
"I’ll miss you, Great-Grandma," wrote my mother’s great-grandson in an e-mail he sent before shipping out to Iraq.
"I’ll miss you too, dear," she responded. "Stay safe. LOL, Great-Grandma."
Poor Mom didn’t realize that LOL doesn’t stand for "lots of love."
Scene: A bookstore
Customer: Can you help me find a book?
Me: Of course. Do you know the author or title?
Customer: Well, I was at the beach and I saw this girl reading a purple book. She looked like she was really enjoying it. I want that book.
Me: Ma’am, you’re going to have to be more specific. There are a lot of books with purple covers.
Customer: Can’t you search on your computer for purple books?
Me: Unfortunately, no.
Customer: In that case, I’ll take my business to a bookstore that has better computers.
My techie husband and I were walking in the high desert when he stopped to photograph one stunning vista after another. Overcome by the sheer beauty, he paid it his ultimate compliment: "Everywhere I look is a screen saver!"
Facebook and Formspring are two of the many social-networking sites that allow users to embarrass themselves in front of millions of friends and strangers, like these people did.
LARRY: Happy Valentine’s Day to All, especially Wendy, Heather, Lindsey, Ellen, Valerie, Isabel, and all the other wonderful women I adore.
JENNIFER: You forgot your wife.
It was my friend’s first camping trip with her husband, and they were lost. He tried all the usual tactics to determine direction—moss on the trees (there was none), direction of the sun (it was overcast), and so on. Just as she began to panic, he spotted a cabin in the distance. "This way," he said as he led her back to their camp.
"How did you do that?" my friend asked.
"Simple. In this part of the country, the satellite dishes point south."
When I worked in my school library, a very confused guy asked me for help. "The computer just started typing in Latin. I can’t understand it," he said. It turns out he was typing in italics.
After a lengthy course on improving computer skills, a teacher finally seemed to get the hang of it. In fact, he admitted in his self-evaluation, "computers have simplified and shortened my life."
Simon Cowell: This entire trip has been simply ghastly. You missed two turns, and your side-view mirrors weren’t adjusted properly. And the worst part was the singing to the radio. Just awful. You’re no longer in the driver’s seat. In fact, I’d be surprised if you returned next week—because you’d probably get lost again.
Jack Bauer: I don’t have a lot of time. You’re going to have to trust me. The country’s fate is in my hands. So please, listen to me. The Walmart is on the left, 2.6 miles up the road. Today’s the last day for the rollback prices on that wicker hamper you want, so grab it and go. Then we have some business to take care of.
The Biggest Loser trainers: Come on! So you’re lost. Are you gonna cry? Don’t you dare reach for that glove compartment. I know that’s where you hide your Twix bars. Just take a breath. Pull over. Do some stretching. Get back in. And let’s turn around and get back on track! There’s a weigh station on the right.
Once I’d finished reviewing my daughter’s homework, I gave her an impromptu quiz. “What is a group of whales called?” I asked. “I’ll give you a hint—it sounds like something you use to listen to music.”
“An iPod?” she guessed.
“Close,” I said. “But what I’m thinking of is a little smaller.”
Playing around with my new iTouch, I decided to get directions to my son’s base from my home in Maryland. So I typed "Wahiawa, Hawaii." I got turn-by-turn directions until I hit the coast. Then I was told, "Kayak across the Pacific Ocean entering Hawaii."
Q Who’s the patron saint of e-mail?
A: St. Francis of a CC.
I just got a GPS for my car, and my first trip with it was to a drugstore. Since the manual said not to leave it in the car unattended, I brought it with me into the store. While there, the GPS came alive, and a voice stated, “Lost satellite contact.”
I wasn’t embarrassed until a woman turned to me and said, “Your ankle bracelet monitor is talking to you.”
Trying to explain to our five-year-old daughter how much computers had changed, my husband pointed to our brand-new personal computer and told her that when he was in college, a computer with the same amount of power would have been the size of a house.
Wide-eyed, our daughter asked, “How big was the mouse?”
My boyfriend and I met online and we’d been dating for over a year. I introduced Hans to my uncle, who was fascinated by the fact that we met over the Internet. He asked Hans what kind of line he had used to pick me up.
Ever the geek, Hans naïvely replied, “I just used a regular 56K modem.”
I was preparing lunch for my granddaughter when the phone rang. “If you can answer one question,” a young man said, “you’ll win ten free dance lessons.”
Before I could tell him I was not interested, he continued. “You’ll be a lucky winner if you can tell me what Alexander Graham Bell invented.”
“I don’t know,” I replied dryly, trying to discourage him.
“What are you holding in your hand right now?” he asked excitedly.
“A bologna sandwich.”
“Congratulations!” he shrieked. “And for having such a great sense of humor…”
After we got broadband Internet, my husband decided to start paying bills online. This worked great; in fact all our bill companies accepted online payments except one—our Internet service provider.
A friend of ours was puzzled with the odd messages left on his answering machine. Day after day friends and family would talk and then say, “Beep.” He discovered the reason for the joke when he decided to listen to his greeting.
“Hi,” it said. “I’m not in right now, so please leave a beep after the message.”
When my printer’s type began to grow faint, I called a local repair shop, where a friendly man informed me that the printer probably needed only to be cleaned. Because the store charged $50 for such cleanings, he told me, I might be better off reading the printer’s manual and trying the job myself.
Pleasantly surprised by his candor, I asked, "Does your boss know that you discourage business?"
"Actually it’s my boss’s idea," the employee replied sheepishly. "We usually make more money on repairs if we let people try to fix things themselves first."
Learning to use a voice-recognition computer program, I was excited about the prospect of finally being able to write more accurately than I type. First I read out loud to the computer for about an hour to train it to my voice, then I opened a clean page and dictated a nursery rhyme to see the magic.
The computer recorded: "Murry fed a little clam, its fleas was bright and slow."
I purchased a new desktop-publishing program that surprised me by containing a make-a-paper-airplane option. I decided to give it a try. After I selected the plane I wanted, the software gave me a choice of accessories available for my plane, including a stick-up tail, adjustable flaps and an AM/FM radio. Out of curiosity I chose the AM/FM radio.
The program responded with a message box stating: "Come on, be serious. These are just paper airplanes."
Our newer, high-speed computer was in the shop for repair, and my son was forced to work on our old model with the black-and-white printer.
"Mom," he complained to me one day, "this is like we’re living back in the twentieth century."
Bill Gates and the president of General Motors were having lunch. Gates boasted of the innovations his company had made. "If GM had kept up with technology the way Microsoft has, we’d all be driving $25 cars that get 1,000 m.p.g."
"I suppose that’s true," the GM exec agreed. "But would you really want your car to crash twice a day?"
The chef of the upscale restaurant I manage collided with a waiter one day and spilled coffee all over our computer. The liquid poured into the processing unit, and resulted in some dramatic crackling and popping sounds. After sopping up the mess, we gathered around the terminal as the computer was turned back on.
"Please let it work," pleaded the guilt-ridden waiter.
A waitress replied, "Should be faster than ever. That was a double espresso."
My husband and I are both in an Internet business, but he’s the one who truly lives, eats and breathes computers. I finally realized how bad it had gotten when I was scratching his back one day. "No, not there," he directed. "Scroll down."
Students at Iowa State University proved once and for all that the computer just can’t replace human calculations. They held an "IBM mixer" dance, where each student fed his vital statistics and interests into a computer and was then paired off with a member of the opposite sex who, the computer said, was most suited to him.
Imagine the chagrin of one coed who ended up with her twin brother.
A solar-powered computer wristwatch, which is programmed to tell the time and date for 125 years, has a guarantee—for two years.
A co-worker asked if I knew what to do about a computer problem that was preventing her from getting e-mail. After calling the help desk, I told my colleague that e-mail was being delayed to check for a computer virus.
"It’s a variant of the I Love You virus, only worse," I said.
"What could be worse?" my single co-worker asked wryly. "The Let’s Just Be Friends virus?"
My husband, a computer-systems trouble-shooter, rode with me in my new car one afternoon. He had been working on a customer’s computer all morning and was still tense from the session. When I stopped for a traffic light, I made sure to leave a safe distance from the stop line to keep oncoming drivers from hitting the car.
I couldn’t help but laugh when my husband impatiently waved at me to move the car forward while saying, "Scroll up, honey."
My 50-something friend Nancy and I decided to introduce her mother to the magic of the Internet. Our first move was to access the popular "Ask Jeeves" site, and we told her it could answer any question she had.
Nancy’s mother was very skeptical until Nancy said, "It’s true, Mom. Think of something to ask it."
As I sat with fingers poised over the keyboard, Nancy’s mother thought a minute, then responded, "How is Aunt Helen feeling?"
The computer in my high school classroom recently started acting up. After watching me struggle with it, one of my students took over. "Your hard drive crashed," he said.
I called the computer services office and explained, "My computer is down. The hard drive crashed."
"We can’t just send people down on your say-so. How do you know that’s the problem?"
"A student told me," I answered.
"We’ll send someone over right away."
I realized the impact of computers on my young son one evening when there was a dramatic sunset. Pointing to the western sky, David said, "I wish we could click and save that."