Edgar the Friendly Computer

Some things are just scary. Public speaking, bungee jumping and spending a weekend alone with a four year old. Other things are just vile. Things like poopy diapers and pickled herring. Personally I can't tell the difference between the two.

For some the list of things they are scared of is rather short. On that list would be, flinging ones self off a roof top with only a pull-cord to save your skin. For me it would include holding a bull frog. The fact is though, everyone is scared of something. The obvious fears aside, there are also people out there with a fear of our friend. The beloved computer.

For whatever reason technology scares some people. A man will go to the store, buy the most expensive computer he can afford and then not use it for fear of breaking it. When I used to do tech support, I would tell people, "There's nothing you can do to hurt this machine save throwing it out the window. Everything is fixable." Obviously I lied to them. In part because my customers were complete dingle heads and could break a cotton ball but mostly I lied in order to relax them.

When you are relaxed, you tend to trust your instincts more and are less likely to make mistakes. When you're relaxed you can recall what you've done and remember the step required to finish something. So how do you make people relax around technology?

I think it's all in the name. A computer named HAL evokes fear, anxiety and mistrust. Who wants to trust your taxes or bank accounts to a computer named after a maleficent electronic entity?

"Tell me what my bank balance is HAL?"
"I can't do that Peter."

But change the name to Edgar and it's not so scary. It sounds downright friendly. Who would be afraid of a computer named Edgar?

"Check the home security system Edgar"
"I've unlocked all the doors and sent ransom notes to the local constabulary."
"Edgar, you old card!"

See no fear at all. Sure you'll be a bit peeved when you're picking slugs out of your abdomen. But later after the clotting kicks in and the pain pills have begun their work, you'll smile, knowing Edgar was just 'having a good time' at your expense.

You'll even have a better time taking it apart piece by piece and mangling the boards in the blender.

"Next time I'm getting a computer named Raymond."


Tony said...

When I used to do tech support, I would tell people, "There's nothing you can do to hurt this machine save throwing it out the window. Everything is fixable."

Obviously you already know the folly of this claim, but I have run into several people who seem to actually believe that. To them, I can only say: go visit this link and do a search for "shotgun".

"When I got to the lady's house and was let in, the first thing I noticed was the smell of gunpowder. The second, the double barreled 12-gauge shotgun lying on the couch. Third, the big gaping hole in the side of her computer. (It was one of those Macs where the CPU and monitor are in the same housing.)

I looked at her. She was a little grey haired woman, around 60 or so. Had she? Not possible. Still, I had to ask.

Me: "Did you shoot...?"

Customer: "Yes, I got a little mad at it. They told me I couldn't hurt it, but I think they were wrong.""

kludge said...

If that story is real, it's AMAZING.

If it's a lie, don't tell me because I want to believe it!

Tony said...

Well, obviously, I have no way of knowing. I just read it from the website I linked to. But having met quite a few end users, I would have to say that it is quite possible that the conversation in the story really took place.

ViperMan2000 said...

Hilarious stories on that site. I actually have one of my own already that kinda comes close. Someone comes is with a laptop and says that a disk is stuck in the drive. So I'm like "A CD's stuck?" And the person is like "Yeah. I think it might be one of those floppy disks." Um... Ok, then. We have MacBooks, so there's no tray. I try a few things to get the drive unjammed, first of all pressing the eject button, and nothing works. So, we send it in to get repaired. It comes back with a little baggie taped to the side with an SD card in it.