Monday, April 7, 2008

Append this, jerk

How do you make a humor writer not feel humorous?

One word - computer conversion.

Okay, so that's two words.

But after our company went 'live' a little over a month ago, I'm just about ready to ground chuck my computer out of the window in frustration.

My daughter, who works with me ... that's another story .. put it best. She said it's like the computer system was designed by Dr. Seuss. You know, where up is left and right is orange and weird little humanoids pop out when least expected.

Seriously, it's like a drunk gibbon created what they laughingly call 'logic' of the system.

I know, you don't believe me. You think I'm just to, er, two, I mean, too old to learn it. The old dog learning new tricks thing.

So let me give you a few examples. Let's say you're trying to enter a new order in the system. You mess it up (easy to do), so you want to get out of the order. Just hit 'escape,' right?

Wrong. The 'escape' key is their programming equivalent of 'enter.' If you hit 'enter', what really happens is ... um, I'm not sure. But you can't use it to escape, I know that. I think you have to hit Shift something or other to abort anything.

And they have invisible keys. I asked how to access one function and the trainer (actually, he's got a degree in obscurity) said to hit the F10 key. I said, "there isn't a F10 on the menu." He grinned an opossum grin and said, "it's invisible."

You wanna know more? How about this? In order to open a menu, you don't just push your pinkie onto a button. Nope. That's too easy. Instead you have to push two buttons for every menu. The button that means something ... and another called the 'Alt' key.

The 'Alt' key? I've been typing for thirty five years and never realized there was such a key on the keyboard.

And using two keys at once? Try to do this while you're juggling a phone and a cup of coffee and Danish chick, er, danish roll.

And here's a good one. To use their incredibly easy message system, you simply have to find which of the five programs suits your purposes, follow the easy to read instructions written in some kind of insect-language, hit a couple invisible keys, and voila', there's a complicated hieroglyphic message system.

To use it, you simply hit the 'send message' prompt and type your message.


You wish.

What you really have to do is choose a prompt that says "Append."



I've put almost half a million words into print to date, and I've never, ever, ever, ever used the word 'append' for anything.

I mean, sure, I used the word 'appendix' back when I was doing book reports, but now that I'm an adult, I found that contrary to my English teacher's instructions I can get through my life quite fine without adding an index to my work.

Until now. I mean seriously, 'append'?

A little known fact about the typewriter is that the inventor deliberately made the keys difficult to work. That's why the 'a' key is on the pinkie finger of your left hand. Slowing down the typing speed accomplished one very important thing with the first typewriters. It made it harder to jam the letter bars as they rose to strike the paper.

I suspect that our friendly computer morons, er, experts had something similar in mind. By making their system incredibly difficult, cumbersome and awkward, we would be able to slow our pace to something that would not tax our minds. So it was done for our benefit.

Uh, huh.

I gotta go. I have to go 'append' a programmer or two.

Anyway, I had a great time at the Erma Bombeck Writer's convention over the weekend. It was cool to hang around great humorists like Garrison Keillor. I'll write some more on this later, but it's past my bedtime.

The Adventures of Guy ... written by a guy (probably)
The Next Adventures of Guy ... more wackiness
The Heat of the Moment

1 comment:

Morgan Mandel said...

Sounds like a nightmare.
Then again, when I learned Wordperfect DOS there were lots of shortcuts. Once you learned them, you could fly through your writing and do all sorts of things that now take me longer when I use the glorious Windows mouse.
At least for me.
Morgan Mandel