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Insert Disk & Install

By Otto Rosencrantz

Published June 1995 LONDON BUSINESS MAGAZINE

 

FORGET THE SPANDEX BODY-SUITS, FLYING CAPES, BULGING MUSCLES AND X-RAY VISION. TODAY'S SUPERHERO WEARS BIFOCALS, CARRIES A BRIEFCASE FULL OF FLOPPY DISKS, AND SPEAKS IN ACRONYMS.

 

The reason we bought the CD-ROM in the first place was to plug in some of those wonderful CD-ROM programs that are being touted as the latest thing for education and entertainment. The kids wanted the San Diego Zoo, the Mayo Clinic, Myst, and neat stuff like that. I wanted research tools, and, well... some games.

There are CD-ROM programs out there that will teach you how build a house or a space shuttle, or even landscape the Taj Mahal. Others will let you play chess with every master that ever lived. And of course, there are CDs that will let you fight Giant Hermaphrodite Beast Warriors from the Planet Spandex, and so on - we wanted them too.

 

But what the kids wanted more than anything was a program that, for $80, shows you the inside of the human body in vivid, colourful, gruesome detail. Well, it's educational, I thought, so why not?

 

The people who make CDs will tell you the great thing about them is that they are so easy to install and use. All you have to do is pop the disk into the drive, and the program is all set to go. Too good to be true? You bet.

 

"Insert disk, and type 'install'," it said on the disk containing the human body program. Piece of cake, I thought. Even I can do that. "Your ZWK does not match your LIMO DRIVERS," it said on the computer screen.

 

"Reformat your EWE and RAM, and retry."

"Where are the pictures of the inside of the body?" asked my daughter.

"Just a sec, hon. Let me try again."

Install!

"Your BIOS MEM.SAV.COM is missing," the screen said. "See owner's manual to install, or buy hardware from dealer in Palo Alto, and reboot."

"I don't see anything on the screen, dad. Where are the pictures of all the guts and stuff?"

 

As I saw it, I had two choices. Either call the 1-800 number included with the program and wait two or three months for someone to answer... or call in a pro. Known to most people as mild-mannered Don Hughes, computer consultant by both day and night, Don is known around our house as - Super Computerguy. Whenever we have problems with the system (usually several times a day) we shine a strong light with the SC logo up into the clouds to summon our legendary superhero. And, if that doesn't work ... we call him on the phone.

 

As befits a true superhero, Don is able to solve complex configurations in an instant, leap tall programming bugs in a single bound, and is faster than a speeding device driver. "Thank goodness you're here, Super Computerguy!" we all shout, "Look, nothing happens when we press on the keyboard!"

 

And with nerves of steel and eyes like an eagle - an eagle that needs reading glasses, that is - he comes to the rescue: "Have you turned the computer on?" Super Computerguy knows everything there is to know about how computers work. He even knows how to find columns and stories I wrote months ago and have lost somewhere in Cyberspace. Click, click, click. Super Computerguy will go on the keyboard, and, presto, there it all is - in alphabetical order.

 

"All you have to do is re-write your AUTOEXEC.FLAP" Super Computerguy says. "RAM a surcharge into the FAT LIMO DRIVER, and..." at which point my mind turns to potato soup, and I find myself thinking about the last episode of Seinfeld -superhero talk is way over my head. And as Super Computerguy leaves the house, and once again slips into his mild-mannered alter-ego, everybody heaves a sigh of relief: we can rest easy, knowing that our hero of tomorrow is but a phone call away.

 

And just in case anyone is doubting the believability of a story that portrays computer consultants as the new, superhero kind of male role-model, let me refer to an article by Scott Adams, creator of the comic strip "Dilbert", in the May issue of Windows Magazine. Adams describes men who work with computers as the new sex symbols of the '90s. "Knowledgeable computer users will evolve into godlike non-corporeal beings who rule the universe," he writes, "while non-computer users... will grow tails, sit in zoos and fling dung at tourists."

 

Super Computerguy action figures, complete with tiny bifocals, briefcase, and removable pocket-protector, should be on the market in time for Christmas.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 1996 D.A. Hughes & Associates
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