Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What do I do ...

... that drives my mother crazy. Heck, why stop with mom. It drives my wife and my MIL and at least half the people I know crazy. The other half just haven't run into the issue. Can you guess what it is?

What I do that drives everyone crazy? I know that at least some of you reading this blog know me in real life. So what is it? And no, it is not go for months without a shower. It involves none of my grooming behaviors, real or imaginary. It also doesn't involve drunken orgies or the ilk. Can you guess now?

Still puzzled? The next hint is that does not directly involve my intellect (or lack thereof). It also does not involve my appearance, sex, education, or current job. Can you begin to see through the mist which is slowly clearing from your mental vision? Got a guess now?

Now for a give away clue - it involves computers. Can you guess now?

Give up?


My deep, dark, and dirty secret that drives people crazy is that I am the Computer Whisperer. I can walk up to any computer, think a few good thoughts, say the appropriate words, and viola - everything starts working just fine.

If the computer has been freezing up on you for days, all I have to do is walk into the room and it behaves perfectly.

If you haven't been able to get that web site to accept your input and have resorted to sitting on hold for hours in the hope of getting through to customer support - let me sit down at the keyboard and all will suddenly work and your order will be complete in seconds.

If you've been trying to get your printer to power on and/or unjam - let me caress it and it will work like a charm.

You keep getting the BSOD (Blue Screen Of Death) - let me just touch the keyboard and the machine will run perfectly for hours.

In and of itself, being a Computer Whisperer is not calculated to drive people crazy. It is more calculated to make you really popular late at night around deadlines. The real issue is that people have been getting strange and irreproducible results for hours and have drug in other people to verify that it isn't working and I walk in and it starts working. You can see how that might rankle a bit. I have had my wife insist on other people coming over to see that her computer isn't working right because she knows when I walk in it will start working perfectly. And perhaps more annoying, all those vexed people know that as soon as I walk out of the room, their troubles will resume until I return. A good computer only responds to a Computer Whisperer it can hear and see.

The worst part is that I don't even have to know anything about the computer in question. I have been at sites with main frames down and waiting for the system engineers to arrive, walked into the computer room, and suddenly all is working again. Back in the early days of programmable calculators, my fellow graduate students used to come to my office so that their "broken" calculators would work long enough to finish the assignment. When I was at a national lab, I had a colleague that would drag me over to his area at lunch time just so his computer powered detector would work. (I got a lot of free lunches that way.) It's probably good I never became a system engineer - it's hard to repair that which works while you are there and then quits when you leave!

(This post is a response to Mama Kat's writer's challenge for Thursday - I just figured I'd get it done a tad early.)


  1. I still tend to favour a cattle prod.

    Or, in computer talk, the off switch.

  2. Far better to be that way inclined that the opposite!!

  3. Considering how much trouble my labtop has given the past year, I could have used your talents. With a boatload of papers to write in a distressingly short amount of time with no laptop WAS NOT FUN.

    - Kendall from Mama Kat's

  4. Are you contagious because I want some of that!

  5. Wow...nice talent to have,Dan!

    Happy New Year!!

  6. That wouldn't drive me nuts at all, I'd be thrilled to have you come stand at my desk at work and wait for those moments when my computer freezes or a program decides to shut down (without saving my work) right before I send a design job to the printer or before a big deadline. THRILLED.

  7. Wow, that's quite a talent. There have been times when I could have used your skill. Bet if you weren't married, you could get a lot of chicks with that magnetic charm. :-)

  8. Just for all to know. My mom nailed what i do to irk her in one. She knew what I was going to blog about as soon as the first line was read.

    So either she is pretty observant or I am really really really annoying to her as the Computer Whisperer.

  9. Boy I'd give my left kidney for a talent like that.


    Not really.

    But it would be cool.


You know you want to ... so just do it!!!

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