It wasn’t long ago that, on a late Saturday night, I downloaded a file from the Internet only to find that it contained quite a nasty virus that tried to disable my computer while asking me to give whoever put it there my credit card information so they could “take care of it.” Yeah, right. They’d take care of my credit rating instead!

The solution as I understood it was to use Windows 7 to return the machine to a previously set Restore Point. I indicated that, but I must have bungled it somehow because all I got when I tried to boot the machine up was a black screen with my cursor happily going wherever I wanted it to, mocking me with great glee since my computer wouldn’t work.

I had to wait until Monday to take it into the store I purchased it from. The good people there actually got my computer back up and running, but I had to make several changes in the settings to get all my software going. But I struggled long and hard with it, called tech support for several software giants, and my machine was back up and running.

But I had sweat great drops of blood in the process because vital (at least, vital to me) files were on it that I desperately wanted to keep. While I was waiting in the computer store, I watched intently as the techs tried and tried to get it to work. After several disheartening returns of “the black screen of death,” it started to go past that step. I thrust both arms up into the air using the same motion the umpires do when a touchdown or a field goal has been scored in U.S. football. Thank goodness!

I was reminded of the way my father used to react when his car was in the shop. He’d sit near the window, looking outside with that “far away” expression on his face, as if he’d just lost his best friend. Then I realized that my computer was now my “best friend” as his car had been important to him.

Many times in Star Trek, computers such as Landru, M5, Nomad and V’Ger have taken over the ship, alien planets or outer space populations. It seems to me that all these stories accurately predicted how dependent we are on our computers today. And I think it will only get worse as we move into the future. Will our computers be wired into our brains so we can read comics, or even watch TV or movies, directly rather than using our eyes? Could be!

So, no pet names for my machine! It exists to make my life easier and to provide me with interesting entertainment … until it breaks down again! Then all bets are off!

Sometime soon I’ll talk about my iPod and my iPhone … and the newly released iPad!

Today’s video shows how to play a computer prank:

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