Editorial – July 2015 : Is your computer your closest friend? (editorial)

June 28, 2015 | By | Reply More

Hello everyone

Although tablets and mobile phones are close contenders, even if I don’t use them myself, the closest bit of tech to being a friend is your computer, whether its a tower (don’t they do deskbox shapes any more?) or laptop.

All right, so its an inanimate combination of silicon, rare and more common metals, plastic and such that is a platform for a variety of software. It is however an extension of yourself and I suspect that if you like yourself, then you must like your computer and if you don’t, then its replacement probably is a better fit. Whether you rapidly change or wait until it breaks down and get an enhanced more modern version, which might happen with advances anyway. For the same price as I bought my last laptop, I can now get treble the RAM included in the same price. Knowing the British psyche, we actually like our computer’s little eccentricities until they become faulty or too much trouble or expense to resolve. Mind you, the hardware reliability is far better than the earlier models and can live longer than some household pets. Making it feel like a home away from home is a logical step. Think about when you see computers used in film and TV fiction and what’s the big giveaway is that they look sterile. Mind you, it could also reflect that these people don’t rely on their computers too much.

There is also a measure of dependency on the home computer as a means to get onto the Internet and contact the rest of the world can’t be done in any other way. OK, tablets and mobile phones but I still don’t have a use for them. I tried smoke signals but they’re not very good in a strong wind and depends on people seeing the message across the world which is a bit difficult.

However, what is it you really love about your computer, the hardware or the software that you run on it? It could be both but is defined by what do you see as the heart of your computer and I don’t mean the CPU? Both change periodically and I defy anyone to say that they preferred an earlier version before slowly adapting to the new and not even notice any speed changes after a week or so.

One thing common to all computer-users is we can actually adapt fairly well, even quicker when something has only minor changes in the software. A bonus is we can also learn new software just as quick as our knowledge grows or how else can we make judgement calls on it. Saying that, some older software was more effective when it wasn’t having minor things added that wasn’t used. Then again, software companies feel the need to annually update or no one will be buying their product. Outside of games, there are only so many other things you really need on your computer. A word processer, spreadsheet, maybe a database and graphics software where a dedicated graphics card spares the working RAM. There’s not much dedicated software that you need beyond that. None of which is helped when a particular company is bought or merged and the make-over isn’t quite the same as why we bought it for in the first place. Even so, when it comes to computers we adapt because we need them. For some, there is obviously a love-hate relationship but compelled by the need to use them. It is also making those who have no computer at all an endangered species, especially as kids are brought up on them, showing how much the world has changed. Although regular users might not know all the technical stuff, they do recognise what they need in a computer and are always learning. At least, I hope they do.

If a computer dies or becomes obsolete, putting the software onto a new computer means there is some continuity and thank the Illuminatii that some manufacturers with activation controls and up-to-date drivers, know this is important for continual usage and allow passage to a replacement computer, not to mention bad PR if they don’t. Be grateful to your own attention in ensuring back-up files are stored on an memory finger, auxiliary hard drive or CD/DVD on a regular basis.

The only drawback with this is when the computer architecture gets a drastic makeover, the operating system has to follow and less thought is given to running older software. Although I can understand some of the logic of this, some of the older software simply doesn’t exist as a new version. Well, with the earlier models that was possible but older software was never designed to adapt to new drivers and these in turn can’t neither. It gets around the cobbler’s dilemma that the better the shoe, the fewer the sales. You end up being obliged to upgrade as well. A vicious circle.

Going a little technical here for old software, you would think that all it would be needed is an operating system intercept when particular visual and audio drivers are required and use alternatives. After all a picture is a picture and a sound is a sound. Considering with PCs, software manufacturers rely on Microsoft’s Windows drivers anyway, its hardly a conflict of interest. Hardly rocket science but definitely computer science. Would it stop people buying new software? I doubt it. Look at the number of people who queue for the latest of everything, there should be enough choice for everyone. At least that way the entire market is covered and that’s the legitimate side. Keeping that side cheap or reasonably priced ensures profitability because more people will buy it would do more damage to any piracy that goes on. It’s a lesson that pharmaceutical companies could learn from.

I’m side-tracking. Easily done when it comes to computers. The basic thing is we grow very attached to our computers. I mean, how many of you name your computer amongst the first things you do when you get it? Already you’re creating a bond. Its even cheaper to feed than an organic pet, although electricity isn’t recommended for them. Yet a computer looks least like something you could socialise with and yet some people find the current humanoid robots a little unsettling. It just goes to show any bonding has to come with a purpose and need. Would it be possible to bond with a true android, only you can know for sure. The current TV series ‘Humans’ is showing the problems when there is too much reliance on Synthetics even if I don’t think they’ve gone far enough. After all, look how quickly the use of mobile phones has spread through the population, even if I don’t have much use for one personally. I also suspect they would take the Asimov approach from US Robotics and leash the Synths then sell outright as that would change details of ownership. If the problem of android acceptance is resolved, then we have a whole new different ‘friend’ and I only hope they can type.

Until then, we have our own computer. Personalised to reflect your own tastes, whether its in wallpaper or sound effects or whatever you’ve done with it, assuming you know that they both can be changed. If you’re anything like me, its amongst the things that are moved over to the new computer. However, do we imbue it with a personality? I mean, we probably swear at it when it does something wrong and might even praise it when it does something right, like not doing an absolute delete. The computer itself doesn’t really care which sounds awfully like the way of the universe.

So well and truly, your bond isn’t just with your computer but with the universe. A rather unique metaphor to end on. We’ve come a long way in the past few decades. Would an Artificial Intelligence embedded in your computer make that different? Would it stop being even remotely seen as a close associate into more of slave or servant? Would it even be able to tell the difference if you thought of it then as a friend? After all, its only a program and as alive as we want to make it. However, it is whatever you make of it because it is your computer. A personal friend.

 

Thank you, take care, good night and yes, I am updating my model. Damn malware!!!

Geoff Willmetts

editor: SFCrowsnest.org.uk

 

Note: Although this is true of Dell computers, if you don’t have a rescue CD or DVD when you bought your computer, a request to their technical department will have them send you a copy. I imagine that other manufacturers will do likewise. Bear that in mind should anything go wrong before your Windows 10 installation and get it before you start or have to do as reinstall somewhere down the line.

 

Observation: Red shirts on Star Trek. I often wonder why security shared the same colour with engineering but I guess green wasn’t seen as much of a choice and even Kirk only wore his a few times and certainly didn’t look as glam as gold. Things were very prime colours back in the 60s. If they tried black then it would look sinister Nazi-like. White would make them better targets (hah!) as if not being classed as a security guard isn’t. As red, they could intermingle with Engineering and hide better I guess.

 

A Zen thought: Misery is waiting for a computer to arrive.

 

NOTE: Although there are details below, please observe the bigger message elsewhere on site. I’m always recruiting reviewers!!! If you’re living in the UK, love books and feel a bit geeky then read the notes below. You have to love reading anyway. You might be what I’m looking for and I do train people up and it’s good for your writer’s CVs and books to feed your reading habit. As some of my team are discovering, they can also interview writers and write articles as well. You can do that without reviewing as well but reading and reviewing is a good discipline. We’re a good team to belong to.

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For the record: For the odd query I have about being linked to media contacts. I do not have either a personal twitter or facebook account. There’s enough of me here to not outstay my welcome. I’m also puzzled why some people see SFC as a blog site when we’re not. We were in this format long before blogs. It’s getting to the point that people can’t tell the difference between blog and butter.

Beware Of Virus Attacks: December 2012, even though I hadn’t left an active link to my email address, it got solidly attacked and then blocked from everyone, including myself. By necessity, having a form of open contact to me comes as part of the editor’s job. I’m still seeking reviewers and new material so follow the paths through the website and go where no spam-bot dares. I’ve yet to see them write anything. Humans and aliens can apply, providing they live in the UK. Monsters need to prove they can read and write. We could do with some reviewers who like fantasy right now. Don’t be scared of the instructions, you’d be surprised how easy it is to learn. So, if you want to contact me, build these words into an email address: gfwillmetts at hotmail dot com  I won’t bite, especially as I’m hunting for fantasy reviewers right now. In fact, I’ll settle for any more willing reviewers who love to read. Did I say I was after reviewers?

Category: Computers, Culture

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About the Author ()

Geoff Willmetts has been editor at SFCrowsnest for some 15 plus years now, showing a versatility and knowledge in not only Science Fiction, but also the sciences and arts, all of which has been displayed here through editorials, reviews, articles and stories. With the latter, he has been running a short story series under the title of ‘Psi-Kicks’ If you want to contribute to SFCrowsnest, read the guidelines and show him what you can do. If it isn’t usable, he spends as much time telling you what the problems is as he would with material he accepts. This is largely how he got called an Uncle, as in Dutch Uncle. He’s not actually Dutch but hails from the west country in the UK.

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