— Emo Philips
American comedian (b. 1956)
As a late-blooming baby boomer who learned to type on a helpful tool called the typewriter as a high school senior, I have finally come to this conclusion 38 years later: I have never met a computer I truly liked.
Typewriters never ate my information; computers do it all the time.
Typewriters operated at the same speed as your fingers; computers get bogged down and sometimes crawl at a pace slower than a crippled slug on crutches.
Typewriters took orders; computers live to frustrate, dominate and to outthink their operators.
Typewriters put out what the typists put in; computers delete copy, lose copy, rearrange copy and they even plant squiggly little red lines under copy they believe is misspelled or incorrectly used. Heck, my office computer just put one of those irritating lines under “squiggly.” So I looked it up in an old fashioned hardback — Webster’s New World College Dictionary Fourth Edition, which incidentally is dubbed “The Official Dictionary of The Associated Press.” It’s a word, Mr. Know-It-All Computer. But don’t take my word for it. Call Wiley Publishing Inc. You guys can duke it out. Incidentally, no red lines under “duke.” Go figure.
Typewriters never needed a reboot, just the occasional new ribbon; computers struggle with viruses, spyware, adware, hardware, software, this ware, that ware, popups, hackers ... and they don’t even like cookies. Now, who doesn’t like a good cookie? I used to eat plenty of them while typing book reports in high school and late-night term papers in college.
Once, years ago during my first stint in newspaper work — probably the late ’70s — my newsroom computer ate three news stories I had written for that day’s edition ... five minutes before deadline. They were never regurgitated nor were their skeletal remains ever uncovered in a shallow grave. No one even said, “... Sorry.”
The hole in the grey-paneled wall from my clenched fist, so I am told, remained above my old desk until the Cleveland Daily Banner’s remodeling for its 150th anniversary a quarter of a century later.
The publisher wasn’t pleased by that hole. Nor were my bruised knuckles. The pain in my hand matched the ache in my heart. I got over both. But I never forgot. And let’s not even talk forgive.
My relationship with computers over the years has been “Live and let live” at best. Certainly nothing more. And sometimes much less.
Then came Monday. Three days ago, several closing lines from an editorial were swallowed by a glitch heard ’round the newsroom. They were there when they left my computer. They were there when they left the proofreader’s computer. They were there upon entering the paginator’s computer.
They were there on the paginator’s screen after designing the page, but they went AWOL on the hard-copy proof page. So I marked the proof page and the paginator reinstated the lines which never actually disappeared from her screen.
To the discredit of our human eyes as we reviewed the early copies of the Monday edition as they rolled off the press, we didn’t catch the absence of the mystery lines that again were Missing In Action. I didn’t personally catch the MIAs until thumbing through the paper at my desk. By then it was too late to bark the legendary newspaperman’s command, “Stop the presses!” The press run was already near its completion.
Our end result was an editorial missing its final couple of paragraphs, and its closing sentence even ended in mid-stream. No period. No punctuation of any sort. As we call it in the industry, it was a “hanger.”
Traumatized by this tragedy in print, I set sights on my just vengeance and wrote another editorial — a poignant one — for Wednesday’s edition.
In keeping with a longstanding tradition among computer operators, I blamed the computer. And then I repeated the information that the paginating computer had devoured. I felt compelled to do so because the editorial endorsed one of this community’s most heartfelt holiday projects — Operation Christmas Child.
I couldn’t resist the urge to rub further salts of blame into the computer’s wounds by writing this accusatory column less than 24 hours later.
For those who missed Wednesday’s make-up editorial, and the rightful information that was rudely stolen Monday, your Operation Christmas Child and Life Care Centers of America contact is Kelly Wilcoxon at 423-473-5011 or email Kelly_Wilcoxon@lcca.com.
This is National Collection Week so you still have a few days to deliver your shoe boxes filled with love. Through Friday, you can deliver at any area Life Care facility or corporate offices during business hours. On Saturday, you can deliver at Life Care’s Campbell Center maintenance center on Keith Street from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; or, on Monday, Nov. 21, you can drop them off at the same location from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Don’t let a ravenous computer deprive you of this chance.
Operation Christmas Child is a time-tested and community-respected campaign founded on humanitarian love and people’s giving spirit.
Computers are not.