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Coping with the Office
Your First Day at the Office | Coping with Office Copying | Problems with Office Paper | Office Food and Drink | Computers at the Office | Managers in the Office | Averting Telephone Problems in the Office | Email in the Office
Computers are everywhere. They are used to control just about everything, and you have to be able to deal with computers if you're going to get anywhere - even if it's only a little bit, it's worth keeping your hand in. People have many views about what computers are and what they can do.
Here are some of the not strictly true things about computers and how they affect your life.
Intelligence - None. Computers are machines which follow sequences of instructions. They don't hate you, they don't want to cause you grief, although they often do. If they do cause you grief then it's not their fault, strictly speaking.
Spying - They can record information about what you are doing. An example of this is the history of where you have been on the Internet, stored in your browser. It's not a spy tool, it's put there to help you remember things like those complicated web addresses that took you ages finding, and which you forgot to bookmark. They are not directly linked to the FBI or CIA, unless of course you work for the FBI or the CIA, in which case you are a victim of your own success.
Warfare - You are not going to start another global war or make the sun go supernova just by using your computer. The only exception to this is if you work for the armed forces, in which case please be very careful.
Fluffy - Computers are not fluffy.
Slow - They may have large numbers on the front of the box, but at the end of the day, these machines will not do anything quickly. This is partly a strategy developed by some of the less reputable members of industry in an attempt to get us to keep spending money on upgrades. As the hardware gets faster, so the software gets bigger and less efficient, although admittedly it can 'do' more.
Expensive - Computers are very, very expensive. If you pop down to the shops and buy one, then it may cost you a few hundred pounds for a basic model, but the cost doesn't end there. There are all the costs of connecting to the Internet. Then there are all the add-ons and plug-ins without which your machine just won't pull its weight. Then you'll find that you will spend hours and hours trying desperately to work out why nothing you bought works. At this point you could buy a new and 'better' machine and repeat the whole process. During your lifetime you could spend millions and still not be able to run that Space Invaders program.
Fragile - Think once, think twice, think 'don't cover your PC with coffee'. This may be blindingly obvious to you, in which case why do people do this on a regular basis? Everybody seems to have done this at least once and it really doesn't do the machine any favours. Also don't try to feed the machine biscuits, cake, sandwiches, paper clips, staples, rubber bands, oil, hair grips, small rodents or anything else. Your machine is not hungry. Don't try to beat your machine or bend it or drop it, especially off a balcony.
Flawed - Computers are the result of lots of people having a good crack at making something useful. They are the products of comittees and so do strange things at strange times in strange ways. They're supposed to help you do things, but you may find that more of your time is spent waiting for the machine to do something. They are mostly built to justify the purchase of the next model in the series.
The final word: don't get stressed about your computer. It won't do your health any good, and at the end of the day, the computer really isn't worried, so why should you be? Have fun.
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(Last Posting: Sep 8, 2001)