...cos it just might come true.
(Originally from here).
In a more idyllic time and place, computers were the exclusive domain of people who actually knew how to use them. Anyone else who dared to challenge the beastly machines was quickly rebuked by the missive of "Syntax error." This was usually enough to convince them that they needed to go find something more productive to do, and they usually did. There were the few, however, that typed in something else, which usually crashed the entire system, with plenty of users on it. Even in these extreme cases, a mob of angry geeks would run this Luser out on a rail, and peace would once again be restored to the land.
Then one day, when the supplies of rails to run lusers out on was growing dangerously short, there needed to be some way to keep the lusers away from the lab. Guards were posted, but Newton's laws reared their ugly heads, proving irrefutably that 98-pound Geeks don't make very good guards. They then tried locking the door, but got carried away with the whole thing, and ended up building a lock so elaborate that even they were unable to get into the lab. After hiring Vito and Nunzio to come over and bash down the door to the lab, the geeks sat down. A few hours (and quite a few alcoholic beverages) later, inspiration ensued. They would create computers that were small enough that one could be kept in every home. The users would be able to crash these things right and left (assuming they could ever find the "on" switch, that is.) It was a brilliant plan. Their computers would be safe from luser attack, and they may even earn a few bucks in the process. There was one tragic flaw in their plan. They failed to underestimate the stupidity of the lusers.
Pretty soon, the geeks whipped out some of these things (some of them decided to name theirs after fruits, which prompted the others to consider them fruitcakes. the others, deciding to use acronyms for the names of these things, like they do for everything else. This ended up turning into a ReligiousWar which still exists today.) and started selling them. People were gullible enough to buy the things, thus falling into the apparent trap of the geeks. There were plenty of new errors on these things to keep the lusers happy, and could find literally millions of new and creative ways to crash the suckers. When they did, all one had to do was flip a switch and everything would be back and ready for the users to crash again. All this, and the users would be willing to pay thousands of bucks for these things... Not only would they get the lusers off their precious machines.... Things were going perfectly.
Then something unexpected happened. The lusers were actually trying to find productive uses for these things. Of course, they fulfilled their original function flawlessly, which was to crash left and right. If you're using these things for something useful, you don't tend to want it crashing left and right, no matter how brainless. Of course, those so brainless as to be found possessed of recent simian ancestry may crash the system left and right, but at a hardware level. (This primitive behavior has also been observed in higher mammals at times. It is not uncommon for these two forms of crashes to be found in close proximity to one another.) All this crashing had a strange tendency to create ill will toward the geeks who created the things. Pretty soon, these geeks, lounging comfortably in the piles of money created by their twisted scheme, found themselves suddenly at the business end of a whole lot of pointy things. Quickly, one of the more resourceful (and sadistic) geeks came up with something called "technical support" to appease the users. Basically, they beat some of the weaker geeks into submission (how one would determine who the weaker geeks were is anyone's guess) then put them on a phone line where the lusers could whine about how their computers crashed left and right. These technicians would then try to help the lusers, who were stupid enough to buy these machines in the first place. When on the phones, the lusers reacted in such a way to make one long for the simplicity of the stone age (and wonder how they ever managed to get past it in the first place.)
For a while, this kept impalings to a minimum at the lab for a while, but eventually the tech support people were driven over the edge by one too many users complaining that their computers were broken only to find they'd soaked it in bean-and-bacon soup for the past 17 weeks. These geeks bought Uzis and shot up the geeks responsible for putting them in that racket in the first place. Unfortunately, none of the geeks seem to have done anything about any sort of plan "B", either because they were too busy wallowing in money, or more recently too busy perfecting their skills in swordplay to stave off the hordes of lusers. Eventually, the geeks knew they were in trouble when Vito and Nunzio were hired once again to bash down the door of the lab again, this time by the geeks. Forced to surrender, the geeks now became slaves to their own device, now having to constantly be making the things easier to use, less buggy, and more useful. Which just goes to show that the best laid plans of mice and men tend to be about equal.
Borrowing a quote from Rich Cook, "Programming today is a race between programmers who strive to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the universe, striving to build bigger and better idiots. So far the universe is winning." Where high technology is concerned, the true number of idiots we have on our hands shows itself, and it's not a pretty sight. Sure, someone can design something that even a two-year old can use, but when they do, it will turn out that only a 2-year old will want to use it. This was the guiding principle in the design of child-proof caps on medicine bottles. This may also explain why a frequently heard phrase from the customers on the tech support lines is "Let me get my two-year old... He knows this stuff better than I do." Sadly, in many cases this is true.
Since some little voice in my head tells me that at this point I need to add a disclaimer in here somewhere, this seems as good a place as any. Just remember that if you look at something and realize right away that you don't understand a word of it, you can safely assume that it was written by a lawyer. Or, if you read something in this column, and you don't think that it resembles anything living or dead, you can assume that I was the one who wrote it... maybe. All in all, it's just another brick in the wall (or something like that.)
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