So, let’s talk about the Jaeb.
Last week, while racing from one class to another, I had to stop at the computer lab to print an assignment. Although many Jaeb labs are usually occupied by business classes, I have always managed to do this sort of thing quickly and arrive in class with no one the wiser.
Not so this time.
I should have known something was amiss when I saw a line at the printer leading out into the hallway. With Stadium Center right on top of it, Jaeb has transformed into Grand Central Station overnight. It looked like a Soviet-era bread line, not least because it extended to Siberia. As far as I could tell, the only reason anyone left the line was because they had graduated since joining it.
Discouraged but not defeated, I sat at a terminal and logged in. Moments ticked by as Windows loaded my “personalized settings.” To this day, I insist that I do not have any personalized settings, but I have always accepted this as the nature of the beast. A five minute delay is the price I pay for soothing blue-sky-and-clouds desktop wallpaper.
But something was amiss. This lab was running Windows Vista.
Eventually, the desktop emerged. I searched for Word, and, na’ve to the horrors that were about to unfold, clicked on the first thing that looked familiar. Word 2007 loaded onto the screen. Baffled by the program’s apparent lack of icons or menus, I sought in vain for Word 2003 and then opened its program file.
The computer thought hard for a while. Then it informed me: “This feature is no longer available.” After a hard slog through a mountain of error messages, I was left with what appeared to be Word 2003. Instantly, a gang of pop-up windows decided I had gone too far by vanquishing the other errors and it was time to rough me up a bit.
A technological blitzkrieg followed.
“Java wants to connect to the Internet.” “Software updates are available! Click here to update software!” “Clippy wants to brush your teeth. Would you like Clippy to brush your teeth?” “Windows needs to restart now. Do you want to restart now? Tough, you’re restarting now!” “Click OK for a swift kick in the crotch!”
At one point I was actually told I had to click something within thirty seconds to stop Windows from restarting and destroying all my work.
Perhaps I didn’t read the newspaper that morning, but I thought The Terminator was an action show, not a documentary. When did the machines start giving me orders?
Racing to accomplish the one task I had come for, I looked for a web browser. But Mozilla Firefox, which has been clearly displayed on the desktop in most, if not all labs for quite some time now, was nowhere to be found. Internet Explorer, the malevolent intelligence behind my suffering, was the one obvious option.
“I can tell from your clicking you’re really upset, Simos,” a pop-up informed me. “I think you ought to sit down calmly, take a stress pill, and update your software before you hurt yourself.”
Somehow, I managed to download and open my assignment. The only challenge now was to print and collect it. Unfortunately, I had failed to get my hand stamped by the bouncer at the lab door. When I finally dodged past the people of Stalingrad, who had traveled 400 miles through the snow to reach the only working printer, I found that my papers had come out double-sided, as is the new policy.
For my purposes, this rendered my hard-won printout entirely useless.
Returning to my terminal, I was cheerfully informed of the number of papers I had printed out this semester (the total had increased by six) and was told that my “credit balance” was “unlimited.” How long will that last, I wondered.
“Conserving” paper, tracking students’ printing habits