Thursday, May 24, 2012

The anatomically correct computer

My first college-issued computer was a hand-me-down from a colleague who, I soon discovered, had given intimate anatomical names to the drives in the file directory: Scrotum, Testicle A, Testicle B, and so on. (I know it's sexist to assume that the computer's previous user was male, but I don't know a lot of women who would name a computer's hard drive "Penis.") I don't know who the previous user was and I really don't want to know, but I'm convinced that his relationship to his, um, equipment was very different from mine.

I've never named a computer drive or a computer or a monitor or any other electronic tool, and as much as I depend upon and appreciate computers, I don't even remember the brand names of some of my more faithful helpers. We had a Compaq at some point and I know we had a Dell--or wait, make that present tense: the little red netbook I take on planes is a Dell. Other than that, I have no memory of most of our computers except for the first.

Our first computer was a Sanyo, circa 1985, with twin five-inch disk drives and a boxy monitor with orange text on black background. I wrote my master's thesis on that computer using WordStar, a program I loved so much that I still remember many key commands. A decade later, though, when I worked for a newspaper that relied on an outmoded version of WordPerfect using similar key commands, I loathed that program. By then we had moved on to Windows systems and WYSIWYG word processing, so monochromatic monitors and CTRL-S seemed SO last Tuesday.

Soon we had our first laptop, a small but surprisingly heavy little box whose maker I've long forgotten. I used to take it to School Board and Village Council meetings, where I would sit in the back row and take notes for articles (or pretend to take notes while actually playing FreeCell, a game that saved my sanity during many an asinine public discussion). That laptop served us well until someone (possibly me) dropped it during a visit to a reservoir. No one as clumsy as I am should ever be allowed to carry a laptop, which may explain why my current college-issued computer is now in the hands of the IT gurus.

I don't feel particularly attached to that laptop, especially since all my files are backed up on an external hard drive. It served me well and it may come back to serve me some more, but as much as I appreciate its faithful service, I've never bothered to name my computer or its various drives. But maybe I should. Maybe if I interfaced with my computer more intimately, it might stop acting as if it hates me. 

But what shall I name it? Calling it "Stupid" doesn't seem to be working. 

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