Arthur Clarke’s Three Laws of Technology
- When a distinguished but elderly scientist states that something is possible, he is almost certainly right. When he states that something is impossible, he is very probably wrong.
- The only way of discovering the limits of the possible is to venture a little way past them into the impossible.
- Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.
Evidently I was a warmer and more generous woman when I was younger. I’d acquired what I thought (and think) of as an esoteric set of skills that properly should be of interest to no one—that is, how to jolly along Microsoft Windows computers into doing helpful things. Properly, a tool should Just Work. No one cajoles hammers, although a case can be made for cajoling some elderly screws and/or bolts. A computer is a tool. In my generosity, I figured there was no point in others also learning how to do this tiresome thing, so I would reach in and make things work.
Back then I had a large helping of computer-inquisitiveness, too, which I have since lost. Now I am left only with the bitter annoyance of burning through chunks of time that I would more happily spend elsewhere, particularly when the fix in question is one that I have done over, and over, and over, and over, and over… . I’m looking at you, Microsoft File Sharing on my home network. Today I rammed through A Thing That Works in an hour (an hour-!) rather than two months’ ago’s three, four?, more? methodical search for root causes in order to Fix This Damn Thing Once And For All. Which was six-ish months after the previous time that file sharing failed; I no longer recall the repair frequency before that. I just have an accumulated frustration that snaps from my eyeballs each time My Sweetie says, “Umm, sweetie? The Quicken backup share isn’t working… . Can you do what you did last time?”
Dearest. Beloved. Light of my heart, the real answer is NO. I cannot do what I did last time, because (a) I don’t remember what I did (b) it is almost impossible to tell which of the myriad
incantations software options was the one that Made It Work (c) the odds are poor that even if knew these things that they would work again, BECAUSE THERE’S NO REASON FOR IT NOT TO WORK NOW.
However, I wrote something down this time that is likely repeatable. (Even in mixed company-!)
And when the new computer arrives later this week, we can embark on this adventure anew!
Yes, that’s my tongue, so far in my cheek that I’m at risk of pushing a hole through. But for now I can work on my five new writing ideas, poem shipments, and volunteer web maintenance… three* hours after starting my day. <sigh>
* The operating system update took the first two. See: bitter, “just work”