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Kent Bernhardt: These things called computers

Kent Bernhardt

I’m convinced that most of the problems we have with our computers on a day to day basis are our own fault.

Computers, just like humans, have a lifespan, some longer than others. How long they last often depends on how your treat them.

My current home laptop is entering its seventh year of faithful service, for which I am grateful. It has traveled with me on trips all over the United States as a welcome companion.

They say — whoever “they” are — that you’re lucky to z four to five years out of a computer regardless of the price, so I’m writing this on a computer that pretty much the equivalent of 120 years of age in human terms.

I doubt I’ll function that well when I’m 120.

I’ve watched people use computers enough to know that most of us aren’t equipped to repair our own, and I’ve also learned there’s nothing that replaces a little TLC when a problem arises.

I have a friend who purchases a new computer almost every year because he — well, it takes him approximately twelve months to completely destroy one.

I was always told to try new and exciting things on your computer because “you can’t hurt it.” Well, this guy can hurt it. In fact, he often does. Just before he calls me to tell me there’s a problem, he has his PC begging for mercy.

I can hear it whimpering in the background. He finds ways to hurt it that even the developers never imagined.

His phone calls to me are often frantic, expletive laced rants about the sorry state of Microsoft and the retailer that sold the computer to him. “Junk, complete junk!” I hear him yell. And as I listen, I can literally hear him banging on it.

No wonder it’s junk.

Don’t worry, he has no idea I’m writing about him. He reads nothing, especially computer manuals. If he did, he might realize that banging on a computer isn’t exactly helpful.

The problem is never his fault or due to any lack of understanding on his part. He just knows something is wrong, he is angry, and if he hits it hard enough it might miraculously straighten out.

He wants everyone who built the machine arrested, right up to and including Bill Gates who has willfully conspired against him for profit.

One of my first laptops was one of his discards, and with some patience, a virus removal, and again a little TLC, it served me well. It even told me how happy it was to live in a home full of kindness and compassion.

Don’t get me wrong, all computers eventually die. They are mechanical, and the blue screen of death will take them from you one day — along with most of your information, pictures, and videos if you don’t back them up regularly.

Until then, enjoy the wonderful technology you have at your fingertips. Treat it kindly. Used properly, it can simplify difficult tasks and open a world of knowledge to you.

Used improperly and abused, you will find yourself screaming into the phone at a friend who has heard your rants one time too many.


Kent Bernhardt lives in Salisbury and his computer is working just fine.

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