Digital humour

I’ve suspected for some time that my computer has a sense of humour.

Sitting inert in front of a screen for hours on end with no more than the clickety-clack of the keyboard for company is sure to induce a mild form of hysteria, even in the most level-headed. When the PC malfunctions we cry: “Why is it doing this to me?”, overlooking the fact that the most likely cause is an error or oversight on our part. We vent our frustration with expressions of exasperation and incredulity, imprecation and even mild physical mouse abuse.

But let’s spare a thought for the poor machine. Why should a PC suffer all this indignity in silence? Cursed and sworn at when it doesn’t perform to expectations, taken for granted when it does. We should hardly be surprised when, provoked by all this insensitivity, the emotionally challenged machine gives in to the urge to get its own back.

When it does act, the PC is more subtle, inscrutable, wry in its humour. It knows its audience very well. Here is an example.

I log in to Google (PC and Google, the perfect double act – top billing) and open my calendar. It’s July but, unnoticed, my calendar has jumped to January; all is greyed out, out of date. I suffer momentary disorientation and mutter disapproval.

Up pops a question.1

I stare, repeat the question (aloud) and say “No”, rather too emphatically.

I click on No, fast forward to July and proceed with my work.

But I’m distracted. It dawns on me that a calendar called BJH666 did indeed exist and was used to book the room BJH666, including by me. Now, room bookings are done differently – since January in fact. So why is my PC now suggesting I resuscitate this defunct calendar?

The next day, the same thing happens. “No, I do NOT want to add this calendar.” My tone has changed to irritation. But I move on. Perhaps it’s a caching thing, short term memory loss, by my PC. This is what I often tell myself. Something akin to when I’m seemingly the only one at the dinner table who hasn’t registered that the in-laws urgently require a visit or some such inconvenience. Pre-announced but forgotten.

On the third day? Yes, it happens again but this time I’m primed. I’m going to fool the computer. It clearly doesn’t understand ‘No’, so I’ll say “Yes, go ahead and add the [expletive deleted] calendar for BJH666, (under my breath) which we don’t use any more.”

Of course, this is what PC knew I would do. The punch line is ready and waiting.

 

 

 

Fool the computer? Some chance; I have been out-witted. I recognise a good sense of humour when I see it, even if the joke’s on me.

Tanto di cappello, PC.


Footnote

1. Strictly speaking it’s a ‘dialog box’ but I’m not sure anyone uses that term any more.

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