Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Recently my computer at home stopped working, and I spent the better part of a Saturday learning that the culprit was a one-gigabyte memory module I bought from Kingston some years back. How did I know? Because after I had littered the apartment with the pieces of several computers, I determined that when the memory was in the computer, the computer did not start, and when another memory module was in the computer, the computer started. Q.E.D.

It was a relief to solve the problem, and to know that I wouldn't need to replace the computer, and to recall that the memory has a lifetime warranty. But more than that: I enjoyed myself. For some reason it pleases me enormously to tinker with computers, to troubleshoot, to get things working. For many years I did that for a living: assembled and disassembled PCs, installed PC networks, showed people how it all worked.

There was much about the job I didn't like -- for one, computers and their immediate surroundings can be surprisingly filthy, at least in the workplaces of my clients. But often there came magic "aha" moments like the one I had last weekend, when I figured out what the problem was, and how to fix it. These are supremely gratifying.

A therapist might tell you that I find these moments so satisfying because I have control issues. Now hand me that screwdriver.

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