A story-prompt post:
I believe in computers, honestly I do. When the Mac first hit the stores in 1986 or ’87, our family was one of those who took it for a test drive and never looked back. Loved it. When Windows first made an appearance a few years later, I wasn’t impressed. I had been using almost the same features the Microsoft world was so excited about for a while and had a smiley face boot up as well. Computer oneupmanship at its finest.
Circumstances forced me into the Windows world (something about work and pay going with the Microsoft environment at the time) and for many, many years I would take only wistful glances at the Mac collecting dust and children’s finger prints at home.
Then, in 2007, I reengaged with the Mac world. I remember there being a bit of a rough start, so much had changed. Gone was the smiley face boot up, but the graphics and the speed were impressive. I struggled to buy into the closing buttons in the upper left instead of upper right corner of the screen (I think Mac and Windows go out of their way to confound us mortal users), the Mac Mail as opposed to Outlook was not so powerful and Numbers was prettier, but harder to get to work. Excel’s bare bones, here’s-your-spreadsheet, now-do-your-job kind of presentation was comfortable. Still, a few months in, I was boppin’ around my screen with the natural ease of a regular user.
This past weekend, my good guy decided to upgrade my operating system. Now I am a mountain lion. Can you hear me roar? Perhaps you aught to be able to, and here’s why:
I HATE UPGRADES!
No, I am not afraid of change. No, I’m not stuck in the dark ages of personal computing. And no, you cannot call me old or old fashioned (even if the evidence of this is right in front of you–I’m not ready to be relegated to the yesteryear crowd just yet).
So far my “upgrade” (talk about false advertising) has resulted in a whole new, and clutter-filled mail, the loss of an easy way to switch my screens, and slow, slow, turtle slow loads of web pages. And what the fudgesicle is with all these doggone pop-up “helpers?” I turned off my “you’ve-got-mail” dings so I could focus. Now every note and helpful hint just start showing up on my screen whenever they feel like. Grr! And don’t get me started on the mouse situation. I’m ready for a dozen cats there. I want my old Mac back!
My friend from writing group just sent an email. She didn’t upgrade, but has been trying to get her email back up after something (unknown cause) went wrong. Two weeks, a visit or two from her Comcast crew, and several calls to friends asking if they would be so kind as to send out an email message for her, and Mary Ann is back. What a nightmare.
Between Mary Ann’s woes and my hideous upgrade, I think there’s a story to be written:
WHAT IF …
Stephen King wrote a fun short story called Trucks about a day when all the world’s vehicles revolted and made us human’s their slaves, pumping them gas and living in terror of which one was going to run us over next.
What if all the world’s computers suddenly had a change of heart about humans? What if email became an erratic system, firing off all sorts of messages one thought had been erased from the draft folder that was named “I hate you because…”
What would happen if suddenly, no computer would work at all any more? Electricity on, but networks down everywhere, a la Twilight Zone?
HERE’S YOUR CHALLENGE …
Write a 500-700 word short story based on the malfunction of email, the horrors of upgrading or any other sci-fi based computer jamming story. Send it to Apple or to Microsoft. Let the big guys know we mere users hate their upgrades and won’t take their bugs sitting down any more. Heh, heh, heh!
Okay, so Apple and Microsoft wouldn’t appreciate our creative efforts. A short story like this may find a home in a magazine or short-story contest. Try checking out Writer’s Digest’s Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. They have updated versions each year, and a lot of libraries carry these treasures.
Good luck, both with your story writing and with your computer.