August 30, 1996
A philosopher once said, "History repeats itself. First as drama, then as comedy." I knew this to be true long before I read it. After all, when I was growing up, everybody I knew was nostalgic about the 50’s and the 60’s–whether they lived through them or not. I knew the 60’s were going to come back when the 50’s did, and I knew the 50’s had come back when everybody I knew turned into the cast of "Happy Days", when buzz haircuts and names like "Chet" and "Dolores" got really popular again, and Elvis sightings tripled. Everybody was afraid of commies, too, so I knew that peace, love, and thirty-dollar tie-dye t-shirts were right around the corner. The eighties will be always remembered as a time when nostalgia was the national pastime, when technology and marketing made everything groovy, when it was hip to wear peace beads, peace symbols, make the peace sign, and carry the obligatory CDs of Janis, Jimmy, the Dead, and the Doors, not to mention those far out Greatest Hits compilations, with their portable Walkman stereos when they went out power walking. The trouble with the 60’s coming into the 80’s, though, was that everything was expensive. Those oh-so rebellious jeans with the holes in the knees were sold for an extra twenty bucks as "pre-ripped", and stuff that hippies used to pick up in junk shops now went for top dollar at designer outlets. Everybody was hip, and it was a gas for businesses. As the 60’s dragged on into the 90’s, I realized it was more appropriate to say that history repeats itself first as drama, then as marketing. Fortunately we seem to have escaped the same fate with the 70’s, but they were pretty much a comedy the first time around.
Enjoy this week’s non-nostalgic offering. Oh, and I’ve been a bit remiss about doing this, but there are a few new Freethinkers floating around out there, so everybody wave!
Excerpts from a Wall Street Journal article by Jim Carlton
A customer called Compaq tech support to say her brand-new computer wouldn’t work. She said she unpacked the unit, plugged it in, and sat there for 20 minutes waiting for something to happen. When asked what happened when she pressed the power switch, she asked "What power switch?"
Compaq is considering changing the command "Press Any Key" to Press Return Key" because of the flood of calls asking where the "Any" key is.
AST technical support had a caller complaining that her mouse was hard to control with the dust cover on. The cover turned out to be the plastic bag the mouse was packaged in.
Another Compaq technician received a call from a man complaining that the system wouldn’t read word processing files from his old diskettes. After trouble-shooting for magnets and heat failed to diagnose the problem, it was found that the customer labeled the diskettes then rolled them into the typewriter to type the labels.
Another AST customer was asked to send a copy of her defective diskettes. A few days later a letter arrived from the customer along with Xeroxed copies of the floppies.
A Dell technician advised his customer to put his troubled floppy back in the drive and close the door. The customer asked the tech to hold on, and was heard putting the phone down, getting up and crossing the room to close the door to his room.
Another Dell customer needed help setting up a new program, so a Dell tech referred him to the local Egghead. "Yeah, I got me a couple of friends," the customer replied. When told Egghead was a software store, the man said, "Oh, I thought you meant for me to find a couple of geeks."
A Dell technician received a call from a customer who was enraged because his computer had told him he was "bad and an invalid". The tech explained that the computer’s "bad command" and "invalid" responses shouldn’t be taken personally.