Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Grrr! (01/28/10)
TITLE: They Eat Paper, You Know....
By Michelle Knoll
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There is an ongoing cold war between me and these (sometimes not so) little beasts. I have to use them, but I don't like using them. The mere thought of their presence in my life leaves a sour taste in my mouth. I join with Daffy Duck in saying, they're "despicable"!
During my high school days, I had no idea my life would be set upon this path. However, technology changed the course of every American's life, and I found myself drafted before I had the chance to refuse the marching orders. Therefore, I donned my uniform and became yet another American enlisted as “computer user, private, first class.”
But how was I to know the intensity of combat I would be asked to endure? For thirty years I have been in these trenches, and yet the war rages on.
It all began my freshman year in college, with my first programming class. Those were the "dark ages" of computing, when privates such as myself had to use keypunch machines to input programs into monstrous mainframes that filled entire basements of buildings. Using a keypunch machine was like using a typewriter; you typed each line of code onto a card, and then ran the cards through a reader. If they were typed correctly, ran correctly, and everything made sense, then your program was printed out on a big page printer in the middle of the keypunch room. This was “boot camp” for me, and I gained confidence in handling my equipment and knowing my rank and position in this battalion of computing comrades.
So one evening, we were happily typing away... when... BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! BOOM!
Without any provocation at all, the page printer in the middle of the room BANGED out pages at lightning speed, shattering the silence with sounds like dropping bombs. We dove behind the keypunch machines, convinced the third world war had started, right in our midst!
When the sounds had subsided, and we realized the ceiling and walls were secure, more than one student uttered a choice epithet. As I paced my breathing to slow my heart rate, I glared at the monstrous box sitting in the middle of the room. Its bland, plastic lid and steady burning lights appeared to have a smug expression that said, "You lookin' at me?"
"Grrrr...." I muttered under my breath. "Stupid printer."
Throughout the rest of my college experience, skirmishes between me and these masters of confusion persisted. The continuing conflict only fueled my intent to emerge victorious. I became convinced each printer was an enemy of a “peaceful state.” Peaceful state of mind, that is.
Therefore, I accepted my career enlistment in the army of computing troops. I would not only learn the ways of the enemy, I would become their worst nightmare.
One particular campaign involved working as an assistant to a network administrator. Deep within the bowels of the computer lab were enemy soldiers -- private dot-matrix militia and higher-ranking laser printers -- intermingled with friendly PCs. We only allowed them to stay because of the information they could give us, a typical posture during cold war. To keep us protected, though, I studied their secret language, deciphered their code, memorized their connections, and learned their anatomy. I became the “secret ops” agent, able to infiltrate the territory of the printer army,
sneaking behind enemy lines to thwart their plans to disrupt our network's operations. Some became prisoners of war, which I carted into my office, threatening them within an inch of life's end if they refused to “talk.” I was successful in gaining valuable information during those diagnostic
interrogations, even making some of them “double agents” willing to communicate their secrets in exchange for newer printer ribbons or toner cartridges.
Throughout the years I have continued to serve as emissary to the printer regime, from the nation of computer users, Even now, I have two of the enemies' minions in my house, and I monitor their every move. Their ways are foreign to us, their thought processes continually changing, so that new downloads of information are required just to keep one step ahead of their wicked scheming.
They eat paper, you know....
Though I am diplomatic in my dealings with their kind, they know one thing is certain: I know where the power button is, and I am not afraid to use it!
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