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My War With Machines

Many of us have had our own secret war with machines for years By Stephen Schleicher
Woody Allen once talked about his war with machines; toasters, elevators, the television set. He had a tape recorder that when talked into would always say, "I know, I know". I think many of us have had our own secret war with machines for years? I know I have.

I recently decided to upgrade my computer Barkley (what, you don't give your computers names?) from a PIII 500 to an AMD 1.4 GHz speed monster. At first I thought this was going to be a simple upgrade: pull out the motherboard, slap in a new one along with a new processor, and blam-o, new and improved.

Funny thing about technology, these days it seems to be getting harder and harder to merge older technology with new. The more you want to have new technology in your home, the more technology resists. Instead of a one-day upgrade process, it took more than three to get everything working together. That wasn't the end; in fact it kicked off my war the instant I got Barkley home.

First the operating system had to be completely reinstalled. Followed by a complete reinstallation of all my programs (two days work wasted). All along, I swear I heard Barkley laughing to itself over the time, money, and effort that went into increasing its power. Processing power, or power over the user, I still haven't figured out. In either case, I thought we had reached an agreement and things would soon be back to normal.

Then I introduced a second system to the office, which started the aggression all over again. Navi (named after the computer in the most awesome Anime, Lain), is an NT 633, and even though it is inferior to Barkley in processing power, I have a feeling that in the beginning the two computers had an older v. younger sibling relationship.

Just like any sibling rivalry, I had to find some way of getting these two talking to one another. This meant spending a couple hundred dollars in routers and cabling to get both of these machines connected to the Internet and to each other. Just like siblings, anything they can do together to get their parents frustrated and in trouble brings them together. I think wasting money is what makes machines most happy.

Once they got over their differences (Barkley still refuses to speak with Navi over the network), they began conspiring with other machines in my apartment. First it was the central air unit, which suddenly decided it was more fun to turn on the heater on the hottest day of the year than keep my dot-com billionaire apartment at a cool 70 degrees. I put down the first minor uprising by beating the hell out of the thermostat, then after bandaging my hand, I had the power to the offending unit turned off. As of this writing, the maintenance boys of my dot-com billionaire apartment complex have yet to find out what the problem is. As if having to deal with a super hot apartment wasn't enough, the smoke alarm has gotten into the act believing it should go off randomly throughout the night, waking every living creature within a two-block radius.

The last straw was when they subverted my car into triggering all of it's warning and sensor lights at once. Five hundred dollars later, and only having to replace a tiny computer switch in the car, I can drive again. Unfortunately the war has expanded to the streets, and now I hit every red light.

I don't know in what form my war with machines will take next, but for right now, these machines seem content to talk quietly among themselves, plotting their next assault. I think the only thing that will put an end to their evil alliance will be the next rolling blackout.

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Stephen Schleicher has crossed the country several times over the last couple of years going from Kansas to Atlanta , Georgia, and Southern California. In his time traveling, he has worked as an editor, graphic designer, videographer, director, and producer on a variety of video productions ranging from small internal pieces, to large multimedia
corporate events.

Currently, Stephen shares his knowledge with students at Fort Hays State University who are studying media and web development in the Information Networking and Telecommunications department. When he is not shaping the minds of university students, Stephen continues to work on video and independent projects for State and local agencies and organizations as well as his own ongoing works.

He is also a regular contributor to Digital Producer, Creative Mac, Digital Webcast, Digital Animators, and the DV Format websites, part of the Digital Media Online network of communities (www.digitalmedianet.com), where he writes about the latest technologies, and gives tips and tricks on everything from Adobe After Effects, to Appleā??s Final Cut Pro, LightWave 3D, to shooting and lighting video.

He has a Masters Degree in Communication from Fort Hays State University in Hays, Kansas. As a forward thinker, he wrote his Thesis on how Information Islands and e-commerce would play a major role in keeping smaller communities alive. This of course was when 28.8 dialup was king and people hadnā??t even invented the word e-commerce.

And, he spends what little free time he has biking, reading, traveling around the country, and contemplating the future of digital video and its impact on our culture. You can reach him at schleicher@mindspring.com

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