Thursday, July 31, 2008

Friday Challenge: Tech Support

“Excuse me young man?”

Oh great. Just about to level up, now this. I finally get a 15 minute stretch of zombie killing, mindless fun, and grandma has to bring me back to reality.

“Young man, I was told that you’re tech support?”

I wish people would quit telling people things about me. Even if they’re true.

“Yes, I’m tech support. What can I do for you?”

I managed to pull that off without sounding too insincere.

“It’s my husband. He’s having a little trouble.”

He’s sitting in one of the big comfy chairs. Must have gotten here pretty early to score that. Came in for the updates. Typical Tuesday.

“Ma’am, he has the Blue Eyes of Death. You have to reboot him.”

From this angle I can even see the tiny white-on-blue error message. There he is, near catatonic, and all Microsoft can do is tell him to remove any recently installed hardware or software. Looks like most of his recent hardware is keeping him alive. Let’s hope it’s a software fix.

“Oh, he doesn’t like it when I reboot his system. He never thinks I’m doing it right. Do you think you could do it for me?”

Oh, I can. But I’ll have to get up, make my presence known. On a Tuesday.

“OK, I’ll do it this time, but I’m really not supposed to touch the customers, you know.”

I walk over, grateful that the old-timers hardly ever get sub-dermal switches. I find his switch, just behind his right ear, press and hold for three seconds and I’m done. His eye flickers and his chest rises in a sigh of relief. I remember now that I’ve seen him here before. Rebooted him then too. Told him he needed to close some open ports. Don’t turn on automatic updates for every app you put in your brain. And stop surfing porn. That stuff can kill you these days.

“Oh, thank you, he’s looking better already.”

I accept her thanks and walk away before he can speak. On my way back to my table I perform a quick scan of his system. Cleaned out a couple of worms, closed some ports and installed a backdoor of my own, just in case.

I detour to the counter and grab some coffee. One of the perks of working tech support at Starbucks – all the coffee you can drink. Also one of the drawbacks.

Coffee in hand I turn around and stood face to face with Barrister Musa Issah. Today he’s wearing a white linen suit. Yesterday it was a blue one. The red one’s my favorite.

Before I can delete, he’s talking. He was the solicitor for the late Sanni Abacha, President of Nigeria. He has been given my name as a trustworthy person. He would like me to assist him in getting a gazillion dollars out of Nigeria and into the hands of the rightful heirs of Mr. Abacha.

His accent is much smoother this time. And the woman crying in the background is new. Almost touching. Delete.

My table is no longer available. Some guy’s sitting there with an antique Macbook Air. I hear they were pretty cool, for externals. But I don’t have time to admire it. I want to find a place to disappear and avoid the Tuesday madness.

“Can you help me log on?”

Great, another noob.

“You just wink on the Starbucks logo”

Ever since implants first became popular, the municipal grid has been overloaded. They say free wifi hotspots were popular around the turn of the century. With all the grid congestion, they’ve made a comeback. Especially on Tuesdays.

“I don’t see the logo the girl at the counter said just look left but I don’t see anything and I’ve looked all over the store could you just show me where it is?”

It was a great idea, really. Plug a cable straight into the occipital lobe, and voila, internal video. Of course if you wanted to get data into the machine, you had to be more daring. The very early adopters were lobotomized.

“Keep your head still, ma’am, and look left. No, just move your eyes. Okay now look up. You should see the logo. OK, double wink on it.”

But eventually the technology caught up. Processors continued to get faster. People started using the implant to control the autonomic functions of their brains. It freed up gray matter for other uses. A couple of Nobel Prize winners were found to have done it, suddenly everybody else thinks it’ll make them Nobel material.

“No, ma’am, just two quick winks. Just your left eye.”

Then the quantum chips hit the consumer implant market. It was actually feasible to let the implant take full control, as long as you kept it updated. You did not want buggy code in charge of your brain.

And there was the rub. After a while, who would notice the buggy code. If everyone’s performance downgraded simultaneously, and all in proportion, who would notice?

Well, I would - every Tuesday. Every Tuesday the updates come down from Microsoft. And every Tuesday, my coffee shop fills up with people waiting to get their updates. And every Tuesday people get a little bit weirder.

First it was just quirky behavior. Like everybody ordering the same espresso drink and asking for an umbrella. Or when people began to hunt and peck at their virtual keys. They’re virtual, there’s nothing to hunt.

Everyone stopped wearing shoes two weeks ago.

After last Tuesday’s update, three men went into the street and killed a dog. The whole shop applauded. And everyone joined in when they started eating.

Now the patrons don’t react to anything. Except for me. They always notice me. Especially when I try to leave. I’ve been in the coffee shop for a week now. Even if they let me leave, I’m not sure where I’d go.

It’s noon. Time for the updates.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Straighten up and fly right

At work today, our network connection went down, so several people gathered in the test lab (where I work) to talk. Somehow the story turned to animals and pets. A coworker from India told about being stalked by packs of street dogs.

Then he told about a friend who had all types of animals - dogs, cats, and a monkey. He trained the monkey to give head massages. It would sit on your shoulder and rub your head. He said he actually experienced it himself - he had a headache and his friend suggested a head massage might help. So he called over the monkey, it sat on his shoulders and massaged his head. But he did give one word of warning (direct quote): When a monkey gives a head massage, if you turn you r head one way or the other, the monkey will beat on your head. You must look perfectly straight ahead."

So now you know the monkey massage protocol.