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Toast of the town: A parable
technofile  by al fasoldt

Columns and commentaries in a life-long dance with technology
Simple gray rule


Toast of the town: A parable for PC owners

Feb. 21, 1999

By Al Fasoldt

Copyright © 1999, Al Fasoldt

Your toaster starts acting up. There goes the weekend!

You call your brother-in-law.

"But I was doing what you told me! Version 6.2, right?"

"No, dimbulb. I said 6.1. Version 6.2 of the heater element is still in beta. You'll have to uninstall it."

An hour later, you still haven't been able to get the heater element out. The toaster still won't start up and you can't find Version 6.1 anywhere. You can't even get onto the World Toaster Web to get help. Didn't toaster manufacturers ever realize that putting help on the Toaster Web wouldn't be any good when you REALLY need help because your TC -- your toaster contraption -- isn't working?

Time to call the guy who works down the hall. He's sure to be home on Saturday morning. He spends Saturday mornings tweaking his TC.

"What do you mean, DirectToast?," you say. "I thought QuickBroil handled all this."

"Not any more. You've gotta get DirectToast. Sounds like a conflict between the toaster operating system and QuickBroil. DirectToast will get rid of it. Just make sure you uninstall QuickBroil first."

Another hour. QuickBroil finally yields. It kept showing up in the Crumb Tray even after you got rid of it, but you finally got it to go away by restarting the toaster and holding down the lever while the TC went through the boot process.

Now to find a copy of DirectToast. With your TC on the blink, you can't get to the Microtoast site, so you figure the neighbors might have a copy of DirectToast you can borrow.

Knock-knock.

"You again? We don't have any more sugar."

"No, it's DirectToast. I need a copy of Version 6.1."

"It's in the cupboard somewhere." A long delay. "Ah, here it is. Make sure you bring it back when you're finished."

DirectToast 6.1 comes on a CB -- compact bread -- so you have to put the CB in the slot and follow the directions. Except somebody, maybe your son, maybe the kid down the street, turned off auto-toast, so the CB just sits there. Nothing happens. You press the Start Toasting lever and hunt through a hundred choices. Where'd they all come from? What do they mean?

Finally you find the CB thing and you press it. The CB disappears into the TC. After what seems like an eternity, the toaster reboots -- I mean, of course, it turns itself off and then back on -- and DirectToast finishes installing.

Everything is going a lot slower than it did before. But the toaster is working now. And all the trouble was worth it. Who could imagine a life without TCs?


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