a lot of articles attempt to make a statement of similar intensity as the title of this one. they usually have links to research and scientific papers and statistics to back them up. i don’t have any of that. i have something that i consider to be much more valuable than empirical evidence extrapolated from duh-moment studies utilizing absurd control schemes and simplistic stimuli. i have personal experience with a lot of stupid people who do a lot of stupid things with their overworked, under appreciated, and otherwise neglected machines.
with that in mind, you bought a machine, probably off the shelf. that immediately gives you the empowering feeling of ownership and control. you own this device. nothing bad can come from it. it will comply to your every desire and behave magically. because its yours, and you paid for it. making those assumptions is the first step to horrible performance and keyboards hitting walls. you did not buy a calculator. you bought an incredibly complex device that relies completely on you for its well being. and like any relationship, this one will go downhill rapidly when approached with that attitude.
you never talk to me
the biggest contributor to computer related issues is how we relate to our machines on a personal level. think for a minute about the flow of a bad relationship. usually a relationship starts out great, then as time progresses, you get comfortable, begin to make simple mistakes, and stop paying attention as closely as you used to. before long, any time something seemingly inconvenient happens, you roll your eyes and start telling the other party things you think they want to hear just to shut them up so you can get back to your all-too-important trivialities.
after a while, the relationship might even start to resemble the kind you have with an animal that you’re tired of dealing with, or that stupid person in your circle of friends that you aren’t sure anyone really likes. before long all you want to do is scream and punch the other party in the face. but why? its your own damn fault. you were too arrogant to listen to the other party. you stopped paying attention to the other party’s needs. you neglected the other party, and now its behavior is reflecting that.
what the hell does any of that have to do with my goddamned computer?
madness you say. what in the holy hell of burning terrorists does this have to do with my computer? you treat your machine like you would an old dog. you treat it like you would that girlfriend that you haven’t figured out how to break up with yet. you don’t listen to it. you don’t see to its needs. you don’t take the time to understand what makes it tick. you let it sit there under the desk and pull dirt from the carpet in through its fans, all the while expecting it to perform like new and ignoring things it tells you that could be indicative of a serious issue. then you pile a bunch of crap on it, installing god knows what without a second thought and you wonder why it takes forever to boot and why it occasionally locks up.
if you got to know your machine, you would recognize when it is crying for help. you would know when it is behaving abnormally, and you would be able to mitigate the kinds of damage that results from this kind of neglect.
bad-ware knows this about you
but lets just forget about the obvious hardware problems never doing any kind of maintenance of any kind can cause. lets forget about the overheating issues related to stacking magazines and ashtrays on your tower case or consistently using your laptop on top of a pillow or otherwise blocking the vents on it can cause. we’ll also let slide the myriad times coffee found its way into your keyboard, or the times the mouse ended up on the other side of the room because you threw it in a fit of angst.
lets focus on what most people’s computers suffer from: bad-ware infections. this includes viruses, trojans, worms, bots, and other tiny infectious pieces of software that end up on your machine thanks to your carelessness. you see, bad-ware is designed by bad people to take advantage of arrogant know-it-alls like you. bad-ware authors know that all you want to do is just get on the fucking internet for a second to update your status. it knows you’re in a hurry. it knows you don’t have time to deal with things or read things. it knows you will click yes to any idiotic question it asks you because you simply don’t have the time or desire to pay attention.
it also knows you like stupid shit like toolbars, widgets, free security scans, shooting monkeys, new undocumented features on facebook that don’t quite look right, pirated software, and anything free. free, in fact, means more to you than the idea of privacy, safety, or for that matter, thinking clearly at all.
so now that you have all this garbage on your machine, it doesn’t run well at all, does it? the sad part is that before you were infected with that new virus that emails all your personal information and sex tapes to your coworkers, you were probably given a clue and ignored it.
what does a clue look like?
the importance of being in a good, communicative relationship with your hardware is simple. if you know what to expect, you will know when you see something that isn’t right. you’ll know there is something fishy about that pop-up you just got. you’ll know not to click yes to every damned thing because you don’t normally get asked questions like that. you’ll know that that toolbar is a bad idea because the usage agreement said something about uploading your browsing habits. you’ll know because you’re paying attention to what you are doing and not rushing through everything just to get that last tweet in about how much you vomited in the tub last night.
people often ask me how i avoid viruses and other infections. they want to know how i can go the better part of fifteen years with only one virus related incident. the idea behind all of this is to build a sort of empathic bond with your machine. by continuously paying attention to your computer’s patterns, keeping track of what you install, being careful about what you install, and generally taking a deeper interest, you will begin to sense when things are not quite right. the same way you sense when your dog is sick or that crazy bitch is about to hand you your ass for staying out all night without calling.
its not that complicated
despite its simplicity, the idea of paying attention to something other than your immediate needs is impossibly difficult for most of you to grasp. this is why you fail. you will be shocked and amazed at how long your computer will perform like new when you don’t treat it like a dumb slobbering animal trying to hump your leg. in the meantime, take it to somebody who knows what they are doing (not geek squad or other pc repair racket) and have your data backed up and your machine restored to its factory state.