Alexander Graham Bell’s first phone call – using Skype

Alexander Graham Bell’s first phone call – using Skype

Alexander Graham Bell - historic callOn March 10, 1876, Alexander Graham Bell made perhaps the most famous phone call in history, from his Boston laboratory, summoning his assistant, Thomas A. Watson, who was in the next room, with the following words: “Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.” A phrase so short, the entirety of the message could have fit into a tweet.

Little could the Scottish-born scientist know that less than 130 years later men and women the world over would be using an iteration of his primitive device to play Words with Friends when they should be working and teenagers would use it to type random letters like LOL to their best friend Meagan for no apparent reason.

Bell was a pioneer of the greatest societal-changing bleeding-edge technology of his era. One can only imagine, then, what his very first phone call might have been like, had he had the advanced technology of Skype internet video calling available for this momentous occasion. The following is a dramatic reenactment of how many scholars believe the call might have gone.

BELL: Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.

WATSON: What?

BELL: I said, Mr. Watson, come here. I want to see you.

WATSON: I’m sorry, Mr. Bell. I can see your lips moving, but I’m not hearing anything. 

BELL: Oh, dear. I can see you, Mr. Watson, but I cannot make out a word of which you speak.

WATSON: What?

BELL: I can see that you’re trying to impart a message, but alas, I am not able to detect the sounds emanating from your lips.

WATSON: Still nothing. Sorry, sir. By George, I’ve an idea. Perhaps you’re muted. Might that be the problem?

BELL: Oh, that’s much better, Watson. Can you hear me?

WATSON: Yes, Mr. Bell. I hear you ju$% fi# $#(%$ $%!  Um, as I was say- [The audio drops suddenly.]  Like I … unable to #$&% …you’re … &$##(*!@

BELL: What in the Lord’s name are you trying to impart, my dear Watson? I am hearing all sorts of ruckus, and I am barely able to comprehend a word you utter! Continue reading “Alexander Graham Bell’s first phone call – using Skype” »

Windows 10 Introduces Wide Array of Exciting New System Errors

Windows 10 Introduces Wide Array of Exciting New System Errors

Windows 10Microsoft is proud to introduce Windows 10, the latest version of our operating system for PCs and tablets. To help you get to know our new system better, here are answers to some questions you might have. 

Why is it called Windows 10 when your last operating system was Windows 8?

Lots of people have asked this question. Some folks think that that because Windows 8 was such an unpopular disaster we wanted to put a little numerical distance between it and our new system. But that’s not the case at all. In fact, we were working on a system that would have been called Windows 9, but unfortunately several of our engineers were killed during the beta testing, so we had to shelve it and start again from scratch.

Will Windows 10 fuck up my computer as fast as Windows 8 did?

Yes, indeed. Everything about our new operating system is faster and more powerful than the previous version, including its ability to render your PC or tablet completely unusable within seconds after you install it.

Does Windows 10 feature the Start button that was missing from Windows 8?

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The joy of buying a new computer

The joy of buying a new computer

joy of a new computer - frustrated manI recently bought a new laptop because my old one was having problems. From my purchase experience, I want to pass along the following helpful piece of advice: NEVER EVER BUY A NEW COMPUTER.

Limp along with your Apple Lisa for as long as you possibly can – because once you buy a new computer, your nightmares have just begun. The following is a 100% true retelling of my experience.

I chose to shop at one of the major Big Box retailers. I will change their actual name in this column so as to protect their identity. I walked into WORST BUY, and the salesperson Brad was quite helpful. He directed me to a perfectly adequate laptop. It had keys with letters and numbers in exactly the right locations. He told me that it had a 1.33 gigahertz dual processor with 2 GB of memory, 32 GB of storage, and a Windows 8.1 64-bit something or other. I had no idea what he was talking about, but it came in blue. I like blue. So I bought it.

Then I asked Brad if they could transfer all my data from my old computer to the new one – you know, email contacts, calendar appointments, embarrassing photos of my girls naked in the bathtub when they were two years old, saved so I could show them at their future weddings – you know, important files.

For the very reasonable fee of $150, they could transfer it all. So I said “sure.” Brad then passed me over to their tech team, the name of which, again, out of respect for their privacy, I will disguise. After only a 20-minute wait, I was greeted cheerfully by a member of their Greek Squad team named Nick, who was extremely helpful and said the job would be done overnight. So when they finished the overnight job four days later, I returned to WORST BUY to pick up my new computer. When I got home, I discovered just how helpful they had actually been, and by “helpful” I mean they had somehow managed to lose ALL OF MY DATA.

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Myth-busting website Snopes.com revealed to be a hoax – according to Snopes.com

Myth-busting website Snopes.com revealed to be a hoax – according to Snopes.com

snopes - HOAXVisit Snopes.com, the myth-busting web site and you will discover that a lot of things you always thought were true were in fact LIES!

If you’re not familiar with Snopes.com, it’s a very informative website with a singular purpose: to validate or debunk incredible claims, warnings, and tall tales that circulate around the Internet. The site examines claims such as the infamous urban legend that told us that “for every person you forward this email, Bill Gates will donate $1 towards life-saving brain surgery for a five-year old girl named Tabitha.”

Just last week I discovered to my great relief that, according to Snopes.com, swallowing a watermelon seed will NOT cause a watermelon to grow inside you – unless, of course, you also consume Ortho plant fertilizer mixed with large doses of Miracle Gro potting soil, drink two gallons of water per day, and sit under a sun lamp with your mouth open for 30 minutes a day over two months. But even then, it probably won’t be edible.

Every day, people send me well-intentioned emails, passing along what they naively believe to be informative news alerts about some health scare or consumer safety risk. Almost always, these dire warnings turn out to be false – and I know this because I often verify the falsity of these ridiculous claims at Snopes.com – usually about 5 minutes after I’ve forwarded the well-intentioned dire warning email to 1,500 of my closest friends with an email subject line stating: Important dire warning: Pass this along to 1,500 of your closest friends! 

snopes - Big FootHere are just a few of the email tips I received in the past month, all of which turned out to be completely without merit:

  • Flossing your teeth with cat intestines releases pheromones that will make you irresistible to women – FALSE! (Although in fairness, I did become instantly irresistible to my cat, Buttons.)
  • Eating a diet consisting of nothing but broccoli and tuna fish for four months will enlarge your penis. – Totally FALSE! (Don’t ask me how I know, but I do. )
  • Using cell phones while fueling up at a gas station leads to brain cancer in mice – FALSE! (As to why mice were using cell phones at gas stations, well, that’s a question scientists are still hotly debating.)

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No, Grandpa, that’s not how you beam up. Let’s go over this one more time.

No, Grandpa, that’s not how you beam up. Let’s go over this one more time.

Future tech - motorcycleI’m proud of my mother. At 93 years of age, she decided to tackle a computer for the very first time. Her bruises are healing. She even has an email account. It’s been a struggle, but after only a week of practice, she’s already figured out how to turn on her computer. Until 3 months ago, she had never heard of email or Google or Facebook. She’d never surfed the web, never watched a YouTube video of a cat riding a roomba.

Today she sent me her very first email. She wrote, Dear Tim, I ma laerning ti sned emali but ti deos not thenw othew byrw kt wodh pcx; s93@m &m$k m1t8 btn%+. Love, mom”.  What a beautiful message.

I appreciate that learning new technology comes more slowly to the elderly than, say, to an eight-year-old techno-dweeb raised with a cell phone surgically affixed to his thumbs. And it made me wonder: What sorts of new technology will be hard for me to comprehend when I’m my mother’s age?

I can only imagine the conversation with my future eight-year-old grandson as he patiently tries to explain to me how to use the everyday tech tools of his generation…

************************************

Grandson: Hey, Grandpa. I see you’re still having problems figuring out how to use some pretty basic devices. Didn’t you have jetpacks and 3-D printable holograms when you were growing up?

Me: Surprisingly, no, Nathan. Things were less complicated in the 1960s when I was your age. Back then, we had not yet invented iPads or cell phones. Heck, as I recall, we were all pretty stoked about the recent invention of the Etch A Sketch. Hard to imagine, but people used to read these contraptions called books. So, yes, I could use a little help with these modern day gadgets.

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Welcome to Windows 8

Welcome to Windows 8

[The following post was written by my longtime friend and fellow humorist, Steve Fisher. You can check out Steve’s humor blog at Fishful Thinking.]

Windows 8Hello and welcome to Windows 8, the new PC operating system from Microsoft. Now that you’ve successfully installed our new system – perhaps on the third or fourth attempt (sorry about that) – we’d like to give you a quick tour of its many amazing new features and applications.  Let’s get started, shall we?

As soon as you launch Windows 8 for the first time, one new thing you’ll notice right away is that your computer is now completely fucked up. Don’t worry. Shortly after we rolled it out several months ago, some minor technical glitches were discovered, which we quickly resolved in an update to all users.

Following that update – which unfortunately resulted in a number of aircraft dropping out of the sky and a partial collapse of the electrical grid in the northeastern U.S. – we issued a second update which resolved all of the issues caused by the first one. That is, with the exception of a repeated system crashing problem, which was subsequently resolved by our third update.

Since then, via a continuing series of further updates, we have successfully corrected nearly all of the remaining system issues. Thus you can now simply switch on your computer and enjoy the full benefits of Windows 8 without your PC bursting into flames (update 15), your hard disk melting (update 23), or your printer exploding (update 156). And, if you’ve managed to read this welcome message so far without experiencing an epileptic seizure caused by rapidly pulsating pixels on your monitor (update 259), then we’re very happy indeed.

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