Over Christmas, I went to visit my parents in 1974, a pre-apocalyptic world untouched by modern technology. Not through any effort to shun technology and live a simpler life. Just because nobody has gotten around to it yet. (Disclaimer: My dad actually shuns computers.) So when I go home, I have to bring my own technology with me and hope for the best.
This year, I was driving from my brother’s house to my parents’ house. It’s about 10 miles through the low hills of western Pennsylvania. When I got home (because only an idiot reads text messages while driving) my cell phone carrier had sent me the following message:
Accessing data during trips outside the US may result in significantly higher data charges. Do you wish to allow data access?
It then gave me a number I could call to sign up for a global data plan.
Now, having been educated back in the 60’s and 70’s, I’m pretty sure that Pennsylvania was part of the United States even as far back as 1974. So it took me a while to realize why I was getting this message.
You see, there’s an old adage in the computer world: Computers do what you tell them to, not what you want them to. If you don’t explicitly program a computer to handle a situation, it will respond either by failing to detect the condition, or by misinterpreting it. In my case, the latter had happened. I had traveled back to a time that predated the cell network, and my phone was responding with the closest error message it could find. The correct message should read:
Accessing data during trips to the past may result in significantly higher damage to the time-space continuum. Do you wish to allow temporal paradoxes?
I did not. You’re welcome.
(Correction: Apparently I was wrong. And I also have butterfly guts all over the sole of my shoe.)
I was in the car yesterday when the 1984 hit “Take On Me” by A-ha came on the radio. It’s one of the few 80’s songs I listen to but don’t sing along with in the car. Partly because I can’t understand many of the words, but mostly because I can’t sing high enough to crack the windshield. (Disclaimer: Kids, do not sing high enough to crack the windshield and drive!)
However, the words that I do understand bring up some issues that should be addressed. (Disclaimer: I’m going to bring them up whether they should be or not.)
1) I’ve never really gotten the point of the refrain. Perhaps this is really clear in the singer’s native Norwegian, but I can’t tell whether he’s asking her to “take on me” as one would take on passengers or cargo, or “take me on” in an adversarial manner, like the Rebel Alliance took on the Empire. Moreover, I’m not sure which is a better sign in a relationship. Continue reading