Eddie (edminster) wrote,

Extreme Tech Support (part one, from the Memoirs of Craig Retsnimde)

I have a friend. For this story, I shall call him 'Bob,' in part for his anonymity, but mostly because I don't want to write out 'Robert Jay Hampford' every time I mention him. Oh, crap. Forget I even mentioned his name. Anyway, Bob has a little, tiny, not-in-the-least-bit-large habit. He takes situations and blows them 'way out of proportion. I'm talking making an Everest out of an anthill.

Case in point. Bob currently has a bitter feud going on between himself, and the Head Honcho of Microsoft, Bill Gates. And not because of anything Mr. Gates has done personally, oh no. Just because of something one of his employees did. And not some higher-up in the corporation. Just a simple help-desk guy. It started out innocently enough, with Bob having a problem with displaying anything on his monitor. Now, before going on, I should tell you a bit about Bob.

Bob is, quite definitely, a tinkerer. He cannot leave well enough alone. He just has to keep improving stuff. Like his monitor. He had picked it up at a Salvation Army thrift shop, for around three dollars, and he spent the next three weeks doing nothing besides fixing up the dingy old thing. In the end, though, I suppose it is a good thing he's handy with tools, because that monitor has a better resolution capability than when it rolled off the assembly line.

Anyway, Bob had decided to finally upgrade his computer system from Win 3.1, to WinXP Home Edition. The only snag was, he wanted to keep as much of his old system intact as possible. Ordinarily, this would be no problem at all, but Bob is a tinkerer, and had changed the innards of his computer enough to make it unrecognisable. I think I should tell you about his system, too.

Bob, being a tinkerer, had owned this computer for many, many years, keeping it alive with homebrew tech. The difference between his homebrew tech, and most homebrew tech was, his actually worked. Incredibly well. To the point that, every year, he would find the biggest, bestest, most state-of-the-art system out there, and perform benchmark tests against them. And, every year, he would beat the pants off them. And, to prove he wasn't cheating on the tests, he'd install the newest multiplayer game, and play against whomever wanted to challenge him. He always won.

Well, until a few years ago, that is. He aced the benchmark tests, but when he tried installing the newest game, his computer just wouldn't run. Apparently, UT2k3 (Unreal Tournament, 2003) doesn't like a heavily modified Windows system. So, Bob realised that maybe it was time to change his OS. Either that, or throw in the towel, and leave the realm of digital godhood, forever. Bob, being the incredibly competitive person he is, chose the former.

And thus, the troubles began.

After performing a full install of WinXP, Bob discovered that none of his system worked anymore. So, he moved his hard drive to a spare computer, to find out what was wrong. Apparently, nothing. Well, nothing on an industry-standard computer, that is. For the next few hours, Bob started writing up drivers for his custom tech, so that he could run them with XP. He got pretty far, but the only thing that eluded his grasp was a driver for his custom monitor. So, he decided to call up Microsoft's support hotline for advice.

Now, Bob is, at best, mildly obsessive. If you get on his bad side, nothing short of the grave will keep him from hounding you and your family. Well, the peace of the grave or my presence to intervene and convince him that whatever happened was not worth worrying about. Unfortunately for Microsoft, though, I was out on a date with my girlfriend on the Night of the Call.

I don't have access to the recording of Bob's circuitous journey through the Microsoft Support System, but I do know the outcome. To put it quite bluntly, they told Bob that the only way they would be able to help with his problem would be if he ditched the obsolete tech he had been futzing around with, and got himself an industry-standard computer. Bob was, understandably, unhappy with this response.

In speaking with Bob about this, however, I discovered exactly how his unhappiness manifested itself. These memoirs of mine being intended for a wide audience, I shan't tell you exactly what he said in response. I will, however, tell you the basic idea behind his response. He desired the Tech Support people to take their much-touted 'industry standard' and fold it until it was all pointy corners, and then insert it somewhere that is no doubt quite uncomfortable.

At that point, quite reasonably, Tech Support ended the call. Had I been present, I might have been able to defuse the situation, but I wasn't. I think I was at the waterpark with my girlfriend. Either that, or the scenic overlook. Oh! Yeah, I almost forgot that we were talking about Bob for a second, there. Anyway, my point is, I was not with Bob, and he is not the most rational of beings when left to his own devices.

So, having just been hung up on, and thus having his last hope of Computer Godhood shattered, Bob got drunk. Absolutely sloshed. Piss drunk. Hammered. You get the Idea. Anyway, in his inebriated state, Bob decided to watch a marathon of Gundam Wing, which is a really strange cartoon from Japan about giant robots. For most people, this would mean passing out midway through, having nightmares about robots, and swearing off alcohol in the morning. But Bob is not most people. Which, I suppose, is abundantly clear at this point.

Sometime around midnight, Eastern Standard Time, Bob had an epiphany. In his alcohol-induced stupor, he realised that the only way to win against Microsoft, and their evil-stupid-not-helpingness (yes, he was quite drunk), was to build his own giant robot, and have Bill Gates himself do the tech support. Once again, had I been present, I would have been able to avert what promised to be a plan that could only end in jailtime. But I was definitely snogging my girlfriend at that point.

Now, I didn't see Bob again for a few weeks, but let me tell you, he was busy. By the time I finally caught up with him, he had already begun building what looked to be the ultimate 'Mech ever created. I know Bob, and I know his building style, and what he was welding together in his garage was most certainly NOT his own, pure homebrew monstrosity. It definitely had an outside influence. While talking with him about the style, though, I found out exactly who had modified his design.

The first influence was from Apple. Well, not Apple officialy, but close enough. On the Night of the Epiphany, Bob, slobbering drunk, had called up one of his Mac user friends, and happened to mention his plans to destroy Microsoft. The Mac user immediately seized upon the opportunity to make Apple even more 'hip' and 'mainstream' by calling all his friends and getting them to meet at Bob's garage.

After a night of brainstorming, the Mac Mech Militia (M3), as they now called themselves, had designed what was tantamount to the perfect 'Mech. It was capable of fast assault, reconnaisance, prolonged sieges, and artillery support. It was light, easy to build, and came with a host of weapons assemblies. It also looked like ass.

So, the M3 refused to build it. Instead, they spent another night on their iMacs, using the incredible graphics suite, to design a new weapon. And let me tell you, the thing was a beauty. The 'Mech had a sleek, pleasantly curved, nigh on organic body that looked almost like it had been carved from ancient limestone. The legs were mounted near the back of the cockpit, and jointed so that the knees were set like a flamingo's. On the chin of the iMech (as the M3 lovingly referred to it), was mounted a twelve-shot missile launcher, guided by infrared heat signatures. On the arms were twin-linked gatling guns, utilising belt-fed explosive rounds. The control panels were simplistic, only having switches for things that needed switching, and toggles for things that need toggling. The iMech also came in a wide variety of fashionable colours.

And it sucked ass in live combat.

Of course, the M3 refused to believe that. Not even after having their asses handed to them by Microsoft's Elite 'Mech Pilot (EMP) Squadron. But more on that later. Because it occurs later. In fact, it occurs so far ahead of the end of this story that I don't know why I mentioned it. Well, let me get back to documenting Bob's struggles with the M3.

Now, the M3 had promised Bob the ultimate in mechanical death-dealing BattleMechs, but what they delivered was more along the lines of 'My First Robot' by Fischer-Price. Needless to say, Bob was pissed. Quite reasonable about it, too. He wasn't vindictive, and he didn't swear revenge upon the souls of the M3. Which is odd, now that I think about it...

I mean, look at it this way. Bob had been burned by Microsoft, starting his hatred. Then, when he came close to being able to destroy his sworn enemy, his shiny new weapon was taken away and replaced with a Nerf replica. Now, he had to start over, from scratch, with a brand new 'Mech design team, that he had never heard of. The Linux Lunatics.
Tags: memoirs: cxr, past midnight, stories

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