Chip Creep by Joseph


by Joseph Picard

2001, late summer. High noon. I stood in the shop with my fellow I.T. professional, Brian. Business was slow, but we were paid by the hour. Brian was newer at the shop than me, but he was the superior technician by a good measure. I was okay, I could get things done, but Brian had a lot more training. Not that training always matters. Both he and I had training that we could have taught. Just that his was much better than mine. I couldn’t teach the classes he took, but at the same time he respected my opinions.
We both had the same amount of time at the front lines of I.T. We’ve both had the aunt who thinks we can fix the VCR, the cousin who doesn’t listen to virus advice, the stranger in a lineup who thinks we can tell them in half a minute how to fix some ungodly problem that they don’t have the vocabulary to describe.
Brothers in arms against the BSOD, the machines, and those who abused them.

Many a tale are told of PEBKAC errors, (Problem Exists Between Keyboard And Chair) and when you’ve heard and lived them all, it become almost ritual to trade the tired stories. The cup holder that slides out of the front of the box, AKA the modem where the screen plugs in, the screen saver behind the pictures that open the boxes, and every 10 minutes things disappear, and OMG I BROKE IT HELP HELP!!! “Wiggle the mouse.” “OH! It’s all back! Thank you so much!” “Ma’am, we’re professionals.”

One kindly old lady asked us, after we showed her how to plug things in, “So what do I need a computer for anyway? My pharmacist gave it to me, and I don’t really know what I want it for.” She ended up quite pleased when we showed her that it could play card games. We charged her for an hour after spending half a day with her, and the next day, she left us a card and a plate of adorable little cakes.

But today would not be about sweet old ladies. Today we met a new type of PEBKAC. The saloon doors swung open as the stout, black hatted desperado hauled his desktop machine in, his lanky son following with the monitor.

The man had a trace of an accent. Maybe. Maybe it was just the accent of grump. He had very little love for his machine, and it had very little love for him. It was on strike. After plunking it on the work bench, and trying to boot it up with no response, we cracked the case. Yup, there was the issue. One of the sticks of ram had popped loose. Click. Happy.

The machine was happy, the man was not. “How does this happen??” He asked, as if we had snuck into his house and dislodged it.

“Chip creep” Brian said.

“What is this? Chip creep?”

“Well, over time, some parts can slip loose, especially if it gets bumped a lot, or you live next to train tracks even, or whatever. It doesn’t cause problems often, but hey, at least your hardware doesn’t need anything replaced.”

The man wasn’t pleased. Maybe because we were charging him the minimum hour for ten minutes of work. His combative attitude wasn’t winning him any sympathy from either Brian or I. The man’s son remained silent in the background, unfazed. Beanpole was born with this guy as a father, and was doubtlessly used to it. The man paid, and carted his machine out. His son picked up the monitor and gave us a sheepish smile. “Thanks, guys.” The kid had learned good manners, seemingly to compensate for his father.

Enough time passed for them to get home, attempt to turn the machine on, and drive right back. The man was pissed. The son was keeping his mouth shut, looking visibly embarrassed by his old man’s behaviour.

“What did you do to it?”

“We refitted your ram. You saw it working after. What’s it doing now?”

“Nothing! Is this what you do? You break it so you can fix it again for another ‘hour’ of money?”

For the record, Brian and I aren’t like that. We appreciate the machine, we want it to work, and live a happy life. Old machines, new machines, beloved ancient machines. Suggesting we were in it for the money was… well it was insulting. It grated against an unspoken nerdly creed. The near-yelling, the frustration with the machine, I could handle. But to question our motives?

Just to get it over with, Brian said “Well, let’s have another look. Free. I know how frustrating it can be, we’ll call it part of the hour you already paid for.”

The man wasn’t really hearing it, not from us. The subsequent blithering of half accusations was only stopped by his son re-stating what we’d just told him. He finally let us take it back to the workbench, but kept ranting.

We were fixing it for the kid. Screw this guy. He kept ranting. If he understood that we never intended to charge more, he didn’t let on about it. Maybe he was trying to save face or something, but it wasn’t working for him.

“Well, that’s odd,” Brian said.

The man was practically up our noses the whole time. “What did you do to it?” he demanded.

“Well, the CPU is loose.” Brian cocked his head. I couldn’t see his face, but I wouldn’t doubt that he had a Spock-like eyebrow raised. “More chip creep. I could have sworn we looked at the CPU the first time.”

“You said chip creep doesn’t happen often!” He ranted further, launching accusations. I took a walk into the back before I gave in to my urge to flatten the shmuck. When I came back, Brian was holding open the door as the man and his son carried the machine back out. From behind the counter, I could see Brian’s jaw drop. “NO! What?” and he walked out of view.

When he came back, Brian was smiling. Smiling the smile of restraint. “Hey Joe.”

“….. Yes….?”

“How do you transport a computer?”

“On the floor sometimes, but if I can, I put it on the seat, with a seat belt, or packed in with other things to keep it from bouncing around.”

“Want to know how he does it? At least before I corrected him?”

“I don’t think I do.”

“Too bad, I’m going to tell you. Loose.”

“Loose? On the floor?”

“In the back of his pickup.”

“Ugh! Like… just sitting in the corner, held by a tire or something?”

“In the middle. Alone, standing.”

Imagining it bouncing, and falling over just going over a speed bump gave me goosebumps, let alone the potential blender-fest of open road driving. It was a miracle that the thing’s motherboard wasn’t cracked in half, much less the screen of the monitor.

“Damn. Know what that’ll cause?”

“Chip creep?”

“Chip creep.”

Psychically Speaking by Trisha

Story Submitted by: Trisha

I was sitting in a hotel room in Las Vegas with time to kill between the end of a conference and dinner plans. I decided to check Facebook, and saw an announcement from my 18 year old brother-in-law that his wife was pregnant. Being married to the oldest of 12 kids, I always felt an undue responsibility to give my in-laws their first grandchild. My sister-in-law was already pregnant at the time, and now another sister-in-law was going to show us up.

I got to feeling really depressed, and upset, and decided to go downstairs and walk around the shops since I had hours to kill before my dinner plans. I walked in and out of stores, not looking to buy anything in particular, just to take my mind off my depression. As I walked into the main mall area, I happened to catch the eye of a woman walking in the opposite direction, and just went about my business to look a kiosk of jewelry.

A few moments later, the woman doubled back and approached me. She told me she was a psychic and that she felt compelled to come talk to me. Not fully believing, I was polite and listened quietly to what she had to say. She told me I had a beautiful aura and that I was putting too much pressure on myself. She told me that I felt things deeply, but I shouldn’t worry about what others think.

I was surprised that she seemed so dead on, but knowing how “psychics” feed off their mark’s responses, I was sure to give her no reaction. She asked if she could give me a hug as she felt I needed one, and I obliged. She gave me her card and said she did free readings, which I took but explained that I was not local & had somewhere to be. It was weird how on-the-nose she was, and until then I thought that most psychics were fake. Now, I’m not so sure.

Slippery Fishes by Teracia

Story Submitted by: Teracia

Slippery Fishes

I has started the day innocently enough. “Chantelle, Lets go” I yell at her door on my way out to the car. Getting her to cooperate is like poking a snake with a stick, sometimes teens move sometimes they strike out. Suddenly we are both in the truck. A silver Ford Ranger, old dependable. We make our way to the Commissary on Fort Hood. If you don’t know what that is its the grocery store on a military base. Things are going splendidly. My daughter grabbing the things I tell her to get and we make our way through virtually unscathed. I told her to grab a gallon of 1 % milk. As I turn the second to last aisle all I can think is “this is almost over”. Chantelle turns to get milk and I walk down the aisle grabbing the numerous things we need for the week. I round the corner. I have made it to the last aisle. Victory is soon going to be mine. I have done the weekly shopping with no argument from my teen daughter and the commissary wasn’t to packed when we got here. That is changing quickly. I am trying my best to finish and get out before church is out and the populous descend on this place. Walking down the frozen foods isle I am focusing on my mental list , yep, I think I have it all except yogurt. And then it happen. My knee gives out pain shoots to my thigh and to my calf. What the Hell! I am now on the ground wondering just what the hell happened to my victory and what the hell happened to my knee. I straighten myself out and get into a sitting position to check out the damage. Its hard to see if your dying holding on to the bar handle of the cart with one hand and looking at the floor and having your hand on the floor trying not to smash your face into it. OK so now I’m seated and oh my god it hurts. OK Teracia don’t panic. Look left to see if people saw you fall on your face. Yes they saw it. Look right, yep, they saw it too. What the hell is that next to my butt. A FISH! A frozen Fish of unknown origin. This place doesn’t sell fresh fish. What the hell? Ouch, knee really hurts. Stop laughing at yourself and get up you look like an idiot, OW OW OW OW, OK the standing thing is not working. Yell for someone to get your big ass off the floor. Cleaning lady that weight maybe 85 pounds. yeah right. Can you go get me a grown up honey? Where the hell is my kid? CHANTELLE? “Mom what the heck are you doing on the floor?”

“Shut up, I slipped on this fish.” Oh My God I said it out loud. HAHAHAHAHA I slipped on this fish and I cant get up. Ah yes finally a man to help me to my feet. Ouch ouch nope still cant stand someone get me a damn chair I’m sick of sitting on the floor next to this now defrosted fish. Just me and my fish. Insert insane laughter from a teen daughter here. OK I have frozen groceries just get me to the car….. shit I brought the truck. The truck with a Standard transmission and its my left knee that is screwed up. How the hell am I going to get home. More insane laughter from a teen that now has told god and every contact in her cell phone that I have broken myself by slipping on a fish. Oh great a manager. No I don’t want an ambulance. I want to get home with my groceries and I want to day to be over. Call hubby on cell phone….. nope hes not answering. How am I going to get home. Hey bagger boy do u know how to drive a standard? We had the bagger boy drive us home and he took a taxi back to work. I kept my fish! Hubby rushed home because of text from daughter and myself and took me to the ER where I then get to tell them my fish story. Ever seen Doctors and nurses try not to laugh when they are giving you morphine. It hurts so bad but Oh my god I slipped on a fish hahahahahahah. And that my friends is all I remember.

Review of Weirder Than Marshmallows – jshallow01

I am always intrigued by how an author comes up with a title to a book. Sometimes they are pretty self explanatory and other times they seem more obscure. Until I dove in to this very quick read of essays, I wasn’t sure exactly what the title referred to. My curiosity as to the naming of the title was quickly answered when I read the preface and was asked to ponder why (white) marshmallows list the dye blue 1 as an ingredient. Yes, that does seem weird to me. And yes, I did check my own bag of marshmallows in the cupboard and saw it listed as an ingredient. So, I thought that this was a good start to the book and was interested to see what other essays and musings Dan Fogg had to share with us.

As I read though the section of “Do Not Stop On The Tracks”, I couldn’t help think about all the many baby products that I have read such warnings on, those warnings that were common sense and didn’t need to be spelled out but they obviously had to because more than one person lacked the common sense that was required to use such a product.

The book includes other sections titled “En Masse” “Technology Sucks” ‘That’s Just Freaky” and “Weird Stuff”. I did find some of the observations to be more critical and cynical than I am myself, but some of the other observations were entertaining to read. My favorite essay in the collection is called “The Vortex” and seemed to be the start of a movie. He did a good job describing the setting that allowed me to get a clear picture and understand his feelings. And I thought the most, shall we say – educational, was “Electile Dysfunction 2000: Heard from Florida Lately?”

I did enjoy reading though his collection of favorite quotes. Reading what inspires or provokes a person helps you to draw up a mental image of their character and provide a deeper insight to their writings.

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New Users New Computers New Skills by Barbara

Story Submitted by: Barbara

As a Dell telephone customer service tech back in the Internet days … just before & after Windows 95 came out … and everyone was only starting to buy one for every home, it was my job to help home customers determine if they needed parts replaced in their Dell computers and if so to dispatch them and a tech to replace those parts and return the defective parts.

We had to troubleshoot with people who had no idea what they were doing … my customers ran the gamut from:

The lady who could not get her mouse to work right … turns out it would not work correctly because she had it on the floor trying to use it as if it were a sewing machine pedal. By the end of the call, she was learning to play Freecell [and learning to use her mouse].

The small girl child who knew *most but not all* of her ABC’s but could not read anything yet – she spoke some English but was not completely fluent. The computer was in the little girl’s bedroom and the phone was in the living room – she went back & forth trying to tell me the letters on the screen so I could find out what the message was because her father refused to talk to me [he would shout into the phone “NO ENGLISH & talk *little girl’s name*” before putting the phone down or giving it back to the little girl. She did not know what language they spoke besides English. It took several tries for her to convince her father that he needed to speak with a technician that spoke his language and I needed to transfer them and that he needed to wait on the phone … again … for them. Wait times were very long back then. I finally got him transferred to a multi-lingual technician.

poltergeist by steven

Story Submitted by: steven

My wife and I had gotten a new dog, named Bodo. He used to race into the house from the yeard and back out to the yard again to do laps. We had a screen door which had been broken a few times by Bodo running into it. The problem was, if we left the door open, Bodo didn’t break it. But then the flies came in. If we closed it, the flies were kept out, but sooner or later Bodo would break it again.

One day, I was working in the living room and I had asked my wife to keep the screen door closed. She walked out to the detached garage to where our laundry room was. I noticed she did not close the screen door. I was filled with a rage for some reason, and in that instance I heard the screen door slam shut. I looked up, sure to find that my wife had come back from the laundry room and angrily closed the door. But no……… I could see that she was still 40 feet away outside in the garage, oblivious to what had just occurred………..

Strange things happen in this universe.

Review of Weirder Than Marshmallows – Krista L.

Krista L.

I was recently sent “Weirder Than Marshmallows” to read and review.
I have to say this is a very funny and amusing book written by Dan Fogg.
It showcases some of the stupid things people say and do today in a very humorous and insightful way. You will get a kick out of knowing you are not the only one who ever said something dumb then wished they could take it back.
He very eloquently puts into words what we all think everyday when we hear or see a random act of dumb, but we don’t say out loud.

How many times have you thought to your self “wow, that person has no common sense?” Dan Fogg just puts those thoughts into words.

In this book he also covers stupid technology and even paranormal tales.
Every story in his book actually happened to a live human being. Maybe that is what makes it so interesting to read.

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Review of Weirder Than Marshmallows – Allison L.

Allison L.

I have been reading a lot lately I don’t want to give you examples because I want you to read this. Dan has some great thoughts, observations, and discussions that you should read. I guarantee you that you will have conversation points as well from this book.

I decided to read and write my review before checking out what other people had to say about the book. Turns out we are almost always in a clear consensus: This book has great stories & has good flow, excellent writing. I recommend it.

I am honestly heartbroken to become a fan of Dan Fogg’s work knowing that he has passed. I look forward to other publications of his work, but based on his style of writing and frank honesty, I would have easily been a lifelong fan, anticipating his continuous work.

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Review of Weirder Than Marshmallows – Jerri R.

Jerri R.

Books that make fun of the inherent behaviors of human beings are popular for more reasons than one. Stand up comedians have been making a living for years making fun of themselves and others. It’s just one of those things, we do silly, sometimes stupid things and they just insist that you laugh at yourself lest you will be crying. Weirder Than Marshmallows is just one such book.

Nightfire Publications released this awesome book for the Kindle and honestly, you need nothing but time and a place to rest for some serious belly laughs. They say laughter is the best medicine and seriously, laughing at other people is a lot of fun, even if you won’t admit you partake of such fun. And, the sad thing is, you may find a story in the book that leaves you wondering if someone was spying on you. It really is that real. Again, leave room for lots of belly laughs.

Just as a side note, I don’t recommend reading this and trying to retell the stories as you read because the people listening (mainly my spouse) won’t be amused by all the laughing and moreover the laughing to the point of not being able to finish reading the story to him so he can laugh too. OOPS! OH Well, life’s tough that way.

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Review of Weirder Than Marshmallows – Tiffany D.

Tiffany D.

Weirder Than Marshmallows is a collection of essays and observations based on the author’s life. Dan Fogg discusses everything from the stupid side of human nature to the very serious Columbine shooting.

What I liked most about this book is that it didn’t really feel like I was reading. It was more like Dan was sitting next to me and we were having a conversation about life and all the ridiculous things we come across. I loved that he brought up a lot of topics that I have thought about before and have even complained about. It took me only a little over an hour to finish although it felt like I breezed through it in minutes.

Since this is such a short book, it felt more like reading a magazine article or even a blog post. I think because I read this in e-format and online, it added to that feeling. I may have felt differently had I been reading a print version.

Even though I enjoyed the book, I did find a few topics repeating themselves. A topic would be discussed in the first part of the book, only to pop back up again later on to repeat the same observation. Perhaps if they were combined and edited, it would have made for a more engaging section. As it was, most chapters were only a page long. I really enjoyed the chapter about his father’s lack of common sense and found myself disappointed that it was so short.

Overall, I liked what I read. I’d recommend this to anyone who was looking for something quick and fun to read without having to invest too much time. I was very sad to see that Dan Fogg passed away before this was published. One can only wonder where he could have taken his writing had he had more time. However, I was happy to see that he has some fiction work that may eventually be published. I will definitely be looking forward to it.

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