A witch's guide to safe computing

Why the 'blue screen of death' may be caused by spiritual interference

Over the past couple of weeks, I've written twice (first here, then here) about my ongoing frustrations with Microsoft Windows.

What have I learned in the process of writing these columns? Among other things, I've learned that the word "hell" included in an email subject line will make it through most people's spam filters. ("Sex" won't, which is one reason we don't write about it much on AnchorDesk; I'll definitely have to can those Viagra columns.)

More importantly, I've learned that I'm not alone in my personal Windows hell. You've shared your own tales of woe and offered me some valuable, advanced troubleshooting advice. I've also discovered that some people consider Windows to be the work of the devil -- literally.

I'm not going quite that far, though I've often considered the possibility that my PC had been taken over by some malevolent spirit intent on driving me nuts. Turns out I'm not the only one who contemplates his computer's spiritual life.

As evidence, I'd like to quote from a recent article in Popular Science, one of my favourite magazines, which in turn quotes from newWitch magazine (slogan: "Not your mother's broomstick").

Herewith newWitch's Wiccan words of wisdom to its computer-using readers, along with my commentary on same:

"Because the physical hard drive is a conduit for a unique type of energy, it is possible for nature spirits (called vaettir) to take up residence within it."

I've often suspected that my computer had a life of its own. But do vaettir qualify as artificial intelligence?

"Do not curse, yell, smack, or otherwise vent your anger on your computer. Most vaettir are extremely sensitive to emotions."

In the future, I promise to leave the room when the computer drives me over the line, lest I hurt its sensitive feelings -- or its metal case.

"Emotions are energy, and mixing incompatible energy fields can have bad results: culminating in the dreaded 'blue screen of death.'"

Gee, and to think all these years I thought it had something to do with a memory overflow.

"Do what you can to make the computer feel welcome in your home. This includes talking to it, naming it, and even offering words of encouragement."

Aha! The real reason why Macs suffer fewer problems than PCs! Mac users do these sorts of things all the time, and their computers apparently benefit from it. Effective immediately, I will rename all my computers, from their current, clinical monikers -- Old HP, Media Centre, etc. -- to something warmer.

I know, I'll use old radio characters: My desktop will henceforth be known as Fibber McGee (whose cluttered closet matches my documents folder). The notebook on which I run Microsoft Money should be as tight with a dollar as its new namesake, Jack Benny. And my brand new mail server -- my own personal fountain of spam -- will be Orson Welles, because most of the messages I get these days are hoaxes.

"Put unusual and pretty things by your computer for the vaettir's enjoyment. Pretty stones, crystals, feathers, intriguing pictures help create a positive environment."

Again, more evidence of why Mac users have fewer problems than us PC types. Remember: Mac users are creative.

And finally:

"TURN THE COMPUTER OFF COMPLETELY WHEN YOU ARE WORKING MAGIC. I cannot emphasise that enough. I've had friends who have had their computers completely crash due to simple energy overload when they inadvertently left them on while doing spellwork."

I've never done spellwork, but given how many times my computers have crashed, perhaps it was a simple energy overload caused by the sheer force of my personality that did it.

Nobody has ever accused me of casting a spell over anything. But I will be sure to pick some pretty flowers from the garden to set next to the computer. It may not help, but at least I'll have something nice to look at while my PC reboots.

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