Serious nerds, doing serious things

clicking through the same Windows install or detox screens they clicked through yesterday and the day before
Written by Paul Murphy, Contributor
Ever step into a comic strip? I did, just the other day; and what I found was tragedy

On the set-up for this I went to an Office Depot looking for a small, unmanaged, wired, hub - which, of course, they didn't have because they cater to the PC community and they're not buying that kind of gear.

But the clerk suggested that a computer shop just down the sidewalk would have it, so I went. The store is in a nice location with lots of pedestrian traffic and some big attractors (like Office Depot) on the same parking lot. From the outside at least it looked reasonable; inside, however, they have a large empty space with essentially no inventory on display except for a PC case that looked like a miniturized late forties chevy - lots of chrome and flash in curved "V" shapes intended to make you think of drawings of something going fast.

At the back and side walls they had a mostly walled in work bench with some PCs and several carefully styled nerds with their heads down doing something - I have no idea what, perhaps programming a great new game or other breakthrough product, but much more likely, I think, clicking through the same Windows install or detox screens they clicked through yesterday and the day before.

Regardless of what they were doing, however, they had their long suffering, seriously superior, Wintel guru, acts down to bent back perfection - and the whole thing felt a bit like something most of you have never experienced but probably can imagine: a mid seventies Russian bread shop minus babuskas and guards.

Still, by dint of having a loud voice and a total lack of manners I managed to get one to masticate the problem of an unmanaged hub -and then felt the full burden of his pity as he explained gently that no one had used those for years.

When I opened the door to leave, sunlight reflected from another building cast a bright triangle on the floor inside, and I noticed that none of the lines produced by imagining edge extensions touched any of the people or any of the PC gear on display - a metaphor, I think, for the hopelessness of the situation in which some easy money and social clarity have trapped the people inside.

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