Dollop 8 – Apple vs Microsoft vs The Apocalypse

Download the audio version of this dollop here

Well I have not died. God did not smite me yesterday, although I did feel as if I’d had a heart attack when I turned on my computer.

After a two year dalliance with an apple mac (not like that you dirty animals), I’m now back to using windows more or less entirely. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a blog exclusively for nerds. I haven’t used my mac for a couple of months, but I needed to turn it on in order to get some files off it.

A few seconds after switching the computer on, I got a huge shock. The mac, as if indignant at my betrayal, made a deafening sound. It was so loud that it caused the people I’m living with to wake up with a jolt.

This was not the first time that this had happened, although I’ve never experienced it at such high volume before. The sound was the generic Apple mac startup sound that occurs a few seconds after turning on. I think it remembers where your volume was set to the last time you used it and chimes accordingly. The last time I used the mac was during a gig, and the computer was connected to a mixing desk and set at the highest volume, hence its ferocity.

There is no way that I have found to circumvent this sound. Even if you plug headphones in the sound still plays through the speakers. If I forget to set the volume to a low level before shutting it down, then there is nothing that can be done about the loudness of the sound when it turns back on.

This is not the first time I have woken people up with the mac startup sound, nor am I the only person who’s experienced this. The Young’uns’ very own Michael Hughes has got into trouple off his girlfriend for turning on the computer in the middle of the night, unable to get to sleep, and waking the entire house up with the cursed apple startup sound. And once that button is pressed, nothing can help you. If you press the on button, then suddenly realise in horror that the laptop volume was set to high before you shut it down and is therefore about to seriously piss off your girlfriend, waking her and your neighbours down the street , there is nothing you can do to stop it. You are powerless. Frantically pressing volume down repeatedly is useless; the mac plays the sound just as loud as it deems fit. Plugging headphones in won’t help you. The mac doesn’t give a toss; it will chime loudly through the speakers regardless. It may even chime through the headphones as well, meaning that if you’re wearing them when it chimes, you are likely to scream out loud with the shock of hearing such an ear-splitting noise, directly fed into your ears. the There isn’t enough time to run out of the room with the laptop, hoping to get far enough away from sleeping people. You have about two seconds til the hideously loud noise begins. The battery packs on the mac are completely covered over, so you can’t even yank the battery out. And don’t go thinking that holding down the off key immediately after switching it on is going to help, because it won’t. All that happens then is the sound plays, your girlfriend wakes up, the mac then powers down, your girlfriend slaps you, and you’re back at square one. If you really need to use the computer then you have no choice but to power it back on again and let the chimes of doom seal the deal on your breakup once and for all.

I don’t know whether I have any readers who work has spies, but if I have then presumably they’re doing their job reasonably well given that I don’t know. I would imagine one of the first things you learn in spy school is not to use an apple mac computer, or at least not if you’re planning on needing the use of the computer while you’re hiding from the enemy.

“OK, we’ve managed to smuggle ourselves under the cover of darkness into the enemy’s headquarters.”

“I know, I can’t believe it. The place had cameras everywhere. Then there was that crazy alarm system with the 3000 digit code which you managed to somehow know and enter correctly, while all the while being chased by that giant killer robot. Butt Then, when we were caught by those armed security guards I really thought our game was up. But then you pulled it out of the back again. Managed somehow to seduce every single one of them, convince them to partake in bondage, tied them up and shot them all, well that was out-of-this-world, and the sex was pretty good too. And then just as I thought we’d finally made it, we were presented with another control panel and somehow you managed to guess the 14000 digit code. And hear we are. Now what do we do boss?”

“When you’re in this game son, you’ve got to think of everything. Codes, alarms, security guards, killer robots disguised as harmless looking teapots … I’ve seen it all before.”

“Ah, I wondered why you went crazy earlier on when you saw that old teapot. I thought it was a bit unusual when you opened fire on it. But I didn’t want to say anything at the time. It didn’t seem appropriate, plus you had that look in your eyes.”

“Well son, when you’ve been a spy as long as I have you learn to trust nothing, especially teapots. Although on this occasion it did turn out to be just a tea pot. Antique, Chinese, one of the few surviving tea pots from the Chinese Qing Dynasty during the Qianlong period, circa 1736 to 1795. A shame to have riddled it with bullet holes, as it would have fetched quite a bit at auction. Or I could have taken it home and gave it to the wife.

“Anyway, I can’t sit here under the floorboards of the enemy’s headquarters chatting about antique tea pots all day. There’s work to be done. All I need to do now is log in to their mainframe, which will be a piece of cake. I can’t believe they thought I wouldn’t see through that disguise. Hiding your mainframe computer inside a piece of cake: why it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. Once I’ve hacked into the mainframe, I’ll shut them down for ever, and we’ll have a slice of cake to celebrate. A shame I got rid of the tea pot, we could have had some tea with it too. I’ve got some lovely chamomile teabags in my pocket. Calms the nerves. You need something to calm you down after a hard day’s work sexing armed guards and smashing up antique robots.

“Victory is in sight my friend. Thirty years of my life I’ve waited for this moment. Thirty years of work, and now finally … finally. All I need to do is turn on the computer, enter the 75000 digit code, which fortunately I had the foresight to copy to the clipboard for convenience, and then watch their evil empire crumble.

“I must admit, when my bosses told me that I had to take the work experience boy with me on this mission, I was, quite frankly, livid. I thought having you here would ruin everything, but you’ve done good boy, you’ve done real good. Anyway, this is the end. Turn on the computer son.”

“OK boss. Here goes.”

“Hang on, is that a mac? You brought the mac? You idiot. Don’t turn it … Shit! Shit, shit shit!” Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaang!!!!!!!! Discovered. Dead. End of story.

Then again, I can’t imagine a windows computer doing any better in a planet saving mission.

“All I need to do is type in the code and take out the enemy’s weapons system. Yes! Got it, now I just need to press enter and the world will be saved. Oh no, what’s this? “Windows has encountered a problem and needs to close.” I’m trying to save the world. I was just seconds away. “Do you want to send a problem report to Microsoft? This will help us fix this and similar problems in the future.” There is no future Microsoft, there is no future! We’re all doomed … What? Hang on, what’s happening? Why aren’t we dead? Oh, it turns out that our enemy was using Apple Maps to locate us, and they’ve had their lazors pointing in completely the wrong direction. They’ve just blown themselves up. Brilliant. Disaster overted. Well, I might restart this computer and have a cheeky game of spider solitaire.”

Well, there you go friends. Two gripping dramas in one blog post, as yet uncommissioned, but you never know who might be reading this. As you can tell, nothing much is happening in my life at the moment. The Young’uns don’t have a gig until February, and I haven’t really been out much this week, hence why my blog posts have become less about me and more about killer tea pots and planet saving spies. Whether that’s a bad thing or not I don’t know. Feel free to leave a comment. I feel that this project is working well, but perhaps I’m too deeply entrenched in it to properly know. Thanks for reading anyway. Back tomorrow.

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7 thoughts on “Dollop 8 – Apple vs Microsoft vs The Apocalypse

  1. Hilarious…the Mac noise certainly made me giggle but the teapots put me over the edge…Keep up the great blogs. I needed a laugh this dreary Friday afternoon.

    • Thanks Carolyn, I quite liked my two spy characters. A shame I killed them off in the first few minutes. Still, are they really dead? Perhaps they have survived with a Douglas Adams style infinitely improbable set of events. Even if not, there is always the prequel avenue to explore. I like the fact that this kid had somehow got to do his work experience with a spy, fighting off killer robots, while his friends were presumably all working in shops. The Memoirs of a Work Experience Spy would make for a good novel. The more I think about it, the more sure I am that our heroes aren’t dead, just resting.

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