8-Bit Software Online Conversion

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I wrote this story in 1986 and sold the original rights to a well know women's magazine. It's attitudes may appear somewhat dated now, but I feel that it may be of interest as it supplements my "Early Days" articles. For legal reasons it must remain copyright (c) 1986 & 1994. I should also point out that although it is written in the first person it IS purely fictional. *** Computer Trouble by Robin Morom My wife doesn't understand me. Now, don't get me wrong. We have a very happy marriage. Well, only two rows in thirteen years seems pretty good to me. (Actually, three, if you count the business with the dog and the icecream and the deckchair, but we needn't go into that here.) Anyway, as I was saying, my wife doesn't understand me, or rather she doesn't understand my computer which is much the same thing. "Love me - love my computer," I said one evening, thinking to lighten the atmosphere. Now you know how it is - sometimes as soon as you've spoken you know it was the wrong thing to say. It nearly started another row, actually, so I beat a hasty retreat to the COMPUTER ROOM. (In her ignorance Anne still calls it the BOX-room; which is what it used to be called before I saw the light.) In the Dark Ages of my life, or B.C. if you like (Before Computing), I was known to do what I now realise were rather pointless things like playing golf, fishing and having the occasional pint with the boys on Sunday morning. Anne used to complain about my absences - which, when added to my time at work meant that she did not have the pleasure of my company very often. Of course, I now see that my lifestyle could have been considered rather selfish, but how can that be said about the NEW me? Apart from the Computer Club evenings on Tuesdays I never go out without her. And even then I'm home at 9.15 with my only drink a harmless cup of tea. Funny thing, on the whole Computer Club members tend to be a very abstemious crowd - probably because one needs to keep a clear head when ridding the Galaxy of Argons. I did persuade Anne to go to the Club with me one evening but she came away muttering something about "little boys playing games." Obviously a reference to our Junior Section. And that's another thing. As I pointed out to her, it's almost like being a Scout Master, helping the little chaps to gain experience of the World and the Universe. We encourage them sometimes of course, by letting them win. It makes them feel good. (As a matter of fact, I didn't actually intend to let that ten-year old beat me by quite so many as 7035 to 9 when playing Zargon Space Pirates. I think there must have been something wrong with the floppy disc.) Then again, Anne didn't seem to entirely understand about the advantages of buying a printer to attach to my computer. I had, of course been preparing the ground for some weeks. Pointing out that the typewriter was probably fifty years old and on it's last legs. Casually drawing attention to the article in the Sunday paper on the rapid spread of word-processors. Just happening to mention that ICI reckoned that they had saved 20 million pounds last year on office automation. Subtle stuff like that. It didn't seem to make a very great impression. When I arrived home with the printer and a big box of paper there was a distinct chill in the air. Of course it COULD have been a coincidence that the only thing I could find for supper was the cold rice pudding. Anyway, back to my main point. Now that I am at home so much, why isn't she satisfied? Yes, I do spend some (well O.K., quite a lot) of my time in the COMPUTER ROOM but I'm THERE aren't I? And yes, it WAS 3.15 A.M. before I finished writing the program to work out what we owed the milkman, but that did have a practical use. And I still maintain that it was not my fault that he did not have change for 0.334 of a penny. Look at what some husbands are alleged to get up to. Are they really fishing when they say they are? And golfers could be anywhere. As for potholing or rock climbing, well I ask you - completely out of touch for maybe days at a time. No, what is needed is a nice quiet hobby that can be done at home. I feel sure that one day wives will begin to see that computers make for a happy and contented home life. It's just a question of us husbands being patient and one day they will realise that far from being time-wasters, we computer programmers are the forerunners of a new generation of happy partners. POSTSCRIPT. Hearing the printer working on the above article, Jeremy, our one and only child, has come into the COMPUTER ROOM to investigate. He picks up the paper from the floor (why does it ALWAYS do that!) and reads what I've written. "Dad, you keep saying here 'my' computer. Strictly speaking, you only borrow it, don't you? I mean, it was MY Christmas present, wasn't it?" I am staggered. It is the first interest he has shown since three weeks after Christmas. That was when he got the maximum possible score on the Aliens Attack game and immediately lost interest. "W-e-l-l," I say cautiously, "technically, I suppose you're right. But on the other hand - " "Yes, I know Dad. But if I was to sell it I could get the new mudguards and the speedometer and Mum says - " I am horrified. SELL it! - MY (well, OUR) computer! And the printer is useless without it! Then I notice that Anne 'happens' to be on the landing and observing.... Well, after a great deal of searching of the local paper for secondhand computer prices, and some hard bargaining, we arrive at a settlement and I buy the computer from my son. Now it's mine, MINE. Wait a minute, though. Since Jeremy is legally a minor, it WAS mine anyway. And in any case I paid for it in the first place. But, I've just bought it! Hang on. There's something wrong somewhere.... Either I've bought it twice or.... No, that's not right.... I gave it to Jeremy, and then.... Oh well, perhaps the computer can work it out... ***