Did a notice pop up on your computer screen with the news that there will be no more support for Windows XP? My first thought was to climb up on the roof, throw my arms up at the sky and await the end.

I was born and raised in a home that had no telephone, no refrigerator and no flush toilet. We walked to a one-room school, heated with wood, and drank raw milk from our neighbor’s cows. And suddenly our happiness is contingent upon the whims of a little box containing plastic and wire?

How did all this come to pass?

Unless you are in a crib or an intensive-care nursing home, computer technology has you in its grasp. Most people in the industrialized world would not be able to live without Google, Quicken, Let’s Edit or one of their ubiquitous cousins.

Do you often think how easily one may rack up graduate degrees, now that papers, complete with graphs and charts, can be retyped at the press of a button? And that, to begin with, all the material for a paper or thesis can easily be sorted and outlined on a screen?

More than 60 years ago, an English teacher helped me prepare my little high school graduation speech by cutting up my essay with a pair of scissors and pasting it back together in an order that made more sense. Twenty years later, I was producing a newspaper column the same way. Yes, my computer is now arguably more of a necessity than a telephone, a refrigerator or indoor plumbing.


The computer is now an integral part of our daily lives. We have crawled ashore from the primeval slime and can’t go back.

How many people do you know who do not use a computer in one form or another? Do not even your card-carrying Luddite neighbors pull their curtains at night and, in the quiet privacy of their own homes, smoke dope and search the Web for the latest in vegan diets?

The computer I am now using came with a program called Vista. At the time, horror stories were circulating about the Vista program, so I cleverly asked my guru friend to throw it away and install XP instead.

So when you don’t know any more about computers than I do, the termination of XP support read like Y2K revisited. We were all going to have to buy a new computer containing a “new and improved program” that only an eighth-grade kid would be able to use or understand.

To ease our pain, we are told, “ … the time has come for us, along with our hardware and software partners, to invest our resources toward supporting more recent technologies so that we can continue to deliver great new experiences.”

A translation of these buttered words reads: “I did not get to be the richest man in the world by watching ‘Monday Night Raw’ and NASCAR.”


A friend who did take him at his word writes: “Means it’s time to get a new computer with Windows 7 because Windows 8 is impossible. I just did it for under $300.”

Back in the good old days, even master criminals weren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. John Clay, true to his name, burrowed on his knees beneath Merryweather’s bank vault, where Holmes and Watson awaited him.

As you know, Mr. Gates has made all that grubbing unnecessary, and now your basic maitre criminal might sip a latte in his pajamas in a lofty eyrie as his manicured fingers press numbers into a keyboard to empty your checking account.

Perhaps the only program to generate more public interest than “To Catch a Predator” is called “Bait Car.”

“Bait Car” attracts fans by its use of the latest computerized technology. An inviting new car containing two or three hidden video cameras is left on a street, unlocked with a key in the switch. Thieves, or kids wanting a joyride, drive off in the car, where their facial expressions of delight suddenly change when a computer shuts off the engine and locks the doors.

How long will it be before you buy a car with the understanding that when you make the last payment, all of the electronics in the vehicle will expire and self-destruct? You can’t watch “Bait Car” or a James Bond movie without realizing that the technology is already here. You will be catapulted out through the roof – in front of a car dealership – and you will either buy a new car or limp home.


When I was a boy, I saw a cartoon of an elderly man with a shotgun in his hands standing over the remains of a smoking radio. A woman in the doorway explains to the visitor beside her, “We get a new radio every week. Grandpa has to silence Gabriel Heatter in his own way.”

I was recently reminded of this when a friend confided to me, “Windows 8 drove my friend Jenn to punch her computer and destroy it.”

The humble Farmer can be seen on Community Television in and near Portland and visited at his website:


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