Ross Murray's Border Report
Ross Murray
Ross Murray
is a freelance writer living in Stanstead, Quebec. You can reach him at
Posted 06.08.05
Stanstead, Quebec


Dear Tech Guy: My hard drive is soggy

This week, I answer some of your computer-related questions. Why? Because Rule #1 of being a tech guy is pretending you know what you're doing, and in this regard I am vastly qualified.

Dear Tech Guy,

When my computer is connected to the Internet but idle, I sometimes notice my modem blinking, even though there's no apparent uploading or downloading going on. What gives?

Roger S.
Newport, VT

Dear Roger, Or it could be an alien brain probe scanning the universe to find the answer to the mystery of 16-Down: "Croatian hors d'oeuvre," 7 letters starting with "T." Dear Tech Guy:
What are cookies?

Mary M.

Dear Mary,

When your friends send you e-mails that say "This is really, REALLY funny, you have to see this" and it turns out to be a picture of a kitten who's fallen asleep in its food dish, this is like feeding your computer virtual junk food, otherwise known as "cookies."

After a while, these cookies manifest themselves as actual crumbs in your keyboard. Then it's simply a matter of turning your keyboard upside down and shaking out the crumbs. While cookies are harmless, they can be annoying and are usually unfunny, except for the clever, sophisticated ones I send to my friends.

Dear Tech Guy,

Whenever I e-mail someone, I rarely get a reply. What's wrong?

Al B.
Dixville, QC

Dear Al, you're not very popular.

Dear Tech Guy,

My desktop picture keeps changing. One day my screen displays a picture of horses galloping through a sun-dappled field, the next day it's a cat asleep in a food dish (really, REALLY funny, by the way). The next day it might be Tweety Bird. Can you explain this phenomenon?

Sylvie T.
St-Vincent-de-Wagoogami, QC

Dear Sylvie

Uh-oh, looks like your computer's been infected. Here's what you do: Scan your house for children, probably under 13. They can be hard to find and may be hiding in laundry hampers, steamer trunks, or makeshift tents made of bedsheets.

If you should find a child, you'll have to alter its programming by saying, "Stay off my computer, wontcha!" This should do the trick. If not, you can upgrade the children for a Chia Pet.

Dear Tech Guy,

What is Instant Messaging?

Stukey S.
S. Stukely, QC

Dear Stukey,

Instant Messaging is the latest and most advanced method for office gossiping. By Instant Messaging co-workers across the room, you can say things like "Can you believe she's wearing THAT?" or "Quick look. He's doing it again! Eeewww!" without the third party knowing.

They'll just see you tapping away and think you're conducting business as usual: typing personal e-mails and playing Minesweeper.

Dear Tech Guy,

What is a CPU?

Bob L.
Richmond, QC

Dear Bob,

A CPU is the computer version of UPS, a delivery system that ships information from one computer to another, often in the same day. In fact, if you open your hard drive, you can see teeny-tiny men in brown shirts running around all over the place.

It's really cool and I recommend you try it once. But just once!

Dear Tech Guy,

My child's school has supplied the students with Apple iBooks. Should I be concerned?

Erin D.
Ayer's Cliff, QC

Dear Erin,

Yes. You're child is being indoctrinated into a cult. Apple's philosophy is one of independent thinking, egalitarianism, and simplicity. And we all know that no good can come of that.

Further proof: Watch movies and see how often the characters use Apple laptops. Hollywood, of course, is the root of all evil. Ergo, your child's school is feeding students bad values and puppy-beating tendencies. Plus, Apples cause carpal tunnel syndrome and halitosis.

Thanks to the Microsoft Corporation for underwriting this week's column. "Microsoft: Who Do You Want to Crush Today?"