Shall I Change My Day Job?
sysop@mud2.com


light.jpg (8497 bytes)Now that is an odd question for an arch-wizard to ask, isn't it!

The trouble is of course is that in the last 2-3 days, I have been far more successful as an acrobat than as a computer person.

It all began when a light burned out in our house. This light illuminates the stairs that lead to our upstairs bedroom. Unfortunately, the light is suspended from a very high ceiling; I estimated that despite being 6'3", I would probably need a ladder of another six feet or more in length in order to change the bulb.

So just how many arch-wizzes does it take to change a light bulb?

Two days ago, I could stand it no longer. I still had not the required ladder, but the darkness upstairs was beginning to really annoy me. Or was it the fact that the work I was supposed to be doing was so unappealing I had to find something else?

Whatever the reason, I found myself upstairs Tuesday night, doing my best to measure the geometry much as my cat does when he is trying a jump he has never done before. Come to think of it, it was perhaps that folding table that stood against the wall upstairs that got me to think: can I use this table and perhaps a few chairs to reach the light?

Of course as any married man knows, one does not engage in an activity of this kind in the presence of one's loving spouse. It so happened that my loving spouse is presently some ten thousand kilometres from here, visiting her parents in Europe. Which meant that I was alone, with no-one to stop me...

It took about an hour and a half. I first opened the folding table, placed a chair on top of it, and climbed on top of this contraption. Although it was reasonably stable, it was not tall enough; I could barely touch the bottom of the light, and I needed another foot of height in order to safely reach it.

Back to the drawing board! Obviously, I needed to make my construction higher. No problem, really; I just put two chairs on top of the table and placed another wooden block, a cube that's about a foot in size (used normally by my wife for obscure purposes) on top of one of the chairs. The desired height was now there, but I lacked the courage to climb on top of all this!

Around this time I provided proof that I was an incurable optimist: I brought a fresh light bulb up from the kitchen. I even tested it to make sure it works; imagine what it would have been like if I'd managed to replace the bulb, only to find that the one I put in wasn't working!

After this, I tried several variations. Eventually, I dragged out a night table from our bedroom. Fortuitously, the height of this night table was the same as the height of an additional three steps of stairs that lead to our small bedroom. Placing the table so that two of its legs rested on the night table and the other two on top of these additional stairs looked promising. However, the table now blocked my passage to the small bedroom, yet I was planning to climb on top of it from that direction. Eventually, I managed to get there by climbing through under the table (placing a chair, the wooden cube, and the light bulb into that area earlier, before the table was in place.)

The rest was easy. It almost reads like a boring MUD2 log:

*LOOK
Upstairs corridor.
There is a folding table here, unfolded, blocking your passage downwards. A green wooden cube rests on the floor here. There is a dining room chair here. On the floor is a new 100W light bulb.
*GET CUBE
Cube taken.
*PUT CUBE ON TABLE
Cube placed on top of the table.
*CLIMB CHAIR
You are now standing on the chair.
*CLIMB TABLE
Your are now standing on the table, which wobbles a little.
*CLIMB CUBE
You are now standing on the wooden cube, your head level with the globe of the light. You cannot maintain your balance for long in this position.
*REMOVE GLOBE
Globe taken.
*CLIMB OFF CUBE
Your are now standing on the table, which wobbles a little.
*CLIMB OFF TABLE
You are now standing on the chair.
*JUMP
Upstairs corridor.
*DROP GLOBE
Globe dropped.
*TAKE LIGHTBULB
Lightbulb taken
*CLIMB CHAIR
You are now standing on the chair.
*CLIMB TABLE
You cannot climb the table while you are holding anything.
*PUT LIGHTBULB IN SHIRT
You tucked the lightbulb inside your shirt. Your hands are now free.
*CLIMB TABLE
Your are now standing on the table, which wobbles a little.
*CLIMB CUBE
You are now standing on the wooden cube, your head level with the globe of the light. You cannot maintain your balance for long in this position.
*REMOVE OLD LIGHTBULB
Lightbulb removed from socket.
*PUT LIGHTBULB IN SHIRT
There is no room.
*REMOVE LIGHTBULB FROM SHIRT
Lightbulb removed from shirt.
*PUT OLD LIGHTBULB IN SHIRT
You tucked the lightbulb inside your shirt.
*PUT LIGHTBULB IN SOCKET
Lightbulb inserted in socket.
The light is now lit!
(+10 = 10,544,615)
*CLIMB OFF CUBE
Your are now standing on the table, which wobbles a little.
*CLIMB OFF TABLE
You are now standing on the chair.
*JUMP
Upstairs corridor.
*TURN OFF LIGHT
The light is now off.
*DROP LIGHTBULB
You are not holding a lightbulb.
*REMOVE LIGHTBULB FROM SHIRT
Lightbulb removed from shirt.
*DROP LIGHTBULB
Lightbulb dropped.
*TAKE GLOBE
Globe taken.
*CLIMB CHAIR
You are now standing on the chair.
*CLIMB TABLE
You cannot climb the table while you are holding anything.
*CLIMB TABLE
You cannot climb the table while you are holding anything.
*CLIMB TABLE
You succeeded in climbing the table despite holding the globe in your hands!
*CLIMB CUBE
You are now standing on the wooden cube, your head level with the globe of the light. You cannot maintain your balance for long in this position.
*PLACE GLOBE ON SOCKET
You try to place the globe on the socket but it doesn't stay on.
You wobble a little.
*PLACE GLOBE ON SOCKET
You try to place the globe on the socket but it doesn't stay on.
The table underneath you emits an ominous creaking sound.
*SECURE GLOBE ON SOCKET
You secure the globe on the socket.
*CLIMB OFF CUBE
Your are now standing on the table, which wobbles a little.
*CLIMB OFF TABLE
You are now standing on the chair.
*JUMP
Upstairs corridor.
*TURN ON LIGHT
The light is now lit.

Oh, and did I tell you that I did all this barefoot, in underwear? No, I was not under a spell of exhibitionism; it was simply a matter of practicality, like my feet being less likely to slip with my shoes and socks removed. Fortunately, there was no-one around; seeing me stand on top of this contraption dressed as I was, with my 200+ (200++?) pounds of weight, any eyewitness would have been convinced that I am an escapee from a nearby lunatic asylum. Indeed this is exactly what my cat thought if the expression on his face was any indication; at least this is what he thought until I locked him in the bathroom, in order to avoid crushing him to death in case I lost my balance.

After I put all the furniture back to their regular places and let the cat out of the bathroom, I felt mighty proud. What happened the next day though did not give me any reason to feel pride.

You see, I have this computer I use for testing, one with a motherboard that has a built-in PS/2 style mouse port. My favourite kind of mice are the old-style Microsoft mice, the ones sold before the new, kidney-shaped ones appeared in stores. I actually have a few of these around, unfortunately none of them with a PS/2 connector. Furthermore, the motherboard in my test machine also required an extra part, a back-panel adapter that contained the required PS/2 style socket. Which is why I was using an old Microsoft bus mouse adapter; unfortunately, this adapter occupied one of the ISA slots on this computer's motherboard. I was hoping to get rid of the bus adapter and free up the ISA slot for other uses.

This week I managed to get my hands on all the required parts. I found a small computer store outside of town that carried the backpanel adapter for the motherboard, while a friend of mine found a couple of PS/2 style Microsoft mice in his office. All was well.

I opened the case, removed the old bus mouse adapter, plugged a PS/2 mouse into the backpanel adapter (which I installed a few days earlier) and presto: the mouse was working!

Yes, I should have stopped right here. Unfortunately, I had not one, but three PS/2 mice, all used, all needing to be tested. So I unplugged the mouse from the computer and picked up the connector end of another mouse.

As usual, I was very careful with static electricity. I touched the metal of the computer's chassis, just in case. Imagine my horror when despite my precaution, I saw a huge spark flying from the new mouse to the socket as I brought its connector near. The computer immediately reset itself and I knew that even if I don't have a dead computer, I almost certainly have a dead PS/2 mouse port.

Indeed. The computer came back to life but the built-in mouse port was no longer functional; the mouse driver reported no mice present on the system. All my efforts were in vain.

The test machine is now back in its original configuration, with the old bus mouse adapter again occupying that precious ISA slot. And all this left me wondering: did I make a career mistake? Would I be better off if I left computers for good and started working on my amazing acrobatic skills?

Viktor the arch-wizard


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This Web page copyright 1998 Viktor T. Toth
MUD2 is copyright 1998 Multi-User Entertainment Limited
Page last modified: March 09, 1998