Living with Computers — the nighttime scare

January 12th, 2007

One night not long ago I got home from work before the rest of my family. I was off setting my laptop up for another work session when suddenly I heard an odd noise, and then another. I froze, trying to figure out what it was and where it came from.

After a minute another noise. These noises were clearly from inside the house. But they made me feel a bit better — they sounded much more like an animal than a person. Then I noticed the door to the garage was open. Ugh, I thought. I wonder if somehow the neighborhood raccoons found a way into the garage and are now in the house. (The raccoons have been a big problem this year. My neighbors routinely exchange tales of how we try to secure our garbage cans so the raccoons don’t open them and make a giant mess.)

I got a tool and went carefully around the house looking for animals. Silence. And of course, just as I relax I hear more noises. Odd, odd noises. They seem to be coming from around a particular chair. The noises seem louder than the sounds made by the lizards that sometimes come inside, but lizards are my new best guess. I walk around the edge of the chair and suddenly there is a set of loud noises — exactly at my ear height.

I jump, jump backward, and look around. Right exactly at ear height I see them — the little speakers hooked up to our kitchen computer. There’s no question they are the source of the sounds. After some investigation I learn that my son likes the notification sounds that my husband’s Instant Messaging Client makes when people log on. So they have selected the “best” sounds, turned the volume way up, and left. The monitor has long since gone into power saving mode and is completely black.

There’s only sounds. Odd, animal-like sounds at inconsistent intervals. Live with computers — isn’t it great?

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