Posts Tagged with “home”

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?

Living with Computers — the Morning Alarm

November 28th, 2006

When I came back home from some recent travels I learned that my husband and son had had some trouble getting to school on time. How did I know this? No one said much about it, but the family computer gave the secret away.

Our “family computer” lives in the kitchen. It’s a combination of a Mac mini (the little box) with a Dell combination TV / monitor. My husband has long wanted to be able to watch the football while we’re in the kitchen. So a year or so ago he hooked up this system. It turns out that we still rarely turn the TV and we use the computer a lot more than the TV. (It’s not enough to have both our work laptops in the nearly dining room and various other bits of computer gear through the house. No, we really “need” an extra computer 🙂 )

The morning after I got home I was groggily dragging myself around the house trying to wake up when a giant booming voice came rolling out of the kitchen. After a bit I realized it wasn’t my son yelling, it was a distorted computer voice announcing “School Departure Blast-off! Five minutes and counting!” Followed by a loud and perky version of Devo’s “Time-out for FUN.” After 5 minutes of Divo, it is time to get out of the house. Weeks later, it’s still working. Periodically we change the voice. My son is horrified by the idea of an alarm clock, but finds this approach completely natural.

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