Old version: A man walks into Sears carrying a crosscut saw and says to the clerk, "I work and I work and I'm only getting a cord of wood a week."
The clerk pulls out a spiffy new chain saw, hands it to the man and says, "I guarantee you'll get twice the wood with this."
A few weeks later the customer returns and hands the chain saw back to the clerk. "You're a liar. I'm only getting half a cord with that thing."
"Really?" the clerk says. "Let's just crank it up and see what the problem is."
He jerks the rope and the chain saw starts right up. RRRRrrrrrrrrr.
"What's that noise?" screams the terrified customer.
New version: Tech: Tech support, how may I help you?
Caller: This computer is brand new and it doesn't even work.
Tech: Well, ma'am, have you set it up correctly?
Caller: Well, I think so. I unpacked it, set it up, plugged it in. But now I've sat here for 20 minutes waiting for something to happen, and it just won't come on.
Tech: Well, what happens when you turn on the power switch?
Caller: What power switch?
Why am I telling you these jokes? First, to prove that chain-saw jokes are funnier than computer jokes. Second, to let you know that you aren't the only ignoramus who has trouble with computers. If you ever get down on yourself because you don't know Shockwave from shareware, relax. Plenty of other folks are just as stupid as you are.
I, for instance. And scores of other dolts whose stories, such as the one above, are found on the site Tech Support Tales: The Publication Which Proves That Stupidity Breeds Humor.
It's not that I'm 'puterphobic. I just want to learn about the machines on a "need to know" basis. I'm basically a computer agnostic. I marvel at the machinery, but what I really care about is the content.
There are some delightful Web sites for folks who don't give a hoot about the jazziest, snazziest innovations, for those who just want to get the maximum utility out of the dang fool things. At Dummies Daily: The Online Resource for the Rest of Us, you can sign up for e-mail on one of 13 topics. With Nerd Word of the Day, for instance, you can explore the strange language (stranguage, perhaps?) of the computer world and discover that a tilde is still called a tilde.
If you like computer humor, try Thomas Fasulo's I Hate Computers Web site. Mr. Fasulo is also an entomologist at the University of Florida, so he knows a bug from a feature. In "Other Reasons to Hate Computers," you'll find a list of tech jokes -- some of which are actually almost kind of funny. Here's an edited version of one:
A computer-toting know-it-all and an entomologist were on a plane together. The know-it-all challenged the bug man to a contest. "I'll ask you a question," the know-it-all said. "If you don't know the answer, you give me $5. Then you ask me a question and if I don't know the answer, I'll give you $50."
"Fair enough," said the bug man.
"What's the distance from the Earth to the moon?" the know-it-all asked. Without saying a word, the bug man handed the know-it-all a $5 bill.
"OK," the bug man said, "what insect goes up a hill on six legs and comes down on four?" The know-it-all pulled out his laptop, searched all his reference CD-ROMs, plugged his modem into the Airphone and scoured the files of the Library of Congress and entomology schools around the world. Finally he e-mailed all his friends. No one knew the answer. Reluctantly, the know-it-all pulled out a $50 bill and gave it to the bugman, who turned over in his chair to get some sleep.
"So what's the answer?" the know-it-all pleaded.
The bug man didn't say a word. He just rolled over and handed the know-it-all another $5 bill.