A ?Beagle' ate my homework - Greg Gelpi

Dogs are certainly nothing new and neither is the idea of dogs eating homework, but a Beagle just ate my computer.

Disconnected from the cyber world, my computer fallen ill to the Beagle strain of virus, it hit me that the "rise of the machines" is nearer than we might think.

Reminiscing about one of those eclectic courses from my small liberal arts college entitled "Technology, Politics and Society," I realized how much society has taken two steps forward only to take two steps back.

The course traced the rise of technology at the expense of mankind. Like a delicately balanced scale, there is only so much power and control to go around there. Take power from people, give it to machines and computers and the scales tip.

Technology, the panacea for all that ails you, often makes life more efficient, but often it does the opposite. The example one text provided to illustrate this was the classic line that the "dog ate my homework."

That line, that excuse has been upgraded to "my computer crashed," "something corrupted my disk" and a "virus ate my homework."

Admittedly, I never walked to school up hill both ways in six feet of snow while growing up in Louisiana. I did, however, type on a contraption called a typewriter all of my term papers and book reports as a kid.

Clanking away on the keys one at a time, it took me longer to type a paragraph than it did for me to write a page. Wiping the sweat off my brow, approaching the end of a page of paper was more gut-wrenching than watching a U.S. men's Olympic basketball game.

Any mistake could mean restarting the laborious process. "Control Z" and "control S" don't work the same way on a typewriter as they do on a computer.

More technology only provides more excuses.

My dad has always opposed electric windows and all those fancy gadgets and gizmos on cars. His thinking is that it's just another thing to break or go wrong on a car and that the old roll down windows are more reliable.

Those thoughts crossed my mind as I stared blankly at my apartment wall, glancing over occasionally to where my laptop normally sat.

No computer at home meant no at-home banking, no instant communication, no working from home and no countless hours of mindlessly surfing the Web.

Prior to having a computer, I'd drive to the credit union, write a letter, pull out the typewriter or find some other way to occupy my time.

The withdrawal from my laptop was strong, though. A symbiotic relationship had developed as I grew accustomed to all of my preferences and tasks that were programmed into the machine. Everything was automated as if it read my mind.

But alas, I sat in my apartment still longing for the laptop until it did make its return home.

So, with fingers crossed and virus protection activated, I write this column hoping that the Beagle doesn't bite me between now and press time.

Greg Gelpi covers education for the News Daily. He can be reached at ggelpi@news-daily.com or (770) 478-5753 Ext. 247.