Screen Savers A screen saver is a simple, ordinary, commonplace utility...so often misunderstood. ________________________________________ I got a call from someone in our office. • Friend: "My computer's dead." • Me: "Ok, can you tell me what's wrong with it?" • Friend: "The screen's black. I got some coffee, came back, and the screen was black." It was a short walk to her desk, so off I go. Looking at the monitor, I saw that it was on with no flashing red lights, so I knew it was connected to the computer. Instinctively, my hand went to the mouse, and snap. The screen came back with all her work. • Friend: "WHAT DID YOU DO!?" • Me: "I moved your mouse. It was your screen saver." • Friend: "Thanks! You're a lifesaver!" ________________________________________ A guy called in and said, "My computer blew up!" But, really, he had only experienced the 'starfield' screen saver. ________________________________________ • My Dad: "I go upstairs. I run Pointcast [an online news service]. I hang up. I go downstairs. I come back up ten minutes later, and Pointcast turned itself on." • Me: "Pardon?" • My Dad: "I go back upstairs and there's Pointcast." • Me: "You're sure you shut it down?" • My Dad: "I think I did." • Me: (the light dawns) "Oh, Dad, that's a screen saver." ________________________________________ A student dropped by the school's computer lab and asked us if we could make lasers come out of the screen. He was very insistent about this being possible. I asked if he meant supermarket scanning lasers. He said no, the kind that damages your eyes, and also they move around. We were wondering if this was a clever engineering question, but finally he said his sister's computer could do it. One of us realized he was talking about one of the Windows screen savers. ________________________________________ I was doing Excel support at Microsoft shortly after Win95 came out. Someone called and needed some help on Excel. He told me he had left the computer for a few minutes, and when he came back, the "devil" had "possessed" his computer. He told me it was bubbling all over the place, and the devil was in his monitor. I told him to move the mouse. The devil left. It was the screen saver. ________________________________________ My mother frequently has to leave her computer on overnight at work, one day she installed a new screen saver and left it overnight. It turns out this screen saver makes some "less than normal" noises, and when the cleaning lady turned up she thought the room was possessed by ghosts. She has refused to clean the room since. ________________________________________ • Customer: "I ran your DSL installation CD, and it broke my computer. It's restarted, and now its stuck at the Windows XP logo, and it's been here for a hour before I called you guys." • Tech Support: "Ok, let's reboot your computer to see if it will boot up." Pause. • Tech Support: "Ok, what happened?" • Customer: "Well, I went to restart it and bumped the mouse, and now it's asking me to log in." • Tech Support: "OK, let's log in, then." • Customer: "Oh, the installation is still running. Why was my computer stuck at the startup?" • Tech Support: "By chance was the Windows XP logo changing position every couple of seconds?" • Customer: "Yes! It was! Why do you ask?" The customer had spent an hour and 45 minutes staring at the Windows XP screen saver. ________________________________________ • Me: "I have put this Movie Magic screen-saver on for you." • Manager: "Wow, that's a nice picture." • Me: "Yeah, it's not bad, is it?" • Manager: "Can you set the screen-saver so the picture doesn't change?" • Me: "Huh?" • Manager: "You know, so the same picture stays there while we work?" • Me: "Oh! You want this as the wallpaper?" • Manager: (angrily) "No! I don't want you to start decorating the office!" ________________________________________ This exchange with one of my co-workers had me laughing: • Coworker: "Hi! My screen saver has fallen off this terminal and hit the keyboard, causing it to lock up. Can you tell me how to fix it?" It turned out the polarized screen filter had fallen off and hit the scroll lock key. ________________________________________ Trying to ask how to remove a screen saver: • Customer: "I just go to My Computer and delete everything, right?" ________________________________________ My girlfriend is fond of The Little Mermaid, so she downloaded the free Little Mermaid screensaver offered at disney.com. After a month of using the screen saver, I got on to use the word processor, and I noticed I could see the words "Disney's The Little Mermaid" faintly at the bottom of my document. The screensaver, instead of "saving" the screen, caused those words to burn in on the monitor. High five to the geniuses who designed the thing. ________________________________________ I sold my old computer to a friend's friend. He never call me again. Some months latter I saw him and ask him how it was going. He told me that he had thrown it away because it was broken. When I asked him what the problem was, he told me that when he stopped typing for a while, the image on the screen started to melt and slip to the bottom, leaving a black space. If he touched the mouse or the keyboard, everything returned to normal. He was convinced I was sold him a defective machine and dumped the perfectly good computer. Apparently he haven't ever heard of screen savers, and I forgot to tell him I had installed one named "Screen Melt FX." ________________________________________ I was in the process of putting some new PCs in place of older ones in a small department here in the hospital. While I was working away, an older lady (the person in charge of the department) noticed that I had replaced her old 15" monitor with a brand new 17" monitor. She immediately came up to me and said: • Her: "Could you put my old monitor on the new computer?" • Me: "I could, but wouldn't you prefer the larger 17" monitor?" • Her: "Well, I wouldn't mind it, but I installed a $75 screen saver on the old monitor, and I don't want to lose it." • Me: "Well, don't worry about that. The new monitor will have that exact same screen saver." • Her: "You can transfer the screen saver off of my old monitor to the new one?" • Me: "I sure can." • Her: "Good." ________________________________________ • Tech Support: "Ma'am? I want you to stop clicking on your computer, move your hands away from the computer, don't touch the keyboard. Just stop. Move your hands away from the keyboard." • Customer: "But..." • Tech Support: "No, please follow my instructions." • Customer: "Ok." • Tech Support: "Now, look on the screen. Do you see the To: field on your email message?" • Customer: "No, oh wait a minute, there it is, now I see it!" • Tech Support: "Great, now when I let you start typing again, this is where you would put the e-mail address in." • Customer: "Oh, I'm supposed to put it there? Oops, where did it go? Oh NO! What's happening to my computer?!" At this point I thought she was on acid. • Tech Support: "Ok, calm down, what is your computer doing?" • Customer: "It's got all these flying window things that are coming out of nowhere! They're going all over my screen, and, huh, ooooh, pretty colors." • Tech Support: "Uh, ma'am? That's your screen saver." ________________________________________ • Customer: "You've got to help me! I can't believe what's happening!" • Tech Support: "What's going on?" • Customer: "My screen! It's upside down, and it's swirling. I think this monitor's bad. Or something's taken over my computer. It's just so weird! I can't believe this. You've got to help me." It was the screen saver, of course. ________________________________________ • Customer: "I have a very big problem! If you don't help me right now I will return the computer!" • Tech Support: "Well sir, what can I do for you?" • Customer: "Well, I just got my system today, and my friend installed a screen saver, and it comes up fine...BUT EVERY TIME I MOVE THE MOUSE IT GOES AWAY!!!!!!!" ________________________________________ I was sitting with my friends in the local computer club. A girl walked in and spoke to the administrator: • Her: "Hey, can I use one of your computers?" • Admin: "Sure, station #3 is free." • Her: "But the screen is dark." • Admin: "It's just the screen saver. Press a button, and it'll go away." She pressed the power button. • Her: "But it's still dark!" ________________________________________ One of our clients called us because she had a "dead Mac." The machine was on, but the screen was blank, and nothing would wake it up. It turned out that the keyboard had become disconnected and, ten minutes after that, the screen blanker had activated. ________________________________________ I personally love the reaction of some people to the screen savers on the Macintoshes in our computer lab. I was sitting next to a blonde (at that point I didn't place any significance to this fact) who was typing a paper, and by the way she was doing it, it was clear that this was just about her first time. Well, a friend of hers sat at the computer across from hers, and they started chatting...and the screen saver kicked in. The scream was heard, I was told, around two corners in the hallway. After she'd nearly passed out, her friend told her that she hadn't lost anything, and that she could get back to what she was doing just by moving the mouse. She didn't count on the fact that when her friend jumped up in hysteria, she'd bumped the keyboard/mouse connector out of the socket.