Wonderful World Of The Computer 01

By Bernard Nergfergler

Originally published in EUG #02

Affordable home computers have been available for about ten years now, but in all that time nobody has ever produced a really helpful guide to their use. Oh sure, there have been tons of books and magazines printed about computers but they have all glossed over the most important aspect of the subject, i.e. "Of course it's not like this in real life" factor. It's not that writers have been dishonest about this, rather they have just been lazy and consequently much vital information has been omitted from computing literature. Let's look at how this applies to the Elk.

Firstly, when a person acquires an Electron, they read in the manual that there is a "Power in socket" on the right hand side which is used when connecting the computer to the mains' electricity supply. This is not true! Situated on the right hand side of the Electron is the "Hole where the power lead goes, which becomes very wobbly after a while and turns your computer off at the most inconvenient times". As you can see, it's a lot quicker to write "Power in socket" than to give the more detailed description!

The computer keyboard is another area where the true facts have been distorted. Most people believe that QWERTY keyboards are so-called because the first six letters on the top row spell this word. Wrong! QWERTY is an acronym for Quite Wantonly Enjoying Regularly Tricking You. Keyboards are laid out in what we experts call the "Undetectable Mirage Pattern" or UMP for short.

Keys are moulded with angled surfaces in such a way that, without your knowing it, the rays of light that reach your eye carry not the image of the key you actually pressed but that of the one four places to the left and one row down. I know this is true because I get the UMP whenever I'm typing.

Another undocumented aspect of computer keyboards is the fact that they all come equipped with a pad which generates static electricity positioned beneath them. This helps the computer to attract dust, grit, toast crumbs and small rodents into the gaps between the keys. No one has ever been able to discover why manufacturers insist on including this feature.

All computers need some means of storing information. With the Electron you have the choice of a cassette tape or floppy disk. The Elk has a very advanced tape filing system which is way ahead of its time. You may find this hard to believe, but the Electron is capable of reading all the information on a 90 minute tape in under three seconds! Unfortunately, all cassette players at present are unable to run at the speed needed for the Elk to perform this feat. Because of this the Electron gets 'bored' waiting for the information to dribble into its memory and tries to hurry things along by sending what is known as a "Continuous Helical Enhancement Wave" along the connecting lead to the tape motor control. The inefficient cassette deck is unable to keep up with the furious pace demanded of it which can result in the state of affairs known as tape-chew-syndrome which I'm sure you've all experienced at some time.

A disk drive is rather like a wellington boot filled with plastic imitation fruit sprinkled with soot - once you've owned one you will wonder how you ever lived without it, but I'll save this discussion for another time!

Bernard Nerdfergler, EUG #2