We brought home a new computer the other day and as I attempted to do all of the set-up and migrating of old files and installing of new software and the other bits and pieces that make sense, some sense and no sense to me, I was reminded of the movie, “Colossus: The Forbin Project.” It’s an old science fiction thriller from 1970. It’s based on a 1966 novel by Dennis Feltham Jones. Back in ’66, computers were still the huge mainframes with blinking lights and beeping sounds that were hidden away in mountain fortresses. Personal computers were still a dream. This short video from 1966, gave us a glimpse of the wonders of the future. Nice cool jazz obviously came with a machine that needed its own wing in the house. That mention of the Communal Service Agency seems ominous. All in all, pretty boring. I was looking forward to a future with flying cars and houses that cleaned themselves. I was more of a Ray Bradbury fan back then.
Basically really big computer, Colossus, is built to protect and serve by controlling all the US and allied defense systems. Computer becomes sentient. Computer discovers another computer like itself ( awww.) in Russia (no!). Colossus demands to be put in contact with the Russian computer (Guardian) or it will blow something up. You’ld think it wouldn’t need help to make contact, oh well. Guardian and Colossus start speaking in a binary language that no one understands. Eventually by blowing up missile silos, killing scientists who try to pull the plug and issuing threats of nuclear annihilation, it (the two have become one at this point) takes over, leaving mankind the job of puny servant. In the end Colossus predicts: “In time, you will come to regard me not only with respect and awe, but with love”. Forbin replies: “Never”.
Back to my computer room. In order to transfer the information from my old computer to my new computer I have to connect them and with the help of the “Migration Assistant” (the Communal Service Agency?) let them talk to each other. Sound familiar? Connected with an ethernet cord. Where is this ether of which you speak?
They didn’t talk in binary, or if they did they weren’t telling me. I just got the blue line that slowly grows longer as more info gets transferred. Started out pretty good. One hour and 3 minutes, doesn’t sound too long to transfer the system, applications, recipes and photos. But what do I know?
Well three hours later and it is still saying 8 minutes left. Its been saying 8 minutes for the last half hour so it must have discovered a cute computer in North Korea. But it keeps smiling at me, telling me everything is all right. Only 8 more minutes. Smile.
I wait another half hour and shut it down before the missiles are armed. There ain’t no respect and awe going on here. Frustration, anger and betrayal is what I’m feeling. My second attempt isn’t any better. Finally after consulting other users of this process, via my laptop of course, I discover a lot of angry people who have waited hours even up to a day (are you nuts?) for those last 8 minutes to be loaded on to their computer. To make a long story short, thanks to a suggestion on a forum of other pissed off people, I backed the old computer up to an external drive and downloaded the whole thing to the new computer in about a 10 minutes. No more talking, no more smiley faces, no love. Never! So watch out Colossus, I don’t care what you threaten, I’m pulling your plug! I’ve got 8 minutes to do it.