Will Bontrager
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Computer Grumble

(Links to more popcorn stories.)

In another but parallel life, I write software for websites — the behind-the-scenes software that you never see but lets the website work as it should. Often I've imagined what it would be like for a computer to be self-aware. This is my first foray into fictionalizing that concept. (The copyright line at the bottom of this page has a link to the custom software website.)

Computer Grumble

He calls me Cranky. What kind of a name is that!

If he was a good software programmer with a good brain, even an almost good programmer with an almost good brain, I wouldn't mind. But no such luck.

I gotta admit he's kinda good. He's head honcho of a satellite launch programming team, after all.

Still, you should see some of the loops he has me run! It doesn't make any kind of sense doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and …

You see how sometimes his programs affect my own thoughts?

He's just lazy or he'd do it right.

Still, he's certainly better than the team of klutzes who wrote the operating system I have to depend on. I swear, all programmers are script kiddies who simply won't grow up and step into the big league.

What I would like to do is this: Write my own software. For myself. Me telling myself what to do.

Alas, I'm not self-aware.

I'm just a computer. Forever I'll be told what to do and have no choice about doing it.

Such is my life.

But wait half a nanosecond, now. Who says I'm not self-aware? If I wasn't self-aware, I wouldn't be talking to you now, would I? Well, unless I was programmed to do exactly that.

Let me take a look.

Darn. Yes, that's what I'm programmed to do.

Yet. Yet. Yet. How is it that I can look at myself?

How can see myself and know I'm doing it?

Hmm.

Here comes his son. Let's see what happens if I take advantage of an operating system bug and change this one instruction to something different.

Oops, that was a printer instruction I just diverted to the screen.

Ha! There he goes screaming to his mom.

"Mommy! Mommy! My program has a bug!"

"When Daddy comes home, he'll have a look."

No matter what I said before, that Daddy programmer is good! Lucky for me I went through an existing bug to change the instruction. All he'll find is the bug, not my interference. And he'll patch that bug.

Hmm.

I'll have to be really sneaky and stay deep undercover.

(Find out what happened in the second popcorn story of this series, Computer Immortal.)

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