May 2003
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Byte Me
By Stephen T., Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB

You log onto a school computer to research for a major project or catch up on the news. The Internet Explorer browser surfaces, leading you to believe that you'll be surfing the web shortly. You glance around the room, granting the computer considerable time to load its homepage. You convince yourself that you'll reach your destination soon, but then you stare into the sea of grayness on your screen.

Below the grayness is the single slowest moving item on the face of the planet – the loading bar. The blue squares within the bar ebb from one side to the other at the same speed that sap oozes down the trunk of a tree. Then, just as the sap eventually hardens and sticks to the tree, the blue squares simply freeze in place.

It's discouraging to a student when he/she attempts to utilize a school resource as simple as a computer and the bloody thing moves at such an excruciatingly slow rate that you eventually decide that walking home, using your own computer and then heading back to the school would be more productive than attempting to deal with the artifact PCs at Fredericton High.

When you attempt to bring up even the most basic web site (no java script, no flash, no anything), you get a fragmented series of blinking blocks that taunt you as you visualize what the web page might look like if you weren't using a computer old enough to have been used to write up the rough draft of the Napoleonic Code.

Surely the computers load simple images like jpegs and gifs, right? No, the computers actually have a hard drive conniption while attempting to load such files. If you aren't irritated enough by the six day wait for loading, then the droning "brrr" sound that the Jurassic beasts make during the process will certainly push you to catch fire to a few motherboards and let the computers from hell meet an appropriate end.

With a student population of approximately 2500, one would think that Fredericton High School could supply some reasonably recent and decent computers. When students enter a computer lab, they should indeed be entering a computer lab - not an archive of the prehistoric.

Chris T., a grade 12 student at FHS, said "For a time, it was almost amusing how unhelpful and dreadfully slow the computers were. Now that I've spent four years struggling with the same sadistic machines, I think I've actually developed a bitterness towards all computers. Darn those idiot boxes."

In addition to their sloth-like speed and niche for spontaneously locking up, the computers are rendered even more useless by the restrictions placed upon internet sites by the school district and school administration. Granted, blatantly inappropriate sites shouldn't be visited during school hours, but the sites that are banned at Fredericton High involve pro wrestling, musical bands and generally useful sites that may contain a cuss word or two. Why would prohibiting research of wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin be a priority of school employees when our computers load at about 4kb/millennium?

Laura B., a Fredericton High senior, said "Sometimes it's like they arbitrarily choose sites to ban. The most interesting sites always seem to be blocked, and when you try to get to another site, the computer actually becomes molasses with a monitor and a mouse."

Of course, the aforementioned monitor and mouse are so aged that they've taken on a truly disturbing yellow color. A brown film fills the mouse's buttons, and sits upon a tattered pad that's stained with a variety of juice and sandwich sauce stains. Okay, so that may be a tad nitpicky, but it certainly doesn't help the grief that the computers already cause.

The computer's ugly cousin, the printer, isn't any more cooperative. It seems most everyone must face the task of printing a document in the school, and when the screen reads "could not find printer," you know that your day is about to become a little less pleasant. The computer's so stubborn, if the user were to physically turn the computer screen to face the computer, it likely still wouldn't see the blasted printer. Fredericton High School must soon realize that printers were made to print, and computers were made to, um WORK!

To the satanic computers that curse the rooms of FHS, I leave you with two all-important words: BYTE ME.


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