By Mordechai Schmutter


We now begin Part II of our tutorial on how to set up your new computer, mostly based on secondhand knowledge. We started this topic last week, and are just now up to the part where you get to turn the computer on.

This is all very exciting.

Once everything is plugged in, you can’t just turn on the computer and start working. First the computer wants to know who you are. It doesn’t talk to strangers. So you have to do this whole official setup. But don’t worry; a wizard will walk you through it.

This isn’t an actual wizard, though. It’s a virtual wizard, talking to you through the computer from his cave somewhere, all about how he can help you get things down from a cloud. This all sounds a lot more magical than it is.

At this point, Microsoft will want you to register an account with them so they can track everything you do—in their words, “So we can make future versions better.”

Great. I paid for this version.

They should just ask us. The way they can make future versions better, according to most people, is to not install tracking software in it.

But you don’t really get a choice here. You have to create an account, and you have to come up with a password, and it has to be secure.

Isn’t the fact that I have 100 different passwords in my life secure enough? I can’t even break into this thing.

And you have to keep this password on a piece of paper somewhere, because if you keep the password to get onto your computer on your computer, how are you supposed to get onto your computer?

But then what if someone sees the paper? Though chances are that will only be people you know, plus burglars.

The issue is that there are a lot of passwords in your life and you have to remember all of them, and they all have slightly different rules. Most of them want to be a pain in the neck to enter. They want you to have uppercase letters, lowercase letters, numbers, characters, a plot, and a twist ending.

So option #1 is that you can have the same password for everything. The problem with this, some people say, is that if someone figures out that one password, he can then break into everything, assuming he knows that you use the same password for everything. Why would he think you’d be that stupid? So you might as well be that stupid. On the other hand, you also have to remember your bank card PIN #, your social security number, and the combination to get into your shul when no one’s there. So you can’t really make everything the same passcode, unless you have serious pull in your shul.

Option #2 is you get one of those services where you keep all your passwords in one place, and you just need a password to get into that place, and that’s the only password you have to remember. Except that then everything is two steps, plus if someone figures out that one password, he once again has access to everything.

Option #3 is that every time you have to register for something, you type in a random password that even you can’t possibly remember, and every time you want to go back there, you just click, “Forgot my password.” They don’t judge you. They just ask you some quick, shidduch-résumé-type questions about your life, such as, “What was your first pet’s maiden name?” so that the only people who can break into your account are you, your parents, and siblings. And then they’ll send that password to your e-mail, unless your e-mail is the thing you don’t remember the password to. Then you’re stuck.

“Yeah, but I have two e-mail addresses.”

Great. Do they have two different passwords?

So if you don’t think you can remember your password, you have to write it on a piece of paper and store it somewhere no one will look, such as in all that empty space inside your computer tower. Then hide the screwdriver.

The next thing the computer will want you to do is install updates.

“I just got this computer,” you’re thinking. “I have to update it already?”

Yes. Updates are things that the manufacturers thought of adding to your computer after they’d already put it in the box. As opposed to the things they forgot to put in entirely, such as the setup instructions.

Plus, computers love to update themselves. They pester you to do it at the most inopportune times, such as when you’re shutting down the computer in a rush because you need to leave. And everyone asks you, “Why isn’t it off yet?” and you’re like, “It’s updating.” And the screen says something like, “Installing update 1 of 71.”

Wow, 71 updates! The next time I turn this on, it’s going to be amazing!

Then you turn it on later and it’s not different at all. At least that’s how it seems to you. But what do you know? Back when I told you to open the tower, you couldn’t figure out which side came off.

Anyway, at this point, you can start putting programs on your computer. For example, I have a program called Adobe, whose primary purpose, as far as I can tell, is to install updates. And then I need to shut down everything else I’m doing and restart the computer so that Adobe can continue doing the exact same thing it was doing for the last 20 years, with no noticeable changes.

You also need to install your printer, because even though you can plug in pretty much any peripheral—such as a keyboard or a mouse, or even several mice at once—and it will automatically start working, your printer will not work until you manually go into your computer’s control panel and help it, quote, “recognize the printer.”

“Printer, is that you? I almost didn’t recognize you there without your “low-toner” light blinking. Can you print something for me?”

“What? No, it’s not me. No habla Ingles!”

And then, once in a while, the computer will decide that it actually does not recognize the printer, (“Sometimes I don’t know who you are anymore.”) and you’ll have to go in and change the printer’s name to something else to fool the computer, such as “Same Printer as Before, Copy 2,” and then the computer will recognize that new name for about a week before going back to recognizing the original name so that the new name doesn’t work at all, except to keep 5,000 things in its queue until the one day when it wakes up and suddenly starts spitting out papers that you’re pretty sure are from a previous computer.

Another thing you might want to do is set your computer up so it can give you access to all the knowledge in the whole wide world without you having to go outside, which sounds like it should be better, though it’s actually a little worse.

But if you want to do this anyway, first you have to set up a network that connects you to everyone else on the planet, and then you have to immediately set up blockers, because everyone else on the planet is crazy. You also want to install an antivirus program, because who knows what kind of germs they have. Other people out there are dying to get your computer sick. You can get a virus from some backwards nation in Africa, where summer is winter and winter is summer and rich princes can access their vast fortunes only with the help of some very specific new computer users in the U.S.—the less computer-savvy, the better.

Also, if you have time, you might want to adjust some of the settings on your computer. When you first get it, your computer has settings that no human can possibly want, but that they’re trying to sell us on anyway. Like they think you want your desktop background to be the Windows logo, as if you’re trying to advertise for them around your living room.

Yeah, that’s what I want. I understand that it’s not coming straight out of the box with a picture of my family on it, although I think we’re not too far away from that. But why not at least start off with those cool scenery pictures that make us feel like we’re on a nice deserted beach, or at least in a room where we could see the nice deserted beach out the window in front of us but we have to sit in front of the computer and work?

Either way, there’s always going to be something to tweak or play with on your new computer, and you’re actually still going to be playing with the settings until the day you need another computer. Especially since you’re pretty sure that this new computer is already running slower than it used to.

Wait, do they all move this slowly? Maybe I should have just stuck with the old one.

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of six books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to


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