It was a normal kind of day on South West trains. The first class carriage door being out of order, I had to hawk two heavy bags through several carriages for the privilege of sitting in peace, quiet and a comfy seat. ‘Warm’ would’ve been good too: but with an outside temperature of five degrees, the air-conditioning was at its work with a vengeance.
The first plug I tried for using the laptop didn’t do anything. The second one confused Hewlett Packard so much, my pc insisted on a full start-up including all the hieroglyphics. Halfway through this lengthy process it did what all pcs do: offer me the chance to ‘Press F11 for recovery’.
Two years ago – given the innate attraction of such an offer – I pressed F11. The technical infrastructure of European communications is still recovering. Do not, whatever you do, press F11: if necessary, tie your hands behind your back rather than succumb to the siren call.
Nobody knows why the F11 option is in there. Take your pc to an expert with post F11 trauma syndrome, and the first thing he’ll ask is “You didn’t press F11 did you?” I’ve written to hardware and software companies asking why it’s there – but more importantly, why it almost leaps at you with a ‘Press me Now!’ request. Surely (I have suggested) most people with a collapsed computer – on seeing a line saying ‘how to recover’ – will press F11, won’t they?
I’ve never had a reply. But you can be sure that somewhere on HP or Microsoft’s websites there are Help forums devoted to The F11 Triangle. I can imagine the entries so easily.
‘Help. I’m in a parallel worm-hole. All I did was press F11.’
‘This is flight Tango Delta Charlie Twoa-threa-sixa bound for Boston March 11th 2006. Please respond, over’.
‘Hi. Where am I? My small daughter pressed F11 ten minutes ago. I can see her, but she can’t hear me. I think I’m behind the screen.’
‘Say, isn’t this a neat chat-room? Like, totally Bill & Ted. Meet my new buddy, Intel Inside’
‘Anybody have a razor? My beard is itching something awful’.
‘There’s a tapping noise coming from somewhere. Anyone know Morse code?’