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Monday, August 6, 2018

Squid Man II



Episode Eighty Six: Squid Man II 
Originally published June 31, 2018, in the Quechee Picayune-Emetic. Reprinted with permission.

1 comment:

  1. “We are stuck with technology when what we really want is just stuff that works.” Douglas Adams, in the posthumous The Salmon of Doubt, 2005.

    Much of my job in IT Support involves being contacted by people who are at the end of their rope, technology-wise, and just want something to work. I watch their dismay as they come to me with some obscure problem, hoping that I can fix it on the spot, but instead I turn and start Googling. There's so much to know, and everything here has a non-standard configuration. Every day, for me, is opening a box that will likely contain eight more boxes. Nothing is ever easy, and a good day involves having solved one problem and left fifteen more hanging. I go home feeling as though I have gone prematurely senile.

    Now, more than ever, an online presence in the world requires investment in infrastructure, tech upgrade, and continuous surveillance against incoming threats. My institution has never had the ability to lay out the capital to back that kind of effort in any serious manner, and so we run an idiosyncratic program that, while it is certified by NEASC (at the moment, at any rate), is itself teeter-y and full of holes. Generations of coding by programmers who kind of knew what they were doing while they were learning as they went along leave predecessors scratching their head as non-standard solutions cause non-standard problems. It is confusing, and nothing is as expected.

    Which is not what the panicking person simply trying to print from their laptop wants to hear from me. Glass-half-empty that I am, I cede no ground, and their frustration spills over onto me on a daily basis. I don't enjoy any of it. Seriously. I don't.

    This comic is about the feeling that the world is on fire and what I provide simply makes that world worse. I don't see the good side of students growing and their lives changing for the better, I just see the technological toilets overflowing, and the resulting frustration. The world is on fire, I sell them kerosene, and, yet, they need that kerosene. Painful all around.

    Suddenly everything changes - the fire is gone! But now it's a new disaster, and, again, my relationship is similarly loathsome.

    This is the voice that intones these thoughts inside my head twenty-four seven. This is the Squidman character who is judging me, telling me that I'm selling sewage overflow to flood victims. It's a special kind of hell.

    This week was edifying because I was somewhat able to retain the shading in the second frame that results from how the scanner sees the middle of the page as the lid lifts ever so slightly near the middle of the comic. (The comic is scanned into my computer on two passes, being too long to fit on the scan bed.) I LOVE the texture of that light change, and am always bummed that I end up cleaning it up using paintbucket to provide uniformity. In this case, I was really taken with it, and kept it, and was so happy to see that it lends itself to the comic perfectly - it looks like smoke rising up from panel three.

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