What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

FCN Classic: The ... thumb ... knows.

My old laptop crashed a few weeks ago, taking with it a lot of precious files. School was in full swing, so I hastily went shopping for a new computer. My choice: IBM's new Thinkpad T42, which has a load of cool features, including a little red ball between the G and the H that moves the mouse, and the latest in biometric security: a fingerprint reader. That's right, there was no longer any need for me to be memorizing and changing passwords, because all I had to do was push my thumb on a little pad next to the keyboard to verify that the user was me. Without that thumbprint, no imposter could log on and steal my files. This was the major selling point for me. I paid a little extra, but I figured the peace of mind was worth it.

The new computer worked great. I always got a grim satisfaction from pushing my thumb onto the reader every morning. "Take that, hackers!" I thought.

Then, four days before my midterm paper was due, calamity struck. I was working in the kitchen putting away dishes, my mind distracted by visions of a frustrated criminal trying to discover my non-existent password. Then I looked down and saw blood all over the towel. I had absently swiped my thumb across a paring knife, causing a minor flesh wound which was more irritating than painful. I dutifully bandaged up the cut and finished putting away the dishes, then sat down to finish writing my term paper. It was only then that the true magnitude of the situation hit me. I pressed my thumb on the reader, and it gave an error beep. I removed the bandage and tried again. Error beep. I tried the other thumb. Error beep. I tried all my other fingers and toes, and those of nearby friends and family members. The infernal reader wouldn't let me in. I had weeks of research on that hard drive. I frantically raced to the nearest computer lab and started my research anew, pushing the space bar with my left thumb. It was too late. My paper got a D.

When I saw that grade come back, I vowed never to let that happen to me again. So I did the only thing any reasonable person would do: I went down to the nearby arts and crafts store and bought myself a fake thumb. You know, the kinds magicians use for stupid parlor tricks. I went home and reprogrammed my Thinkpad to accept the fake thumb as mine. I then kept the thumb in a jewelry case in my laptop bag under lock and key (the key was in my wallet). Satisfied, I went back to daily life.


A week later, I went into Starbucks and ordered a Frap. Then I sat down in the corner. I removed the laptop from the bag, removed the key from my wallet, removed the thumb from the case, and booted up. I then promptly got engrossed in my work, and the next thing I knew, I was a half hour late for class. I frantically packed up and dashed out.

While sitting in class drawing pictures of burning houses, I suddenly realized with a start that I had forgotten to pack my fake thumb. It might be sitting on a table in Starbucks right now, waiting for some dastardly coffee-drinking hacker to find it! I nearly jumped up and ran out of class right then. But I am not that bad a student. I waited for it to finish, feverishly counting each passing second (as always). The moment class was dismissed, I grabbed my bag, hurled myself out the door, slipped and slid down the stairs, vaulted over a little old lady with a walker, and fired up my car. Minutes later, I was back at Starbucks. I burst open the door and cried:

"Has anyone seen my thumb?"

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