People often say to me: "Dave, as a professional columnist, you have a job that requires you to process large quantities of information on a timely basis. Why don't you get a real haircut?"

What these people are really asking, of course, is: How am I able to produce columns with such a high degree of accuracy, day in and day out, 54 weeks per year?

The answer is: I use a computer. This enables me to be highly efficient. Suppose, for example, that I need to fill up column space by writing booger booger booger booger booger. To accomplish this in the old precomputer days, I would have had to type "booger" five times manually. But now all I have to do is type it once, then simply hold the left-hand "mouse" button down while "dragging" the "mouse" so that the "cursor" moves over the text that I wish to "select"; then release the left-hand "mouse" button and position the "cursor" over the "Edit" heading on the "menu bar"; then click the left-hand "mouse" button to reveal the "edit menu"; then position the "cursor" over the "Copy" command; then click the left-hand "mouse" button; then move the "cursor" to the point where I wish to insert the "selected" text, then click the left-hand "mouse" button; then position the "cursor" over the "Edit" heading on the "menu bar" again; then click the left-hand "mouse" button to reveal the "edit menu"; then position the "cursor" over the "Paste" command; then click the left-hand "mouse" button four times; and then, as the French say, "voila!" (Literally, "My hand hurts!")

If you need this kind of efficiency in your life, you should get a computer. I recommend the kind I have, which is a "DOS" computer. The other major kind of computer is the "Apple," which I do not recommend, because it is a wuss-o-rama New-Age computer that you basically just plug in and use. This means you don't get to participate in the most entertaining aspect of computer-owning, which is trying to get the computer to work. This is where "DOS" really shines. It is way beyond normal human comprehension.

It was invented by Bill Gates. He is now one of the wealthiest individuals on Earth -- wealthier than Queen Elizabeth; wealthier even than some people who fix car transmissions -- and do you want to know why? Because he's the only person in the world who understands "DOS."

My current computer, in addition to "DOS," has "Windows," which is another invention of Bill Gates, designed as a security measure to thwart those users who are somehow able to get past "DOS." You have to be a real stud hombre cybermuffin to handle "Windows." I have spent countless hours trying to get my computer to perform even the most basic data-processing functions, such as letting me play "F-117A Stealth Fighter" on it. I have personally, with my bare hands, changed my "WIN.INI" and "CONFIG.SYS" settings. This may not mean much to you, but trust me, it is a major data-processing accomplishment.

I am not the only person who uses his computer mainly for the purpose of diddling with his computer. There are millions of others. I know this, because I encounter them on the Internet, which is a giant international network of intelligent, informed computer enthusiasts, by which I mean, "people without lives." We don't care. We have each other.

While you are destroying your mind watching the worthless brain-rotting drivel on TV ("Dave's World," Monday Nights, CBS, check your local listings), we on the Internet are exchanging the most uninhibited, intimate and -- yes -- shocking details about our "CONFIG.SYS" settings.

You would not believe how wrought up we get about this type of thing, on the Internet. I regularly connect with a computer group that has a heated debate going on about -- I am not making this issue up -- the timing of Hewlett-Packard's decision to upgrade from a 386 to a 486 microprocessor in its Omnibook computer. This has aroused enormous passion. People -- some of them from other continents -- are sending snide, angry, sometimes furious messages to each other.

I'm sure that some participants, even as we speak, are trying to figure out if there is a way to alter their "CONFIG.SYS" settings so that they can electronically punch their opponents in the mouth. This debate has been raging, soap-operalike, for months now, and I have become addicted to it. I tune in every day to see what the leading characters are saying. You probably think this is weird, but I don't care. I am a happy nerd in cyberspace, where nobody can see my haircut.

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