Comedy presented in an educational framework. Or vice-versa.
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Al Bundy checked his watch and cursed as he hurried through the front door of the high school. It was the first session of his computer course, and he was late. He rushed down the hallway carrying his laptop, perspiration sliding down his neck. He was only a couple of minutes late, but Principal McDougal had been keeping a close eye on him. The old battleaxe was trying to build a case that he should be terminated for incompetence. What is wrong with her anyway? This is the school system, not some big corporation that had to make money. She needed to get a life and leave him alone.
He slipped into the classroom, which was filled with students. They all looked enthusiastic and ready to learn.
I hate enthusiasm.
He didn't really want to teach night school classes for adults, but he needed the money. Damn credit cards made it too easy to buy stuff. And his wife Peg had lost her job at the department store because of that stupid fight with a customer. So what the guy was seventy-five, he had landed a few good shots on Peg. She was only defending herself when she threw him into the TV's. The display holding all the sets had collapsed, smashing everything. They fired her on the spot, but at least the store had dropped all the charges. That's Peg's story, anyway.
"Okay class, let's get started," Al said. "My name is Al Bundy and I'm a teacher at this school. This short course is called Protecting your PC. For those of you who haven't figured it out, I'm going to teach you a few basic measures you should do to keep your computer safe."
"Are you a computer science teacher?" one of the women asked.
Al straightened up. "Physical Education."
The class tittered. "But I've had plenty of experience with computers," Al added.
A big middle-aged guy shouted out, "Besides porn?"
The students roared, which really got under Al's skin. He would have thrown the guy out of the class, but the bastard looked like he could kick Al's butt. Then a dopey twenty-something guy in the front row started waving his hand impatiently.
Al sighed. "What do you want? First state your name, then ask your question."
"My name is Tony Balboa." He picked a piece of paper off his desk and held it up for Al to read. "This here schedule says this is the Introduction to Sex Education class. Taught by Jessica Mathews. You're not her, so what the hell is going on?"
Al walked up to Balboa and snatched the calendar out of his hand. Tony had drawn a circle around a description of the sex education class. Al spotted the problem immediately. What a freaking idiot!
"The sex education class was last week. This is last week's calendar."
The idiot scratched his thick black hair. "Let me see."
Al handed the calendar back to Balboa. Tony studied it and then said, "Shit!"
Al smiled at the young idiot's confusion. "Well, Mr. Balboa, I suppose you want to leave now. Don't let us waste your valuable time."
Balboa scratched his head again, staring at Al through puzzled eyes. "So this class is about computer shit?"
"Fraid so. Just dumb ol' computer stuff."
Balboa nodded his head, as if he had decided something. "I'm going to stay in this class. My nephew has a computer, but I don't know how to use it. I need to learn this computer shit."
Al was tempted to try to change his mind, then sighed and mumbled, "What the hell." It didn't matter. Balboa would stay for this class, realize he was in over his head and never show up again.
"Okay," Al said to the class. "Now let's really get started. When you use the Internet, you run the danger of unauthorized software getting into your computer. These undesirable programs could really foul up your PC. They might trash your system, steal information from your files, take control of your PC or just do things to annoy you. These nasty programs are called viruses, worms and Trojans." He looked over the class, hoping there might be some intelligence out there. "Can anyone tell me what these terms mean?"
"Let me answer," Balboa shouted. "I know what a Trojan is."
"No, Balboa, not that kind of Trojan. We're talking about software."
"Yeah, soft wear, that's what I use."
"Balboa, I want you to shut up and listen for the rest of the class. There's an outside chance you might learn something."
"Thank you, professor."
Al leaned back against the front desk. He believed in heavy class participation, not because it was a superior learning technique, but because it allowed him to offload the work to students. If Balboa would shut up, he could get the smart kids to teach most of the class.
A geeky looking kid in the front row raised his hand. When Al nodded, he said, "I'm Wayne B. Click. I design relational databases for ISpy Consulting."
"Not that I want to throw a wet blanket on your party, but why are you taking this class? This is an introductory course, designed for people who don't know squat about computers."
"I understand, Professor Bundy, but my analyst said I had to get out and meet people." He shrugged. "Maybe have sex with some women, too."
"I'm not really interested in your situation, Click. Just explain a computer virus."
"Well, a computer virus is a computer program that can copy itself and infect a computer without permission or knowledge of the user. A virus can only spread from one computer to another when its host software is taken to the uninfected computer, for instance by a user sending mail over the Internet, or by carrying it on a removable medium such as a floppy disk, CD, or USB drive. A computer worm is different. A worm can spread itself to other computers without needing to be transferred as part of a host. A Trojan Horse, like the Greek legend, is a program that looks like another, harmless program. A user is fooled into using it; then it does something nasty."
Click shrugged. "Is that okay, Professor Bundy, or should —."
"Shut up, Click," Al interrupted. "I mean, you did great. Now does anyone have a question?"
A leggy blond in the back row raised her hand, pulling a very short skirt to the top of her thighs. Al moved a couple of strides to his right, trying to get just the right angle to improve the view up her skirt.
If she were only in the front row, but no, I have to get losers like Balboa and Click up here.
"The young legs … lady in the back," Al said.
"My name is Sharon Pebbles, Bindy."
"Bundy, my dear, but you can call me Al."
Sharon shifted in her seat, and to Al's delight, her skirt did the impossible by moving higher. She paused a second, and slowly crossed her gorgeous legs. He'd never seen so much skin in a classroom. Al couldn't speak; for a moment he feared a stroke.
"Bindy, I'm not really interested in all these technical terms. Can't you just tell us what to do to protect our computer." She stood up, ending Al's dreamy view. "Otherwise, I might as well leave right now."
"Please sit down," Al squeaked. After clearing his throat, he said, "We are just getting to that part of the class."
Since Sharon continued to stand, an impatient look spreading over her pretty face, Al decided he had to act fast or this luscious idiot might actually leave. He couldn't risk calling one of these idiot students; he would have to do the work himself.
"The most important step to protect your computer is to take regular backups. At least once a month, make a copy of all your key data files. Anything that you can't afford to lose, back it up and store it offline." He was relieved when Sharon took her seat, restoring his wonderful view. "I backup my files weekly, just to be extra safe. In addition, some really important files — for example my financial information — I back up every day when I finish working with them."
"I got one," Balboa shouted. "I know what you should do."
Why me, Lord?
"Okay, Balboa, what do ya got?"
"It's so simple, you're gonna love it!"
It would have to be simple.
"You planning to tell us anytime soon," Al said. "Class will be over in a few minutes."
"Here it is," Balboa said. "Turn off your PC overnight. If it's off, nobody can stick a Trojan in it."
Al was prepared to laugh, but the damn thing made sense. He himself had a bad habit of leaving his computer on overnight, where it was vulnerable.
"Good suggestion, Balboa. Turn it off overnight or at any time it's not in use for several hours. A computer can't be infected while it's off."
Al looked over the class. "Anyone else with an idea how to keep your PC protected?"
"Never give up confidential information to a stranger," the big middle-aged guy said. He must be six-one and pushing two-fifty, with a beefy face to match. "Watch out for emails, text messaging, chat rooms, everything. You fool around with that freakin' stuff and they'll pick you clean." He looked around and smiled. "Only give confidential information to websites you trust. This is friendly advice, because youse are my classmates."
"Sir, your name, please," Al said.
"Didn't I see you in the news last week?"
"You didn't see nuthin."
Soprano was staring at him, and he didn't look pleased. Time to wrap this up.
"Well, class, that's enough for today. Next week we will get into the specifics of anti-virus software." He moved over again, ready for one last look at Sharon. "See you next week, same time, same place."
Just as Sharon uncrossed her legs, Balboa stepped in front of him, blocking his view. "Great class, Professor Bundy. See you next week."
Al collapsed against the side of the desk. Maybe I could have the class moved to another building. The students filtered out, leaving him alone in the classroom. Or another night. He packed up his laptop and walked toward the door. Or another country.