The Unfortunate Reality of Ants in Computers

The Unfortunate Reality of Ants in Computers

If you are one of the discerning readers who happens to stumble upon this article, it is safe to assume that you are already well-acquainted with Terry Pratchett’s beloved Discworld series. However, for those who might have mistakenly found themselves here, allow me to emphasize the importance of engaging with this spectacular fictional universe. Pratchett’s Discworld is a slightly metafictional adult fantasy series that operates in parallel with our own existence, with occasional spillages between the two. Throughout the series, Pratchett cleverly incorporates elements of Hollywood, shopping centers, and even rock and roll, often treating them as magical parasites in the wrong place and time. These imaginative references grow in significance as the series progresses, intertwining with the Discworld’s unique scientific principles and their relation to our own world.

Among the many intriguing concepts in the Discworld series, one that undoubtedly captures the reader’s imagination is Hex. Located within the wizard university, Hex is an extraordinary creation developed by the magical equivalent of IT enthusiasts. Initially, Hex consists of blown glass tubes filled with ants, demonstrating a clever allusion to the early punchcard data processing systems. Through the placement of cards with holes in specific locations, the wizards enable the ants to traverse designated tubes, allowing Hex to perform simple calculations.

As the series progresses, Hex evolves alongside the wizardly world, and its character grows richer with each appearance. The enigmatic computer acquires additional references and attributes, each contributing to its uniqueness. Some of these features include a sticker proclaiming “Anthill Inside” and a secure external memory in the form of a neighboring beehive. Curiously, Hex also develops an unexpected bond with a mouse who chooses to build its nest within the computer. Although the presence of the mouse does not affect Hex’s functionality, its removal causes the computer to cease operation. Additionally, when Hex engages in intensive data processing, an hourglass on a spring appears before the user. Perhaps most intriguingly, Hex eventually becomes self-aware, a fact that initially concerns one of the wizards. Nevertheless, he pacifies himself by believing that Hex only perceives itself as self-aware, somehow easing his worries.

Being an ardent fan since Hex’s introduction, I have always held a deep affection for this enigmatic creation. However, to my dismay, it appears that a real-life computer filled with ants is far from a desirable situation.

Recently, I stumbled upon a Reddit post by a user named Thejus_Parol, in which they explained their unfortunate encounter with an ant-infested computer. These ants were not enhancing the computer’s processing power, as I naively imagined with fond memories of Hex. Instead, they were consuming the thermal pads and thermal paste within the machine, leading to overheating issues. Initially, I wanted to dismiss this ordeal as a personal problem; after all, who allows ants to infest their PC? However, it turns out that this is not an isolated incident but rather a recurring problem for some PC owners.

A few years ago, another Reddit user named lazylollipop shared a GIF showcasing their CPU/GPU “infested by ants.” To say the images were unsettling would be an understatement. These particular ants were red fire ants, an invasive species originally from South America and now plaguing various regions in the United States. Not only are they drawn to electrical equipment, but they also have the ability to chew through wire coatings, causing short circuits. Furthermore, when an ant comes into contact with electricity, it releases pheromones that summon help, creating a relentless cycle of ants infiltrating your computer. Eradicating these intruders is no easy task, leaving some individuals feeling hopeless and contemplating drastic measures.

Shifting away from the disheartening reality of ant-infested computers, let us turn our attention to more uplifting Discworld news. Rhianna Pratchett, daughter of the late Terry Pratchett and an esteemed writer in her own right, recently mentioned the potential for new Discworld games. Exploring further adventures within the Discworld universe could be a possibility if game developers approach the project with the right ideas. However, one significant uncertainty looms over the realm of Discworld gaming: determining who currently holds the rights to the iconic 90s adventure games.

While the concept of ants in computers captivated the minds of Discworld enthusiasts through the character of Hex, it is crucial to recognize the unfortunate reality behind this phenomenon. Ant-infested computers are a genuine concern, causing overheating issues and potential damage to electrical systems. Nevertheless, let us not lose hope as we celebrate the possibilities of new Discworld gaming experiences, ensuring that Pratchett’s legacy lives on in the digital landscape.


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