The Picture of

A CIDU from Snickers, who says the storyline here doesn’t line up at all well with the original tale. Also sent by zbicyclist, who expands on the issue of fit with the story thus: “Why is there another laptop appearing in panel 6? Dorian Gray doesn’t age; only his portrait does. So if the laptop named Dorian Gray disintegrates, isn’t that the opposite?”


  1. The company laptop encounters all the problems and virus exposure and stuff so that her personal one doesn’t have to. It is the laptop of Dorian Gray.

    A bit labored, though, for as noted it should be named Portrait of Dorian Gray.

  2. Additionally, company owned computers are kept in service well past their “best used by” dates and thus can’t run updated programs as fast.

  3. Blinky: Indeed. Percussive maintenance is recommended as appropriate. Hint: the maintenance need not be applied until after the replacement is received and verified.

  4. Hm, maybe the laptop gets old and withers away, but the company always provides a fresh one in time to continue? That would be the new model in the penultimate panel. But this doesn’t fit the story of Dorian Grays picture. Maybe if you squint a lot and look the other way. It would be more like the see-saw of Dorian Gray.

    Also, if the company provides a new laptop in time to replace the old, the old one would never reach the stage of metaphorical rotting away. On the other hand, if employees were forced to work with their old one until they are barely workable anymore it couldn’t be compared to the story of Dorian Grays likeness at all, even if you squint a lot.

    In short: I got nothing.

  5. The title panel in this Sunday strip reminds me very strongly of the title card used by Charles Schulz for over two decades (from 20-Nov-66 to 4-Jan-87), which read “Peanuts – Featuring “Good ol’ Charlie Brown”” (in huge hand-lettered capitals). Both Schulz and Holbrook seem to have (had) a need to promote the name of their favorite character and/or to downplay the name of the strip.

    P.S. I never liked that Peanuts title card: as a kid, it seemed to me that we were being cheated out of space that could have been used on another “real” comic panel. Unfortunately, after Schulz switched to a computer font that simply read “Peanuts”, by then both his drawing and writing had significantly deteriorated (his writing did improve somewhat in the late 90’s, but his drawings got even shakier as he got older).

  6. Right. Until I left a company in March, 2021 my corporate laptop was still running Windows 7. This is more than a year after Microsoft ended support — and I was doing statistical research.

  7. When I was still a productive member of society, a computer refresh would take the better part of the day.
    I would try to put if off until it was absolutely required.

  8. Both my and Robert’s desktop’s are still running Win 7. We both have software we like which will not run in Win 10/11 and either no longer exist or we do not like the newer versions. We both also have “virtual WinXP” machines in the computers so some software which will not run after same (such as my Lotus Organizer which I sink with my old Palm Centro and use the latter as a PDA in the house and when we go on trips as I like both better than Android software) .

    We both have Win 10 laptops – which we find to be terrible (and again, at least mine, have virtual Win XP machines in them – but have not been able to get my Organizer to sync using same yet).

    I also still have two Win XP laptops around to play games on.

    Just before the pandemic started when I found out that I could not load the tax software I buy, into Win 7 so I needed a Win 10 computer and Robert was finding that he was having a similar problem with some software he wanted we decided to buy one Win 10 desktop (our prior desktops for some time have been self-built, so just buying an already built computer was a difference for us), put it in between our two desks/computers and share it. We did not do so as the pandemic started and we were staying home,so I ended up doing all the taxes on the two Win 10 laptops for 2019 taxes. But last year we did go out and buy a Win 10 desktop to share – and we both hate the computer. It is used for what needs to be run on it and nothing else. (We each plug in our own keyboard, monitor, and mouse/thumb pad after unplugging from our separate computer to use the Win 10 computer.)

    On the other hand – I have never had speakers, microphone or camera in a computer as did not need. So when I have needed to attend Zoom meetings for my embroidery guild chapter and for our reenactment unit I used the laptop for same or I would have to use Robert’s computer.

  9. The strip on Saturday showed Dethany asking the Computer Bug which of her two laptops (her own or the new company-supplied one) he’d be living in; he picked the company one, because it had more “untested defenses” (shown with a dialog box coming apart next to him). I’m assuming this is another comment on the same thing.

  10. Thanks, jjmcgaffey. One of Holbrook’s strengths, it seems to me, is taking up a motif in multiple places in a storyline. There were even more episodes recently about how people (or cyberspace entities!) relate to “the company laptop”.

  11. I think it says something fundamental about the human species that we let ourselves be sold a defective product, and then allow ourselves to be sold an upgrade, which not only fails to solve the original problem, but adds new problems, and severely disrupts productivity in the process, often permanently — and benefits to productivity being the original reason most of this software was sold to us in the first place (there are two kinds of software: that which allows you to do something which you could never do before, and for which you would pay almost any price, and software which allows you to do something you had been able to do perfectly well before, only now it’s supposedly easier and cheaper (type a letter, for example); oddly enough, the first category of software gets cheaper and cheaper to the point of insignificance, that we forget just how revolutionary it was, while the second category is the one I’m talking about here). This in the “rational” realm of business, where we supposedly act as homo economicus and do cost benefit analyses. And sadly, it is not just in the realm of commercial software, either: I just noticed that my adblocker of choice, uBlock Origin, in an “upgrade” swapped the two lines of functions it has; one was along the bottom, the other was along the top — now they are reversed. In the name of all that is holy, WHY?? Now I when I want to zap away an annoying element of a page (often a self playing video I don’t want to hear, and don’t want wasting bandwidth), I now go to the wrong place with my mouse, till I remember what they did, am annoyed, and am that much more inefficient, all for NO GOOD REASON AT ALL!

    (Yes, a very minor example, but emblematic of the mindset…)
    (Also take a moment to think that this is not software which allows me to solve a three body problem in real time, this is software that removes advertising that I don’t want in the first place from a page I am reading — a totally invented problem we never needed to have in the first place!)

  12. lark: Indeed. I’ve been in the software business for 43 years, and have watched in horror as it has devolved into what is, largely, carp <=figure out the spelling I mean. I’ve had two products recently where I decided to pony up for an upgrade and wound up installing the older version (in one case about a decade old) because the newer version is both harder to use and flat-out less functional. This is not progress.

    And the number of products that we pay money for to keep stuff from happening that we didn’t ask for in the first place is beyond amazing!

  13. I use iTunes on my desktop to manage many things on my iPad. When I got an upgrade, I found that they had removed being able to add files and such to third-party apps. You were supposed to now do that through the cloud. No. I managed to find a site that had old versions of iTunes (no way Apple would provide them) and reinstalled that. Too bad, as they had improved managing iBooks and such.

  14. Brian, did you ever have occasion to try Apple Configurator? I used it in a context where we would be setting up apps and so on a classroom cart of iPads. It could do slightly advanced things, in conjunction with iTunes.

  15. I sometimes wistfully imagine a world where it is a criminal offence for companies to release any new features until every known existing bug has been fixed, and then for every new feature, or feature removal (MS Office tear-off menus, you know who you are) to undergo mass “peer review” by a significant and representative number of users and to require a 2/3 majority in approval of them for them to be released.

  16. And as the shutdown of 3G has been announced – they did not mention that one version of 4G is also being discontinued – guess who has that version? So poor Robert has been searching for a new Android phone for me which is small enough for me (has to fit sideways in the front pocket of my jeans as that is the only place I have figured out to carry it – as I did with my Blackberry before it, my Palm Centro before that and the assorted flip and candy bar phones before that) while also being cheap enough that I will spend the money for it. He thinks he has found one – it only 1/2 inch longer than my current phone (but that is without a case and the size of mine is with a case, so I know it will end up being too big for my pocket.

    Then we have to hope that all the software I have (and there is not much of it – just it is odd apps and I DO NOT like change) will still exist to be loaded into the phone. He does like the idea though, as now he can load the Square app in my phone again as a backup when we do rare craft sales shows we do. At some point their app could no longer be loaded in my phone.

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