Grenalien’s vacation report part 2: Earth computers

By Grenalien, class 8B

A cartoon picture of a funny-looking green alien with one big eye.

The humans have decently fast and powerful computers, which are based on binary logic gates which are composed of silicon transistors.

I found Earth computers very frustrating and hard to use. At first I thought this was just because the devices are designed for humans, not for an alien like me. However based on my conversations with some really nice Earthlings that I met, the terrible interface design is actually on purpose. It turns out that humans like to use their computers for just one task. If they want to do a something else, they get a different computer. To make sure there is just one computer per task, they design interfaces to make it as difficult as possible to do anything other than the particular task that was assigned to that particular device.

Here are some examples of Earth computation devices:

“Ipod”: a computer that can only be used to play music, and will only play certain music files.


“Kindle”: a computer that can only be used to display certain document files.


“Laptop”: this is the closest thing I have found to a general purpose computing device. It can be used for a variety of tasks. Information is displayed on the “screen” (the flat, shiny part). Humans input data by pressing on the keys of the keyboard. Each key is marked with a different symbol.


“Smartphone”: a computer that is mainly used for making voice calls. Atmospheric vibrations are recorded, encoded, and transmitted to other Earth locations via EM beams in roughly the range 700-2000 MHz. Smartphones can also be used to display and edit documents, but this use is limited because the screen resolution is too low to display much information, and keyboard is too small for human hands.


“Tablet”: a human I met showed this to me and I asked her to explain what it does, but I didn’t understand her explanation at all. To use it she rubbed a plastic stick across the screen.


There are many aspects of human computation technology that I do not yet understand. Hopefully when I have spent more time with the humans I will have more insights into their technology and culture, and then I will send another report.

Image credits

Smartphone by Zorro
Laptop by Metalmarious
Kindle Touch by Mohsinhijazee
Apple Ipod Green by Lobizome
Tablet PC by

All images are in the Public Domain.