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Now I assembled my own computer. I write computer programs. I am responsible for the maintenance of my class’s website, and acting as a consultant to teachers, students, and even neighbors. But just several years ago, I virtually knew nothing about computer science…

One day in my 6th grade, while first trying to use my computer after moving to a new house, I kept getting ‘Invalid password’ as a response. I never had to use a password before and this puzzled me. Actually, my computer experience was limited to game-playing at that time. After trying every password I could think of, I sank in the armchair, helplessly gazing at the screen. Yet there weren’t any clues. Maybe dad knows it, I thought

‘Dad, what is the password?’ ‘Password?’ he responded. He was as expert as I was.

I didn’t give up. I thought naively that because the password inside the metal box, I could open and see. With a screwdriver, I opened the box, staring at the tangle of lines and cards inside. The complex structure of the computer only stimulated my curiosity. I unplugged every card, socket and slot looking for the hidden password until I heard…

‘Bo! What on earth are you doing!’ my mother screamed. ‘Don’t worry about me, Mom. I can handle this. Another Bill Gates is rising up!’ ‘I am not worrying about you, but the computer!’ cried my mother. ‘Put it up, now!’

I was then lost in the room full of cards, lines, and boxes. Still, I couldn’t find the password. I began to reassemble the machine silently by my half memory and half imagination. However, my confidence didn’t live long — I pressed the power button. I heard an ominous noise, saw a puff of smoke, and caught the smell of burnt plastic…

Some voices in my mind told me ‘the ignorant have no fear’. That is a Chinese proverb ridiculing the ignorant.
But I was indeed fear to be ignorant.

I became obsessed with the principles behind all the parts of computer. I absorbed like a sponge. I bought about a case of books and magazines on computers, and spent almost all my leisure time reading them. I finally understood why I had fried my computer - I had plugged in the power line on the main board the wrong way. I spent a lot of time trying to fix the broken computer. Finally, I chanced plugging it in again, feeling my heart beating very fast. The screen popped up! I can’t describe how excited I was to see that what I had studied in theory was working in practice.

Today I still use that computer for word-processing. Little did I expect when I picked up that screwdriver in the fifth grade that, several years later, computer science would become one of my major interests and the source of much satisfaction.

The smoking computer of 1998 started me on the road to a valuable expertise. I often wonder if I would have been stimulated to learn so much about computers if I had never childishly searched for it in the guts of the machine.