Techno-Gremlin - Jan Edwards

Being connected to all things digital is such an integral part of our world that we barely notice it anymore. Be it computers, phones or any other method we merrily log onto this or that and take it for granted that the entire world will be there at the touch of a screen.
I am not an IT illiterate but neither am I any kind of expert so the fixing these things often boils down to trial and error. Generally I flounder about trying this and that until it works again with little idea of how I reached a solution. Added to all of that is – as those who know me will attest - my unfortunate effect on anything electrical. Specifically anything that contains batteries but on occasion things of  more general technology.
Every laptop I have ever owned has required at least one new battery whilst in my clutches and I can’t begin to count the watches that have died on my wrist. Though even I was surprised when, on a longish car trip, stopped the watch of a friend sitting next to me! It restarted a few minutes after we got out at our destination and she was more than an arm length away from me. Mobile phones die when carried on my person for more than an hour or two and my current android phone has refused to make internet connections in all the time I have owned it (phone and txt use only). This has resulted in my relying heavily on my admittedly ancient desk top computer as my main access point to that all-important digital world.
Imagine my chagrin when that lifeline began to drop in and out of connection at random moments. Now I can accept that something is simply broken. It’s a nuisance but nothing lasts for ever. But this half working and half not without apparent cause was driving me crazy.
Annoyingly things would work in the evenings and not during the daytime when I needed to be online to contact various people. Was it something outside of the house affecting service? Plainly not, or we’d have no broadband at all.
I have spent three days trying to keep the connection live long enough to get essential work done. But time and again it would be ten minutes access, and down it would go for five or six hours... and I was getting close to despair. The idea of having to go and shop for a new computer was depressing.
In the course of writing it’s not uncommon for me to come across some point that needs checking. Anything from a place name to a make of car from 1937 to slang terms of the same era. Not being able to find these things in minutes as has become habit was frustrating to say the least. Especially when Peter, my other half, was having no such problems connecting with the same remote broadband device from his study next door, nor were we having any problems with the TV or landline.
Being in the middle of so many time-sensitive projects that were put off ‘until after Christmas’ meant that all of the info on the old machine would need transferring by hand (or should I say data stick). Not to mention the backlog of jobs piling up because I’ve effectively been ‘offline’ for most of the week – and there I was with a list of jobs to be done by today and before! Email replies to various bloggers; events to be listed on Facebook and blogs to post for same; posters to be sent out; story deadlines missed; blogs for Authors Electric...
Technology is always pushed as being the answer to all things and to some extent it is. Without it we would not have the thriving world of indie publishing nor the means to connect with our readerships around the globe. It enables us to go shopping from our armchairs, talk to relatives on another continent and even do something simple like make an appointment with a GP without spending an hour on hold – and we’ve all been there!
Finding the problems persisted this morning I was down to threatening my recalcitrant PC with a one way trip to the tip (you laugh – but the laying of hands and speaking sternly to electrical items has worked for me in the past). At the same time I was once again checking all connections on my PC and re-fixing the antenna, Peter had rebooted the broadband. Voila. Within minutes I had go.
Which of those three things worked I have no idea. Peter is placing blame firmly on my techno-gremlin gifts, and he is quite probably correct. But for now it is working, contact is remade and relief does not begin to cover it... 
Technology is great!  Until it breaks...     


misha said…
Giving you computer etc. a good talking to is a technique I've found works. Goodness only knows why. I suspect some time in the future some IT person will discover the hows and whys.
janedwards said…
its a taking of a deep breath maybe :-)
Umberto Tosi said…
Tech-support answer: "Try unplugging everything, waiting a few minutes,then plug everything back in and press 'restart'." [Tech-support person returns to video game.]

Writers' Circle Workshop answer: "Write a one-page story, or scene about this experience. Then press 'restart'."

French Existentialist response: "Unplug everything and kill yourself. Or not. Then press 'restart'."

My advice: "Rinse and repeat. There's usually a work-around. 'Fails' are intrinsic to electronic devices. It's a feature, not a bug. It keeps us addicted. It's them, not you. Now press 'restart'."

janedwards said…
If in doubt reboot has been my mantra since I had an Amstrad wpc back in the day :-) :-)

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