the mysterious and magical world of technology

the mysterious and magical world of technology.

03-03-2021EFE

When was the last time you woke, with golden sunlight streaming through the sparkling window; the sound of gentle birdsong reaching your ears; the day dancing brightly ahead delivering the promise of a wonderful morning, only to find, even before your feet hit the furry slippers that things dramatically changed? It doesn’t happen that often, but life has a funny way of throwing challenges at you when you least expect them - like when you first wake up - hijacking your blissfully anticipated day with a completely different agenda.

It could be the cat, suddenly and randomly throwing up a massive furball on the freshly laundered duvet. A toilet which has inexplicably sprung an overnight leak. Finding a sheep, or goats in the garden. The complete lack of an internet signal. Or the impatient hammering on a front door as a delivery arrives two days early at the crack of dawn, and you panic to struggle into the hazmat suit, find the gloves and re-fill the bleach spray.

These sudden and unexpected tsunamis which completely flood and re-route our plans, have made me realise how little control we have over the flow of karma in the passage of our daily lives. There are less spiritual amenities, yet just as vital, which we have grown to completely rely on, as we journey from moment to moment.

Simple embellishments which we totally take for granted. i.e. clean water from a tap; electricity supply at the flick of a switch; a satellite phone signal; a continual supply of food at the supermarkets; an emergency health service there to assist and save; an irreplaceable Google to whom we look for all the answers!

With me, my nemesis is usually something surrounding the mysterious and magical world of technology. In this increasingly digitalised world, we don’t fully appreciate our frail armour of dependency until the shell is fractured or taken away, revealing our true vulnerability lurking beneath the surface.

I grew up in a world where a ‘tweet’ was the noise made by a canary. ‘Tic Tok’ involved a clock. The only people with ‘cell numbers’ were hardened criminals! And a ‘poke’ was something you looked forward to on a Friday night.

The other day, I woke bright as a button, only to discover that my printer would no longer print anything sent from my laptop or i-phone. No big deal, you might think. But I was scheduled to print out the final draft of a manuscript emailed to me overnight from a publisher in New York. The plan was to spend a leisurely morning with a coffee or two while I ran through a few, elementary edits.

In these dreadful days of job losses and global employment uncertainty, I was also looking forward to telling myself how grateful and lucky I am to be able to work this way from home, doing what I love most in relative tranquility, here on the beautiful island of Mallorca. Then reality kicked in as technology kicked out, when I tried to print out the said document. We had been having recent problems concerning our internet provider, with the strength of signal bobbing up and down like a duck in a dirty puddle. And that’s another thing!

The internet is a brilliant innovation when it works, but extremely stressful when it crashes, especially during these trying days when we rely on it for almost everything, including receiving and sending important work files, internet banking, on-line supermarket shopping, or simply trying to watch a much awaited drama episode on TV. But let’s get back to the printer issue.

Before Covid compromised the safety of inviting complete strangers into the home, such a dilemma would have simply involved an emergency call-out, where a local IT unit would despatch a swarthy 14 year old in flip-flops who, with inherent and instinctive juvenile dexterity, would flash his fingers across all the right keys and re-boot the digital dilemma in under 20 seconds before disappearing back to base on his moped.

I think my worse case surprise scenario occurred pre Covid

These days, without the luxury of such triumphant call outs, we currently have to sort these stress inducing problems ourselves. Thankfully, the answers can usually be found on-line, and Other Half is the Miss Marple of the Miracle Interweb! It transpired that a recent decision to upgrade our wireless ‘router’ had automatically changed various codes, facilitating the need for all connected wire-less devices to be re-configured, including laptops, tablets, phones and the infamous de-funked printer!

Without realising, we take all these every day miracles of technology completely for granted. We use digital devices day in, day out, 24/7 yet a majority of users have no idea how they actually work. But luckily, there are those that do, even though their physicality is removed once they have posted their knowledge and solutions to our problems on the web. And that’s all that matters. Knowing which Mr Fixit to ask, or where to go in an emergency.

Of course, if I was nine years old, then I would probably have known that all current printing devices and models do the job themselves, recognising code changes and bringing the remedial option to your attention, while invariably providing the solution.

Said printer however, has seven years under its Jurassic belt so is almost a fossil by today’s standards. The printer’s manual didn’t cover automatic re-coding of a wire-less/wi-fi device. And its suggestion to print off a current and updated pdf was paradoxical as of course nothing could be printed. I wondered why the copywriters hadn’t thought of that?

An old friend once told me, ‘If you can afford to have something fixed, then don’t stress about it for a second, just pay a man who can’; meaning - if you’re useless and can’t fix it yourself, just pay a child or someone else to do it for you! That advice really does make a lot of sense as we invariably get stressed out over things (particularly digital) of which some of us simple have no understanding.

Of course, pre Covid I have happily relied on nerdy friends who persuaded me they were more nerdy than they really were, and went on to make ‘accidental meddling changes’ while messing about with my computer, resulting in other ‘changes’ which they couldn’t resolve. Quick, unnecessary fiddling can take minutes to implement yet days to restore.

So be warned! When normality to the world is restored, I will breathe a huge sigh of relief knowing that professional help is once again out there on call for all domestic emergencies.
As grateful as I was for an on-line solution, posted by ‘experts’, it was now 5.30 in the afternoon, and although the printer was finally up and running, my casual, relaxed day had concluded with a definitely different detour.

Luckily I met the deadline with New York as they are six hours behind, but it wasn’t with the same relaxed ease I had first planned when my eyes first flicked open to greet the sun-kissed day.

Yet I think my worse case surprise scenario occurred pre Covid when a laptop suddenly died on me without any warning whatsoever. We always intend to save everything and back up files daily, but more often than not we just don’t, do we? And when a laptop literally blows up, believe me, the panic sets in ‘big time’.

Luckily, we will always have those thriving eleven year old geniuses out there who you can employ to transfer everything from the hard drive of a dead computer to the living heart of a new one. I wish I had that knowledge. Sadly, with a lifetime of other experiences behind me, I don’t.

Yet I always try to make sure that wherever I am, I know someone who does! So thank you Mr Fixits, both young and old, for simply being out there to come to our rescue. Without you we are totally numb!

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