Monday, March 16, 2009

Tech - Unintended Consequences

Lots of tech changes for me, family visits, and activities with friends partially account for the lapse in new posts here. I have a new laptop computer. A wireless setup I’ve long desired is now operative and I’ve changed Internet Service Providers. Hopefully, Internet connectivity problems that have plagued this blog for many months have ceased or, at least, won’t occur as they have in the past. I’ve also changed my phone package but will keep my land line and can now make free local toll calls and long distance calls anywhere in the fifty U.S. States and Canada. My cell phone continues to allow me free calls with other same provider subscribers.

I elected to finally purchase a new computer when family members began cautioning me that my older desktop computer was giving signals it might crash at any time. So I, finally, hastily copied my hard drive for back up. Incidentally, sometimes I, too, have noted symptoms that could be interpreted that I was crashing. If anyone has any suggestions about how I might back up my bodies hard drive, please let me know. Actually, my hard drive has gone a little soft, but I’m doing the best I can. I’m already taking vitamins, but think I read recently that’s a waste of time and money.

On a more important note, when my son and his wife visited from out of state, they delivered my new laptop computer I had earlier arranged to be sent to him for special programming. One feature I now have that I didn’t have previously allows me to give him control of my computer. This should simplify trouble shooting and other assistance I might need in the future. Once he arrived, he made certain I have a secure wireless system here at home. He also cleaned/scrubbed the hard drive on my old desktop (or however you describe that sort of refurbishing.) The old desktop functions more efficiently, so I’ll be able to continue using it on a limited basis in addition to my laptop. I plan to download a free Word-like program there later since I have Word on the laptop.

I didn’t work while family members were here, so when they made an overnight San Diego trip, I went along part way and visited friends of mine, excitedly taking my laptop. While there I received a beginning crash course in Excel courtesy of the husband. Later, the wife and I excitedly perched side by side on the sofa with our laptops, joking that this must be how modern day friends interact. I realize now that activity is out of date, as we should be twittering on our cell phones. Also, I keep getting invites to Facebook and other social networks, but can hardly keep up writing my blog so haven’t accepted any.

The technological togetherness of my friends and I began a night the three of us will long remember. A simple act of connecting my laptop to their wireless network somehow went awry. Suddenly, their laptop and desktop computers had relinquished control of their system to my laptop. For some reason my friends weren’t too happy about this! Since one of them had engineered this unintentional event, my conscience was clear and I was guilt-free.

In addition to my laptop having control of their computers personal and other information, I was now the sole operator of their large screen HDTV’s new spectacular Apple audio and video system. Colorful detailed family photos and travel scenes sailing across the screen had mesmerized us only moments earlier as we anticipated more viewing delights. We hadn’t even gotten around to exploring all the other features including some from the Internet that were available through their new system

When their efforts to undo this inadvertent technological power transfer were unsuccessful I was held hostage as they threatened I could not leave their premises with my laptop. I determined to keep my cell phone secreted in the event I might need to SOS my son to come rescue me. I didn’t think they would resort to violence, but one never knows in hostage situations. Finally we had to resort to phoning their tech savvy son who had assisted their initial setting up of the system they operated with their computers and one television remote. I thought about how much we require others with whom to trouble shoot in order to use all our new electronic gadgets and technology.

Despite their sons long distance efforts, ultimately, we resorted to calling help, which you may not be surprised to hear connected us to India. Indian technical workers finally determined they could resolve our problem. Unfortunately, my friends free service plan expired a few days earlier. I think it seems often the case that service, sooner or later, is usually needed but only after such contracts expire. The tech rep said, not unexpectedly, that now service charges would apply to reverse this convoluted mix of user names, passwords and secret codes to resolve our dilemma.

After brief deliberation, my friends selected another short term service contract. The tech experts successfully provided the instructions restoring appropriate computer control to each of us and putting the television system operation again under my friends control only. My laptop was now impotent and unable to control their operations, but could access their wireless Internet system which is all we wanted in the first place. Our friendship was saved. Violence was avoided.

We were exhausted, noted the hour was after midnight and commiserated with each other that this was not how we had planned to spend our evening. Furthermore, we had expected to retire much earlier in the evening to be well rested for the next days schedule when they had plans and I would be returning home -- “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men Gang aft agley…” (Robert Burns.)

Throughout those hours some waiting time between transfers to various technical consultants allowed small talk with the tech service guru. In one instance my friends mentioned the Indian home city of one of their immediate family members relatives. I was reminded of what a small world we’ve come to inhabit in my lifetime; how our families and friends encompass an interesting variety of nationalities, and social groups.

I thought about how my friends family is an absolutely wonderful fascinating blend of several varied cultures, a fact incidental to the caring and affection all feel toward one another. How lucky I am to have such friends, to know their family, I realize. I also recalled when some years earlier my friends told me of unexpectedly being subjected to covert exclusionary discrimination following a workplace social situation when they casually mentioned one of them was of minority heritage. I thought again, that still today, we human beings inhabiting this world still have much to learn with a need for acceptance and tolerance toward all.

On a less serious note, I’ve since spent another weekend with them. This time we celebrated the wife’s earlier in the week birthday. The event reminded her that she had moved slightly past that landmark classic retirement age. I gained a new experience as she shared her new birthday gift. In fact, they were merciless challenging someone older in age, such as me, to battle my way through competitive Wii Sports with them. We tackled only bowling and a bit of baseball – I kept striking out, but was a wicked pitcher. Beginners luck did apply, much as in my real life sports experience. I’m glad to report I emerged from the games with my pride intact and my physical being uninjured.


  1. Congratulations on your new "toy"! I've been trying to save for a laptop to no avail so I envy you.

    I'm glad the tech problems were solved without too much hassle. They are a pain and a threat to one's blood pressure.

    Glad you are well and keeping busy. I was starting to worry about your absence but know that you have a lot on your plate.

  2. Sorry about all the troubles, but congrats on the new laptop. I'm afraid if I had one, I'd never be off the web!

    Facebook can be fun, you should try it.

  3. I was wondering what you were up to Joared...and it was a lot. Congrats on your new laptop. It's always exciting getting a new computer; and a laptop is very cool. It sounds like you are all set now. Looks like you've covered everything.

    Your story about connecting at your friend's house is very funny, but I'm sure it was frustrating to go through at the time. I totally understand what you mean. When all of my kids come in town and set up all of their laptops here I get nervous that we will have similar issues with passwords, etc; but so far we have been lucky. I tend to panic about everything when it comes to computers.

  4. Isn't it wonderful how technology has simplified our lives??! Sounds like all these matters were kind of fun, though, really.
    My latest toy is the Kindle II. It is not complicated at all to use, for a wonder. The other toy I love is my I-Pod Shuffle. It's particularly nice when I have boring things to do, like doing the wash or cleaning the kitchen.
    And Skype is great. Today we enjoyed a long visit with our cousins in Mexico.
    My techie is my husband, and he's always available in his home office next door to my home office. He's on call all over the neighborhood, too, for those sudden computer malfunctions. He's very nice and always willing to help out.

  5. I have a couple hand-me-down laptops. The first one struck out when I took it on our recent trip to Fla. and it malfunctioned. I don't want to take the time to try fixing, so next I'll try the other one. Technology's great when it works.

  6. I shudder at the thought that my ancient desktop computers will collapse (I have one in NJ and one in Florida) and that I will need to familiarize myself with new machines. Moreover, I am intimidated by the idea of shifting files to a new computer. I pray that my 13-year old grandson, my primary computer consultant, is nearby and available when the time comes. Good luck on your new equipment. As a longtime Luddite, I'm still struggling to master my cell phone. As for a digital camera, forget about it!

  7. It sometimes seems that our technical equipment can suddenly decide to rise up against us and take over our lives just to have fun and tweak us into submission to show us who's boss.

    Glad it turned out fine for you.

  8. Joared--All worked out well, especially since we didn't have to pay ransom to free you! As I am my own tech support, it is well that it happened to you and your friends rather than to me! Congratulations on your new toy. Do remember to come up for air and food, on occasion.
    Cop Car