Sometimes (Often) technology just plain sucks!


Our Poor Tree

Poor Tree! Sacrificed and Maimed on the Altar of Technology

What’s the point of having a blog if you can’t use it to sound off about what really bugs you every now and again?

Today, I read where Apple’s new iPad is being banned on several U.S. university campuses because it is  bringing their networks down. It reminded me that like most things in life, technology is a double-edged sword. In case, you want to jump to its defense, let me just say one word: Toyota! Of course, some of us might like a car where you don’t even have to step on the gas to live life in the fast lane!

My own life recently has had its own share of technical anomalies. The first that comes to mind happened last spring when our satellite signal started cutting out. Being relatively technically savvy, I was able to determine that all connections were solid and all equipment was functional. So, I called in the experts. A technician arrived and pronounced that one side of the tree in our front yard was blocking the signal. Since his diagnosis seemed to fit the facts, I dutifully lopped off the offending branches. Still no signal! Later, since the ‘diagnosis’ was guaranteed, a second technician showed up and claimed I had been instructed to lop off the wrong branches. I was not going to make the same mistake twice so I made the second self-proclaimed expert stay and work with me to determine exactly which branches needed to come down. By the time we were done, almost two thirds of the tree was gone but it turned out that only a couple of the top branches were really blocking the signal!

Don’t fall into the trap of believing that faulty technology is restricted to electronics and hi-tech. Last season, we forked out almost $2,000 for a new secure cover for our pool. A team of two men descended upon us and spent the better part of a day measuring and drilling holes in the concrete deck around the pool.  A few weeks later, the custom-made cover arrived. We didn’t install it right away because we still had a couple of weeks of good weather left. When the time came to winterize the pool, you can imagine our surprise to discover that it just plain doesn’t fit. The problem? Well although our pool is basically rectangular, it has rounded corners. Apparently, someone neglected to tell this to the manufacturer….

I’m sure that many of you are like us and have a wireless router in your home. A nice convenience. I would not want to be without it. However, one computer in the house simply refuses to connect reliably to the network. I have personally spent hours troubleshooting and pulling my hair out. I am always able to restore the connection but hours or days later, the problem simply recurs. The cynic in me wants to believe that the developers of all this high-tech equipment deliberately design it so that products of differing companies are incompatible! 

Facebook and Twitter are both must-have social networking tools and their respective gurus claim that they could and indeed should work together. Once again, I swallowed the bait and followed the instructions to have blog posts automatically echoed through Twitter to Facebook. Three weeks later, I have yet to have a single post work in a timely fashion if at all. Perusing the forums, I soon discovered that there are a plethora of unsolved problems of a similar nature that are routinely swept under the rug.

Just yesterday, I encountered a problem where WordPerfect would not allow me add a simple tab to my document. All I wanted to do was to indent the first word of a paragraph. Not an unreasonable thing to want to do! After all, there is a key on the keyboard for just that purpose. However, Wordperfect decided for some unknown reason, that I did not need a tab. Try as I might, I could not get the confounded program to obey my wishes. I’m sure that there is a simple explanation and fix but for the time being, the software is the winner. I gave up in frustration.

Our army of techno-helpersFinally, let me point to one glaring example of technology running amok. We have a fairly standard home theatre system. To operate it fully, we have an army of remotes. At least two of them purport to be multi-functional. However, no single remote is capable of controlling every piece of equipment. Furthermore, one needs encyclopedic knowledge and the patience of Job to programme the multi-function remotes correctly. As mentioned, I consider myself relatively tecnically adept. Nevertheless, I have not yet taken on the Herculean task of fully programming either of them. As a result, ALL remotes are necessary and you MUST know which does what. Although I make light of the situation with Dorothy, I can really commiserate with her disdain for them!

Now don’t get me wrong here, I am an addicted technophile. However, it is becoming apparent that at some point and sooner rather than later, we have to spend as least as much time and energy to make things work as we do to think them up!