Technology. Can't live without it, can't hurl it out the window. Amiright?
If your life has been anything like mine recently, the window hurling option may be starting to seem attractive. (Don't do it! Gravity is not your friend!).
What is going on?
I don't know if it's sunspots, or a flux in the space-time continuum, but the tech in my life has been showing a lot of sass lately, and it hasn't been pretty. Can you relate?
Tech problems can be divided into three categories, which I call:
I've experienced all three recently, and thought you might get a kick out of hearing about them.
High Tech: about a week ago, it became clear that something was up with my computer. Professional help was called, and it seemed my computer had a temperature. It was running too hot and that was causing it to shut off at random, and increasingly frequent, times.
New fans were ordered from the Computer Parts Place, along with some thermal cooling grease. But when the computer was taken apart to put the fans in, it became clear that the problem was more serious. The motherboard was not controlling the fan, and was starting to fry/melt/burn up. Whoops. No can do.
It was time to transplant my computer's brain (hard drives) into a new body (superfast gaming laptop with enough oomph to handle the high level of stress I put on a computer.) This was done. Problem solved. Right? Wrong.
Low Tech: Everything seemed to be working fine. The new computer was just a different shell to hold what was basically the same computer I'd had before. But then, I tried to do what I normally do in the course of my educational and professional activities. I tried to talk to people via Zoom. Ooops.
The first thing that happened was that my Zoom virtual background (that makes it look like I'm in some exotic location, or flying around on my (virtual) private jet...was there.. but I was not. There was no image of me, even though I was sitting right in front of my webcam. (That is a bit alarming!). But, ok, it's possible to have a conference on Zoom without turning on your webcam. However, that's when low tech problem #2 became apparent: the audio was barely there and kept cutting out.
It's hard to have a video conference when people can neither see you NOR hear you! That was solved by me calling in to the conference using my phone, for the audio. I was still able to do screen-sharing on my computer, which was great.
This is why I always emphasize the importance of having more than one way to connect online....which I refer to in my book as "redundant systems". If one way doesn't work, at least you can try another.
After that call was over, I called my Trusty Computer Professional Store and they helped me figure out how to turn the webcam on, on this computer. (You have to clap three times and say 🧚"Dibbity dobbity doo" 🧚... well not quite. But almost).
So now the camera was on.. but... I looked like an impressionist painting! And not in a good way. I looked blurry and abstract and fuzzy. It was not a good look. I looked in the mirror to be sure I didn't ACTUALLY look that way. Nope (thank goodness). What was up with the camera on this new computer?
What the tech??? I took the computer back to the Computer Repair Place, which is not close to my home, at all. The audio problem was resolved by adjusting a sound setting to boost the microphone. Phew! And then...this is where it starts to get really funny. It turns out that there was a thin, almost invisible, protective plastic film over the camera lens. Three people with excellent vision had been staring at that lens for at least half an hour (and touching it, trying to clean it, etc) without realizing that plastic film was there. Once we figured it out and removed it, I started looking like a sharp, clear modern realist painting rather than a blurry impressionist one. And we all had a good laugh.
So, are we done yet? Nope. Wait. There's more. Now that I'm home trying to write a blog post for you.... the Windows search function won't work. I try to search my images to upload one for this blog post, and nothing happens. Which leaves me scrolling through every file on my computer to find a single picture to add. (You may have noticed that I've switched to emojis instead. There's a redundant system for you! 😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱😱)
I get my emojis from Emojipedia.org. It's fast, fun, and searchable. Check it out.
The folks at the Computer Repair Shop tell me that the last two weeks have been a time of mass tech chaos. How has this time been for you?
We rely so much on our tech tools for work, to stay connected to friends and colleagues, and really for everything these days. When our tools don't work, it can be anything from mildly annoying to downright dangerous (depending on whether we're trying to chat with a friend or run a complex process with many interlocking systems and parts).
When simple things like showing up on my webcam or being heard in a Zoom meeting, didn't work for me today, I realized that we should not take the amazing gifts of technology for granted. Technology helps us learn and get smarter, helps us stay connected, and helps us make money. (It helps us SPEND money too, but that's a conversation for another day).
How are your tech tools holding up? What do they enable you to do, that you couldn't do without them? Do you have redundant systems in place so you can bounce back from unexpected tech glitches (whether they are high tech, low tech, or "what the tech" glitches?)
Let's talk tech. Jot me a note at Rebecca@learnandgetsmarter.com. What have the past few weeks been like for you?