Wednesday 2 September 2020


Hello, dear readers!

Modern life can be tough.

There’s so much to learn. Especially for neanderthal Luddites like myself. A whole new world of possibilities opened up by our growing understanding of our world and the universe it exists in. Technology’s relentless march continues unabated, bringing with it a life which is simpler and easier to navigate. A life in which the vexations of day-to-day living become smoothed as machines take them and computers take the stress out of the decisions we must make. Truly, it is a time beyond compare. A golden age.

Assuming you can get the things to work, of course.

Yes, you’re right. The topic of this week’s offering is, at least in part, technology.

Cross Purposes
To set the scene, the day was Sunday, a day held as holy in some religions, including that of my own darling wife Tina (I do not subscribe to any god, gods or goddesses, and no, I’m not interested in your newsletter). This then was the reason she left her bed, perhaps a little earlier than is her norm, made herself look far more than presentable and went to church.

I say went, but in truth the commute was a short one, as the service was being held via group chat on Zoom and therefore in our front room. It is, at least in our household, a feature of the age of Covid-19. One which I find, if not ideal, then certainly tolerable. I do after all have a laptop, an Xbox, and a pair of headphones which deliver sound to at least one ear. This means I can keep myself busy on Youtube, or shoot some aliens and do so neither hearing hymns nor disturbing sermons. Win-win, right? Well, almost.

On this particular Sunday, fate had seen fit to leave me with a slightly dodgy Xbox which seemed intent on turning itself off despite my repeated indications that I wanted it not to, which I delivered by shouting, swearing and a prolonged bout of name calling. For some reason, all of this seemed to fall upon deaf ears, although I’m 90% sure the machine was just out to spite me.

Not to worry though, I had other avenues I could explore. As I said I have a laptop. On this lovely machine, (which I’m writing on now), I could access the wonders of the internet (get your mind out of the gutter!). I could write. Listen to music. Watch people watch television programmes I’ve already watched (it sounds odd, but it’s strangely entertaining). I could catch up on the latest football rumours. I could entertain myself with pretty much a countless number of other wonderful inanities. With my trusty laptop in front of me, the world was truly my oyster.

You think it broke down, don’t you?… Wrong!

No Charge

Although computer malfunctions are something not completely alien to me and have, at one point, given me the creepin’ heebie-jeebies at the thought of potentially losing several months of book writing (it’s alright, I didn’t) my laptop is still in tip(ish-top(ish) condition. No, the problem was with Tina’s laptop.

This too seemed in fine fettle. The screen was working. The internet was being connect-y. The little paper-clip guy was noticeable by his absence (That’s not a thing anymore? Really?). Yup, all seemed good right up to the point Tina told me in a panicked voice that the charge wasn’t holding.

This was funny because it was plugged in. I immediately jumped out of my chair, into my ‘chair and wheeled myself over. I checked the plug. I checked the connections,. All was good. I even flicked the power switch on and off again for good measure. Nothing! After a few more moments of desperately repeating the same useless steps over and over, the machine turned itself off and church went bye-bye.

Now I’m nothing if not a good husband, (please note this does not rule out me being nothing), and I immediately and without much in the way of demonstrable annoyance offered to sacrifice my own browsing so Tina could get back into the churchy swing of things. This offer was accepted with grace and gratitude, and after a short pause the meeting was back in full swing. For my part, I grabbed my book and tried to block out the gratitudes, platitudes, and what is apparently music while I read. This was partially successful.

The rest of the day seemed to honour the theme which had been established. The Xbox abandoned its fits and starts approach, turning itself off as soon as it was put on, and generally acting like a toddler that’s been told ‘No!’. My own laptop almost decided to come out in sympathy too, although as Tina was on it at the time I’m not ruling out her possessing some mutant power along the lines of a short range burst EMP pulse.

Future Imperfect
Still, as imperfect as these devices can be, they still open up entire worlds of connectivity and entertainment. Without a laptop, I couldn’t have had a three hour slightly drunken chat with my bestie. Without it, I wouldn’t have met strangers who became close friends even before I’d met them. I wouldn’t have gone to their wedding and they wouldn’t have come to ours. Without a laptop, I couldn’t have dreamed of dabbling in writing. I wouldn’t have written a book. I wouldn’t be writing this blog.

So yeah, all things considered, I’m coming down on the side of technology. The machines may not be perfect, but I’m pretty sure they’re more perfect than me. In fact, when a problem occurs, the end user is not a bad place to look for what went wrong. It’s cheaper, it’s easier to rule out and it could solve the problem in a lot less time too. The guy who used to look after I.T. at a former job had a habit of re-setting forgotten or mistyped password to PICNIC, I subsequently found out this stands for Problem Not In Computer Problem In Chair. In my case, I think that’s doubly pertinent.

Oh, and the problem with the charger? It was the wrong one.

Until next time…

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