Technology Hell…or, Why I Don’t Write Science Fiction

In my SF world, a computer program would crash and the space station would plummet into the nearest star, killing all my characters…or corporate online bill paying would glitch, and the oxygen flow to the moon base would cease. Oops. The End.

Last weekend was technology hell for me—computers, cell phones, Kindles, whatever. All acting up for no reason. It’s enough to make one check for unexpected sunspot activity…and then wonder if Mercury is in retrograde when science fails to provide an adequate excuse.

On Friday, I was shutting down my computer and Word asked if I wanted it to send information to Microsoft “to help with the grammar and spelling function of Word”. I looked at what it was wanting to send and discovered random snippets of my manuscript—dialog, action scenes, notes to myself—and segments of emails I had sent. HUH?? NO, I do NOT want to randomly send out-of-context proprietary information to a major corporation, thank you for asking first. Sorry, but, WTF?!?!? Still haven’t figured out what setting is letting that option even exist. I’m still worried that rather than turning it off, I’ve just said ‘don’t ask before you send it’…the options weren’t particularly well worded. (Do I think that’s an accident? No.)

When I got home, I let the kids get on the computers while I started dinner. The plan? Pay a couple of bills online, then get major word count on the page.  Five minutes later. “Mo-omm! My game isn’t working.” Followed almost instantly by, “Moooo-om! The computer won’t let me connect to Skype! I’m talking to my friend!” *sigh* Go over to the main desktop, check the internet, all seems to be working fine. Go check my son’s machine. No internet. Daughter’s? Same… Not only are they not connected, our network isn’t showing up as an option.

Go back to the main computer, check network connections. It says all is fine. So much for high-tech tracking software.

Go to the actual wireless modem…and it’s got a flashing light on it. Sigh heavily, hit reset. Yell, “That get it?” “NO!” Well, damn. That usually fixes it. Rebooting the computer anyway doesn’t work. Unplugging and replugging everything doesn’t work. I go online from the desktop (thankfully able to do it hardwire) and start looking for solutions. First discovery? *Horrors!* My modem is nearly two years old and therefore obsolete—no links to the manuals, or handy references anywhere.

My husband is home by this time, in full Eeyore mode. “It’s dead. We’ll just have to buy a new one. And it probably won’t work on the old desktop. There’s no point. Why even have Internet?” *argh* This, in turn, panics the kids… “No Internet? No computers? EVER? Wait…but I really need to [insert Skype/WoW/Nickelodeon/Disney/email]!”, which morphs seamlessly back into “Is it fixed yet? You are going to fix it, right?” Me, I’m wondering if local law enforcement has ever seen death-by-modem before.

Found one website that suggested rather than unplugging/replugging, unplug and wait FIVE minutes. So I waited more like fifteen, and all was fine when I plugged it back in. *whew* (And that’s a high-tech fix??) Any explanation of why it just stopped working n the first place? No…frankly, I’m just grateful I wasn’t doing a midnight WalMart run for a new modem. It was nearly 9:30 p.m. before I got it running again, so I had to deal with the turmoil of it being bed time and too late to call friends back, finish the games, etc. Some days the Mom job has drawbacks…

Saturday, my daughter accidently squished my Kindle—which was out of warranty by one month to the day. I know as an author, I should be fully embracing the e-reader, but my budget is arguing with me at the moment—and winning. All I can say is, I’ve owned hundreds of paperbacks and hardbacks for decades that have never broken and become unreadable when a reader falls out of bed.

Sunday, it was the ‘smart phone’ which decided to lock itself down after wildly scrolling multicolor type too small to actually read. Again, all hail the search engine for solving that one for me, too—on an old forum post found by searching on “red triangle with exclamation point” and the phone model. Turns out, it can be reset by pushing the volume button up while pressing the power button at the same time. Sure, that’s logical. I would have thought of that on my own next, really! *sigh* Still no clue as to how it actually got set to that mode in the first place—just an unlucky combination of buttons touched by accident as my daughter handed it to me? I’m thinking design flaw.

I’m overall annoyed. And lacking in trust of technology. And celebrating the fact I don’t have to rely on a computer for oxygen—or gravity—on a daily basis. Just saying, it may be a while before technology features as the hero in one of my books.

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