Me and F@#!! Technology

Preface: I don’t think I have ever written a preface to a blog before yet it feels necessary in this instance to create a context. During the summer I had felt less than motivated to write. I thought about reviewing my journals for some blog ideas. It didn’t happen although I did recall an idea about frustration with technology but couldn’t find the journal entry. I decided that if the universe wanted me to write it would send me another experience. This is the story of what transpired when the cosmic joker stepped in.

I have a very mixed relationship with technology. When it works I appreciate the wonder when it stops working I am completely at a loss. This leads to frustration, irritation and an obsessive need to try and fix it although I know my chances of success are abysmal.

My recent challenge began when for no apparent reason my Wi-Fi printer stopped working. I would press “print”, it would behave apparently as usual except nothing would emerge from the printer. I checked the little printer icon and it would say, “Cannot find printer”.

I embarked on the mystery like Sherlock Holmes on a case. I followed each clue methodically and logically somehow finding a mysterious box described as “utility”. This confirmed what I already knew “cannot find printer.”

I noticed a prominent box underneath that said “trouble shooting”. Ah – help was at hand. It took me to a web site where I learned there were nine steps to follow each one had the potential to resolve the issue. Except none worked. To be sure I did all nine twice except for reload print driver. I tried that but the download from the printer manufacturer was rudely rejected by my computer because it will only accept applications approved my Apple and this one did not fit the bill.

This has been the story of my ongoing relationship with technology. After I have done everything according to the book I run into an unexpected brick wall. It was a classic “Catch 22”; the wonderful term coined by Joseph Heller in his book of the same name. A catch-22 is a paradoxical situation from which an individual cannot escape because of contradictory rules.

Then in a moment of brilliance I realized I could connect the computer up the old fashioned way using a cable. With renewed hope I dug through my box of cables to find that none of them fit, then it was a journey of discovery to find the old printer carton – nada; in fact the box did not even include a cable as it was Wi-Fi.

As I am about to set out to either purchase a cable or a printer, I notice a loose cable hanging from the USB port of my iMac. To my delight it is the very cable I am looking for. Excitedly I make the connection and press print. Zilch – once again no response. The utility once again informs me that the printer cannot be found.

This is the end of my patience; the F*#*%! printer is sitting side by side with the computer; it is plugged in; how can they not link up? Then I remember that sometimes you need to start the devices in a particular order to get them to recognize each other. I trouble shoot once again and follow another nine steps for cable connection that include turning off and unplugging both devices then starting them in the prescribed order.

I would like to say that I pressed print with a degree of confidence but in reality I knew damn well that the room would resonate with the sound of a printer not working as soon as I pressed print. And I was right.

Totally frustrated and somewhat pissed off I resigned myself to the purchase of a new printer. It seemed such a waste. The printer worked fine, it would spew out pages of stuff telling me it wasn’t working and I had about a ten-year supply of ink. It just would not print from my computer. Obviously they weren’t speaking to each other perhaps they had an acrimonious divorce of which I was unaware.

First it was time for a walk and a coffee; I would buy the new printer on the way home. However it was on my walk that I remembered the incident described in the preface. It struck me as somewhat synchronicitous that I remembered it at this particular point in time. Was it reminding me of unfinished business? Although it seemed positively absurd to my logical mind, I decided to give the printer one more chance. I also made the commitment to explore further my experience and look at the impact that technological misadventures had on my psyche and write about my thoughts and feelings.

I got home and began the nine step checking process once again. As completed the final step I heard the amazing sound of the printer churning into life – It was a report that said “WLAN – connection OK. “Was this new?” Then the printer kicked back into gear and the report I was waiting for emerged page by page. It seemed like a miracle. Cosmic Joker? Coincidence? Fate? I had fulfilled my part of the bargain, was this my reward? Crazy perhaps but I don’t care.

Postscript: It is a few weeks later and I did not publish this because I felt there should be some higher meaning – not the universe just playing jokes on me. The printer blipped for a moment but is back on track and I took it as a sign to “Publish and be damned.”

However it caused me to reflect on what I observed when faced with technology challenges:

1) I become obsessive when trying to fix I the problem. I diligently labour and toil to no avail, following web instructions, then feel slighted and a great sense of unfairness when it does not work.

2) For some reason I resist calling for help. (How male is that?) Partly this is because of frustrating experiences with technology service groups, most of whom cannot understand my level of incompetence. It is always a last resort. However perhaps I need to reconsider this and reverse the order.

3) It does appear that the final solution only shows up once I have surrendered the problem and actually given up.

As I write this it all looks like some giant Gordian knot that is yet to be fully unraveled – but at least I am done for now and my printer continues to work.

(Press PRINT and end)

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