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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Tech Revolt

We had computer issues over the weekend. Friday morning, I noticed a strange message on the screen. While not verbatim; in essence it said “Tough luck, Charley. You have a myriad of unspecified issues. To diagnose the plethora of problems, connect to the internet.”
Well….how do you like that?
The machine was smart enough to let me know it was dealing with more than a case of cyber sniffles; yet not smart enough to tell me what was ailing it. Furthermore, the ridiculous thing insisted I connect to the Internet to find the problem.  
Is it just me, or is this similar to telling someone with a broken leg to jog down to CVS to pick up some Motrin?
The primary problem was, I COULDN’T CONNECT TO THE INTERNET!
So, being the hip, tech-savvy sexagenarian I am, I snatched up my Smart Phone (another oxymoron) and called my Internet Provider. This is always good for some entertainment.
First, one realizes after they have “tapped” (you don’t push numbers on smart phones, you tap. Much more friendly and less aggressive) about 18 different numbers,  one has entered a request for the Full Blown Television, phone, and internet service, with up-dates every quarter hour of Australian surfing conditions.  After much frenzied tapping (“jabbing” is more descriptive), one hits the end call button in the hopes their order is cancelled.
After a couple deep breaths, emitting some inappropriate witticisms, and banging one’s head against the wall, the redial button is tapped.
Again, the litany of prompts and responses yields access to another synthesized voice asking you to go through the process of running diagnostics on your line. For some reason unbeknownst to me, it is necessary for one to have the flexibility of a gymnast to press a button, hold the by now annoying phone, and stick a straightened paper clip in the “reset” port. At some point during this stunt, you have sneezed. The sneeze is registered by the one-track mind of the synthesized voice.  Suddenly you find yourself submitting a request for Full Blown Television (now in HD, they upgraded in the past 20 minutes), phone, and internet.  A flurry of finger jabs follows, finally culminating in punching the end  call button.
After a calming walk around the block, stopping for some libation and convivial conversation at the local gathering place, and bruising one’s knuckles when punching the brick exterior of the house; the not-so-smart phone is retrieved from the waste can it found itself in, and the redial button is nonchalantly pressed.
This time….this time… you have out-smarted the system. When the synthesized voice begins with it’s recitation of prompts, you do NOTHING. You say NOTHING. Someone, somewhere once overheard another saying if you don’t say or do anything, you will get to a real person.  Smugly you wait, knowing your moment of assistance is just around the corner.
Then, you hear it “Good-bye.”
After a long sip of Grand-Dad’s special cough syrup, counting to 100 three separate  times,  and meditating upon the goodness of God; you pick up the ridiculous phone, re-insert the battery, put the cover on and hope for the best. You firmly, purposefully mash the redial button.
Again, the voice (oh… the voice… that voice which will haunt your dreams for nights to come), only this time you state simply, clearly, pleasantly “Representative.” The Voice (hey, that would be a good name for a TV show!) pleasantly states “I could not understand you. Could you please repeat that?” You take a deep cleansing breath, and state “ Rep Re Sen Ta Tive” The Voice then states “I think you want to order Full Blown Television, phone and internet. Is that right?” 
A few minutes later, the futility of cussing out a stupid, idiotic, no-good piece of junk machine dawns upon you.  You also recall those ominous words “This call may be recorded for quality and training purposes.”  Translation: “We know who you are, and we know where you live.”  With relief you notice that at some point during the rant, you hit the end call button. The line was dead.
Finally, after 2 more attempts, you are able to be connected to the Technical Service Department.  Here you have the luxury of listening to the same fuzzy sounding rendition of Moon River about 16 times while being told at regular intervals your call is very important, and someone will be with you shortly.
After running down to the pizza joint on the corner, watering the flowerbeds, and feeding the dog; you hear a REAL LIVE PERSON on the speaker of your phone. Oh Happy Day, you think! With glee you pick up the barely intelligent phone, and see the low battery light flashing. In a frenzy, you find the charger, managing to jam it in place, and plug the proper end into the wall outlet before the call is forever lost.
Now, the real fun begins. After the cursory introductions, the how are yous, etc; there is just one thing between you and  correcting the problem. You cannot understand one another!  After three fourths of an hour of pushing that, re-setting this, disconnecting the other; you are no further along than you were at the beginning of the whole ordeal. In exhaustion, you concede defeat for the night. Wearily, you ascend the stairs to bed, and a fitful sleep troubled with dreams of carnivorous PCs and homicidal Macs. You wake in a cold sweat, The Voice echoing in your mind; “Do you want television and fries with your order?”
Hope like the new day dawns eternal!  With a renewed determination, you take up the barely above invertebrate intelligence level phone, find the proper number and dial.  You are taking matters in your own hands. You have just called Dan.
Dan the sound tech and IT guy from church. Dan, the one who can get the most cantankerous system functioning. Dan… the computer Fix-It Guy Extraordinaire!
Able to leap tall monitors in a single bound, he shows up about an hour later. With a steely eye he assesses the situation. Calmly he clicks, he scans, he deletes, he re-installs. After a couple of hours, the recalcitrant machine is humming like a brand new car. He smiles as he receives several pieces of green paper with pictures of dead Presidents on them.
The computer works marvelously, almost like a dream. “Look!” you exclaim to your Lovely Bride “Some one sent us pictures of kittens!” All is right with the world.
Alas, all dreams must end. By Sunday morning, the no-good, lousy, miserable thing was up to it’s not so cute tricks.  Being Sunday, and the following day being Memorial Day, I was not about to bother Dan. Everyone needs some rest, time with family, and for their wallet to recover.
So… today, my Lovely Bride talked with Dan. After some consultation, she determined to get a new modem, one with Wi-Fi as well. This way, our neighbors can hack into our computer much more easily than before.  Dan arrived once again. From the account I received, after much clicking, and un-installing and re-installing, he got the new modem setup, the computer de-bugged, and all is well.
Again, his face lit up when LB gave him more pictures of dead Presidents. Such a simple, happy fellow he is.
Now, here I am, using my lap-top with the internet (which I have not been able to do for sometime), and itching to set up my amoeba intellect phone for the Wi-Fi. Why would I want to do that, you ask??
Good question.  I guess I just can’t wait to talk with more Tech Support people.

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