Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Technology Wednesday--The Machines Are Revolting

Some of you might remember The Wizard of Id comic strip done by Brant Parker and Johnny Hart. (I was in school with Hart's son. Or maybe it was Parker's son. I forget. I also forget his first name, but he was a very funny fellow. Random observation, I know, but if you've read these posts for a while, you know that's business as usual.) One early collection of the comic showed the short little king, aggrieved at something the peasants had done, shouting, "The peasants are revolting," which struck me as incredibly funny. I can't say why it just did. I've always been a fan of puns, and that one was a classic.

Anyhow, I 'm here to say that the Revolt of the Machines continues at our house. About a month ago we had a new battery put in Becky's car. Now when she turns off the ignition, something beeps five times. Neither the owner's manual nor the internet provides an answer as to why this is happening or what it means. My best guess is that it has something to do with the security system, except I didn't think the car has one. My two other cars have such a system, and it goes off without reason at times. My best guess for that occurrence is high winds. It's a mystery, really.

Then there is my iPhone, which I wrote about wiping out all my contacts and calendar entries when it upgraded the OS last week. I managed to recover most of them since I had "synched" the phone with the computer and they were nestled in the iCloud. On the iComputer. In iLand, I suppose.

Then the keyboard died on the desktop (read main) computer. It had been acting funky for about a month, requiring multiple key presses for certain letters, not responding some times and in general acting naughty. Then it stopped working altogether last Friday. A computer with a dead keyboard is limited as to what the user (me) can put in. So I hied myself to Staples and picked up a nice wireless computer which practically installed itself. The installation "manual" consisted of a folded piece of paper the size of a large commemorative postage stamp with pictures which showed the batteries mysteriously floating into the battery compartment on the keyboard and the USB connector floating into the USB port on a computer. My batteries and USB connector did not float into their sockets: I had to put them in with my fingers. The computer recognized the keyboard (probably an old friend from the factory) and installed the driver and signaled me when the keyboard was ready to use. I couldn't help contrast this experience with the bad old days when you had to type line after line of arcane symbols for hours to try to get your computer to recognize its new "peripheral." And what's peripheral about a printer when you want to print a new recipe? Sounds pretty essential and not at all peripheral to me.

I suppose there are just some things that are mysteries. And these are some of them.

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