Tech Struggles

On Friday our internet stopped working. I don’t know what it was, it just cut out. Usually if this happens I crawl under my desk and start unplugging and re-plugging cords into the modem, and then it’s fine. Or it’s not fine, and I do it some more. There is a veritable jungle of cords under my desk. I pretty much have no understanding of what’s supposed to be doing what, but in a pinch I can follow a cord to its end and then double check that it’s all plugged in. So that’s what I was doing, and hooray! The internet came back. But meanwhile I’d managed to dislodge something so that my second monitor went black.

Second monitor? I know, I know, it sounds completely unnecessary, but I work on the computer a lot and it has become very special to me. I’d add it to a very select list of items that seemed at first to be a ridiculous indulgence but have actually made my life better and have become necessities to my comfortable existence (other items include an electric toothbrush and key-less ignition for the car). So, this was annoying, and I climbed under the desk again to make sure all of those wires were connected properly. And in the process of jiggling those wires, something terrible happened and next time I emerged from under my desk, my computer was showing a screen that said something like, “This is a problem way beyond your abilities, and you’re probably going to end up calling your husband, but chances are that there’s nothing anyone can do and I’m completely dead.” I’m paraphrasing with that one.

First, I tried the basic worth-a-shot forced shutdown, then I consulted Cute W, then I gave up on my desktop computer for the day, and, possibly, forever. Which was a big problem because, as you recall, my laptop has also recently died. A new one was on its way, but it hadn’t yet arrived. Luckily we are deeply plugged in, so I headed to Option 3, Cute W’s desktop. And here’s how I realized how truly screwed I was. I don’t get on Cute W’s computer much, so I didn’t have any passwords to do the “work-work” I needed to get done. And I realized that the long list of passwords that I keep was on my (comatose) desktop, with a backup on my (recently deceased) laptop. This made me begin to grapple with how daunting it would be to retrieve all of my many, many passwords. Especially since they’re associated with multiple email accounts, some of which I couldn’t access because I didn’t have those passwords. I’d recently followed Cute W’s recommendation and started using LastPass for storing passwords, but only a few of them were on there, and, this is crucial: I didn’t actually have the password to the LastPass account. So that wasn’t particularly helpful. I did what I could, all the while wondering if my desktop would ever revive and if my laptop would ever arrive.

About midday I happened to go outside and noticed a UPS stickie on my front door. It said that they had tried to deliver a package but no one was home, so they’d be delivering the item to some random bodega on State Street, likely by 1 pm the next business day (3 days away!!) What the what? I pulled up the tracking information on Cute W’s computer and according to those records, the delivery person had stopped at our house six minutes earlier. So I started frantically texting the site and calling the 800 number. After doing that thing where you shriek at the recorded system “Speak-to-a-representative-speak-to-a-representative-speak-to-a-representative” with increasing urgency and volume until the system clicks out and they switch you to a “problem client specialist,” I made an ardent plea for an immediate delivery re-attempt. I believe I offered to get in my car and hunt the truck down. I mentioned that I had been sitting right there when they had slapped the sticker on my front door. Okay,  in fairness, sometimes our doorbell doesn’t work. I know what you’re thinking: does anything work at that house? Well, certainly not everything works, but we get by.

Long story short, I got my laptop and Dr. Cute W revived the desktop from its comatose state. Hooray, I was in business! One of the first things I did was print out an old-fashioned paper copy of this big password list that I hadn’t been able to access all day. You guys, this might represent a real problem, because the font is minuscule and it’s eight pages long. The margins are pretty big, though.

My tech woes weren’t over. In the process of setting up my laptop, Microsoft was making all sorts of suggestions that seemed like they must be good ideas, but some of them weren’t.  Example: there’s some Microsoft Launcher app, and the nice Microsoft lady in my new laptop machine, Cortana, soothed me with her delightful voice and suggested that if I downloaded the app to my phone, all of the disparate elements of my life would become synchronized in beautiful harmony and every aspect of my life would absolutely be better. So I tried it and instead it just made my phone unrecognizable with different defaults of everything and a new wallpaper instead of my customized green-leaves-and-blue-sky background and switched around my icons and tried to get me to use Bing instead of Google. And I was like, sweet Mother of God, where has my phone gone?!?! It worked through the full-on panic until I managed to figure out how to locate and uninstall the app. But then, weirdly, one item remained: the default starry sky wallpaper that had appeared in place of my own custom background. You would think that this would be easy to change, but it was more challenging than expected. In fact, both Cute W and M sort of laughed at me and picked up the phone to change it for me and then couldn’t figure it out, either, so it was not just me being incompetent (although, plainly, we’d experienced plenty of that for the day). And, really, the picture was very pretty, but as I moaned to Cute W, just seeing that image was a reminder of this hellish day of technology challenges and my own complete lack of competence in doing something which should be super -easy. Those beautiful heavenly stars were mocking me. Eventually, I sleuthed it out. My phone was claiming no memory of past wallpaper choices, so I had to find the original image, which was stored differently from pretty much all of the other photos on my phone. Once I found the image, it was easy to turn it into the wallpaper and replace the stars with green leaves and blue sky.

So it’s blue skies for me. At least for now.

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