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Friday, April 25, 2014

A Guest Post, Too Elaborate For Definition.

Today, Life Explained Nation, we are going to try something new, a guest post, from a very funny man who writes a very funny blog, a blog I enjoy very much.  Everybody should take a look at, you won't regret it.

Firstly, thanks to Tim for letting me guest on his blog. Allow me to introduce myself briefly - I'm Mike, I'm 31, a parent and I probably eat and drink a little bit too much now and again, giving me a, shall we say, staunch figure.

And, I have a love-hate relationship with technology.

Now this is odd because I am generally considered a geek, especially when it comes to all things electronic.  I had my first computer when I was extremely young (which was the fantastic Sinclair ZX81) and over the years have owned a wide variety of computers, from consoles to home computers, to around a dozen PCs - albeit not all at the same time, I should clarify!  Indeed, I hold a degree in IT.

So, you'd imagine that I would be somewhat au fait with all this techie guff.

And yet, it still manages to bamboozle me now and again.  If I want to transfer something from my phone to my PC, I have to connect the phone to the PC using the ever-useful mini-USB cable, then tell the phone to pretend to not be a phone, but actually look like a camera - and then not to pretend any more, revealing its true self as an Android-enabled Samsung piece of kit that does everything (including, apparently, making telephone calls). It's as though the PC wants to play peek-a-boo with the phone before it will talk to it.

 "Ooh, he's got a new camera! I'll connect to that - hey!  It's that crafty little phone after all! Hi Phone!"

My true hatred, however, is reserved for that ubiquitous computer accessory - the printer.

Printers hate me. And I return the feeling.

I can connect the printer up to the computer.  I can install the latest printer drivers onto the computer. But will the computer recognise what is on the far end of the USB cable?


Countless hours are spent tweaking settings, testing different driver versions, Googling the problem (does anyone remember a time when you had to know things, instead of having the worlds knowledge at your fingertips?), until finally, with great reluctance, you call the printer support line.

The automated service kicks in. Heaven forbid that you should actually just speak to someone.
"Hi, and thanks for ringing Yalkamoto Electronics.  Listen carefully to the following options."
I want support, I think to myself.
"Press 1 for sales."
No, support.
"Press 2 for finance."
Nope, I need support, thanks.
"Press 3 for all fishtank-related queries."
Support - wait, what fishtank-related queries are they handling?!? They make printers. Are people printing fish?
"Press 4 for human resources."
Right, okay, it's clear that support is going to be right at the end of this list of options.
"I didn't hear you make a choice. Press star to repeat your options."
But - where's support?!?

You hit 1, with the theory that sales will at least answer the phone quickly. Of course everyone else with a dodgy printer does the same thing, so you get to wait in a call queue. The sort where, between blasts of music, you'll be told "Your call is important to us.  Your call is in position number,,, NINETEEN - in the queue."

Eventually, you get to speak to a real person.
"Thank you for calling Yalkamoto Electronics!" you hear down the line, in a cheery singsong.
"Hi, I've got a problem with my printer."
"And you'd like to buy one of ours? Great choice!"
"No - I have one of yours.  I need to speak to your technical support."
"Ooh, they're all on a training day today. Have you tried unplugging it and plugging it back in?"
"Yes," I say through gritted teeth, "I have tried unplugging it, and even plugging it back in after unplugging it."
"How about I take your details, and get our technical support team to call you right back?"

You give them your details.

The next day, someone rings from technical support.  Of course, they ring you when you're driving / asleep / playing Call of Duty, so you don't answer the phone. They don't leave a phone number for you to return their call, just a message saying that they tried to ring.

After many moons, you speak to an actual technical expert.
"Hi, I'm Lee from Yalkmoto Technical Support, what seems to be the problem?"
"My printer doesn't work."
"Okay, can you unplug it and plug it back in for me?" he says. He has to say this, because for so many people this is the problem. You know that it isn't the answer to your problem, because you understand computers, and this must be a real problem that only a true technical genius can answer.
"Fine, but I've already done this..." your speech trails off as you spot the power switch on the printer is in the off position. Pressing it, you suddenly hope that the printer is actually broken.

No such luck. It buzzes into life, whizzing print heads backwards and forwards, and a new prompt pops up on your computer screen, informing you that Windows has detected a new printer, and it'll just install the drivers for you.

I hate technology.

Mike, when not drinking, eating, drinking or drinking, blogs over at - feel free to check him out.

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