Just about every computer device I could have a problem with, I have had a problem with during the last two months.
It started at work.
Last year the company I work for bought into what I would call a jumbo-size plug-in for InDesign that allows for automation of certain page-building tasks. It also automates the versioning process, which in theory simplifies things for our biggest client which uses a lot of versioning in their ads. This is all theoretical of course, and there have been numerous bugs and pain in the ass problems using this software, but we soldier on, because what else are you going to do when the company tossed a ton of money at this thing? Dump it? Of course not.
Then there was the inevitable “upgrade.” There were unforeseen problems, as there are with any upgrade, but I ended up with a special problem that no one else did. When I tried to log in to this plug-in, InDesign would immediately quit. Try to log in again, it quits again. I could use InDesign without it with no problem. But as soon as I tried to? Nope, no way.
The IT guys took various cracks at fixing it. Occasionally it would work for a day or two, and then it would stop. I was lucky in that the guy who worked at the desk next to me has been working at another office for the summer, so I could use his computer when I needed to.
IT decided that maybe my account had somehow become corrupted, so they made me a new account. No luck. Then they decided my computer needed to be re-imaged. When they finally got around to doing it, it took TWO DAYS, so I couldn’t use my own computer at all. I hated that. My work computer is like another arm. I’ve used it for so long, it’s so completely customized to my own work style, all my preferences are just so, and don’t even get me started on not having access to my iTunes. I know I sound like a precious princess, “Woe is me I can’t listen to my podcasts! These menu locations are ALL WRONG!” But seriously, it puts a dent in my productivity and makes me crabby.
So okay, two days later I get my computer back and since it’s been re-imaged it’s like starting at square one, re-establishing all my preferences and keyboard shortcuts and menus and OH GOD MY ITUNES.
And it still didn’t help. The dreaded InDesign extension was still not working. Log in. Quit. Log in. Quit. FUCK YOU.
I had to go back to using the computer next door when I needed it. Which wasn’t every day, but still. After listening to me bitch about it enough, the IT guys finally decided to swap out my RAM, thinking that must be the ultimate culprit.
It took about a week after they told me they were going to do it for them to ACTUALLY do it, but when they did? IT WORKED. IT WORKED! FINALLY!
Yeah, it worked. FOR A WEEK.
And then FML, it started happening again. I emailed the IT guy, “It’s like one of those monster movies with 27 sequels — you think you finally chopped his head off, but then here he comes again. ”
And so they gave me a new computer. A shiny new Mac is on my desk now. Which yes, means I am starting all over again with preferences and menus and my iTunes is a blank slate. But the dreaded InDesign plug-in is working. FOR NOW. I hold my breath every time I log in, waiting for the crash. It’s like waiting to get slapped, or waiting for a bucket
of cold water to fall on your head.
While all that was going on, my iPod somehow emptied itself of all songs. I’d left it at home one day and honestly my commute is kind of torture without it. I need my music cocoon to shelter me from the bullshit of other people. So the next morning I made doubly sure I put it in my bag before I left. Then after I got on the bus and put my headphones on, I realized to my horror that THERE WAS NOTHING ON MY IPOD. How did that even happen? I still have no idea. I don’t recall setting it next to a large magnet or anything.
I plugged it into my computer at work (which was still the old computer at this point.) and tried to restore it, but I kept getting a weird error message. So fuck it, I would have to wait until I got home that night.
And ALSO in the meantime I had changed my cell phone carrier. I’d used US Cellular for years and was really about as satisfied as anyone can be with a cell phone company. But the company decided to quit the Chicago market, and sold my account to Sprint. I was ambivalent about Sprint, having heard equal amounts of “I love them!” and “I hate
them!”. Ugh, the emotional relationships we have with cell phone companies kind of horrify me, but I have the same problem.
For a variety of reasons I use my cell phone as an internet hot spot. I can’t afford to have cable television (and don’t really WANT it), so I don’t get internet that way. I tried to use a wireless modem, but the problem is that it still has to be connected to a phone line, and the wiring in my building is so old and shitty, that doesn’t work either. (I would tell you about the MONTHS of hell I went through years ago with AT&T on this subject, but I have more respect for your time than that. I’m wasting enough of it here as it is.)
So, my cell phone is my modem. It was never GREAT with US Cellular. All my data-heavy and/or essential activities were postponed until I could do them at work — like downloading or uploading something that was more than a couple of megabytes, watching a video, or placing an important ticket order. But it was generally fine for checking email,
looking at Facebook or Twitter or whatever. But now with Sprint, it has been AWFUL. It’s only been a week or so, but FOR FUCK’S SAKE it takes forever for even the most basic page to load. (I just opened Google and it took 52 seconds for it to load. 52 seconds to load the Google home page, which is basically nothing but a search field. Not even a fancy Doodle today.) It also brings out a really unpleasant aspect of my personality — I feel like if I try hard enough I can make the internet work purely by force of will. If I just keep hitting “refresh” EVENTUALLY IT MUST WORK. So I sit here longer than I should, hitting refresh, waiting for it to cooperate, instead of just accepting it and getting on with my day, doing things I can actually accomplish without the internet. And there are still plenty of those things: doing laundry, going for a walk, reading a book, the list is infinite.
And so this new extra-lousy internet access was what I needed to use to try and restore my iPod. You can imagine how well that went. I didn’t get the error message I got at work, but the software restoration could never finish without my internet connection crapping
out on me. An evening of that was enough. I’m going to take the iPod to work on Monday and see if I can restore it using my new computer. If that doesn’t work I will have to resort to professional help.
I’ve gotten so used to technology being easy and painless and at my fingertips whenever I want it, and the confluence of all this difficulty at once has been maddening. Technology is part of so many things I do: ordering groceries, checking the bus arrival times, checking my bank balance, paying bills, connecting with friends. 95% of my job is done on a computer. It’s kind of a frightening level of dependence, which is not a new observation by any means. We all know we rely on this stuff too much. We want it to be like turning on the tap, something we can just assume will be there except under extraordinary circumstances. Certain of us (*cough ME *cough*) get used to it being like that, and when it gets taken away from us, or made slightly more difficult than flipping a switch, it becomes almost unbearable.
*Bonus insanity: I couldn’t even get THIS posted via my home internet. I
couldn’t get the WordPress “new post” page to load. Which is what? A text
form with a menu for some styling options? That doesn’t seem like too
much to ask. And yet.