Haunted computers

SOMETHING is emanating from our house that risked disconnecting not just our service, but the service of a dozen and a half other customers in our neighborhood.

inexplicable
My friend Broome posted the xkcd cartoon above on his Facebook page. He explained that his astonishingly patient wife is “the only one who believes me when I say I experience certain things, people and places differently, like this great restaurant that always serves me uneatable food,…or haunted computers…or…”

I totally relate. At work, I have my computer switched out more often than anyone. I used to believe that I had some sort of electromagnetism that wore down the functionality of electronic devices.

I got an Android tablet from work a few years ago, but in a few months, it stopped working. I bought another one, and it lasted just as long before refusing to charge. My current Amazon Fire is operable so far, knock my forehead.

And it’s not just me, it’s my house.

As I’ve noted, I’ll walk down the street talking on my cellphone fine – assuming it doesn’t read “Low Battery,” which it often does, even when I hadn’t turned it on. Walking into the house, the signal nearly dies. This is a problem when I’m calling Time Warner Cable to report the Internet and phone is out.

Two weeks after I contacted the company, a TWC repair guy came to our house to fix the service that was no longer in need of repair. The bottom line: remember a couple of weeks ago when I joked that I wondered “whether the outage had anything to do with the TWC truck that was in front of our house just before the service went down”? Well, it DID!

Apparently, SOMETHING is emanating from our house that risked disconnecting not just our service, but the service of a dozen and a half other customers in our neighborhood. It could have been the cable connected to an old TV (not the case) or other factors.

Rather than having all of our neighbors losing service, and them contacting TWC, TWC sent a “repair” person up the utility pole to disconnect OUR service! And didn’t even tell us! The guy at my door arrived to fix the problem, assuming I hadn’t noticed the service had been out for a fortnight.

My house and I break cable services, and Android tablets, and all sorts of electronic devices. I’m not computerphobic; it’s just my electrons mucking up everything.

xkcd is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.5 License.

The Android and me

I know I’m not maximizing the device’s utility, possibly because, since it actually doesn’t belong to me, I don’t want to become dependent on it.

“Do you want the use of an Android device?” our techie supervisor asked me a few months ago Sure, yeah, I guess so. There it was – an ASUS Android 7. First thing: plug it in, which I do. I can’t get it started, but that is a function of not squeezing these two prongs long enough. So it’s working. What should I DO with it?

I know; I’ll download – what do you call them? – applications? They say apps, I understand. But there are about a billion of them, many of them free; which ones should I get? I go to Google Play, which is already on the device, and type in various obvious ones: CNN, the local weather, the local mass transit, FEMA (hey, ya never know), a dictionary, and Free Cell card game. What’s cool is that I can search for apps on my computer and they magically would appear on the device; no plugs necessary.

Hey, it’s locked! How do I unlock it? I keep pressing the lock, when I should have been making a sweeping motion to the left and down, or right and down.

Here’s what it’s useful for: checking my e-mail while working with my daughter on her homework. It doesn’t require 100% attention. I watched a little bit of football, and checking e-mail with that is a good thing. But not so much watching a dramatic series, or JEOPARDY! or any program which I have to view actively.

I discovered where the Internet hot spots are in the area: certain businesses, the 905 bus from Albany to Schenectady. AlbanyNet works some places downtown.

I know I’m not maximizing the device’s utility, possibly because, since it actually doesn’t belong to me, I don’t want to become dependent on it. But I AM glad for the chance to figure out, if only a little, why people’s faces are always buried in some device.

It won’t be me always on the machine, because writing on it is too much work; I obviously just don’t have the thumbs for it, and I type with one finger, which is exhausting. I commented on a dozen blogs, and my neck hurt.

But there is one thing I do like, and that’s the ability to speak to the device and search for websites. Usually it’s one I’ve already been to, but still useful. And making pages bigger – now THAT’S quite user-friendly. I went to the Zillow app and found all the houses in my neighborhood for sale; not that I was in the market, but it was nice to check out, and expanding the page made the listings MUCH easier to see.

One last thing: it’s so big I’m not likely to use it.