For those who aren’t familiar enough with me to know smaller details of my life, know this: I love technology and all the cool stuff it can do, but the feeling is… let’s say not mutually shared by technology.
Which is to say, I have exceedingly bad luck with technology failing on me.
It has gotten to the point where friends and family half-jokingly don’t want me to touch their tech, particularly anything new, because… well… y’know. But that’s the key: It truly is only half joking.
I fully appreciate that many will just force a smile at hearing that and look away, assuming it’s me taking on an affectation.
Oh, I see, that’s an offbeat but kinda cute thing you believe about yourself.
But I assure you, it’s much more than that. It’s problematic and is often, if I may, rather weird.
I leave in my wake all kinds of technology–all brand name items–that malfunctioned or died before its time, and most in unusual circumstances. Some examples:
– A phone whose GPS stopped working after about a year. Just that part of it. Everything else about it continued to work fine. Of the hundreds of various phones family and friends have had, I’ve never heard of this happening before.
– Another phone that worked beautifully until I woke up one morning and the battery, with plenty of power the night before, was dead. That happened another couple of times, the battery just randomly zeroing out. I did some research and found that a very small chip set from that make and model (including in mine, naturally) had a problem where the battery would sometimes drain quickly and completely.
– Any number of laptops with catastrophic failures of key components
– A tablet that I had used for a while and then put aside for some time that later wouldn’t accept my Google password (needed to log into it). I contacted the manufacturer and discovered that the make and model of this tablet would sometimes have a password fixed, kind of imprinted, into it. (For those unaware: That simply doesn’t/shouldn’t happen.) So to get access to the tablet, I would need the password I first used when I logged into it. Well, I had changed my Google password a couple of times since using the tablet (routinely changing passwords remains advisable) and didn’t recall what it happened to be when I first used the tablet. Thus, the tablet remained locked forever.
– A brand new laptop that, shortly after turning on or waking up, would change its screen colouring from a warmer shade to a colder one. This happened a few times, so I took it back the same day I bought it, showed it to the technician at the store, and he agreed it was weird and it would of course be replaced with a new one of the same make and model. I went home with the new laptop, turned it on, and exactly the same thing happened again. And, in fact, still happens all the time. (Yes, I just kept it because it was all I could afford at the time and really, I’m convinced that with my luck in the past, pretty much anything else I would take instead would have some other issues before too long anyway, so whatever…)
Update: As of last night, this same laptop had a bit of a freakout and started opening programs I hadn’t asked it to, maintained a time that was about 15 minutes behind the actual time, and then abruptly turned itself off (without warning and with more power still twice the power in its battery than where it’s supposed to shut down).
What’s this? Tech malfunctioning for me? The hell you say!
– My wife bought herself a new laptop shortly after I got my screen-colour-changing one.
Better brand, better price. Really nice.
I went and picked it up for her at the store and thought it would be a considerate thing for me to do the setup for her so she could just sit down with it and use it without jumping through all the set-up hoops.
I got home and took it out of the box, opened it up and turned it on, plugged it in… and I heard a small pop and the screen went dark and I could smell a bit of smoke. And it wouldn’t turn on after that.
I took it back to the store and explained the problem–I believe at that point I was basically saying, “It’s not the device, it’s me,” which is becoming a credo–and they checked it, agreed it was shot (adding that it was weird to have happened), and gave me a replacement one, which my wife informed me I was not to take out of the box nor touch.
– My current phone was about a month past its warranty coverage when the screen developed burn-in damage. To those blessed to never have experienced it, burn-in damage is physical damage caused to a screen from the likes of a phone (or an older model TV or computer monitor) being left on, or being too bright for too long. The image from the screen in question literally burns itself into the coating of the screen.
This had never happened to me with any screen or device before, so I looked into how this could have happened. The answer, not surprisingly, was that it was from leaving my phone on too bright for too long.
The thing is, that never happened.
Don’t get me wrong, there were times I’d crank up the brightness when I was playing a dark game, and/or when I was in sunlight and couldn’t see the screen well. But it was never for long.
Look at it this way: I’ve long forgotten how many cell phones I’ve ever had, and I’ve certainly not turned up the brightness on this one more than any other I’ve had before, yet somehow this screen was damaged because of my having it too bright for too long?
But, hey… it’s tech and it’s me, so who knows?
– And now to the most current issue: We just got my daughter a laptop, in part as a birthday gift, so she can have her own device and use for her virtual classroom work. I narrowed down the options, weighed pros and cons, and informed my wife it was the best one to go with.
It’s the same highly regarded, well respected brand name as my wife’s computer, just without as many bells and whistles, but still a nice laptop.
I wasn’t allowed to touch it, of course.
Aaaaaaand we found inside a week that the webcam didn’t work.
I ended up contacting the manufacturer about it, who took over the laptop remotely and checked a couple of things and confirmed it’s a hardware issue and the laptop needs to be sent back for a repair.
As my tech-savvy friend Alex put it, that was really odd because it’s not like webcams are new technology. One may expect new, cutting-edge tech to maybe not work as well as hoped, but cameras have been in laptops for a long time at this point. Why something that standard wouldn’t work at all was bizarre.
Cut to my I.T. friend Steven across the street, who loves tech and enjoys a challenge involving it. He took on this webcam issue as a bit of a pet project, and over a couple of sessions of Zoom calls, walked me through checking everything from the drivers to the BIOS to the OS. He was, to be honest, far more thorough than the manufacturer’s tech support had been.
But it finally stumped him. Nothing he could think of, even as a long shot, was solving the issue.
So, we sent the laptop back to the manufacturer a couple of days later.
A week after that, it returned. The forms included told me the drivers were updated, then (after that presumably didn’t do the trick) the whole OS was reinstalled, and then they “performed extensive testing”.
Well… the camera worked.
Which is to say, it would at least turn on now, which was a big improvement, but the image was crap.
I’m perhaps a bit of a snob when it comes to image quality–I’ll take a fair number of photos and scrutinize details of all of them before posting the best of the best on my Photos page, for instance–but this wasn’t snobbery at play. The image the camera produced was objectively terrible.
It was blanched and very grainy, looking like nothing so much as a cell phone camera straining to work in too little light. But it was like that even with all the lights in the room turned on (certainly more than would be on during a normal video call or meeting, yet it was still generations worse than even the camera on my own, lesser brand name laptop’s camera).
We played around with all the various settings on it in the hopes of getting a better quality, but they didn’t do much.
So, back to the manufacturer tech support I went.
And back they went, remotely controlling the laptop.
And after trying a couple of updates–why, I wondered, when according to the repair forms, just four days previous updates had already been made and it was apparently extensively tested and it met with approval then–that tech support person confirmed it would… you could perhaps see this coming… have to come back to the manufacturer for repair.
To recap: A brand new laptop from a highly regarded manufacturer didn’t fully work out of the box, then was repaired and deemed working by that same manufacturer, but was still failing badly, then was confirmed by the same company again to need more repairs to fix that same problem.
This has been happening for decades, and seemingly shows no sign of stopping yet.
Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I submit to you my contention that this is not the experience that people normally have with technology.