Monday, October 14, 2019

Technology Nightmares

Or how to spend almost an entire weekend in fruitless pursuit of what worked fine a couple weeks ago …

I recognize the value of technology. Technology allows me to communicate with many of you. Yay, technology!

But I’m telling you, I miss the relatively carefree, placid days when communication arrived via the U.S. mail, and required a postage stamp (look it up, kids), and you adjusted the rabbit ears on top of the TV set to improve the picture quality of CBS, NBC, ABC, and PBS.

Nightmare #1

A fine technician from WOW visited my home for the third time in ten days. The reasons for these visits have included a picture that was so pixelated as to be unwatchable, and a perfectly clear picture on a screen reading “No signal detected. Please contact customer support.” In between the three visits there have been several conversations with customer support that have taken up 4 – 6 hours of my time as I run through the standard scripts with yet another new customer support person, who coos reassuring things to me and has me check the cables on the back of the box, makes sure that my TV can turn on and off, etc. So technician #3 arrived late yesterday morning, replacing the new box that was three days old with an even newer box. He fiddled with wires and cables, had me test all the channels and, amazingly, all the channels appeared in non-pixelated form with no error messages. So Kate and I left to run an errand (see Nightmare #2, below). When we arrived back home, I triumphantly switched on the television and witnessed a few seconds of a pixelated screen, which was quickly replaced by a picture on a screen reading “No signal detected. Please contact customer support.”

I called customer support. I said, in slightly more polite words, but only slightly, “Skip the cooing. I’m not going to mess with cables and wires. I want you to cancel my service, and I want you to guarantee that I am not going to be penalized financially because I’m ending my 24-month contract early. The reason I am ending my contract early is because your company cannot provide cable TV and Internet service to my home. So don’t give me a hard time.” The customer service representative proceeded to give me a hard time. The supervisor/manager, who I then asked to speak with, also gave me a hard time. It’s still not resolved. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to be financially penalized for not receiving services I pay for, and because I find the current “solution” to be completely unacceptable. This is not my problem. And I’m not going to pay for it. Stay tuned, if you care. I know you’re all awaiting the resolution of this cliffhanger.

Nightmare #2

Periodically, my Mac desktop informs that an update is waiting for me, and that I should install it. One such message showed up Saturday, and I clicked the magic “Install update” link. Yeah, yeah, I agree to everything, damn it, so go ahead and install it.

Big mistake. It’s on me, I know. Yes, I should have read the fine print. But honestly, who reads the fine print? I’m thinking that a more fruitful and truthful approach would have been to stop the installation process at a couple points along the way with screens that said something like, “WARNING!!!!!!! By installing this version of the operating system, all your music will go away. Are you sure you want to do this?” and “You should also know that all the apps, such as Microsoft Word, Microsoft Excel, and Microsoft Powerpoint that you paid for long ago, and that have worked just fine for years, will no longer be available to you once you install this new operating system. You’ll have to pay a monthly fee to use the same apps in the Cloud, sucker. Are you sure you want to do this?” That would have been helpful to know.

Alas, I did not know, and found out the hard way. So that errand we ran between the installation of Cable Box #3 and the fateful call to cancel cable/Internet service was to the Apple Store, where the genius at the Genius Bar helped me uninstall the latest, “greatest” O/S and helped me re-install the previous version of the O/S. Guy was a genius. And really, that was helpful, and once I figure out how to transfer the roughly 340,000 songs from various external hard drives back onto iTunes, which is now a blank slate, I’ll probably be eternally grateful.

At any rate, we returned from the Genius Bar to find a pixelated screen and the wondrous “No signal detected” message on the TV.

I love technology. I hate technology. So that was my weekend. How was yours?

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