Technology – I Spit at Thee

Do you remember early in Jurassic Park when we learn that Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill) can make an electronic device fail just by looking at it? This is a foreshadowing of later events in the film when a storm causes the high-tech dino-security system to break down, and it’s also a metaphor for what happens when man tries to clone flesh-eating monsters: Something will go wrong.  Mother Nature is not impressed by our silly inventions!


I’ve got the same problems as Dr. Grant, minus the T-Rex running around, which is why they won’t make a movie about me. Anyway, nothing that plugs in ever works the way it’s supposed to for me, and none of the latest features or applications is remotely interested in my clicking and screen-touching.

Let’s clear one thing up right away: I am not a dope. I graduated from my university with highest honors. I learn complex concepts pretty quickly, and I can hold my own in lofty discussions about philosophy, art, and Godzilla movies. To the point, I use computers all day at work and manage to get stuff done. But at work, I have access to a kick-butt IT team. When I have a problem, they have a solution, usually within three minutes. Unfortunately, we part ways at 5 p.m., and suddenly I’m in shark-infested waters with a bucket of chum and no lifeguard around for miles.

For starters, my house phone doesn’t work. The unit itself turns on and all the features operate, so I replaced the phone jack and the wire. The modem/router is distributing the signal, and the maintenance guys in my complex confirmed that the juice is flowing as it should. Nevertheless, no dial tone.

My wireless network doesn’t work, either. Again, I have a new modem/router that is confirmed operational. It’s sending a signal to my laptop, my printer, and my wife’s laptop. All those devices acknowledge the network. Nevertheless, no internet without wires. That’s a problem in a three-level apartment.

My new printer stopped working, though I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve rarely had to change ink, because none of my printers has ever lasted long enough to run out. If I were Jacob Marley, I wouldn’t be dragging chains and locks behind me; I’d have a mile of broken printers. All these devices do is sit there on a desk. Why do they keep breaking?

You'll just have to take my word for it that I can play this guitar.

You’ll just have to take my word for it that I can play this guitar.

It’s not just hardware, either. Today I planned to release the first single from my album through a music distribution site. For 10 bucks, they will put it on iTunes, Amazon, et al, with 100% of royalties going to me. Good deal. That is, if I could get the damned song to upload! I downloaded the latest iTunes player, formatted the bits, bytes, wavs, and whatever other technonsense they told me to format, and clicked the pretty ‘upload’ icon. For an hour.

File nowhere to be found. Somehow, I don’t think Lady Gaga has these problems.

I hate technology.

If I had an iPhone, it wouldn’t ring. If I had iTunes, they wouldn’t sing. I don’t know what an iPad does, but if I had one, it wouldn’t do it. Sure, my stuff is wireless. Why plug things in that don’t work?

My files don’t attach. My pixels don’t match. My blue tooth is red. My blu-ray is dead.

My high definition is low. My DVR records no show. The stream of my video went dry. My HDMI cables curled up and died.

I guess I’m just an analog kid living on a digital planet.

How about you? Are you living la vida gadget, or do you want to help me look for a cave?


40 responses to “Technology – I Spit at Thee

  • MotherJam

    I know how to work a chalkboard. That’s about it. This is why my blog is such an Internet sensation.

  • nrhatch

    Beautiful post, Eric. At least you know how to write right. 😀

    I’m great with computers, printers, digital cameras, etc. . . . as long as they are working. If they go on the fritz, I am up the techno creek with no paddle, boat, or GPS signal.

    • ericjbaker

      Yikes. I can’t imagine what would happen if I tried to get a GPS unit up and running.

      The weird thing is I can usually get something to work at first, but it never lasts. Oh well. I should just go for a walk and look at the stars.

  • LisaR @ Who Stole My Baby?

    I’m pretty good at a lot of technological stuff, actually above average if I’m not being modest, but I have some major gaps in my knowledge. It took me two weeks to figure out how to zoom out of a screen on my Kindle, and I still just don’t get Twitter at all.

  • tracycembor

    Wow, what a great day for you to post this. My Kindle Fire became an expensive paperweight this afternoon. Won’t turn on for nuthin’, and yes, the sucker has juice in the battery. I told it to sit in the corner for 24 hours. If it doesn’t adjust its attitude and “start flying right,” I’m going to have to call its daddy about this unacceptable behavior. O_o

  • feminineocean

    Look for your song in your downloads or in iTunes under music. If you record on your computer, save the it as an MP3 on your desktop and then drag to iTunes. Don’t know how to get it on Amazon though. Good luck.

    • ericjbaker

      That’s the part that annoys me. When I open the iTunes app, the song is sitting there and I can listen to it. But when I try to upload it to the distribution site, the iTunes player is nowhere to be found. I want to use the distributor because they upload it to over 20 download and streaming sites, along with the artwork, and collect the royalties for you.

      I’ll try my computer at work and see if I have better luck. Thanks for the advice!

  • her30s

    Technology hates me too.

  • Richard Leonard

    Haha, funny stuff. I’m kinda in between. Like you I managed find my out of uni the proper way, landed in software development so I used to be a full-on techno geek. 20 years ago. These days with family and an overwhelming desire to write I only keep up with what I really need to. And what I find interesting, which most certainly is not every single little new and annoying gadget that comes out every 20 minutes. I have a 10 year old desktop PC, a 6 year old laptop. And a new one, admittedly, only because the kids started fighting over them for doing homework. So they say.
    I’ve still got a G Wifi network while everyone else has N. I also use MAC address filtering which trips me up every time I (or the kids) get a new device. Why won’t this connect to the Wifi? After lots of head scratching I remember I need to allow it on the network. (Experience: The ability to recognise a mistake when you make it the second time.) Could this be your problem? MAC address filtering turned on? The other one is the password/passphrase but you’ve probably got that covered.
    As for printers, apparently you have to use them often (at least weekly?) to stop the ink capillaries clogging up with dried ink and to maintain the manufacturers revenue stream. Can you feel the printer makers squeezing your balls every time you print something?
    Unfortunately I can’t offer any help with iTunes.

    • ericjbaker

      The “funny” thing is when I have someone look at whatever my latest problem is, they click through 53 sub-menus until they are in some weird software dungeon I never knew existing, enable some thingamajig or another, and say, “All you had to do was enable permissions for 63-bit megafile flux capacitor flip flop override data transfer!” Because everybody knows that but me, somehow?

      • Richard Leonard

        Yeah, I think I fall in both camps. I’m probably guilty of doing what you describe sometimes and I’ve also sat there scratching my head after someone shows me some hidden feature, wondering how long that’s been in this software package we’ve been using for the last 5 years…

  • Jill Weatherholt

    Technology does nothing but add frustration to my life, so I remain a minimalist when it comes to all of the high tech gadgetry. I have a laptop and the old fashion flip phone and that’s enough for me.

    • ericjbaker

      Oh, I miss the flip phone. No accidental pocket calling with one of those.

      I didn’t bother to mention in this post that my first cell phone broke after a week. I could make calls but not answer them. No, I didn’t drop it or leave it out in the rain. I take care of my things, and this is how they pay me back!

  • W.H.A.T.!™ Women Helping Affirm Themselves!

    I would prefer to find that cave . . . I offer to cook and clean just as long as someone else hunts for food! Thanks for the post.

  • Uzoma

    Ah! Gadgets, nowadays, are like mini gods, especially the ones without buttons. They stare back at me, expecting the usual “wow!” in their honour.

    Sometimes I wonder what goes on in the dreams of these geniuses that create these things.

  • Uzoma

    Sorry for the language. mini=small.

  • James Ramsey

    I am normally fairly safe with Tech gadgety things. Unless it’s an HP product. Or Google docs.

    HP products look at me and laugh before shutting down indefinitely. Like you I never had to replace the toner on my HP printer because the damn thing committed suicide. Of course I gave it a proper burial by firing it out the second story window into the back of my pick-up. It seemed only fitting. I felt loads better when I saw it explode. The grieving process was complete.

    I love my iProducts and have multiple versions of the same gadget. iPhones, ipods, iPads got them all, but my iTunes does seem to love to misplace files regularly. Why? It’s one of the mysteries of the universe. I blame the irrational love I have for my Acer laptop and that iTunes is staging a quiet protest that I didn’t buy a mac.

  • Dirk Porsche

    Nice post.

    Well, I’m the one that fixes the neighbours computers. I’m in IT. Not in the support unit, though. More in project management, a little programming and systems administration. But it’s to difficult to explain. So before I try to tell them, that I usually don’t fix computers, networks and stuff and that I even don’t have much experience in doing so, I simply do it.

    I have a Kindle Fire, a normal Kindle, a MacBook Pro, an PS3, an AppleTV, state-of-the-art WLAN, … but no smart phone. I hate them. My wife forced me to have a cell phone, otherwise I wouldn’t own one.

    By the way, you should switch to a laser printer. Works more reliable, even when used sparsely. Black and white ones are really cheap nowadays.

    • ericjbaker

      Thanks for that last bit of advice! I thought about that last time but got scared by the price of toner. I suppose it could be worth it in the long run if I don’t have to buy a new printer every 6 months, eh?

      I admire anyone who can manage today’s technology. I’m really not a total buffoon. I’m proficient in various programs and what not, but I have a lot of hardware and upload/download/file transfer problems.

      By the way, I managed to upload my song from someone else’s computer, so it wasn’t just me being dumb.

      • Dirk Porsche

        Yes, the toner is quite expensive. I paid 70€ for the printer (about three years ago) and a toner cartridge is around 45€. The second one is almost empty, now.

        It’s hard to say how much it is used, though. A wild guess: around 500 pages of text per 3 month.

        All in all it’s not more expensive then ink printers, even if you don’t buy new ones every few month.

        I have a Samsung, by the way, and it works well with Linux and OSX. I would recommend it, but the power consumption in standby is quite high.

  • Bob Rodrick

    Highly entertaining article, Eric. My favorite as of now. And…I feel your pain about most gadgets that are supposed to make our lives easier and more convenient.

  • Zen A.

    Well, one thing’s for certain: you write some mean rhymes. 😉

    I usually get along well with all technology… except ATMs and vending machines. If you think about it, there’s nothing worse than an ATM that won’t hand you back your card/rejects your money 12 times in a row, or a vending machine that almost always seems to break after you’ve fed it your money, leaving you stranded and sans a Mars bar. =[

  • Bryan Edmondson

    Don’t feel bad about problematic hybrid networks. I have a degree in computer science and I have problems with a wired/wireless combination setup.

    For a while if I rebooted my main computer, I lost the telephone dial tone, my cable modem lights all went out, and the computer in the next room would reboot every time.
    . Until both computers were back up I had no phone. My other PCs had no internet. However the whole time I was on my I Pod wireless cruising the world wide web..

    Any computer geek will tell you that this is impossible. And it is impossible. So I feel like an idiot. So it is not you.Lastly, technical support remotely scanned my system and reassured me the problem I am reporting is not happening.

    File uploads can be tricky from different hops. Email me if it just wont work. I can probably upload it for you–if it is 50MB or smaller.

    • ericjbaker

      My mom’s computer seems to have the magic touch for all this stuff. I’m not endorsing a brand, but it’s a Toshiba, and I’ve heard good things about them.

      Thanks for the moral support. When I become a famous blogger, I’m going to hire a personal tech nerd before I hire a trainer or a chef.

  • ShannonRaelynn

    I sure hope you can sort out your musical technological difficulties because I am not going to just take you at your word that you can play shown guitar. I’m going to be waiting around for an announcement that you have uploaded. I shall verify said statement for myself.

    • ericjbaker

      In the words of the legendary Bruce Campbell form Evil Dead II: Who’s Laughing Now? Muhahahahaha!

      Translation: I sorted out my technical difficulties and have uploaded the long and video, conveniently watchable by clicking the gray box on the right at the top of this comment thread.


  • Tuesday

    I have a continual love/hate relationship with all thing tech-y. I’m an admitted tech/electronics geek and I love the cool things they do…so long as they work. When it’s time to troubleshoot, my patience is thin. For instance, my DVR stopped functioning today, causing me to lose my shows. Not. Happy. Oh yes, I was quite pleased when it was doing its job…but today, not so much. Same goes for my smartphone that seems to be getting dumber by the day.
    Anyhow, glad to see you seem to have gotten one of your tech problems resolved. Congrats!

    • ericjbaker

      I don’t have a DVR, because I know it won’t work and I’ll get annoyed. It’s a preemptive strike that punishes no one but me, lol. Luckily, most of the things I want to see are on demand. I have a dumb phone from LG. I’m sure it was the greatest in 2007 though.

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