Technology Meltdown

The advance in technology since I was a kid is something I could never have envisioned and, looking back, is truly remarkable.  Growing up, we had the generic landline which, having parents and two sisters, was always otherwise engaged. Yesterday, I took a picture with my beloved iPhone 5 using the zoom feature, of my electricity metre which is placed too high to read by way of normal sight. I emailed the metre picture to the supplier and hey presto, my account was immediately updated. Didn’t have to book an appointment to wait for a metre man with the six hour window we’re given nowadays by companies who seem to think we’ve got all the time in the world to sit at home waiting.

Back then, when I needed directions, and being hopelessly incapable of fathoming an A-Z, my father would jot down street drawings and I would add written instructions which sat beside me as I drove along. Often, I would have to pull over to quickly ascertain the next route to take.  It was time-consuming and cumbersome compared to now when I just type in a postal code and my sat nav tells me where to turn with the added benefit of arrows highlighting the upcoming turning. That’s not to say I haven’t missed a turning but then the welcome, “re-calculating” instruction booms and I’m safely on my way once more.

Most revered of all is Sky + which has proved a gloriously time-saving invention. Long gone are the days of setting the video and only being able to record one programme at a time. It was hardly worth the effort with the amount of instructions you had to learn in order to use the machine. Now I can Sky + all my favourite shows, set the series link so the series downloads automatically and, most satisfying of all, never having to sit through mind-numbing adverts.

But, when technology fails and these time-saving machines break down, the time and effort it takes to resolve issues is infuriating. It’s not just getting the machine to work again, it’s the mental stress of trying to find the most cost effective way of doing so within the shortest time possible. I’ve learnt to my peril, that technological support is extremely expensive which you are often unaware of when purchasing phones, sat nav’s and the like. Most irritating of all, is that faults often develop even when you have followed instructions to the letter, particularly when attempting to download software updates.

After logging into iTunes, a window popped up informing me that a new software update was available. I plugged the phone into the port and the download was initiated but any hopes of installation were dashed when a window popped up with the heart-stopping words, “Apple unable to verify update-error 1604”. As if anyone can be expected to know what “error 1604” alludes to. Resourcefully, I google, “error 1604”, and, after scrolling pages and pages of troubleshooting links I find a YouTube video of a lady with pink, or is red hair, talking through “error 1604” as I fight to focus on the blurry screen shots. I follow her solution guidelines and re-try the update. This time, “error 21”. I google “error 21” but don’t understand the instructions, something about disabling windows operating system via the host files.  What?  Doesn’t sound much like boil, simmer then blend till soft. Then the killer message – “phone in recovery mode” i.e. totally scrambled and if you haven’t backed up your data you’ll suffer brain drain having to re-enter contacts, wi-fi connections, app’s, screensavers, not forgetting transferring music, videos and pictures.

It’s last resort time, I’m going to have to spend money on tech support.  It’s now 7pm on a Friday night (disasters always happen on a Friday) and manage to find a tech support service who put me through to a German operator in India.  What with his accent and the background echo, he’s tough to understand but he’s nice and friendly and assures me that he’s seen this problem countless times and he’ll have me up and running in no time.  By 11pm we’d both given up.  The phone stubbornly remained in recovery mode and whatever we tried, we couldn’t get it to work.

I was lucky this time as the phone was under warranty but if it hadn’t been, it would have cost just under £300 to replace through absolutely no fault of my own. The biggest irony was being told by Apple that I shouldn’t ever use itunes to update software, that it should only be done via the phone itself!

After typing in an address to my sat nav, a window popped up saying that all map data was unavailable. A sat nav without maps, how is that even possible? I call tech support and the guy tells me he’s never heard of this happening but he suggests I download the maps from their database. This took 3 hours so, unsurprisingly, I missed my appointment.

Gotta tell you, got heaps of programmes on Sky + to catch up on but am scared to pick-up the remote!

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