I am the first to admit I love technology. Love it, love it, love it. Except when I hate it. It is like dating someone who is perfect in every way, but is always 33.5 minutes late for everything. For those 33.5 minutes, you are ready to throw him out. Then he shows up, without remorse and asks, “Ready, babe? We’re running a tad late.”
I was ready 35 minutes ago, you narcissistic jackass.
That’s my relationship to technology. Perfect in every way, except when it is a narcissistic jackass determined to eat up my time, mess with my mood, and make me snappish in the extreme. I could chew railroad tracks and spit nails.
I did a nationwide giveaway of my Accidental President Trilogy. I have fifty books to send to fifty people in fifty states. I could sign the books, add a book mark, stuff them in the envelopes, write on addresses (and return addresses), schlep them to the post office, stand in a long line and mail them. I’d have to make several trips as 50 books weigh a lot.
Or, with Stamps.com. I could print out a label that includes postage and be done with it and call for pick up (I think).
I’m no techie virgin, and I knew I would have to set aside an afternoon to get the kinks out of the system, as I have some new software and a new printer as well.
First, I took the printer’s instruction sheet to the office store to get extra ink cartridges. Everyone knows the ones in a new printer have 2.3 molecules of ink in them. On the instruction sheet, there was no cartridge number. On the ink cartridges, there were no model numbers that I could read. After waiting for the guy to help a lady who was, shall we say, sloooooww, he handed me the correct cartridges.
I have to point out to the printer manufacturers that while they might be an 800-pound gorilla in the printer business, they have the IQ of that gorilla. Possibly the gorilla is smarter. Why? He pays attention to core business: getting those bananas and beating on his chest to catch some young babe. The printer company is probably trying to do a double buy back with a leveraged de-acquisition of preferred stock for debentures and thus cannot remember how to make a printer that doesn’t have secret codes for cartridge numbers.
I had some labels that were, oops, for a laser printer, so those had to go back. I wrote down the label size I wanted, and while I was in the store, I looked for them. During my search, I discovered that my office store carries only incompatible labels. So I picked up two different sizes and headed home.
Neither is on the drop down menu of acceptable labels that is far longer than a speech by Bill Clinton.
Rather than have my head explode in anger, I decided to work on a different part of the problem.
During the Oscars, I patiently entered all the book winners in a database in Excel. So today I spent an hour trying to import those into Stamps.com. An HOUR later, I determined that such was not possible. Perhaps the USPS was spending so much money on Lance Armstrong, they outsourced the programming to the printer’s gorilla. My husband suggested I do a CSV file. Needless to say, that didn’t work.
Then he suggested we hand address them.
“That’s not the point,” I said, “I want to use this program as I will have continuing use for it.”
So, I changed tack. I’d work the label problem. I wrote down the interminable list from the drop down menu, went back to the store. I found just what I wanted. The proper number in a size I loved. I gleefully brought them home, certain they would soothe my angered, chocolate-deprived, dieting soul. I entered their number in the box and saw the yellow triangle with the exclamation point: These will not work for media mail! What am I mailing? Books, which are media.
I give up for today.
What is so distressing about this is that similar scenarios are happening all across the world as I write this. How much time is spent by bright people wrestling with technology that is as user-friendly as an Anaconda in a bad mood? Why must we give this pound of flesh EACH and EVERY time we seek to change anything? If technology worked first time out of the box, our productivity would soar. The GDP would go through the roof. Bill Gates wouldn’t have $60 billion bucks, he’d have $600 billion.
We could cure cancer in the time we waste on technology delays. We are inured to this time suck, as we know it is the pound of flesh we must give to appease the gods of technology.
And while I’m ranting about technology, why must I have the computer whose power plug falls out? It has the computer equivalent of Erectile Dysfunction. The boy thingy won’t stay in the girl thingy. I kid you not. I’ve spent days on this problem, including having two techies out here, one of whom basically rebuilt the computer. I have spent hours with a nice lady in India taking over my computer, but the plug still falls out. What was she going to do remotely? Reach through the computer and hang on to the connector? Can’t we build a PC that stays plugged in? Do they make Viagra for computer plugs? Do I need a prescription for it?
I contend tech companies should have a “standard user” who road tests every product and says, “Yo! Nitwit, put the cartridge number on the instructions & put the model number on the cartridge boxes.” Or who says, “Hey, dummy, the power cord falls out.”
I need tech support to say, “We’ve wasted too much of your time. I’m emailing you a voucher for a new computer.” Everyone understands mistakes; companies lost customers when they don’t fix the mistakes, politely, the first time.
What is the worst that could happen if technology was truly plug and play? Or barring that, problems were easy to solve?
World Peace is the worst that could happen.
People, blissed out over installing and using new technology, would greet their worst tribal enemies with a smile on their face. They’d say things like,”Beautiful day, isn’t it?” They’d forget their desire to kill one another and go inside their tents to play Angry Birds, not angry people.
Instead, enraged by tribal differences and technology FUBARS, they shoot each other. Then someone from each tribe scuttles in and steals a computer. The thieves are enraged by them and repeat the tech-rage shootings the following day. Please, we can stop the violence if we just make computers that work.
Or maybe there would be no road rage. Drivers would be courteous to each other. If you think about it, road rage wasn’t that big a problem until everyone had computers. Coincidence? I think not. I think tech rage has brought us to the brink.
Just think. For the ability to print labels and a computer that stays plugged in, we could have world peace.