Technology Hell Never Brings Out the Best in Me

Lest you think I am living in some positive bubble in my world, let me share with you my latest experiences…

No matter how many years I work with a PC, the web, and the whole “e” world; No matter how savvy or knowledgeable I get; it is still plain hell to either 1) Get a new PC or 2) Rebuild my existing PC from scratch when it goes belly up. Now, as someone who consults on using web technology to power a small business, you’d think I’d be calm and cool regardless what technical snafu comes my way. Think again. When it comes to my PC and data (and heck, now it is even my hobbies — music, photos, etc.), I can only take so much before I go postal. OK, maybe not postal, but certainly not calm, serene, in the moment, and able to let go of what bugs me. So, you see…those of us who are coaches get to do the same work as our clients on a daily basis. There’s the thrill of being human…

While I am not yet 100% back in business, technology speaking, I am probably 80% there after several days and many hours of reformatting, installing, reinstalling, reconfiguring, and talking/chatting/e-mailing/holding with various support departments. All this and I KNOW what I’m doing. I have 10+ years in information technology related positions. How does the average person or small business owner manage? Perhaps ignorance is bliss, or maybe they just melt down entirely.

I knew I was in for a long project when on Friday night while I was stuck in the endless loop of Dell Computer’s automated phone system with the banal nasal-voiced woman recording saying “I’m sorry, I didn’t understand you”, I started screaming at the top of my lungs into the speaker phone “YEEEEESSSSSS, WHAT PART OF YES DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?!?!?!”. But I digress. Apparently, it is not much better for others who have hit insane levels of frustration. As I get closer to getting my system working, now I am left with two main problems and several small annoyances. The first being my Mozy backup won’t restore and of course I can only talk with them by e-mail so it is slow going. But at least they are responding! Then, tonight I am faced with the big project of bringing my iPod and iTunes back to happy existence. For a slick piece of technology designed simply and elegantly, I have gained many a gray hair in my two years of iPod ownership. I LOVE my iPod, but I also live in fear of it and having to do anything at all different with iTunes and the iPod for the fear of disaster is so high. I’m not alone…. today as I looked on the support forum; two other very unhappy campers had posted with the following subject lines:

“IS ANYONE EVER GOING TO HELP ME!! or shall i just destroy my ipod? ”

“THIS IS RIDICULOUS APPLE!!!!! How do I download older versions of itunes?”

Goodness knows the technology insanity is not limited to Apple. This is just an example of the level of stress associated with living in the technology age. Clearly frustrations run high and the line between civilized and going postal is thin.

So this got me to wondering, what will I do differently next time around? What did I do right that I will continue to do? I share these with you in the hope that they help you out as well.

  • You can never have too many redundant backups. While I haven’t yet lost any data (Mozy tech support, I am counting on YOU), I am damn thankful I made secondary, last minute DVD backups of personal and business files. In the future for planned changes I would do my restores to portable media so I had it handy during the rebuild/new PC process rather than go into this long cycle of download and prayers I am in now.
  • Plan on it taking some time to get through the process and then double your estimates (at least). There is time to get organized, actually install things, spent on hold, working with support, and lastly the ever popular updates (like a million) that have to occur when you reinstall your operating system from the disk you got when you bought the PC. Installing update 1 of 56 … was not the screen I was yearning to see.
  • Divide and conquer. There are things you absolutely “must have” to be operational and then there are the “nice to haves”. Start with the non-negotiable items: operating system, firewall, virus and spy ware protection, email, office products and build from there.
  • Don’t kick the cat or dog and don’t scream at your loved ones. Do not throw heavy or breakable objects. I did fairly well on this one this time although the tension can grow when your partner is trying to be helpful and it isn’t helping. That’s a good time to say, “I appreciate your help, and perhaps that’ll work out later.” I also highly recommend a nerf ball for any pivotal moments when you just need to throw something at the wall. A subset of this rule is: Don’t scream at the tech support people (screaming at the insane automated voice recordings IS allowed). These employees didn’t cause the problem and even if they are useless and not helpful, your problem is not their fault. Call back and get someone else.
  • Walk away. Another reason this is taking me so long is that I refused to have it consume my entire weekend. While it took a huge chunk, I found it necessary to get away from it all by keeping my other, very low-tech plans (time in my kayak, wine tasting, biking, etc.). I am always better able to solve sticky situations when I am refreshed and my head is clear.
  • Keep the commitments you can; apologize and renegotiate the rest. Since my PC days are far from being “just pleasure” (there’s an oxymoron) anymore and they actually support a business, it is disruptive not only to me but to my clients. For the most part I am keeping commitments with the exception of needing to put an extension on the date I promised someone a proposal. The key is open and honest communication.

The bottom line is that technology is great, when it works. When it doesn’t, it is straight from the “Life is Hell” books. As we get more and more technology enabled, the stakes for our businesses and even for personal pursuits (think – digital album of all your treasured photos) get higher. The amount of stress and insanity that can stem from it is big, and a whole new way for our bodies and minds to engage in the “fight or flight” response. So, be prepared and protected for life’s technology woes and remember to keep on taking deep breaths and keeping perspective when in the muck of a technology crisis.

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

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Comments

  1. Lyle Lachmuth - The says:

    Ah, Gawd love technology!

    After 40 years of working with computers I still want to beat the crap out of them … when they become contrary!!

    Lyle T. Lachmuth
    The Unsticking Coach

  2. Ah, and that is why I went into the technical coaching business. I saw the need to help those small business owners with the technical administration.

    Please call next time wheb you have a question or need someone to just take care of it or coach you how to manage your computer and networks. I have been at this since 1993 and now I get to help others in the community.

    Susan Melchert
    425-482-0355

Trackbacks

  1. Paula G. Web Design » Blog Archive » Web 101 - What the Heck Does That Mean in Plain English? says:

    […] One of the biggest complaints I hear from people when it comes to technology is that they don’t understand it and no one speaks to them in plain English.  It is all technospeak and acronyms that leave their palms sweaty with inadequacy and fear.  While technology can be maddening, especially when it doesn’t work, it is a fact of life especially in business. […]

How to Prioritize When Everything is a Priority

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