Electronic Drama Queens

’Way back in 2011 I speculated that my electronic devices might be alive, and maybe even moderately sentient. Today I’m here to tell you: Not only are my electronic devices alive; they’re also drama queens.

At first I thought they were merely minor chaotic evil. Imps, if you will. Not smart enough to develop an organized attack; only aware enough to grind to a halt when they sensed I really needed them to work.

But I was wrong. Lately my electronic devices have undertaken a passive-aggressive campaign to demand all my attention while making it clear that they’re the ones in charge. (’Scuse the electronic pun.)

First my laptop’s CD drive started whining at me: Making that small annoying “rrr-EEE-rr” sound that indicates it’s spinning up a CD. But there was no CD in the drive. And it wouldn’t stop. I finally gave up on fixing it and left the CD tray permanently unlatched.

Thwarted, the laptop began its next micro-aggression: Randomly jumping around in my document when scrolling. It would work fine for a while; and then I’d scroll down in Chapter 22 and suddenly find myself in Chapter 3. Or 10. Or…?

Fine. I started using the Page Up/Page Down keys instead of scrolling on the touchpad.

I could practically hear its thoughts: “What?!? Well, I’ll fix you.”

So it started flipping to battery power without warning, even though it’s plugged in. I wiggle the cord and it goes back to wall power. Then it switches back to battery for no apparent reason. Wiggle the cord: Wall power. Then battery again. I reach for the cord again, but this time it coyly switches back to wall power before I can touch it. It’s a relatively minor annoyance; but it gets my attention, which was apparently the goal.

The laptop is old, so I’ve been putting up with its quirks; but in retrospect that may have been a mistake. Now it’s infecting my other devices with its bad attitude.

My Kindle has developed a similar intermittent issue with its charging cord. And sometimes it stalls in the middle of a book and reboots, only to reopen the book in a completely different place. The Kindle is supposed to remember how far you’ve read, but mine doesn’t. Profanity ensues.

Sometimes, the Kindle won’t start at all; it just shows me an obstinate lock screen. It takes at least five minutes to recover and reboot from that; and it won’t always do it on the first try. (Because why would it pass up an opportunity to show me who’s really the boss?)

Clearly I should have disciplined the laptop before it could become a bad influence, because lately my desktop computer has been getting into the act with random reboot errors, too.

I don’t know where all this will end, but the escalation is making me nervous. If you see headlines about a woman who died in a bizarre mishap caused by simultaneous electric shocks from three separate devices, you’ll know what happened.

Meanwhile, I’ll be over here trying to placate my laptop…

Book 17 update: I’m on Chapter 37, and things are getting explosive… literally!

25 thoughts on “Electronic Drama Queens

  1. I so hear you!! Sometimes it is like they have a mind of their own. I’ve been blaming it on security updates and program changes, but you could be right….they could be doing it just to mess with our heads!! And it’s working!! 🙂

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  2. Oh how I miss the days where a simple laying of hand on a device caused it to work properly. Even a swift kick (not recommended lest you know how) to the desktop’s HDD cabinet would put things back in order. Heck I even remember a time when printers would suddenly start working again at the sight of me walking towards them.
    Youd taught me well Obi-Wan

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    • LOL! Those were the days! I think our biggest mistake was leaking our secret strategy: “Turn it off and then turn it on again”. Just think, if we hadn’t allowed people that peek into our mystique, we could be COMPUTER GODS by now! 😉

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  3. I have nothing but sympathy for you . . . because I know next to nothing about what makes tech stuff go. But the sympathy comes in the super enormous gigantic size 🙂 Good luck!

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  4. Blame the Solar Flares, Diane: electronic equipment of any sort tend to either not like them and stop working, or love them and use them as an excuse to press ahead with their plans of world domination.
    See? Even spellchecker gets in on the act… it wanted me to say ‘dominoes’ just then! 😊

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    • “World dominoes”, LOL! I guess there are worse things. 😉 And you just brought up a worrisome thought: I’ve always assumed that solar flares messed up electronic equipment, but maybe they act like the radioactive spider bite that created Spiderman. Uh-oh, my electronic devices are about to become superheroes. Or more likely, super-villains!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m sorry but I have no insights for you. I hate tech problems! Tech and I are not friends. We don’t speak the same language and it’s unwilling to learn mine. The times I’ve attempted to bridge the language barrier the tech laughs at me. I hate change, which tech does constantly! Every time there’s an update I have a meltdown! I’ve been told I’m a very logical person so I should be absolute besties with the tech stuff. I’m not. I can’t explain it. And the tech just keeps on laughing at me…. Grumble grumble cuss cuss….. ~sigh~ Anywho I hope your devices will see the error of their ways and begin begging to make your life easier, as they should, lol!
    Thanks for the update on the new book! Sounds like it’s getting exciting!!!

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    • The book is coming along! I always struggle a bit in the middle as all the story threads go every which-way, but now they’re starting to weave together.

      I feel for you with the tech problems — electronic devices have a sadistic sense of humour. After I’d complained about my power-cord issue, Hubby checked it for me. (He’s an electronic engineer, so he actually understands what makes these things tick… or not.) His multi-meter showed no problems with the cord at all; and after he plugged it back in, it worked perfectly. GRRR!!! That laptop is definitely messing with me.

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  6. Oh no…you wrote: “Meanwhile, I’ll be over here trying to placate my laptop…” followed by “I’m on Chapter 37, and things are getting explosive… literally!“. Are the two related? 😁 Post your GoFundMe account so we can get you a new laptop! 🤣

    Anyhoos, I just rolled in from the Lemons Rally, and it was a lot of driving! Next few days will be spent putting my thoughts into words and posting….somewhere. Lots of good scenery, new friends made, Mexican food five out of the nine nights I was gone, a few shenanigans, #RunForrestRun, and a mild bit of exhaustion that was totally worth it. The Tunnel Fire north of Flagstaff closed off our route, so the “official” detour ended up passing through the Grand Canyon. Epic memories!

    And this road trip is where my own gremlins came along on the ride, electronic, mental, or otherwise. I normally bring two phones on a road trip. I like to use the older one plugged in continually in the car, to power the navigation. The other can go with me when needed, and I save a lot of wear on its USB-C port. The in-dash screen in the car had other ideas. Any time I would plug in the old phone in the past, I would get an error message. So I’d have to use my newer one. This time was no exception. Only at one point on maybe the second day of the rally did I take a look at the old phone after I plugged it in, and that lightbulb moment happened–a “welcome” screen popped up, where I had to approve access for Android Auto. Yeah, I know, I did this a year or two ago, but I just now remembered that if apps are not used for a handful of months, the phone removes permissions for safety reasons.

    Resisting the urge to smack it, I tappity-tapped what needed tapping and had navigation for the rest of the trip.

    Only…on the third rally day, I came up empty in an area that had no signal. I had the offline maps downloaded on the newer phone, but not the older. And given that our checkpoint doesn’t have a location on the map, and apparently the coordinates I saved were way off, I gave up. I also struggled a bit in finding places I had searched for the prior evening…until I had another lightbulb moment and realized I should save all the locations in the evening, then they’re easily searched in the car. All learnt in time for the final day of the rally, of course. But that wasn’t the extent of it…

    Exhibit B: This head unit in the car plays from either an SD card or USB stick, and I have both well loaded up. Yet for the first time, things there were acting screwy. It would stop playback for no reason. A couple of times, a Pandora station would start playing.

    Exhibit C: The GoPro gave me fits…twice, I’d tried charging it by USB-C in the car, only to find it hot and the battery completely dead.

    Exhibit D: I took the good DSLR, only to find that I’d left the batteries and charger at home. (Although I learned that I didn’t have any time to use it anyway.) Although that wasn’t a gremlin. Just me being dumb enough to not realize that I’d taken the charger and batteries for the old DSLR…

    After all this, I need a vacation.

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    • Argh! Your ‘vacation’ sounds exhausting. (But overall, a blast!) And Holy Gremlins, Batman! Your electronic devices really hate you, don’t they? Don’t blame yourself for a minute for accidentally grabbing the wrong set of batteries/charger. That was obviously a subliminal suggestion floated into your brain via the electromagnetic waves of all your colluding devices. Never turn your back on those suckers.

      I laughed at your ‘GoFundMe’ comment. Seriously, I might have to do that if my laptop and desktop both pack it in. What with a whole bunch of unforeseen expenses popping up this spring (such as a root canal, grr) and writing delays because of my back, I’d be really scraping the bottom of the budget barrel if I had to buy new tech as well. Hmmm, now I just have to come up with a suitably teary-eyed appeal. That could be tricky, since electronic mutiny tends to make me livid, not weepy. Guess I’ll have to work on that… 😉

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  7. Oh yes.
    And they are definitely sentient. And talk to other appliances in the house. At the moment my phone (not often used) is behaving. Himself’s is not. Nor is his pad of eyes. And the fridge has started moves to go out in sympathy. Who is boss? They are. Each and every one of them. If one of them has not been used for a while it doesn’t come looking for us….

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  8. Solar flares, gamma radiation from cosmic rays, radon from granite (in your yard, counter tops …) emitting excess amounts of alpha particles are the normal things I blame all computer/electronic problems on. I suggest building a large Faraday Cage around your office and adding lead lining to the walls of your house. You might want to consider digging a deep bunker (100 meters below ground with plenty of lead lining and copper Faraday Cages) to house your electronics for the expected 2025 solar flare storms that are predicted to destroy all electronic and electrical systems on earth.

    You may want to have extra snacks in the bunker as it could take 20 years to fully recover the North American electrical grid.

    Buying a new laptop? Yes, but remember that is a temporary solution you can use while working on the larger backup and survival plan.

    If you need any help on the specifics, just let me know – I’m just full of info … 😉

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    • LOL! Don’t think for a moment that I haven’t considered all that in my darker moments. But I may have a slight issue with the underground bunker: Our water table sits at 27 feet, and not so far under that is bedrock. I guess if I could manage to dig a bunker in bedrock, I’d be all set (except for the radon gas, etc, etc) but I’m thinking I might not be ready by 2025. Maybe instead I’ll just send a memo to the sun asking it to hold off on the solar flare storms for a bit. That should work, right?

      I guess the upside is that if the solar flares take out all electronics, I won’t have any devices left to complain about. And nobody else will have to read about my struggles because my blog will be dead, too. Silver linings…?

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Okay Diane,
    I can help you here, but you will have to sacrifice one electronic gadget. So, when you are ready for a new laptop keep the old one. Bring it back home and place it in the middle of the room surrounded by your other bits and the new laptop. Then announce that it had not performed adequately and the price had to be paid. Then smash it to pieces and leave the peices there for a few hours.
    Not only will this give you immense satisfaction, the other gadgets will be quaking in their boots.

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  10. Boy, do I get it. The first instinct is to just trade up to a new laptop. Maybe. But remember, it’ll come with all the latest and most intrusive software. Took my old faithful laptop in for a tuneup a while ago. Being helpful, the Goon Squad installed Windows Whatever and the new Office, er, stuff. After fighting EVERYTHING for two weeks-ish (seemed like forever) I took it back and had them dump the new Office and reinstall the version that came with it years ago. I had to remind the kid with the blank look that I still had the license for it. Finally got through to him. Works perfectly again.

    But I would’ve gone with Word Perfect 5.1 and Lotus 1 2 3 if I could have. Not kidding.

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    • I totally get it. DOS was nice. It did what I told it to do. Every time. (Even when I accidentally typed ‘deltree /y C:\*.*’ Not my finest moment.) But despite my desire to go back to the last version of Office that had text menu trees, I can’t. Publishing requires some of the modern word processing bells and whistles, so I’m stuck. Grrr.

      I teetered on the brink of getting a new laptop, but I had exactly the same thought process you just described. No, no, a thousand times no! I’m seriously considering switching to Linux and running my necessary publishing apps inside a Windows emulator. But that would take just as much time as learning to deal with New Windows and New Office. Grrr again!

      I suppose I shouldn’t complain, though. First world problems…

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  11. I feel your pain.
    My laptop suffers insanity every time the operating system is covertly updated in the middle of the night. A couple of those prompted me to keep drive image back up weekly and new file updates daily. A real P.I.T.A..

    Ten years of a love hate relationship with my cell phone. A device I refer to as my ‘digital parasite’ due to its infectious inseparability. I finally had to break down and get a new one. My wife insisted. It might have had something to do with the remote battery I had velcro’d to the back of the phone to get a full day of use without a recharge.

    Now comes the challenge of learning the new swipe, tap, double tap (Believe me a ‘Double tap’ is very tempting.).

    I am truly an analog man in this digital world.
    Jim

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    • I’m still laughing about your wish to “double tap”! Oh, the temptation is strong sometimes!

      I’m completely paranoid about data loss, so I’m right there with you. Nightly backups (and I email myself critical files, knowing that they’ll stay on my email server for 14 days even if everything else blows up). Weekly data backups. Complete system images. Plus daily backups to a USB stick that lives on my keychain, JUST IN CASE the house burns down while I’m out getting groceries. I may need an intervention… 😉

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