Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Never trust a geek!

What happens when IT geeks get together on discussion sites? Here's a salutary lesson.

Some months ago I bought a very beautiful and sleek ultrabook. I won't mention the brand, for reasons that will shortly become clear. It was a superb piece of engineering, except it wouldn't connect to my server for more than a few minutes at a time. Meanwhile I invested a couple of days setting it up, transferring files, setting passwords, and even switching my cloud storage to a system that the computer liked better. I assumed that the connectivity problem would settle down and that the time and the opportunity cost already sunk would be repaid in higher personal productivity.

No such luck.

After a week of gnashing, I took the thing back to the store, where it was tested and - of course - worked perfectly. I walked out of the store several hundred dollars down, clutching a new wireless modem; my new ultrabook was apparently far too advanced to work with my current modem, which quite easily serves two smartphones, a Mac, a PC, and various Kindles.

The problem was 90% resolved with the server, so I was gnashing at only 10% of the previous rate. Oddly I got used to restarting the ultrabook three or four times a day to reset the wifi adaptor - this narky bit of evil electronica evidently being the problem.

But enough was enough. A few weeks ago I started to haunt the online forums, where I found dozens of complaints about my XYZ Utrabook and the useless PQR chip that jokingly passed for the brains of this benighted piece of junk. There was a huge conspiracy in the tech department of XYZ and PQR: Why couldn't they just fess up and admit that the chip just couldn't hold a wifi connection? Who'd ever be so dumb to buy a XYZ ultrabook?  I pondered over suggested fixes that entailed downloaded dangerous sounding patches from sinister looking sites, but I was always too scared to try them.

I had to admit it. I had bought a lemon.

But then I found that the PQR chip is used in lots of other brands of computer and - lo! - there are forums dedicated to slagging off every brand in the shop ... they are all lemons!

I took a deep breath and went exploring inside the machine's system. I eventually found myself inside (metaphorically speaking) the wifi adaptor, where I discovered a button in the Power Management department; did I want to allow the ultrabook to turn off the wifi adaptor to save power? No, of course I didn't; everyone knows that computers that aren't bolted to desks are always shutting themselves down. "No!" I said (or pressed, actually) and the problem was instantly solved. Pity the guy in the store didn't know about this. And the geeks? Well, why find a solution when you can crowdgeek a problem?

The lesson is, of course, the same one that applies to illness; if you think you're sick, don't read online forums.

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