Being a tech consumer is a treacherous endeavor these days. Installing software, upgrading a piece of hardware or even just plugging in a new peripheral is a pursuit wrought with danger. That’s because, as a man named Murphy has us conditioned to believe, something will inevitably go wrong. And when things do go haywire—when Part A won’t play nice with Part B—you’re left trying to figure out just what’s to blame. Is it your operating system? Is it the USB port on your computer? Is it your thingamajig’s firmware?
In that situation, who ya' gonna call?
Introducing a new piece of hardware or software into your tech ecosystem is a lot like drilling haphazardly into the walls of your house. Hey, maybe things will be OK, or maybe you’ll perforate a gas line. Maybe you’ll even flood your basement—you can never really be sure. But, home repair woes are a lot less treacherous than tech problems. Drill through an electrical wire in your house and (if you’re not dead from the shock) it should be fairly obvious why the lights aren’t working. Knock out a gas line and that deceptively pleasant smell will warn you that it’s time to hoof it outdoors.
It would be nice if tech were as helpful. On any given day, nearly all of us depend on at least a hundred different moving technological parts that have been sold to us and are serviced by a hundred different companies (if they’re serviced at all). How can things possibly not go awry? It wasn’t too long ago that any “technology” problems you encountered were easily solved by the guy down the street. TV out? Bring it to the TV guy. Vacuum stopped sucking? There’s a fellow for that, too. In fact, he’s probably the same one you bought it from. Now, a problem with your TV could be the television or the cable box, the TiVo or the overpriced cables you shelled out for. Good luck.
For me, the problem is with my printer’s wireless capabilities. I bought a Lexmark printer not too long ago, and the thing has stopped talking to my Mac. Well, that’s not true—it’s more like the printer and laptop are in a bad relationship and only communicate when they’re both “in the mood.” Is it my Mac that’s acting up or is it the Lexmark? Is it my wireless home network that’s at fault? I like to consider myself to be somewhat technologically savvy, but I’m flush out of answers on this one. I’ve called Lexmark a few times, and each time the problem gets fixed until I restart my computer. The thought of another 30-plus–minute tech support call that’s been routed to Timbuktu makes me queasy—where's the guy down the street for problems like this?
Then I remember Geek Squad. Never in a million years would I have considered calling a service like this before, but in the interest of finding a happy ending for this article, I gave them a call.
My happy ending still eludes me.single page
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.