31 July 2011

Never send to know for whom the warning bleep tolls...

An embarrassing interlude.

We've all enjoyed, haven't we, those stories of people who go to technical support with a complete equipment failure ... only to discover that they haven't switched the equipment on.

I've encountered such cases myself. I've laughed with everyone else at those I heard recounted. Steve Wheeler recently recounted a satisfying example in which such a story provided well deserved come-uppance for arrogant behaviour.

But schadenfreude is a two edged sword.

Yesterday afternoon, when it was too late to visit my favourite computer workshop (or any other), the touchpad on my Lenovo N500 laptop (from which most of my writing is done) ceased to work. No response whatsoever.

I did all the obvious things. I rebooted. I went into the system manager, which told me that the touchpad was working. I went into the appropriate control panel settings. Etc, etc, and so forth. Eventually, I plugged in a wireless miniature mouse, and worked with that ... only slightly inconvenient in itself, but wearing over a long period of work.

This morning, I've done a web search and discovered that the problem is both well known and trivial. At the top right of my keyboard is a set of four indicators lights ... but, unbeknown to me, they are also touch sensitive buttons. Three of them have to do with sound volume or muting; since my sound is almost permanently off, I pay little attention to them. The fourth, apparently, is concerned with enabling or disabling the touchpad. Thinking back, I know what happened ... I brushed away some dust from the area behind the keyboar, as I have done a thousand times before ... and, for the first time apparently, chanced to brush over that little indicator.

A similar thing happened a couple of years ago. My wireless network link was dead. After a lot of investigation of abstruse software possibilities, I carted the machine down to that favourite computer workshop I mentioned. There, Mike looked at the problem, felt around the front of the machine, and flicked a switch ... restoring the wireless link instantly. “A good thing we found that before I started on billable work, isn't it?” he joked. here again, it was unfamiliarity ... I had turned off the wireless link for a good reason but, because that's something I very rarely do, I'd forgotten all about it.

Never send to know who the off switch mocks (to mangle John Donne's Meditation 17): it mocks thee.

1 comment:

Ray Girvan said...

Clare's laptop regularly gets problems of this sort - from the cats walking across it. They avoid stepping on the middle of the keyboard, and use tne narrow strip between the F-keys and screen, pressing the F-keys in the process.