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Technological Overload: Tell Avivah

New York Stock Exchange

United Airlines plane

A single day last week told the story of what’s become of life on planet Earth. On Thursday, July 9, computers brought down the New York Stock Exchange, United Airlines, and the Wall Street Journal. And none of the interruptions in service by these institutions, government officials opined, were related or the work of saboteurs. It was all about the shortcomings of technology.

A Litan-y of Problems

The triple whammy prompted this remark by Avivah Litan: “The problem is humans can’t keep up with all the technology they have created. It’s becoming unmanageable by the human brain. Our best hope may be that computers eventually will become smart enough to maintain themselves.” Who is Avivah Litan? An analyst at Gartner, said The Associated Press. What is Gartner? Beats me; AP didn’t say (and the Palm Beach Post copy editor didn’t ask). And I’m not about to Google for the answer and risk having my computer go haywire.

Avivah Litan

Truer words were never spoken than those uttered by Litan. They should be enshrined in some compendium of profound quotations. First, however, we’ll have to find out who this Litan guy is. (Or is Avivah a woman’s name? Beats me.) Oh what the heck, I’ll live dangerously and give it a Google. Ah! Viva – I mean Vive – la Hebrew! Avivah is a gal, a top analyst with Gartner Research, supposedly the world’s leading information technology research outfit (how many can there be?).

It’s a plane! It’s a mode! No, it’s a glitch!

Just after Litan makes this insightful declaration, I go to make a call on my cell phone, something I rarely do because I still haven’t figured out how all the apps and widgets and doohickeys work. (Hickeys I’m pretty good with. Doohickeys, not so much.) So I dial the number, press the phone icon, and this comes up: “To place a call, first turn off Airplane Mode.” I look up in the sky. Not a plane in sight – and I wouldn’t know how to contact the pilot and ask him to turn off his mode if there were. Maybe the message means I’m supposed to forget about that flight I was planning to take? Nope, that can’t be it: I wasn’t thinking of going anywhere. So I’m screwed. I’ll just have to wait and see if the thing fixes itself – like the mysterious Litan suggested might happen.

But the cell phone conundrum has been the least of my technology travails. Technicians have had my … Excuse me, while I try to get rid of a popup about the Best Games For First Half Of 2015. Zap! Now where was I? Oh yes. My main computer (not this laptop, which keeps running words together because of the stupidly designed space bar) has been doing weird things lately, and has been five days in the hands of “experts” who thought they’d fixed it in my home, but didn’t.

Posting Perplexity

Again, not the biggest of my ’puter problems. No, the thing that’s been sending me into apoplexy over and over is the maze of configurations involved in online efforts to generate publicity for my new book, MURDER IN PALM BEACH: The Homicide That Never Died. For months, I’ve been wanting to make this paean to technology that I compose these blogs on automatically link the blogs to my social media sites after I post them. My website designer has been a paragon of patience with me on such issues, but I had to figure out how to conquer this latest challenge by myself. I reached a WordPress technical service person, who showed me the simple steps for inserting the links into the social media “mechanically.” But how do you do it automatically, I wanted to know, because that would save a lot of time in the long run. “That’s beyond our service limitation,” he replied.

So I Googled for the answer to the problem. What came up was a list of “plugins” which, their technicians vowed, would enable me to easily insert the blog posting links in my social media sites. After about 12 hours and five or six plugins that I couldn’t get to work, I began exchanging emails with a “jetpack” (that’s a plugin already in WordPress) service person. And after four or five email exchanges over three days, the problem was resolved. I think. If the link to this blog attaches to my Facebook, LinkedIn,  Twitter and Google Plus sites, it was. Otherwise, we’re back to square one.

Square Deal

Square Reader

Did I say square? I feel another apoplectic episode coming on. I had this little square, flat piece of plastic shipped to me for taking credit card purchases of my books on my cell phone. It has a prong on the end that fits into the phone. Credit cards are swiped through a gap in the top. I installed it in the phone (by some miracle), and tested it. Worked fine – until two weeks ago. Tried using it several times since then, and an error message kept appearing. With most of my week devoted to working on other technological problems, I haven’t had time to contact Square Reader and exchange a slew of emails, no doubt, to fix this one.

I’ve gone on for more than 800 words about my woes with the modern world. Do you have time for 5,000 more words? Because I’ve just scratched the surface. But I think you get the idea: The computer age is a godsend, but nothing comes without a price. In this case, a pretty darned big one.

#WallStreetJournal #plugins #cellphone #Twitter #AssociatedPress #AvivahLitan #Facebook #MurderinPalmBeach #LinkedIn #UnitedAirlines #Wordpress #GooglePlus #NewYorkStockExchange

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