Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I'm Beginning To Think It Might Be Me

I think technology hates me. Not just Macs/Apples, but all of technology.
I've told you of some of the technology problems I've experienced this past year. Thats right, some. I know what you're thinking "Dude, theres more? Seriously? What more technology problems could one girl possibly have?"
First, there was the situation with the iBook and the iPod.
Then there was the issue with the PowerBook.
Last you heard was the troubles with upgrading the OS on the iMac.

Well, to be honest, my technological trainwreck goes back further than what I have let on.

About a year and a half ago, my brother accidentally cut the power cord to my TV. He was ripping the carpet out of our hallway, and when he took took the blade to cut the carpeting at my doorway, he didn't move the power cord to my TV out of the way and accidentally cut it in half.
Yes, I was annoyed, but I didn't make a big deal out of it. At that time I thought that I had three options to remedy the situation:

1. Buy a new TV
2. Take it to a repair shop and pay to have it fixed.
3. Fix it myself.

Well, anyone who knows me knows that I went with option three. I will DIY just about any project when that is a viable option. I look at it as an opportunity to learn a new skill or further develop a skill that I may already have, and save some money to boot.
I know a little about electrical type stuff.
A little.
My great-grandfather was a electrician and I remember sitting in his workshop with him, watching and helping him with some basic electrical repairs. My grandfather, while not an electrician, did possess a basic knowledge of electrical repairs - I also helped him with all kinds of home maintenance around the house, including some tasks of electrical nature.

Looking at the issue in front of me, I knew how to fix the problem of the cut power cord. I had the piece that had been cut off, all I had to do was strip both of the cut ends, match the ends up, splice them together, and seal well with electrical tape.
I set about my project, cleanly stripped the ends and spliced the appropriate copper wires together.
Here is where I faltered. I did not have any electric tape.
I searched the house with no luck. In a lapse of judgement I thought to myself, "Duct tape. Duct tape can fix everything, right? I've got duct tape!"
And I duct taped the cord together. I taped the two separate sides (I forget the technical term) and duct taped the entire outside of the spliced area to ensure that it was completely sealed and protected. Heh. Those of you with more knowledge of the composition of duct tape are already shaking your heads.
I plugged the TV in, and it worked. It worked well for a couple of weeks. Then, one day, I come home and go to turn on my TV. It starts to turn on, then theres a "pop" and as the TV turns back off, theres a "pssssssssss" type sound.
I assume that perhaps I didn't twist the wires together tightly enough, or didn't tape them together securely enough, when I was splicing the cord.
So, I start to remove the layers upon layers of duct tape. A couple of layers in, I find that parts of the duct tape appears to be charred and I think to myself "hmmm. Thats odd". Once I remove all of the tape I am really confused because there is no visible copper wire. Instead, there is this black dust like substance. I do not know what caused this, I just know that it is BAD. My thoughts, in the order that they occurred, were:

1. I'm not sure what I did wrong here, I just know that I was thisclose to having a fire here.
2. Crap, a fire! My TV is right in front of my bedroom door. I wouldn't have had an exit other than to jump out the window!
3. Holy hell! If I had to jump out the window, what would have happened to Grandma? Would she have been able to get up and out of the house in time considering the difficulty she has walking?
4. F! Would I have even woken up? The battery in the fire detector was dead and the beeping was driving me nuts so I took the batter out and keep forgetting to replace it!
5. F, I'd have died!

So, I go down to the pub and tell my guy friends what has happened hoping that they can give me some insight. One of them happens to be a fire fighter. He starts to chuckle, puts his arm around my shoulder, and says "Vanessa, God bless you. People like you give me job security."
He proceeds to inform me that duct tape actually contains metallic filaments so the duct tape was conducting electricity then entire time. I am very lucky that there wasn't an electrical fire.
He also tells me that he thinks the "pop" sound I heard most likely was the tube in my TV blowing out (or something like that - its an old TV, and this scenario took place a year ago... I'm a little fuzzy on some of the details) and its probably dead now.
After this, I decided not to have the TV fixed since it would be beyond just replacing the power cord and I'd be best off to just replace the entire TV. I don't watch a ton of TV in my bedroom since I refuse to have cable hooked up in there (I would never sleep. Instead I would get sucked into Project Runway or What Not To Wear marathons). All I really use my TV for in my bedroom is to watch DVD's.
For a while, I used my laptop to watch DVDs and the occaisional streaming of TV shows that I had missed during their original broadcasting.
Then, my laptop died.
I took advantage of this situation to buy a portable DVD player. It just so happened that I'd been considering buying one of these for quite a while.
I'd like to say that I did extensive research and bought something that was top of the line but still at a reasonable price. I can not say that.
What I can say is that I went on ebay and bought one that was cheap and that I recognized the manufacturers name. I ended up getting a 7" Polaroid portable DVD player, in blue, for something like $50. I was never THRILLED with the purchase - the battery only lasted about an hour when fully charged, so I had to have it constantly plugged in... which defeats the whole purpose of it being "portable". Plus, a 7" screen is pretty small.
But overall, it served its purpose. I set it up on my nightstand and have been using it there since last August.
This past week I went to put a DVD in, and it gave me an error message stating "No Disc". I knew this was BS because I had very plainly JUST put a disc in there. I took the disc out and tried the very high tech attempt to repair... I blew on the disc tray. I know, I know, revel in my technological savy. It actually worked.
I put the disc in and watched my movie.
The next night, I put another disc in. Once again "No Disc". The "blow" technique did not work this time. I tried a different disc, same problem. A third disc, Same. Problem.
I turned it off, waited a minute, turned it back on. No difference.
I turned it off, unplugged it, removed the battery, waited a minute and put everything back together.
I put a disc back in. It acted like it was loading, then made a weird noise and said "no disc". This time when I removed the disc and looked at the disc tray, the lens had moved. The lens normally is positioned towards the center of the tray. Now, it had moved towards the outer edge and is not moving back into place.

It is now clear, technology hates me.

Its not limited to just computers, TVs, and DVD players. No. It also encompasses cell phones and radios. I have a long history of Walkmans breaking for no apparent reason. I've purchased a couple of satelitte radios for my car only to have them randomly stop working.
My cell phone, a flip phone... which should not do anything when its closed, will suddenly turn itself on in the speakerphone mode and call people when its sitting on my desk, not being touched. It also is an MP3 player and will start playing music out of nowhere. I'll be in the middle of a phone call, or text message, and it will just TURN. OFF.
I don't know what this all is. Did I offend the technology gods in a past life and this is their retribution? Fifty years ago, was I one of those old farts who ran around speaking crazy talk along the lines of "That tel-e-vision is the work of the devil! Its Satans Soapbox!" and now the technology gods are exacting their revenge?

Whatever it is, I wish to atone. Because this is getting old. And expensive.

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