The joy of buying a new computer

The joy of buying a new computer

joy of a new computer - frustrated manI recently bought a new laptop because my old one was having problems. From my purchase experience, I want to pass along the following helpful piece of advice: NEVER EVER BUY A NEW COMPUTER.

Limp along with your Apple Lisa for as long as you possibly can – because once you buy a new computer, your nightmares have just begun. The following is a 100% true retelling of my experience.

I chose to shop at one of the major Big Box retailers. I will change their actual name in this column so as to protect their identity. I walked into WORST BUY, and the salesperson Brad was quite helpful. He directed me to a perfectly adequate laptop. It had keys with letters and numbers in exactly the right locations. He told me that it had a 1.33 gigahertz dual processor with 2 GB of memory, 32 GB of storage, and a Windows 8.1 64-bit something or other. I had no idea what he was talking about, but it came in blue. I like blue. So I bought it.

Then I asked Brad if they could transfer all my data from my old computer to the new one – you know, email contacts, calendar appointments, embarrassing photos of my girls naked in the bathtub when they were two years old, saved so I could show them at their future weddings – you know, important files.

For the very reasonable fee of $150, they could transfer it all. So I said “sure.” Brad then passed me over to their tech team, the name of which, again, out of respect for their privacy, I will disguise. After only a 20-minute wait, I was greeted cheerfully by a member of their Greek Squad team named Nick, who was extremely helpful and said the job would be done overnight. So when they finished the overnight job four days later, I returned to WORST BUY to pick up my new computer. When I got home, I discovered just how helpful they had actually been, and by “helpful” I mean they had somehow managed to lose ALL OF MY DATA.

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No, Grandpa, that’s not how you beam up. Let’s go over this one more time.

No, Grandpa, that’s not how you beam up. Let’s go over this one more time.

Future tech - motorcycleI’m proud of my mother. At 93 years of age, she decided to tackle a computer for the very first time. Her bruises are healing. She even has an email account. It’s been a struggle, but after only a week of practice, she’s already figured out how to turn on her computer. Until 3 months ago, she had never heard of email or Google or Facebook. She’d never surfed the web, never watched a YouTube video of a cat riding a roomba.

Today she sent me her very first email. She wrote, Dear Tim, I ma laerning ti sned emali but ti deos not thenw othew byrw kt wodh pcx; s93@m &m$k m1t8 btn%+. Love, mom”.  What a beautiful message.

I appreciate that learning new technology comes more slowly to the elderly than, say, to an eight-year-old techno-dweeb raised with a cell phone surgically affixed to his thumbs. And it made me wonder: What sorts of new technology will be hard for me to comprehend when I’m my mother’s age?

I can only imagine the conversation with my future eight-year-old grandson as he patiently tries to explain to me how to use the everyday tech tools of his generation…

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Grandson: Hey, Grandpa. I see you’re still having problems figuring out how to use some pretty basic devices. Didn’t you have jetpacks and 3-D printable holograms when you were growing up?

Me: Surprisingly, no, Nathan. Things were less complicated in the 1960s when I was your age. Back then, we had not yet invented iPads or cell phones. Heck, as I recall, we were all pretty stoked about the recent invention of the Etch A Sketch. Hard to imagine, but people used to read these contraptions called books. So, yes, I could use a little help with these modern day gadgets.

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Business Lesson #74: Build team loyalty with self-guided mobile spy robots

Business Lesson #74: Build team loyalty with self-guided mobile spy robots

robot bosses - TimIf there’s one thing nearly every American can agree on it’s that having aerial surveillance cameras capable of eavesdropping on our every move from outer space is a wonderful thing. Oh, sure, sometimes surveillance cameras can be used for evil, like the time they caught me doing 45 in a 35 mph zone. But video technology can also be used for good – say, to observe remotely whether employees are wasting time at work playing video games, when they should be wasting time pretending to make sales calls.

That at least appears to be the thinking behind a new, state-of-the art mobile video robot called the Ava 500, a name most experts consider a far better selection than the original idea: the Self-Navigational Operations Observational Prototype (SNOOP for short). The Ava 500 is the world’s “first self-driving business collaboration robot,” according to the manufacturer’s cheery marketing brochure. Now, business executives can collaborate with employees without leaving their corner office, using a mobile robot with a two-way video camera that lets them roam the halls or join in on team meetings remotely. Employees will love it.

Want to check in on your crew of illegal Mexican factory workers to see if they are keeping pace with their production quota of 1,500 sneakers per hour? No problem. With the press of a button, you can remotely walk along the assembly line floor to inspect the quality of their work, without leaving your yacht in the Caymans. Hey, looks like it’s already been ten minutes and Pedro’s still not back from his five-minute lunch break. Uh oh. Looks like Pedro’s got some ‘splaining to do.

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The latest innovation from Google: Google Translate – Family Edition

The latest innovation from Google: Google Translate – Family Edition

When you think of Google, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? In my case, it’s the fact that I’m still kicking myself for not listening to my day trader buddy Rocco, who told me back in 2004 to buy 500 shares at $45.

But the second thing that comes to mind when I think of Google is this: innovation.

Among Google’s most impressive innovations is Google Translate, which lets you translate a phrase from one language into any of more than sixty other languages – even Latin – which comes in really handy if you’re considering becoming say, the Archbishop of Kent.

Imagine you’re in France on a business trip and you’re hungry. Google Translate will take this English expression: I am very hungry. Let’s go to McDonalds so I can order a Happy Meal.

And turn it into this perfect French translation: Je suis très faim. Allons au McDonalds pour que je puisse commander un Happy Meal. Je déteste ces odieux, arrogants bâtards Américains.

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My love letter to my Internet Help Desk

My love letter to my Internet Help Desk

[Background: Last week, I spent 19 hours over five days dealing with the tech support call center from my Internet Service Provider (ISP) – all because I installed their software “security program” from one of their email offers, which mucked up my computer, making it completely inoperable.

Below is the actual enthusiastic letter of appreciation I sent to my ISP. Because I don’t wish to embarrass my ISP by name, I have chosen to alter the company’s actual name to protect its identity.

Everything written below is the 100% truth of my actual nightmare experience. Well, perhaps 90%. – tej]

Dear KOMKAST,

Can I just say, I AM YOUR BIGGEST FAN! Your commitment to keeping your customers satisfied has never been more on display than over the past five days. In that time I’ve gotten to know  many of your tech support team members so well, they almost feel like family to me now. I am writing to tell you how grateful I am for everything that you have done to restore my faith in large bureaucratic, monopolistic utility companies for which their customers are merely numbers on an income statement spreadsheet.

My original  plan for last Saturday had been to go on a nice long day hike with my family. Little did I know that at precisely 9:07am that morning KOMKAST was going to radically change my agenda for the next five days. What an educational experience it was. Can I share it with you?

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