It’s easy to get miffed about seeming trifles, if you’re one of those kinds of people. If you’re one of those kinds of people, getting easily flummoxed may be in your nature. Some psychiatrists say it’s due to PTSD, or post traumatic stress disorder. This condition may have taken root as the result of a harrowing childhood, and thus supposedly endemic to the personality from early on. Others have experienced trauma in war or from a soul-rattling accident. No matter the origin, a sort of hyper-vigilance causes us to become easily overwhelmed, though I’m not sure if it’s because we are inherently more sensitive or because we lack a sensory deprivation button rendering our own private numb zone inaccessible.
Within the past twenty-four hours, I have experienced a significant technological episode. It concerns my Verizon MiFi, a personal wireless network device the size and appearance of a cell phone without a keypad. The slick black beast operates on available cellular frequencies with the help of an added window antenna and has jettisoned us into a modern age from the ancient spider webby cellar of dialup. No sooner had we purchased the device, committed ourselves to yet another two years of upwards of sixty dollars a month and taken this shiny new playing card home – not two months after we had become accustomed to opening up the laptop to spring online like the rest of the wired world – than a red and white screen popped into view, asking me to update “firmware.”
At times like this my thoughts promptly skew toward old people for whom such devices must inspire a mighty dread in the same way an African bushman of yore must have gaped open-mouthed, vexed beyond description, as the first airplane screamed by over his head. And it is with deep compassion that I suspect the same wizened folks, the ranks of which I am increasingly drawn into proximity and partnership, have as little understanding of maintaining such equipment, once purchased, than the Bushman does of jet engine repair. But I digress.
After agonizing for well over an hour trying to negotiate various non-operable links to pages I was apparently not authorized to access (as the message repeatedly stated); after downloading an instruction file and following it to the letter (where I discovered that my Verizon password is not indeed accepted over all Verizon platforms – in this case, I should be using the password admin – but who knew?), I still failed in my attempts to download drivers that would allow the update to take place via USB connection to my seven year old upgraded Macintosh. Suddenly an idea hit me like a bolt out of the blue. Backing into the previous screen, I noted the option to change my password, making it my own if you will. This was the key, though nowhere was it stated, to getting the download file, unzipping it and, well, downloading the folder. Ten minutes later, it had installed on my hard drive and, following directions again, I smiled slyly, my confidence soaring. First step, check. Second step, er, what’s that little circle with the line drawn diagonally through it? It could not, it would not, complete. Apparently the needed function was not “supported on this architecture.”
Small wonder I lost sleep last night. Every time I attempted to access the internet, Verizon tried intercepting me with its damnable message: Update or wait. But if I chose to wait, each time I wanted to get online I had to click my way through two screens and restart the browser. Otherwise a Not Authorized To Access blank, non-connected, non-social networking, Siberia sort of winter white page appeared. It goes without saying that my instruction book did not address this quandary. After waiting ten minutes and speaking with tech support, where it was discovered the manufacturer’s support for Macintosh platforms left much to be desired, my only option was to wait three days until I could drive one hour to the Verizon store and have them update the device on one of their brand-spanking-new computers.
I am left to marvel and wonder not so much at the benefits of technology itself; rather its too-rapid advance which renders equipment obsolete before these devices have endured a reasonably useful life span. Then again, I’m over fifty and plodding steadily upward in years, challenged in ways my ancestors could not have envisioned in their loftiest dreams or most disturbing nightmares. It seems life ought to be getting easier somehow, but, as I’ve said before, so much for expectations.