Unreliable technology

Posted by Alex Jordan on

The back-to-back blizzards gave me a chance to get a lot of work on Around The World done. In fact, I got the Score and Timer bars ingame and also added timed rounds and score keeping (so that the bars on the HUD aren't just for show). I would've shown off this work sooner, but laptop issues accidentally deleted one or two days' worth of work on the game which I only recovered from last night. More information to follow.

The laptop issue was flat-out galling. Last Thursday, my laptop became unable to browse the internet, mid-session. Mid-session! Three days of furious work using every single shred of Google Fu and the problem-solving skills I'd acquired in my two years as a computer technician finally resolved the problem and pinpointed the culprit: Trend Micro, my Goddamn antivirus program! Something that had been on my system for 8 or 9 months! Disabling it got me back online, although now I don't have any antivirus protection.

The recovery efforts were hamstrung by my inability to get online. When I finally got back to my apartment after a week of being holed up in Logan Circle, my desktop also didn't want to go online. It connects to the internet through a wireless bridge that talks to my apartment's network, and the bridge decided to stop working. I wound up having to set up the whole shebang - tower, keyboard, mouse, and old CRT monitor - within ethernet cable reach of my router, way over on the other side of the room, just to get the damned thing online so I could reconfigure the wireless bridge. Eventually, I got the wireless bridge reconfigured, and trucked the whole desktop back to the other side of the room. Now I could use the desktop to browse the internet and help fix my internet-challenged laptop.

Which I did. Only, I came back yesterday and found that the wireless bridge on my desktop had ceased working. Again! Nothing had changed overnight, it just ceased working. My $70 wireless bridge (which I had initially bought for my Xbox 360) and my $30 antivirus software just one day decided to stop working.

Eventually, after much screaming and howling, I gave up and walked the three blocks to Best Buy and bought a $50 USB wireless adapter. I tried installing it on my desktop - following the instructions perfectly - only to have the installer tell me that an Error Had Occurred and that the wireless adapter couldn't be installed. Apopleptic, I did a manual driver search on the adapter's CD, found the drivers, and installed them myself. I re-ran the installation program and this time it succeeded, eventually installing the rest of the softwear I needed to connect wirelessly.

I sit here, a day later, stunned and fuming. A $70 wireless bridge, a $30 antivirus program, and a $50 wireless adapter all failed to work, in quick succession. The $50 wireless adapter was only salvaged because I know what the hell I'm doing, and it was a minor software issue that was easily circumvented. But what if I wasn't a guy who worked for two years as a computer technician? What if I didn't have the skills necessary to identify Trend Micro as my laptop's problem, or successfully install a finicky wireless adapter on my desktop?

I don't mind spending money for a good reason. I can even stand to spend money to recover from unforseen emergencies, like a leaking car tire or a dysfunctional wireless bridge. But I really cannot fucking stand to throw money at something that's supposed to work, or help, and doesn't. I don't have the free time to manually defend my laptop from viruses. I don't have the wherewithal to build my own wireless adapter. So, I invest in Trend Micro or Linksys/Cisco so that they do these things for me.

And when they don't do these things for me, or they actually contribute to a problem, well, it makes me want to punch a baby.