It’s a little disturbing when I’m reminded just how dependent I am on technology and how little I actually know about it. A couple nights ago, we had a short, but heavy, storm with strong winds. A tree fell over and took down some power lines, leaving our house without power for several hours. Apparently, the electricity went off and on several times before staying off. I know that isn’t particularly good for electronics, but this is the first time I’ve seen evidence of the fact.
The power was back on when I got home from a meeting at the church, but I noticed that it was rather warm, and the air conditioner wasn’t running. I checked the thermostat to find every indicator on the LCD display lit. The unit was unresponsive. I checked the manual and the website. I disconnected the unit from the wall and plugged it back in. I was beginning to believe it was fried and decided to send email to Honeywell’s customer support, as their phone support was closed. Long story short, after the thermostat sat on my desk for awhile, I plugged it back in, and it worked fine.
Then, when I went up to my bedroom, I noticed my digital alarm clock wasn’t displaying the time properly. I pressed the button that should switch modes to allow me to set it, but all it did was beep at me. None of the buttons worked. I tried removing the backup batteries, thinking they might be dead. I finally unplugged it from the wall, waited a minute, and then plugged it back it. It came back on and worked fine.
Then, a couple days later, I tried to print a document to my wireless color laser printer. After awhile, I realized that nothing had printed. In fact, the printer hadn’t awakened from sleep. My Mac reported that it couldn’t connect to the printer. I tried turning the printer off and back on to no avail. Finally, I figured out that I had to re-setup the wireless connection—something I haven’t had to do since I first took it out of the box.
These all turned out to be minor problems that were solvable in a matter of minutes, but it makes me think about all of the various devices and systems I rely on that, once you get past the user interface and intended behaviors, I have very little knowledge of. When the robot revolution comes, I’m going to be in trouble.