[EDITORIAL NOTE: Steve Sherlock invited me to discuss leadership with him last week and we had an interesting telephone chat. He's distilled my ramblings into a more coherent form and posted it at his Passion For the Good Customer Experience blog. Check it out.]
What a lot of sympathy Crabby's computer catastrophe evoked yesterday. She thanks you all for your comfort and sympathy and even the laughs one or two of you had at her expense. It is funny when you take into account that eventually every computer user suffers a major malfunction and knows that computers are immune to salty jeremiads. But they help by releasing Crabby's ire without doing harm to property and small animals.
In her more fanciful moments, Crabby Old Lady sometimes believes electronic devices respond to human emotion. Too much anger, stress or anxiety hanging about in the atmosphere and a cell phone drops a call. Or the DVR playback breaks (as Crabby’s did several days ago). Or a computer eats its own data.
What with the seven months of her home on the open market, deadlines on a couple of projects nipping at Crabby’s heels, looking for a new home to buy, packing for her move, juggling finances and an elderly computer going wonky lately, yesterday’s debacle was more like the 119th Nervous Breakdown - the computer’s, not Crabby’s - although the Old Lady wasn’t far behind it in her own distress.
As predicted yesterday, Crabby lost about 10 hours to computer tinkering. Not that it’s of wild interest to anyone, but it’s still on Crabby’s mind, so here are the results:
- The import of the IE bookmarks to Firefox went without a hitch, as it should. Crabby had last exported them from Firefox to IE about a month ago, so not too much is lost.
- Firefox refuses to save preferences or, rather, saves only some of them. Crabby likes a clean, uncluttered look at the top of her browser and those giant icons and extra toolbars now reappear every time she opens Firefox, along with a gaggle of unwanted Google choices. She’s given up on ironing out this little snag and will wait to see if Firefox will behave better on her new computer.
- After two lengthy phone calls with customer service at her domains registrar and some adjustments to her email accounts, they are functional again. But it wasn’t easy. Test emails severely strained Crabby’s patience all day because the registrar’s servers were having their own nervous breakdown (probably Crabby’s fault) resulting in a wait, sometimes of an hour or two, for email to arrive.
- Unanswered email in Crabby’s inbox cannot be recovered. If you’re expecting an answer to anything sent recently up until about 8PM Monday, add a re-send to your to-do list because it’s not here anymore.
- Most painful is the loss of all - did you hear that? ALL - of Crabby’s archived email including many previous years’ worth she ported onto this computer when it was new. Years of conversation with friends old and new, which includes many of you. Email archives are the modern equivalent of saved snailmail [see this story] and it breaks Crabby’s heart to lose so much personal history.
For a long time, Crabby conducted one of those email conversations in the early mornings with her oldest, closest New York friend. They were serious and silly and fun and thoughtful and warm and witty, and they were the best keepsake Crabby had of Ann, who died two years ago.
In the 20 years Crabby has owned computers, it is her experience that their useful life almost never exceeds four years. After that, there are dire consequences to contend with and this machine is four-and-a-half years old (Crabby was kidding yesterday about it being built in 1910).
On the other hand, maybe Crabby is wrong about electronic devices reacting to human emotion. Perhaps they have their own feelings and this guy is angry about his impending replacement in three weeks.
Which is a nice segue into this computer joke emailed to Crabby by Chancy who blogs at driftwoodinspiration:
As you are aware, ships have long been characterized as female (for example, "Steady as she goes" or "She's listing to starboard, Captain!"). Recently, a group of computer scientists (all male) announced that computers should also be referred to as female. Their top five reasons for drawing this conclusion are:
- No one but the Creator understands their internal logic.
- The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else.
- The message "Bad command or file name" is about as informative as, "If you don't know why I'm mad at you, then I'm certainly not going to tell you."
- Even your smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval.
- As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your paycheck on accessories for it.
However, another group of computer scientists (all female) think computers should be referred to as male. Their top five reasons are:
- They have a lot of data, but are still clueless.
- They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they are the problem.
- As soon as you commit to one you realize that, if you had waited a little longer, you could have obtained a better model.
- In order to get their attention, you have to turn them on.
- Big power surges knock them out for the rest of the night.