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If Everything Just Worked…

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78 comments on “If Everything Just Worked…”

      • I wouldn’t be up til three in the morning with 2 computers and a printer not working after a Win10 install. Determined to figure it out, but alas, I finally gave up on wireless, and plugged them in by rearranging desks!

        Can’t they just work!

      • If every thing just stopped working as in a power outage, one would need to have in place a back up external hard drive and a solar powered notebook or laptop to be able to access your data, preferably not connected to the internet, unless one was sure it was safe to do so. Regards. Bill…

      • If it always worked, then it would be like most of our other utilities. Like electricity or water. Flip a switch or twist a faucet handle you get what you want. Anytime you wanted to do something on your computer or cell phone you would just do it without thinking about it.

        Don’t ask about my frustration last night trying to place an order. I gave up.


    • If everything always worked,my life would be a much easier place to get along. Just think, my wife wouldn’t have to ask me tech questions that I couldn’t answer. There wouldn’t be any complex tech questions from me either. Unfortunately, we don’t live in a perfect world. Hard drives still crash and files get lost and then there’s the occasional paper jam in the printer.

  1. I was living in that world of “I can do almost anything!” until suddenly, this week, I got the dreaded “Location not available. C:\Windows\System32\Config\SystemProfile\Desktop is unavailable.” I will say that the trust I had in technology was shaken to the bone. Thanks to you, Leo, and other techies I rely on for information, I was somewhat prepared to get myself out of the situation, and am surrounded by years of backups of my system and data in case I’m not totally out of the problem yet. I don’t think there’s ever going to be that PERFECT world. That’s what all the computer repair people depend on for their living.

  2. If people would just back up daily they would be much more confident in trusting their machine. Some of the less expensive fault tolerance techniques and hardware in enterprise systems should be built into home computers. This would do a great deal for reliability and confidence.

  3. If I could count on technology always working, I’d go “paperless” and get rid of my old tapes, CDs, paperwork, etc. I realize many people are doing this already, so I guess you could say what’s stopping me is fear. Maybe that’s too deep, but I often don’t use technology to de-clutter and simplify my life because I feel more secure with physical objects (even if I have them backed up in 3 places). It might be unreasonable, but I feel more secure paying my bill by check and storing memories & work in boxes. So if I trusted technology, I’d save a lot of space & trees, and probably time & money.

    • Good point. Keeping multiple backups at home, at another location and on the cloud solves that problem. The odds are much higher of losing your paper, CD and tape copies are much higher than keeping your eggs in a few duplicated digital baskets.

  4. Does anyone know how long data files burnt onto a CD or a DVD will remain usable? If we could answer that question perhaps we could save a tremendous number of trees, costs of storage space, ink, photo paper and the time and energy of the people tasked with keeping the traditional data usable.

  5. I could rely on the operating system and PC I have and not have to worry about the “next day” when a boot up shows an insurmountable problem. I would not have to worry about upgrades just because some company needs to sell more hardware/software. My computer does what I want it to do – now, however I get a lot of failures that eat up time to address.
    Obviously the fear of complete blue screen keeps me from relying on the system.

  6. If technology would just work and never fail me:

    • I would set Windows Update to occur automatically (and I would no longer delay a manual update out of concern that a KB will cause my PC to malfunction in a way that I can’t easily fix).
    • I would try out more new things, like download that I-can-really-use-it software or try to set up a virtual machine (but I usually don’t because I know from experience that, after a failure/malfunction, a complete recovery even from a restoration of a disk image backup is not always a sure thing).
    • I would make more frequent purchases of new, different, and/or more expensive devices (because I would no longer be as concerned about the time, energy, cost, and emotion I would expend in trying to return a defective device – or worry about having a device malfunction prematurely or soon after the warranty period expires).
    • On the other hand, I would also purchase fewer items, such as external hard drives (because I would compress my disk images because I would no longer fear that compression and decompression are, as I’ve read, just unnecessary additional steps that can be problematic).
    • I would spend more time also doing non-technology related things (like smell the roses — because I would no longer spend so much time trying to overcome the imperfections of technology).

    A question: If someone breaks into my online account, despite me taking reasonable precautions (eg, strong password, don’t click on unknown links, anti-malware software, etc.), did technology “work” for me? It certainly worked for the hacker!

    Leo, thanks for helping this old guy navigate the exciting and, for me, often frustrating world of computer technology.

  7. Seriously now, I would say that technology does (almost) always work, but that it is people’s limited understanding of technology, and people’s antagonism, that gives individual technology users the idea that it doesn’t. “technology not working” is simply the observation that technology is not behaving in exactly the way we had mentally in mind. Almost all of the time, it is the mental picture that contains the errors, and not the technology.

    By this, I mean the following. Suppose that we have data on a hard disk, and that the disk dies. Is that “technology not working” ? No. A hard disk is a technological piece of material of which it is specified that there is a finite chance of not answering instructions any more. We wouldn’t say of a lottery ticket that didn’t win, that “lottery doesn’t work”. It is part of the lottery that (most) tickets don’t have prizes. As such, there is a finite probability that the disk dies. It is part of the technology to have this finite probability. If you want to “win the lottery” you have to manipulate these probabilities, by, yes, making backups. Backup taking is nothing else but “squaring the probability of failure”.

    Or suppose that a software package has “bugs”. The exact description of that software package is the source code. The software is probably doing EXACTLY what the source code says …. but this can be different from the vendor specification of course. The error is then in the vendor specification, not in “technology”. (this is why open source is in fact the only true way of distributing software, but that’s another discussion).

    Hackers got into my facebook account. Is that technology not working ? Not at all. This is like saying that swords aren’t working because the enemy succeeded in winning.

    So deep down, technology almost always works, all the time. It is the mental picture we have of technology that doesn’t correspond to reality that makes us say that “technology is not working”. It is working all right, Jim, but not as we know it :-)

    • “I would say that technology does (almost) always work.” – Indeed. We tend to be the weak link: it’s what we do to our technology that causes it not to work. You get a shiny new computer, and it works perfectly out-of-the box; you then install a bunch of obscure apps, tweak some settings and disable some processes to improve performance, clean the registry – and suddenly it’s not working quite so well. And the more you install, tweak and adjust, the greater the chance that you’ll encounter a problem.

      • What it seems like Ray is saying is that the more we customize what is supposed to be our “personal” computers, the more likely we are to create problems for our PC’s. Sadly, it’s kind of like telling the buyer of a brand new house not to make any changes to the house; otherwise you’ll accelerate the depreciation of it. Unfortunately, I think Ray is probably right, since many experts do suggest restoring our PC to its bare-metal state every so often in order to restore PC performance.

        Well, I did restore my PC to its bare-metal state not long ago. Then I loaded the important updates to Windows, installed no more than two handful of software (most recommended by Leo at one time, such as FastStone, CCleaner, Recuva, Malwarebytes, TrueCrypt, Acronis, etc.), updated my anti-malware software, adjusted some settings, and that’s about it. As you can tell, not too many fun stuff here, nothing fancy. And I do practice “safe surfing”. Then today all of a sudden, I get an error message that said my Catalyst Control Center has stopped working. And I’m thinking: Now what? What did I do wrong? What is this CCC? How long is it going to take for me to find a fix for it (assuming I can try to fix it on my own without making my PC even worse)? Will I need to restore to a disk image again?

        Some posters here will maintain that even in this particular situation, technology is “working”. Maybe so. But at a practical level, even when following instructions, I feel technology often is not working right — not working as it should or as advertised.

        As a non-techie user who, nevertheless, is trying to learn more and more about computers, maintaining a PC is feeling increasingly burdensome. I wonder how much of a PC expert each of us has to become in order to stop being that “weak link” Ray described. I fear that computer technology will always be way too complicated and imperfect for me. Long live, Leo!

        • “What it seems like Ray is saying is that the more we customize what is supposed to be our “personal” computers, the more likely we are to create problems for our PC’s.” – That’s exactly what I’m saying. Complex things are more likely to experience problems than simple things (there’s plenty that can go wrong with a car, but not much that can go wrong with a brick). And the more apps you add to your PC, the more complex the system becomes.

          “Catalyst Control Center has stopped working.” – You could try updating the drivers for your video card:

    • I think you’re confusing science with technology. Science always works, by definition, but technology is taming science to do what we want it to. Sometimes the science messes with the technology.

  8. IF EVERYTHING just worked– it would be UTOPIA, and it WOULD LEAD TO DISASTER! because—-like an AIRPLANE OR PARACHUTE opening—-what are we shooting for—99.999999999 % consistency ?? —-it’s a nice idea to think about—-but only—-a nice idea———–

  9. Or to say it differently: “if technology just worked” is a question in the same ballpark as “if technology just did what I wish it did”. In other words “what if my dreams came out”.
    “What if credit cards just worked ?” (that is, if they could buy me anything, and not have these awkward bills afterwards…)

  10. I know that this is not an answer to the question as asked but rather a reframing of the question. How about: What would you do if it wasn’t human nature to be fallible, greedy, corrupt, etc. etc. Most of the frustration I have is generated by trying to confound someone that is intentionally and maliciously trying to get at MY information/data. As far as the hardware/software/firmware goes it is 99.9999. . .% reliable as is if it isn’t being screwed with by some miscreant.

  11. Correcting my grammar :) :
    If everything just worked in any type of technology, there would be a problem in the economy since it is not just computers but other technology if it were perfect would cause people to *lose jobs. Technology being a scientific term and not just talking about computers. Like what is said above that would be a Utopia, but we would need to adjust financially as a people to accommodate for such a Utopia.

  12. I feel like a rat on a wheel with all of the constant upgrades and added “features” we are bombarded with. It is a perpetual mandated learning curve if you are going to keep up.

    I am a person that relies on tech. I am not particularly interested in tech as a personal interest or hobby, and I am old enough to remember the world without tech.

  13. Software designers are under time and money restraint.

    History – in the 1970s an in house design program that had be functioning for ten yeas suddenly failed with valid data.

    Inspection reveled that that combination of data had not been tested during development.

    Upper level management decided NOT to fix the program (too expensive they said.)

    So the program continued to be used, with the caution about this combination of data.

  14. What’s stopping me is not being able to access MY files on MY computers because Microsoft says I don’t have permission.

  15. If everything just worked I would be able to focus on customer service (professionally) and life organization (personally) because there would be no digital breakdown.

    And the reason why? Money. Almost anything can be trouble free if you can bombard it with Benjamins!

  16. The flip answer, of course, is that if all technology worked perfectly *I* would be out of a job. But the answer to the question is that I wouldn’t do a lot differently from what I’m doing now. I assume that technology will work, and I deal with it when it doesn’t. I deal with it by rebooting (always a first step), stop/starting software, asking friends, searching Ask Leo or just Googling. But normally I just assume technology will work, and most of the time it does.

    That said, quoting Ronald Reagan, “Trust But Verify.” I keep current backups, both image and file system, and feel reasonably secure in my ability to back out of “anything”.

    What’s keeping me from fully enjoying the benefits of my “almost perfect” technical environment is as Carmen said, fear. I’m afraid of the bad guys out there, afraid that even my belt-and-suspenders backups won’t be enough, just basically afraid of the unknown. And there’s a lot I don’t know. But I don’t let my fear prevent me from using technology to the extent I want.

  17. Well, I’ve gotten really, really tired of fixing/working around other peoples’ errors, carelessness, cost cutting initiatives, laziness, bad intentions, whatever.

    So in a world where technology “worked”, I’d have dramatically more time to do things other than “maintain” my computer; things like actually using “using” my computer in a productive way. Which ultimately would give me time to do a zillion other things, many of which would not even need electricity or batteries to get done.

    Even better, I’d never have to spend an another minute with google attempting to understand the poorly written, outdated FAQ that ultimately doesn’t even address the problem du jour.

  18. I would be enjoying the technology and endeavouring to use it as the designers intended and advertise. It would be one less stress to deal with in life and priceless.

  19. If I could rely on blocking viruses, malware, trojans, etc., I would use my computer much more than I do. I would not have to be afraid of a virus every time I visited a site. I would explore more of the information available on the internet. I could do my banking online. I do not do so know and, even so, have recently had my checking account hacked for over $400 (I got it back).

    • “If I could rely on blocking viruses, malware, trojans, etc., I would use my computer much more than I do.” – You really don’t need to worry too much about this. The great majority of malware infections – probably well in excess of 99% – are the result of people opening an email attachment, downloading/installing something they shouldn’t and/or ignoring their computer’s security prompts and warnings. Realistically, if your computer is kept up-to-date and you’re careful about what you download/open and you pay attention to alerts/warning/dialogs, it’s very, very unlikely that your computer will ever be infected.

  20. I agree completely with Patrick and those who say that technology always works, or almost always, at least often enough to not be of major concern – a few precautions taken. The problems generally are that computers do what they are told to do, not necessarily what we wanted them to do, but told them wrong.

    Most real problems that I encounter for myself and for my friends are what I call cockpit problems / pilot error / operator error. Secondly, are problems of tricky software where people think they are downloading a free something, and end up getting a good deal more that they didn’t want. Third, are virus / phishing / etc programs where people (my brother should take note here) don’t have good software protection. Lastly, are problems dealing with SPAM in email. One thing I do is try to encourage people to delete email addresses from all emails that they forward, but it is almost a losing battle.

    Summary, technology isn’t the real problem – the real problem is how try to and do use technology.

  21. It’s not so much that things don’t work but that everything is so complicated, so complex. I’ve got an idea for a website. It would involve some custom programming. More so than the relatively simple websites featured at most design/developer sites. I don’t know how to find someone or how to evaluate their abilities. I’d be totally dependent and I don’t like that.

  22. Actually, if everything just worked, I’d miss the challenge and the opportunity of learning something new. Yes, it’s frustrating when technology fails especially when working on a deadline and just need to get the job done. But, on the other hand, when something just works, I really think about how or why it works…I just accept it. It’s only when it doesn’t work that I have to switch on the brain cells and start searching for a solution. It’s the knowledge that comes with figuring out how to fix the problem that leads to a greater understanding and appreciation of the technolgy at hand. So, yes, I’m glad that my PC and software work 98.5% of the time. But I’m also glad for the 1.5% of the time that I have to get under the hood and learn something new.

  23. If technology worked I wouldn’t be spending as much time cleaning up my wife’s computer from all the Facebook stuff she clicks on.

  24. How about if everything just worked…not just computer technology. The other morning the toilet wouldn’t flush. Somehow the float got stuck in the up position, so the mechanism “thought” the tank was full and quit adding water. Simple fix, once I figured it out.
    It just seems like it is always some little thing that makes life annoying. What would I do if everything worked? Probably nothing much different, but it is nice to dream about. How about just a week of everything working.

  25. As to what I would do if my technology always worked: I’D HAVE A LOT LESS OPPORTUNITY TO PRACTICE MY PROFANITY! Seriously, few things cause as much stress as printers that won’t print, browsers that won’t browse, websites that stop responding, and the day-to-day gremlins and glitches that frustrate mere mortals such as I. And as for what is stopping me from doing the techno-things I’d like to do? Slow and/or non-existent internet access, operating systems that demand a steep learning curve over the previous version (many features of which, don’t work as well), and the inability to do anything about it.

  26. If technology “just worked” I would spend more time walking in the Welsh mountains, and sailing my boat, and making love. I really would.

  27. If everything just ‘worked’ I would be a lot tidier with no paper to worry about. I would also be a lot lazier, having no problems to sort out. I would be able to do nothing all day while the computer earned my living. I would have to find other things for my brain to do as it would be so boring. I would rely on technology to buy everything I want at the cheapest price, manage my finances, look after my diet, monitor my health, etc. I would lose control of my life, abdicating that to a computer that gets more intelligent all the time, and giving carte blanche to the people that program it. I would not be able to get an edge on anyone else because they would have the same ability as me, but maybe the rich would still have more effective programs than the rest of us and so keep us in our place. And if anyone turned the system off I would be lost without it, unable to function, no longer having the capability to solve my own problems.

    The further I go with this line of thought the more nightmarish it becomes. I think I’ll stop now while I’m still ahead!

  28. If you could count on technology always just working – I would stop making backups because the computer wouldn’t ever fail. I would go paperless like Carmen said above. I would buy a nicer keyboard rather than a cheap one because the more expensive keyboard could be relied on to work forever. I would upgrade to Windows 10 right now rather than waiting a few months, because upgrading would work correctly and all my programs and hardware would be compatible. I would have a lot more free time (time for doing what I want to do – not necessarily technological stuff) without all the time spent helping others with various computer problems. I would write more ebooks (because of the free time I’d have) and could rely on software being able to handle embedded photos without crashing the program. I’d never worry about photos some day going corrupt. I’d use voice recognition more often because it would work properly. Google Translate would translate perfectly and it would recognize dialects and abbreviations; I could translate documents without having to find else someone to do that. Well, it was nice to dream! Back to reality …

  29. 1. Probably pretty much what I do now – reason – ? – see #2 – :-)

    2. As an ‘IT’ guy, I used to design, build, install, and maintain business systems and I can truthfully (usually) say that the intention of those like myself WAS to provide systems that always worked. Unfortunately, it is easier said than done – especially as the size of the ‘system’ grows. Think about it – does your car/truck/boat always work as it should? Do you go into a rage when it doesn’t? Our technologies are trying to satisfy any and all users at all times and that is a pretty big challenge. What to do when you cannot provide perfection? Do the very best you can, provide value, provide fair warning, and provide real assistance in the form of updates and assistance, etc. Remember the old saw – If it was easy, everybody would be doing it.

  30. I guess I’m different than most posting here. Technology does work for me almost all the time. And most times when it doesn’t, it often just needs a reboot. Maybe that’s because I bought a pre-loaded computer and haven’t tinkered with it. Beyond adding Firefox, Thunderbird, MalwareBytes, I haven’t really changed the configuration much since I bought it 4 years ago. It is a reliable machine. No it’s not got the latest … no Windows 10 … and I’m not constantly downloading and installing new software to try.

    I think that’s what makes computers less reliable. There are too many possible configurations once you start installing more and more software. I think the machine gets confused, or setting for one program interfere with settings for another program.

    • I guess I’m different than most posting here. Technology does work for me almost all the time….Maybe that’s because I bought a pre-loaded computer and haven’t tinkered with it.” – Indeed. As I said above, the more tinkering you do – and the more apps you install – the less reliable your computer will be. The best advice is not to tinker and to only install software that you really need from trusted developers/sources.

  31. I would say that technology doesn’t “just work” because companies want to save money. However, I think it “could” based on current technology. The Mean Time Between Failures could be increased for instance. Memory is cheap. Hard drives are cheap. My DVR could use more of both.

    Why do companies use momentary switches that perform more than one task? My xFiniti DVR has a button for play which is also the pause button. When I point at the DVR and press that button and nothing happens, I try again. When and if it finally decides to respond (up to 5 minutes later), every press of that one button toggles it from play to pause and back again. I am almost positive the operating system uses the hard drive for memory because the fuller it gets, the longer it takes to do anything. Often, I get a black message saying it can’t connect to the Xfiniti Operating System and to check back in a few minutes. I don’t know what OS it uses, but it makes Windows Vista look like the best OS ever by comparison. Now, that’s definitely not technology “just working”.

    Also, why does my DVR or DVD player need to “think about it” for several minutes if I turn it on or off?

    Remember “old” tech like LaserDisc that would just spin up and play? Now you have to sit through the FBI warning and some DVDs and Blu-Rays are coded to make you watch several previews before you can even watch the movie.

    I would say that consumer electronics could be more like appliances. Even if your fridge gets “The Internet of Things”, it won’t stop working because it’s running low on memory. My washer and dryer are already using “The Internet of Things” and they have never refused to turn on or taken several minutes to respond after I pressed the power button. Why can’t a DVR or Blu-Ray player or other gadget be the same?

    And yes, I think PCs and Laptops could also be made like appliances. It would take a paradigm shift, but I think a non-customizable PC that “just worked” would be a viable option for those who just want to turn it on and read email or go on The Internet. I know it’s been tried, but they were marketed towards old people. Those email terminals were kind of condescending. They should have been filled with useful APPS (like “real” MS Word or WordStar) and marketed toward people who want a computing appliance and don’t “need” the latest thing.

    With a household “cloud” all of the Pcs and Laptops could essentially be dumb terminals with just enough of a hard drive and bare bones OS to operate by themselves if you needed to take one on a trip. When you got to your hotel, you could go in their cloud. (Or login to your home cloud.) You could even use the hotel’s dumb terminals to login to your home cloud if you preferred.

    BTW, I updated to Windows 10 and I like it better than any Windows since Windows 95 OSR2. I’m even browsing with Edge right now.

    • Oh, what would I do if it all “just worked”?

      Probably get everything done faster and have more time to sleep or just relax. Watch TV instead of fighting the DVR.

      Watch more movies instead of waiting for the DVD or Blu-Ray menu to finally appear.

      Go out and enjoy nature. Exercise.

    • ‘With a household “cloud” all of the Pcs and Laptops could essentially be dumb terminals with just enough of a hard drive and bare bones OS to operate by themselves .’ – In other words, a Chromebook :)

      I totally agree with you, BTW. These days, many people don’t really need an expensive PC with oodles or RAM and an enormous hard drive. You can keep your data on a NAS/private cloud or in the public cloud or both (as I do) and simply dial into it from an inexpensive Chromebook or any other device. It’s not a setup that would work for everybody, but for people with basic needs – and that’s probably the majority of folk – it’s a great option.

  32. I would accept e-mail as a reliable method of communication from companies that want to eliminate paper communications. Things that matter, like financials. As it is, I’m not confident that either my computer or my ISP mail server will fail at a critical time, so I won’t get the information I need, and won’t even know I haven’t got it!

  33. Probably complain a lot less at work. At the university where I teach, they are going paperless. That means I have to take attendance and do all of the grading on the cloud. Occasionally, logging on to the network requires a reboot of my computer. While all of this is taking place, I’m telling the students how wonderful technology is and how it’s made our lives so much easier. I suppose I could print out a list of the students’ names as a backup, but as a matter of principle, I don’t.

    On the other hand, I’d be looking for more work as I wouldn’t be working for Ask Leo! any more.

    • As an aside, a friend made this comment on Facebook yesterday, “Today I was asked to sign a permission form so that my grade 9 student could attend a play. At his own school. During regular school hours. As part of his regular curriculum. There isn’t an emoji for “completely speechless due to unnecessary paperwork and bureaucracy,” is there?”

      Schools do indeed seem to be extreme wasters of paper and way, way behind the times – more so even than other government agencies – when it comes to making effective use of technology.

  34. Personally I find that the technology I use does almost always work…in fact I am amazed at its reliability
    Most of the issues I personally encounter are user issues. Not reading instructions and thus not understanding properly how a system works; and not knowing how to do something properly. Or making mistakes in setting a program or a system up and thus generating multiple issues downstream.
    A lot of the issues I read and hear of people having are obviously user issues.
    What I hear is people blaming the technology, when really they are just not using it properly.
    This is not to say there are never issues in the technology – there are undoubtedly; but mostly it is end-users who screw-up; and there are multiple reasons why; the most obvious being – they dont read instructions and dont understand how a system works.
    Most people I meet dont have the first clue as to what a computer is; or what is inside it; or why.
    Also there is the multiplicity of set-ups possible with PCs; and the multiplicity of radom software and utilities that people instal knowingly or unknowingly as they use the internet.
    It is amazing that things work as well as they do given these factors
    Your site is great Leo as an educational resource

    • I would always read the instructions if there were hard copies.

      For this laptop, the company didn’t even bother to include .pdf files for the manual. You have to go online to read the directions. If you can’t get online for some reason, you are out of luck.

      The directions for the xfniti are all buried in various menus (which get updated without notice by Comcast). If the system isn’t responding, you can’t read the directions. The only option available is to unplug and reset. If I remember correctly, the only directions in the Quick Start Guide were to hook it up and wait for onscreen menus.

      • Tell me something Eric; why would you buy into Comcast xfniti if you are not online?
        And when Comcast have an update for their system what do you think they should do?
        “The directions for the xfniti are all buried in various menus”
        This complaint really means – I am not willing to take the time to familiarise myself with the menu system;
        I expect whatever I might want to do to be immediately available to me without me having to know the system.
        Sorry Eric to hear you are having issues; but what you say sounds like user incompetence to me

        • If I understand your question, you want to know why I got xfiniti. Well, I had Comcast Internet and the Comcast representative told me getting the bundle would save me money over just having the Internet access.

          I am not incompetent.

          Getting to know the system?? I am all to familiar with the system and am experienced enough with other DVRs both stand-alone and software based to know when something doesn’t “just work”.

          I have owned Sony, Panasonic and LG DVD recorders/HDD recorders. I updated the hard drives in some of the LGs from 350 GB IDE to 1 TB SATA. I have also owned several Hauppage USB DVRs. They all have limitations, but I have learned to work around them.

          Sir, I always learn the system I am using or working on. Everything from cars to PCs to laptops to tablets to toilets.

      • This is one of those times when it’s impossible for a company to please everybody. Some people like products to come with a printed manual; others think it’s a waste of paper and ink: an environmentally-unfriendly practice which, given that pretty much everybody has internet access, is completely unnecessary.

        • Sorry. This is about what we would do if everything just worked, right?

          The settings menu in my X1 DVR has 10 submenus. I can’t even get to the settings if it is not in the mood to respond to the remote control. Going online is an option – if you can get online. If you do get online, try to find the technical information in the same place twice.

          • Perhaps that was too harsh. I can usually get online.

            The most common troubleshooting tip (on their website and in the error messages) for the X1 is to unplug it for 10 seconds and plug it back in.

            As I said before, I am sure it uses the hard drive for memory because it is less responsive the more the hard drive fills up. So far, I have not ready anything that says my system will slow down or stop completely if my hard drive is full.

            It does say to delete programs if I want to keep recording when it gets to 100% so that’s something.

  35. If technology just worked, I should have answered this question already, mowed the lawn before it starts to rain, done some shopping, had a cup of tea and who knows what else today. Technological problems, whether of software or hardware take up so much time that could be put to other uses, though solving them can also be educational.

  36. If technology “just worked” it wouldn’t stay that way for very long. Developers, programmers, etc would always try to upgrade or make things “new and improved”. In the process technology would again fail while new bugs and glitches were fixed. It’s a never ending cycle based on competing businesses wanting to have the best product (and most sales) as well as consumers not being satisfied with something that “just works”. Doesn’t matter if it’s computer/smartphone related, or motor vehicles, or washing machines, or anything else that undergoes a “modernizing” process on a regular basis.

    I understand that people will always try to improve upon existing technology – it’s the nature of the beast. With improvements comes problems. Without improvements comes stagnation.

  37. For me, technology works perfectly, as nearly as makes no difference. The reason is that I mostly use software I write myself. It’s easy writing .hta programs (which use HTML and JavaScript) and Excel macros (which use VBA). Of course, my software very often does not do what I want, but the program interpreters are highly reliable; the only problem is the wetware (me) figuring out what I want.

  38. If everything just worked I’d be one Happy Camper. Good example of why I’m not is I have a perfectly working Windows 7 Pro and have resisted going to Windows 10 so far. Thought about it, until recently when my business computer died, I bought a new desktop with W10 installed in it. What a pain! Right off the bat, problems that I just don’t know how to handle, such as no scroll bar on the desktop, or when I try to search, the search page only shows about 2″ on the extreme left side of the screen so I can’t scroll to see what I’m typing. No clear-cut way to get help in solving these problems. So far I hate W10 as it doesn’t work as easily as I was led to believe it would. That’s what’s stopping me today!

  39. Hi Leo ,

    Already , people are relying on technology working . The lights and everything else went off at the supermarket one
    day and nothing , I mean , nothing could be done !!! At that moment we all realized how dependent we are on technology.
    We rely on technology now the way an infant relies on it’s mother to care for it . That is really scary . One thing I would
    do if I could rely on everything working is I would get rid of all my hard copy material .

    • “That is really scary .” – It’s really no more or less scary than our becoming reliant on gas-powered vehicles instead of horses and carts. Things change – and usually for the better.

  40. For an interesting glimpse into a perfectly working and personalized operating system, watch the not-too-far-in-the-future science fiction film called “HER.”

  41. The first thing I learned about computers back in 1969 (using an IBM mainframe with 500K – that’s 1/2 MB – memory occupying a space of over 500 square feet): “A computer is like a perfect secretary – tell it to make a mistake and it will!”

    A few years back, I purchased a HTC Smart Phone that uses Google’s Android O/S. It came in a box that also contained a pamphlet with information that would fit on a single 8.5×11 inch sheet of paper. It described how to download the user manual from HTC. I had purchased the phone so as to get high-speed access to the internet using a tethered connection, as well as for telephone and texting services, but there was not any instruction on how to set that up without consulting the user manual. Thankfully, I had not yet terminated my slow-speed 56Kbps internet service through the local telephone company. I used it to download the HTC user manual, a 276 page PDF document. As I told my wife that day, if the phone is so “smart”, why is the manual so large! What was described by the sales agent as a very simple thing to do ended up consuming the better part of three days of my time simply trying to understand what I was dealing with, thanks to the “user guide” author presuming I knew everything he did, including “tech-speak” acronyms exclusive to HTC! Thankfully, there are people like Leo that translate that “tech-speak” into personable terms that most can understand.

    As for technology always working, do understand that it comes with the engineer’s guarantee, that is “it is guaranteed to fail some day!”


    • ‘As for technology always working, do understand that it comes with the engineer’s guarantee, that is “it is guaranteed to fail some day!”’ – This is an important point, especially when it comes to backing up. Every device will fail eventually. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. Your computer *will* fail. Your external hard drive *will* fail. And, if you’re really unlucky, they’ll both fail at the exact same time (because of a power spike, for example). This is something people should keep in mind when planning their backup strategies.

  42. I have an Ultrabook that failed. There is no optical drive.

    There is no way in the BIOS to set it to boot from USB.

    I am too incompetent to set it up to boot from USB using the “easy” directions online.

  43. If I could rely on everything working I would probably spend more time building electronics… I now spend time and treasure making sure my current technology works and remains working… With that, I have less time working on electronics projects… The time spent being prepared for failure reduces the time I have to deign and build… As you know from another site, I also work on old technology… If modern things worked as well as the older technology, we all would be freer to try to make the next technological leap… Currently we are trying to keep up with what is breaking or current… Very few of us are working as close to full time as possible on the next leap…


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