I have always been honest on this blog, especially when it comes to technology. I am simply no good with it. I can just about manage to figure out how to type and post this article, and I rely on WordPress for everything else. I can use a cash machine, but I avoid Internet Banking. Give me a new TV to set up, and the chances are you will hear me swearing and cursing within a few minutes. I have even given up lifting my car bonnet, as there just seems to be a big plastic cover over everything, something best left undisturbed.
With that in mind, and given how tired I have been feeling for some reason, you might think that I would leave technology well-alone, unless unavoidable. However, for reasons that have only passing explanation, I decided to tackle two techno gadgets, on the same day. The result of this folly is that I have been left with a muddled head, and more confirmation that I shouldn’t be let loose on these things.
For a long time now, we have managed without a printer. We are not habitual printers, never print photos, and I still write letters. So we haven’t really felt deprived, since the last one we had stopped working. There are lots of things in this modern world that are starting to assume ownership of such a device though. Discount vouchers, restaurant offers, some receipts and invoices, tickets and boarding passes, are all presumed to be ‘printable’. This week, I had to return another failed piece of technology; a multi-region DVD player that failed to play anything multi-region. The supplier was happy to take it back, but I had to print a returns label for the courier. I asked our neighbours, and they said that I could pop next door, and use their printer. In the meantime, Julie had found someone selling a printer locally, for a very low price. It was new and sealed, and had never been out of the box. An unwanted gift of some kind, sold at half price, to raise some ready cash. So we bought it. I collected it from the seller a few miles away, and brought it home last night.
As advertised, it was indeed sealed, with all labels intact. Opening it, I soon realised that it was a very basic model, and the bottom of the range from the company, Hewlett Packard. Never mind, as long as it worked. After laying out all the contents, I seemed to be missing a cable to connect it to the computer. The information book and user guide was notable by its absence too, replaced with a cartoon-style information sheet that was frustratingly difficult to comprehend. As it was getting late, I opted to leave it until daylight to attempt setup, or there was a danger that I would throw it out of the window, to smash into pieces on the path. I did some Internet research instead, finding almost 150 negative reviews, mainly about the lack of a printer cable in the box, and the absence of wi-fi capability. I did manage to find a better information sheet though, as well as a video from the company on You Tube, explaining how to set it up.
As it was a bright sunny morning (it rained later, and still is…) I felt enthused to get it going. I had a rare brainwave, and remembered that I did have an old printer cable somewhere, which I actually managed to find. I watched the video, installed the software, and set the computer to recognise the printer. Finding the relevant document, I pressed ‘Print’ with little expectation of success. And I was right. After a noise that sounded like a brass band falling down some stairs, the document that finally appeared looked nothing like the page on screen. More research, more reading, and I discovered that I had to align the printer. This done, I tried again. It was no better. My hand was reaching for the window catch, when I had a thought. I downloaded the document instead. Once it was in my documents as a file, it printed. I almost ran out into the street to shout ‘Hooray’, such was my childish delight at this everyday achievement. I should have left it there, but I was also awaiting delivery of a new mobile phone.
My step-daughter broke her phone last week, and she hasn’t been able to make calls since. It is also difficult for her to receive them, as the screen is smashed. She has a small baby, so it is not good for her to be without a phone; and as she is on maternity pay, she cannot afford to replace it at the moment. I had an idea. I have had my current smart-phone for almost seven years. It works fine, has Internet access, a monthly call plan, a camera if I need it, and it works well-enough, when the signal is strong in the area. So I haven’t bothered to upgrade to a newer model free of charge, which is allowed every two years. High time I did, thought I, and I can give the sparkly new phone to my step-daughter, who can insert her Sim card, and be back in business. I rang the company yesterday, and they were happy to send me a new phone, if I extended my contract for another two years. As I would have done so anyway, that wasn’t a problem. I only had to pay a small delivery charge, and the courier would bring it today. I agreed to the new contract over the phone, and that was that. Or was it?
The phone arrived today, and with it came a Sim card, which was unusual. I didn’t concern myself, as I had not intended to keep it. Not long after the courier departed, I was contacted and asked to activate my new card, by placing it into the new phone. I called the company, explaining that I didn’t intend to use the new phone as my main phone, and it would have a different Sim card put in. They told me that this would not be possible. It was a 4G phone, and used a micro Sim. Furthermore, my old Sim card would be deactivated within 24 hours, and the number transferred to the new handset, whether I liked it or not. They said that I could use the older handset as a spare, by buying a card to insert into that, but I had to use the new one as my main phone, due to the network transfer. This was like having a conversation in Klingon to me, and I was barely able to keep up. I protested that I had been misinformed, and that they should take back the offer. They replied that I had asked them, and that the deal was better, with the faster 4G network, and an improved data and text allowance, plus the new style handset, all at the same contract price, with no extra charge. Besides, it was too late, as my number and call plan would transfer to the new sim anyway, so if I didn’t put it into the phone and activate it, I would have two dead phones. And I had agreed to the contract, so there.
Are you following this? I’m not sure that I am.
I was left cursing myself for having another ‘good idea’. I wish that I had just gone to a phone shop, and bought her a basic phone. That’s what you get for trying to help. But there’s more.
I bit the bullet, and installed the new card, activating the swish new (and very large) phone, which I then put on charge. I would usually put in the old Sim card, and transfer all the numbers and information from that, onto the new phone. But there was a problem. The old larger card doesn’t fit in the new phone. Once the activation is complete, and the old card ‘dies’, so does all my info. I rang again. They said I could transfer all the stuff I needed from my HTC Synch Account, by plugging the new phone into my computer. ‘I don’t have a Synch Account’, I told them. Silence followed. I knew that I would have to tackle this on my own, not a prospect I welcomed. I began to explore the menus and screens. I found that if I logged in with my Facebook account, all that information would migrate easily. But I am not on Facebook. My Google+ info was easily transferred, but my dozens of contact numbers are not on Google+. As well as this, the phone menus, despite being the same company, and vaguely similar, operate differently from the old one, so everything took forever to work out. I downloaded a full user manual from the Internet. It runs to 191 pages, mostly in Hieroglyphs.
After getting the basic operation sorted, I even managed to get onto the home wi-fi, as it seems my data allowance has not yet arrived. I also called the phone from the home one, and sure enough, it has already become ‘my’ number. That got me in a panic. What if the Sim ‘dies’ tonight? I began to write down all the information from my old mobile. All the numbers, e mail addresses, notes and memos I have kept. I will have to transfer all of this manually another time. When I had finished, I had five full A4 pages of closely-written contact names and numbers in my notebook. My head was swimming, and I felt more tired than ever. But I chose a ringtone, from a truly awful selection, and opted for power save, to make the battery last. I then picked another dire text notification sound from those available, and with eyelids drooping, called it a day. Technology, don’t you just love it?
And did I mention? It’s raining. Hard.