Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Never use me to demonstrate your product

…if there is any technology involved. Seriously, if you're unveiling a new gadget with a big presentation don't have me on stage to show it off.   It will malfunction then blow up.  In a past life I must’ve stolen Steve Jobs’ lunch money or something. The wonders of science don’t seem to work on me. I watch the movie HER and think, if it was me, right in the middle of my first steamy cyber sex with "Samantha" she would suddenly start speaking Urdu and I would have no way of readjusting the settings.

Some examples:

I recently upgraded to the new iPhone 5S, the one with the spiffy thumb print feature. In theory, once you’ve set it up, you just press your thumb on the home button and it turns on your phone. Half the time it doesn’t work. Siri pops up. Or the phone says “try again,” (which I do unsuccessfully two more times). If someone lifts my phone I bet it will work for his thumb.

I use something called Twitterfeed. The idea here is that every time a new blog post goes up it’s supposed to send out one Tweet and one status update to my Facebook page. Depending on the day it sends out either zero, one, two, or three Tweets – sometimes within seconds of the posting and most times randomly scattered over two hours – and doesn’t post on Facebook at all. I’ve tried to go in and fix it. No luck.

My GPS is supposed to show me freeway traffic. When it feels like it, occasionally, it does. When I need to see it to gage a certain trip, it never works.

My Bluetooth only works in the car when I don’t have to make a call.

There are times “closed captioning” just appears on my TV for no reason.

I tried to watch a “Pay Per View” movie and needed 4 ½ hours to download it.

My Kindle doesn’t sync.

My DVR refuses to delete an episode of THE NEW GIRL.

But the greatest example of what I call Y2Ken is this:

I attempted to upload my latest book, MUST KILL TV (available here) on Amazon. This is an incredibly simple and easy process. They walk you through the steps – you upload this file and that, set up pricing, etc. – and a day later your book is ready to go. During the process there are a couple of places where you click “save so far.” Easy enough. I get to the first one, click it, and the internet crashes. I kid you not.

So I call TWC and a recorded message tells me “Internet service is out for the entire Westside. We don’t know why but engineers are working on the problem. “ I know why.

A couple of hours later the internet returns. I return to the task at hand. First off, nothing was saved so I had to begin the entire process again. I get to “save so far,” click it, and all is well. I negotiate the next few steps, arrive at another “save so far,” click it, and power for the entire neighborhood goes out. I swear, this is a true story.

We were without electricity for four hours. Finally, at 11 at night – 12 hours after I began what should be a five-minute process – I successfully uploaded MUST KILL TV. I apologize to everyone in my zip code for the inconvenience.

I’m going to stop just short of saying there’s a conspiracy. But I tried to download a podcast that offered tips on how to coexist with the new technology and it crashed my computer.


Scooter Schechtman said...

You kids, with your cell phones and buried ledes/plugs.

PatGLex said...

I recently tried to "make a phone call" (not sure what to call it) in my car using the hands-free Bluetooth option. I'd done it multiple times, no problem. This time it did not recognize the person I was trying to call (my mom, for goodness sake!) so I ended up dialing her number on the phone...which promptly connected it through the car. SMH.

I also refuse to use Siri.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

While you clearly have put in a fine effort, Ken, I'm afraid you're no match for the late technology journalist Guy Kewney, who was so effective at derailing any and all technology (including press conference demonstrations) that many still talk of the KDF - the Kewney Disruption Field - and worry that it has outlived him.


Johnny Walker said...

I thought you'd cursed your own blog... The CAPTCHA stopped working altogether for a minute there.

I think it's only fair that you give Los Angeles plenty of notice the next time you decide to publish a book!

Dan in WNY said...

I don't know how anyones comments on technology failures could beat Barry Kripke's on The Big Bang Theory:

Barry Kripke: You got Siwi, huh? Voice wecognition on that thing is terrible. Wook.
[Talking into iPhone]
Barry Kripke: Siwi, can you wecommend a westauwant?
Siri: I'm sorry, Bawwy. I don't understand "wecommend a westauwant."
Barry Kripke: Wisten to me. Not "westauwant," *westauwant*.
Siri: I don't know what you mean by "not westauwant, westauwant."
Barry Kripke: See? Total cwap. You suck, Siwi.

Unknown said...

In 2003 I was working in a production office in Toronto. One of my coworkers was a wonderful woman who lacked any confidence working with computers. She had asked me how to do some basic task (I can't remember what.) After I showed her, I left her to her work.

A short time later all the power tin the office went out. I looked out the window and could see there was no power anywhere, even the traffic lights on the corner had gone black.

It was then the woman rushed into my office. She was in a total panic. “You have to help me”, she whispered. “I did something terrible. I crashed the computer and knocked out the electricity!”

Yup, it was my coworker who caused the great Northeast blackout of ’03.

We no longer work together, but I still tease her about it whenever we connect. Always worth a good laugh.

Covarr said...

I gave up on twitterfeed quite some time ago. It's really sloppy at properly refreshing data from RSS feeds. You might have better luck with IFTTT; it's a tad restrictive in that you can't set it up for multiple accounts on the same site, but if you're just using it for reposting your blog, you probably won't run into that.

Johnny Walker said...

Any thoughts on the upcoming Simpsons "Yellow Wedding", Ken? Smacks of sheer desperation, but who can blame them after 25(!) years!

'Simpsons' to kill off 'great' character in Game of Thrones style episode

Anonymous said...


Just imagine if you used your power for good instead of evil.


Angry Tech Gamer said...

I see your problem.

If TWC stands for Time Warner Cable... THATs your problem. You need to get a new broadband provider.

I once used Time Warner (loved the Road Runner hated the broadband). Time Warner (my opinion) seems to have intermittent connection issues due to random issues (trottling of data rates perhaps?).

I play online games when a new update was being downloaded to my computer the network became VERY SLOW to the point of being unuseable. Bursty traffic (like uploads) at Time Warner seems to make TWC net admins mad (trying to stop BitTorrent servers hmmm?).
So I went to another Broadband provider... problem solved!

All of the DVR, PayPerView, Kindle, iPhone, Amazon uploads... can be symptoms of intermittent network connectivity.

Angry Gamer

Donald said...

FRIDAY QUESTION: Were you involved in the "St. Elsewhere/Cheers" crossover episode? What do you think of crossover episodes in general? What are the logistics of maintaining the integrity of the two crossed shows?

Donald said...

NEVER MIND. I just discovered you addressed this in a previous post.

Hollywoodaholic said...

So are you the guy who screwed up the launch of Obamacare when you tried to sign up?

Anonymous said...

@ Dan in WNY
One of my absolute favorite moments from the show.

We have a thing at work where we don't say that anything is going ok - Murphy don't like that. One of my coworkers refuses to acknowledge this fact. He recently made a comment one morning that he would have no trouble completing the schedule that day. Power out for the afternoon. Schedule missed. Had he only just not said it, he would have made the schedule.


Michael said...

Have you seen this ranking of MLB local TV announcers:

It has the Giants announcers ranked number 1 with Vin Scully and the Dodgers announcers ranked second.

benson said...

@B.B. Callow.

I had a similar experience, but I did it myself, some 35 years ago.

We had a blowup mattress that had begun to leak a little air. So putting my childhood knowledge of finding a leak in a bicycle innertube to good use, I decided to fill up the bathtub and then blow up the mattress. It's eleven oclock at night. So help me, just as the mattress touched the water, everything went black. For a few moments I honestly thought I'd cause a blackout. Timing is everything.

BTW, word verification: very lpfreek (and I thought Ken was a top 40 guy)

Watt Miwuri said...

Friday Question: Do you have any thoughts about Al Feldstein, the longtime editor of MAD Magazine who died yesterday, or the 1956-85 era he oversaw?

VP81955 said...

I don't know how anyones comments on technology failures could beat Barry Kripke's on The Big Bang Theory:

Barry Kripke: You got Siwi, huh? Voice wecognition on that thing is terrible. Wook.
[Talking into iPhone]
Barry Kripke: Siwi, can you wecommend a westauwant?
Siri: I'm sorry, Bawwy. I don't understand "wecommend a westauwant."
Barry Kripke: Wisten to me. Not "westauwant," *westauwant*.
Siri: I don't know what you mean by "not westauwant, westauwant."
Barry Kripke: See? Total cwap. You suck, Siwi.

We should all be grateful that the terrific 1930s actress Kay Francis (aka "Wavishing Kay Fwancis") left us in 1968 and never had to use a Siri. (Then again, if Kay were with us today, she'd be 109 and probably not using any type of high-tech equipment.)

tim said...

Get Smart: "Not Craw! CRAW!"

Pat Reeder said...

I have a similar problem. Technology that works for everyone else doesn't work for me. I bought a new set of computer speakers and the remote control stopped working after two days, forcing me to get up out of my chair constantly to adjust the volume, so I just leave them off most of the time. I see how something as complicated as a PC might malfunction, but the freaking SPEAKERS?!

I also recently uploaded a new e-book version of a book of mine, "Nine Hallmarks of Highly Incompetent Losers." Amazon kept sending me messages that my tax info didn't match the records at the IRS and it would be removed if I didn't fix it. I changed it a dozen times, even altering "Street" to "St." I just kept getting the same message. Amazon replied that they couldn't tell me what was wrong, only that it was. Finally, I switched from my corporate tax info to my personal tax info, and it went through. So now, my taxes and income records are totally screwed up, but Amazon is happy. And isn't that what's important?

Greg Ehrbar said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Greg Ehrbar said...

D-OH! This is the corrected comment:

As Major Nelson explained to Jeannie: "It's a new kind of magic called Tech-NOLL-ogy."

The thing that makes me cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs is when some program I use gets "updated," and the features I liked about it have vanished, sort of like when your favorite dish on a restaurant menu is removed.

In his book, "Creativity, Inc." Ed Catmull writes of Steve Jobs, "Pixar made him so proud—because he felt the world was better for the films we made. He used to say regularly that as brilliant as Apple products were, eventually they all ended up in landfills."

chuckcd said...

In my case, it's "If it ain't broke...I haven't touched it yet.

Hey you have a blog, I could never get one to work for me.