Where to start…
- A dodgy printer which won’t print black from my computer, but will from my husband’s machine. From whatever source its print commands, there is a delay of about half an hour between each document, until the thing has generated an error message saying it can’t print the previous one, even though it has printed it… You are following this, aren’t you?
- Half our long thin house being dead to wifi because it’s out of range of the router.
So we order a new laser printer (more expensive than we’d intended – as always) and a repeater. On Wednesday, the repeater arrived in a neat box. The printer didn’t… although I did receive a text message from the courier driver, stating he’d been unable to make a delivery because no one was in to sign for it. He kindly provided a photo…. of a house 500 yards from ours.
Meanwhile I attempt to install the repeater. I try the simple option, the one they wrote about in the reviews, involving a button on the router, but that didn’t work. I try Option 1, Option 2, not the next option, because it requires an ethernet cable, which I don’t possess. I have lunch. Then I try to sort out the courier. Ooh… and I have to put my iPhone and iPad back on wifi, and my husband’s, as they’d all fallen off.
.On Thursday, I realise my iPhone isn’t receiving emails, and refusing to install an update. Also all our Apple devices are still dropping off the wifi. I’m on the Apple helpline, in Ireland, for most of the day, but, by early evening, Michael and I have managed to sort it out. Meanwhile, the courier sends me another text to say they’ve attempted a second delivery 500 yards up the road.
This morning, a third courier appears – wait for it – at OUR front door – AND – beside him is a box which… might… just contain a printer. He has a special app, he says, http://www.essexhighways.org which can locate any house in Essex. Phew!
And again, phew!
After he’s gone, my husband fingers the repeater. He wants me to send it back where it came from. I text my son to ask him if he’s got the ethernet cable. He has, in his flat in London, and, although he was coming to visit us this weekend, for reasons nothing to do with computer-gate, he’s not now. In the afternoon, I ring the the helpline. Within seconds I’m redirected to an American single dialling tone. “Hi,” says Lee. “How can I help you today?” He leads me through resetting the repeater – using my iPhone. There I am squinting at the tiny iPhone screen with Lee telling me to type in dee passworrrd. Now which password do you mean, Lee? Do you mean the WPA. The router password? The row-der? The repeater? The extender? No, no, dee passworrrd. When we got to the point where the lights on the repeater/extender were all on, he was desperate to get off the line. Good thing I kept him on, though, because the last bit of the installation wasn’t anything like the instructions. But we got there. I even got a signal in the kitchen. I suppose I should really say thank you, Lee.
Then I installed the printer – by myself – following diagrams, and the two chunky manuals delivered with it. Well, I used the ten or so pages in English, anyway. One and only husband did the lifting, and made a cup of tea. Not bad for a little woman, eh?
Now for the serious bit. The amount, and level, of technical expertise that is expected of home computer owners is just ridiculous. To the geeky people who build these devices, installation probably does seem very straightforward and that’s how they tell it in the marketing blurb. PC reviewers are no better. But it’s not like that for the poor customers. Some of us muddle through, swearing, getting very stressed and getting their husbands stressed. Others call in techy friends, taking up hours of their time. Many older people call in grandchildren who are supposed to be ‘good with computers’; the grandchild will do all sorts of whizzy things to the device, leaving the grandparents not knowing what on earth they’ve done, and unable to use it.
Young people don’t know everything about computers… until they’ve done the appropriate training. For twenty years, I taught IT to sixteen to nineteen year olds. By the time, myself and my colleagues had finished with them, they did know about computers. We home-owners should give those kids some work. Instead of going through computer-gate hell, we should call in professionals.