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Catastrophic failure!

24 May 2011 / Daniel Selwood
Categories: Admin
How have you reacted in the face of technological disaster? Share your story for the chance to win something wet

The breaking point was caused by one of these: @

I was working at home last week when I discovered the milk had gone off, so a cuppa was out of the question. (Black tea? What am I, a brickie?). Then my MacBook went on the fritz.

Half an hour on the phone to Apple established that no amount of reboots or software reinstallations was going to make the number keys work; for it was they that had snarled up. (Except for the zero; that, weirdly, was fine.) A hardware problem: I was miffed.

Then a problem of a personal nature struck unexpectedly, causing my already bubbling temper to erupt with the fury of Vesuvius. But with swearing instead of magma and ash.

Some time later, now more or less calm but dehydrated (I’ll admit to a bit of a hangover), I returned to my laptop, which I’d hooked up to a USB keyboard with working numbers. I typed in an email address and held down the command key along with the 2 key – which is what you do to get @ on a Mac.

But the new keyboard was configured for a PC, so I got double speech marks. And I kept getting them, no matter how many times I hit the 2 key – or how hard.

Instead of realising the PC/Mac mix-up, and perhaps laughing it off, I screamed a very rude word, slammed both fists on the kitchen table, and then held my scarlet face in my stinging hands while sobbing about the cruelty of the world.

That’s not how I usually deal with techno-failure. But it’s an incident that illustrates how computers and their like can, on a bad day, drive one to spittle-flecked distraction – and it led me to wonder how Taxation’s readers react when they break their smartphone, or when they arrive at a meeting to realise their laptop is in the back of cab. What might a tax accountant do if his or her computer was to suffer a catastrophic breakdown late in the afternoon of 31 January?

I would love to receive your stories of panic or heroics in the face of rebellion, betrayal or abandonment – either trivial or major – by the electronic buddies on which you so heavily rely.

Should a good selection of anecdotes come this way, the best one will win a prize – probably something wet – and will be reproduced online along with a few runners-up. (You’re welcome to use a pseudonym a la the Readers Forum.)

I was impressed this morning by the calmness with which Taxation’s editor, Mike, having realised he’d left his iPad at home, successfully talked his missus through the operation of the tablet device. It was like a scene from one of those Airport disaster movies from the ‘70s – albeit one wholly lacking in tension, a foxy stewardess, and references to pitch and roll.

Categories: Admin
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