Archives for December 27, 2013

Computers are Magical Machines

If you are paying attention (to my blag), you know that Edmund and I gifted my brother Bill with a wireless router and a Roku for Christmas. My brother is fairly new to computer ownership, he uses one at work, and recently they gave him his first working laptop to use at home. (We gave him an old laptop to use a few years ago, but it was limping along. He couldn’t watch videos on it, for instance.) So part of the gift was that, if it were needed, I’d drive the hour-and-a-half to his house and help him install the router/Roku. Not that I didn’t think he could do it, but that I knew he wasn’t entirely comfortable with the process, and wanted keep the gift as stress-free as possible. I wanted him to actually USE it.

I thought that Bill was reluctant to get a wi-fi router because he thought he didn’t need it. But it seems it was just because he didn’t want to pay for one.

I told Bill that all he had to do was follow the instructions and he should be fine. I also want it on record that I suggested he change the Wi-Fi password to something easy to remember/type.

When Bill got home Christmas afternoon, he set up his router and got it working. They suggested a password for the wi-fi, and he kept it. Bill wrote down the password, and proceeded to install the Roku Device. (You can use Roku to stream video directly to your television, without using a computer. Bill recently signed up for Amazon Prime and was previously watching video only on his computer.)

And, wouldn’t you know it, his password didn’t work.

Enter: sister-Tech-Support. Bill called me and I tried to help troubleshoot his problem over the phone. My thought is that if we could get to a place where we could change the password, we’d be golden. (You see, I am not a router-installing guru, so I would just be trying to figure it out by trial and error.) We failed. I told him I would come to visit over the weekend to get him set up.

Last night Bill called me. He watched some YouTube videos and was able to get his password figured out. I helped him figure out how to register his Roku with Amazon Prime (not an intuitive process), and he was cooking with gas! Or watching streaming video on his television!

What is my point? The point is that computers are machines. They have logic. There is a right way to do things on a computer. Any problem you have you know that it is entirely likely someone else has had the same problem. Someone else figured out how to get/view/change the wi-fi password on a router, and they were kind enough to make a video about it. And because of computer logic and rules, Bill was able to use the visual representation of the steps to solve his issue.

That said, computers are magic. Sometimes, for some inexplicable reason, they don’t work. And then you turn it off and back on again (reboot), and it suddenly starts working again. [This similar to the kicking the television, or whapping your radio.] Or something isn’t working and you ask someone to look at what you are doing over your shoulder: suddenly everyhing works again.

The Moral: When you need help: YouTube.

The Law: When in doubt: reboot.