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Forget drought, hunched backs and more, lack of tech support is one of the big stresses of remote working, but easily fixable.
I once asked my son what he thought I did for a living. “Stare at the computer all day and then get very cross,” he said. This is the kind of levelling comment that keeps your feet on the ground as a parent. There you were thinking you were doing something exciting that you felt passionately about and all they see is someone glued to the computer, getting angry because the screen has frozen and they have minus 10 minutes to get everything done before school pick-up.
Tech stress has not eased over time and is something remote workers struggle with more than most, simply because there is no-one else to ask for help. I long for someone who will come over, press a button or two and bingo, everything will work. But, unless a digital-native child is around [and even they are often nonplussed by work-related things], the main ploy is to rely on what I loosely call workarounds – this is basically any strategy you can devise to do whatever it is that your computer won’t. This can result in fairly surreal situations, which, when you look back on them seem really quite amusing, but at the time were definitely not.
Take the other day. I have just changed my phone. I was hoping to downgrade, having been suckered into getting a more up-to-date iphone than normal [I usually go for the cheapest, oldest version] last time round as daughter two was in charge of proceedings. I was bedazzled by the promise of 5G and a special offer. In my house mobile reception is very patchy. One minute you have bars, the next…nada. The world of work now functions on 2FA which means it sends codes to your phone. Not if there are no bars. Oh no. I have to run up into the furthest corner of daughter three’s room and dangle the phone out the window to get bars. This is not what I call progress. In any event, I have since been informed that 5G makes no difference to bars. Where are your tech advisers when you need them?
I didn’t want to stay with apple, but I feel I have to in order to keep all my photos etc. I’ve been badly stung by apple’s “human rights” policy whereby there appears to be no way to get into daughter one’s phone to retrieve precious pictures and writing because I don’t know her pin number, which is bound to be fiendishly difficult because she was very security conscious. It seems human rights doesn’t extend to bereaved parents.
So I reluctantly stayed with apple to keep the photos and video I have. But it doesn’t recognise my apple id password. One of its robots has assigned me an icloud.com address with a password which I don’t know because I didn’t even know I had an icloud.com account. This means I cannot get into any app on my phone, including zoom and Whatsapp for at least seven days. I can reset my bank password in minutes, but apple takes up to seven days because they are so up themselves about security. One day they will shut me out of my own [online] life.
I had to go to a meeting the other day and do an online call on Zoom half an hour before. The only problem is that zoom audio doesn’t work on my laptop – no idea why. My workaround was to use my phone. So, without a functioning zoom app on my phone, I borrowed a computer and set out for the meeting. I thought I could do it in a quiet cafe opposite the place where my next meeting was. Unfortunately, there was a big graduation ceremony taking place outside the cafe with groups of students and lecturers in gowns thronging the streets. The cafe looked fairly quiet inside, though. I went in and ordered some hot chocolate. Surreally, Dobbie from Harry Potter [Toby Jones] was in the queue. I sat down to start the meeting. All was good. I even had a plug socket to charge the laptop. Then the cafe started playing loud classical music and it began to fill up with people. I found myself having to get very close to the computer to hear the meeting. I think my colleagues must have basically been looking at my ear for most of the meeting.
By next week all should be resolved…if apple verifies my id, although my phone informs me that my work gmail password is ‘compromised’. The apple man told me I should ring google for advice. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO. Sometimes I think maybe I struggle more with technology due to my age, conforming to the negative stereotypes, but then I think it really isn’t an age thing. It’s more of a time thing. Time poor people need technology that works intuitively [which means modelling it on a diverse range of customers] and instantly and they need humans – not robots – to understand their frustrations when it doesn’t.