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I’m So Smart It’s Hard To See How Stupid I Am

August 4, 2016

I started to believe my own press releases. Always a dangerous thing. But, this was a task that intimidates many people in business. I, on the other hand, am an expert at it. I needed to do it yesterday. I’ll be fine, I said. (I wasn’t fine.)

Several months ago I was reviewing the log files for my home computer firewall system. There was a device that belonged to my son that was tripping some of my parental filters.  He tried to explain.

Well, you know, it might be giving a false reading, because when it switches from cellular coverage to wifi, sometimes the phone doesn’t properly record the name of the site it’s trying to get to.

You realize that this is what I do, right? I mean, I’m an excerpt in network traces and I’ve written books about it?

Ah. . . .

Did you want to continue with your explanation?

Working in IT, fortunately, I can generally stay a step ahead of my kids. I don’t know the apps the way they do, of course. I’ve never played a minute of Pokemon Go. I don’t have a single game installed on my phone or iPad. But, computers, and especially computer systems haven’t changed that much in 30 years. They’ve definitely gotten faster, and we no longer have space heaters masquerading as CRT monitors on our desks. But, underneath, it’s still just computers. 

It’s like reading Mark Twain. He was writing 150 years ago. His experiences were nothing like ours today. And yet, when you get right down to it, we are still putting one word after another. My page is electronic and his was a dead tree, but the process of what we do, isn’t that different. 

And computers, once they became personal, in 1980 and everyone could have one, haven’t changed much. I had to set up a new desk yesterday. You know the drill, right? A mountain of wires, each of which has to be plugged into EXACTLY the right slot for your system to come to life. 

Fortunately for me, I’ve been doing this for 35 years. My first program was written on a TI99. It was hooked up to a television and had a cassette tape drive for storage. Yep, I’ve pretty much seen it all. Been there. Done that. got the free t-shirt. Oh yeah, I R an expert!

So, I had no worries about setting up my system. I carefully separated each wire and run it to it’s respective piece of hardware. I complimented myself on how well I hid most of the cables.

 I was delighted when I plugged in the base unit for my wireless headset and it showed a blue light meaning it had saved its Bluetooth pairing information. The rat’s nest behind my docking station was at least a well connected rat’s nest.

There was just one problem. The docking station that I’d been given for my laptop was defective. I hooked everything up and it would dock my laptop, but none of the peripherals worked. And the power indicator on my laptop complained.

There is an issue with the power from the docking station.

Well, there’s nothing I can do about a bad piece of hardware. Fortunately, we have engineers who are responsible for replacing them. 

Hey, Jason? This is Rodney. That doc you gave me doesn’t seem to be working. I’m not sure if it has a bad connection or what.

I’ll be right there.

Our engineers typically require a service ticket to be created, but Jason and I are friends and he was willing to come look at it right away. When he arrived, I showed him the error and showed him that none of the peripherals were working; no mouse, keyboard, or anything. 

Do you mind if I get under your desk for a minute, Rodney?

Sure, go right ahead.

And that’s when Jason demonstrated what an idiot I am. He didn’t even say anything. He simply picked up the power cord from my laptop and plugged it into the power strip. Like I said, we’re friends, so he laughed instead of silently thinking how stupid I was.

Okay, you have bragging rights over me from now until. . .forever. Can’t believe I forgot that.

Hey, the first one’s free.

Yep, like I said, I’m a real expert at this stuff.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday at 7:00 AM Mountain Time. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. 

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(c) 2016 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved 

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