More Adventures in Technology
Last week, our tech-savvy grandkids from Indiana were visiting and trying to play Minecraft on their iPads. Despite connecting them to our Internet, they claimed their game was “glitchy.” The seven-year-old even cried because he lost his skins. After examining him for wounds, I came to understand this had something to do with his Minecraft characters, not bodily injury. Later, we watched The Karate Kid on Netflix, which took an extra half-hour because the movie kept stopping and buffering during the crucial karate tournament scenes. Yep, it was time to reach out to our Internet provider once again because Houston, we had a problem.
My husband and I have had a running battle with Comcast/Xfinity over the past year. We pay big bucks, mostly due to our fear of cutting the cable, but we do not feel like the “valued customers” they claim we are when we need help. Our Internet has been intermittently running slowly for some time and we have been told to do the following:
- Reboot your modem (over and over and over)
- Get a new modem
- Get a new computer
- Try a signal extender
- Do periodic speed tests to verify we have a problem (we do)
- Get higher level tech support
- Sign up for a different plan
- Schedule a service call
We have dutifully done all of the above, but nevertheless our problem persisted. After yesterday’s service call, we finally have some answers, thanks to the technician who actually showed up, knew what he was doing, took the time to fix some of our problems, and explained what we could do to improve our connection to that all-important Internet signal. As a side benefit, he solved the Roku buffering issue (you know, that circle of doom that stops what you are watching on Netflix or Amazon Prime) by explaining that we didn’t need Roku at all because our not-that-new televisions were actually smart and could connect directly through cable. Who knew?
This latest adventure in technology taught me two important lessons. First, in dealing with a huge company like Comcast, take all advice (if you can even access a human being) with a large grain of salt. I’ve learned that, to get to a human, I had to tell the computerized voice that I wanted a new plan or that I wanted the retention department. The first human I encountered would read from a script, make me reset my modem (again) and eventually send me up the chain to a higher-up technician. This time, after wasting another half-hour, the level-two person agreed that I need service. Then, instead of calling me back (as promised) to schedule a service call, Comcast texted me a date and time. Of course, it was a time I couldn’t be home. After trying several links, I was able to change the time, but I had no assurance that the person would actually show up. The last time they scheduled a service call for me, I was home during my two-hour window, but no one came. Luckily, this time my knight in shining armor arrived.
The second lesson was that, no matter how much I think I understand all of the technology in my home, I am pretty ignorant. I read somewhere that with every device — phones, tablets, televisions, computers, etc. — people only know how to use a small percentage of the device’s potential. Most, like me, are self-taught. I hate to admit it, but all of technology in my home is far smarter than I. For my grandkids, who are growing up with technology as part of their everyday lives, a lot of what I struggle to understand is intuitive.
I will never be able to understand Minecraft, nor do I want to, but I do wish I were smarter than my TV.