I’ve decided magic must be real. Quite often, these days, I’ll start my computer and discover it’s changed, magically, since I shut it down. Basic stuff that worked yesterday suddenly doesn’t. Or I’ll log on to a service I need and have the same experience. Worse, nothing fixes it, and online help doesn’t correlate with the problem.
I’m not alone. How many people turned on their computer after the Microsoft April update to discover everything had magically vanished out of their ‘My Documents’ folder? I dodged that one, but only because I’d had endless blue-screen crashes on startup after the Microsoft March update. And when I finally managed to fix that, I discovered a relentless succession of problems such as Word deciding to automatically start itself.
It happens with online services, too: last year all my Kindle books vanished from their marketplaces on Amazon. No warning, and I’d not changed a single setting. Nothing. It just happened.
I’ve learned there’s no point trying to get help when these magic changes strike because there’s also a magical disconnect between available help and what is happening. When the Kindle marketplace problem occurred, for instance, Amazon sent me a step-by-step guide-for-morons about how their marketplaces work, because obviously I didn’t know and that was the cause of the problem.
Or take the magic Word auto-start issue. No setting would change it: I’d already checked the startup items list, which hadn’t changed and didn’t have Word in it. Further digging led me to a lengthy tech description of the way user accounts can get corrupted. Fixing that involves iwhwq bvigh with RegEdit and soeiurhqiwuh with a swjhw xxyjjg to asjidnai juhn, so make sure you widheitg jjxveha and kfkkeoizyyz, always noting the difference between 111011011010001111011101 and 111011011011001111011101. I was, however, pretty sure that this wasn’t the issue.
Now, here comes the next magic part. These issues that magically appear out of nowhere because, apparently, the user ‘did something’, or they’ve suddenly forgotten how to use the system they’ve been using every day for the past 10 years – well, guess what. These problems always fix themselves again, no input required. More magic! My Kindle marketplace availability, for instance – popped back after three days. All without my changing a thing or suddenly remembering how the system worked. And it had to be magic because Amazon’s staff made clear the problem was due to my ignorance of their marketplace system. Magic. See?
Of course, it could be that in this age of software-as-service, the programmers in the back office mess up one of the updates. That information doesn’t get passed to the front-office help staff or reflected in online help files because despite being ‘corporate’, these institutions have profoundly dysfunctional internal systems. But I think ‘magic’ is the better answer. After all, these giant mega-corporates can’t make mistakes, can they?
Have you had this sort of problem?
Copyright © Matthew Wright