Day 318: Tech Support

My wife and her mother are suspicious and generally intolerant of technology. That wouldn’t be a problem if they weren’t also constantly using it. I didn’t realize the extent of what I was dealing with until 3 years ago when my mother-in-law was sitting at our computer and asked,

“Jason, why don’t I see my emails when I go to the mail program on this computer?”

I laughed and panicked. The lack of basic understanding exhibited by that statement was daunting. I felt like a new 3rd grade teacher who’d just discovered his students couldn’t read yet. I didn’t even know where to start with an explanation. Is she from the future when all computers easily recognize the person sitting in front of them and download all the pertinent data automatically? It’s like getting in someone else’s car and wondering why your sweater isn’t in it.

“Because you have to sign into your account.” I responded. She said, “Oh,” and left the computer. The mere notion of an “account” toggled her attention to the “off” position.

Both she and my wife are very smart women, but for some reason can’t be bothered with understanding how “high tech gadgets” work. That doesn’t stop them from incessantly asking why their iPhone made a certain sound, or if it’s possible to make video chat “less garbled.” When I try to answer, they immediately glaze over. The shortest amount of time that exists in the universe is between me saying “wireless network” and them walking away. They’re back 5 minutes later holding their phone asking, “How many 3Gs or 4Gs does this have?” “Why are websites so slow?” is their favorite question. They don’t actually want an answer, I think they just can’t stop themselves from asking. It’s like a compulsion of some kind. Maybe my answers are terrible. I guess I have no idea what’s going on.

Last night, my wife asked, “Does my iPhone take energy away from the Netflix?”

WOW.

“Energy?”

“THE Netflix?”

You can always tell someone doesn’t know what they’re talking about when they incorrectly insert “the” in front of a word. It  makes them sound like English is their second language. “Tomorrow I will be applying for the citizenship of United States.”

I reponded, “Are you asking if the performance of Netflix streaming is affected by your iPhone being on the same wireless network?”

“Yea, that.”

“Only if you’re actually using the wireless network. Just being connected shouldn’t slow it down.”

Silence. I’d talked above her head again. I think the difference between “connected” and “using” was too much for her to think about.

I appreciate her efforts at troubleshooting, but sometimes it feels like a child is trying to tell me how to drive. “You have to use the pedals and shifter!” “Yes, thank-you, I know.” “Ok, just checking.”

After that, I was showing her how Siri (the voice enabled virtual assistant) works on the new iPhone 4s. She was completely blown away by how accurate and fast it worked. I think maybe she was a little too excited when she said, “Ask Siri if she’ll suck your dick!” My wife isn’t crude at all, and I think it might have been the first time I ever heard her say “suck” and “dick” in the same sentence. Then she asked “How does Siri work?” “Well, it contacts the apple servers where a service then queries the ….. babe? Hey, come back.”

For Christmas I’ll get them each a class at the Mac store. I’ll make sure I have a receipt so when they don’t go I can get the money back and buy a bluetooth accessory I don’t remotely need.
 

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adequatemom says:

Your wife and Mother in Law sound exactly like my co-workers, who think it is ~my~ job to answer all their stupid questions. "Hey, can you put this DVD onto a flash drive?" (Yes I'm serious.)

Katie Carr says:

I don't have an i-anything and I am totally okay with that. I can do a blog and e-mails and twitter – and I don't bother to ask questions because no one else in this house could answer them. That's why I like books – the ones with the pages you turn with your fingers? That you can actually feel . . . made out of paper . . .

Page says:

Oh, that is my wife, but with HD TV. We pay for the HD signal with our cable company. It has been over two years now that we have had this additional service. I get so frustrated that when I sit down with her when she is watching TV that she is still watching the regular def. channels (the lower quality picture). Each time I ask why and I get she just does not know the high def channels' numbers on the cable box. Ok, how is it that she can memorize the regular channels but now can not even attempt to memorize the new HD channels. Just hate it when after calling her while on a business trip to record my UF football game that I get it recorded in the low def channel!!!!!

Courtney says:

This made me giggle. I was like that for a long time. We finally got HD and it took an act of Congress for me to actually type a "1" in front of the original channel (which is how easy it is to find the HD channel). I finally have it down to habit, but the looks of disgust and disappointment when I recorded a World Series game in that dreaded "regular definition" made me feel like I had cheated on him.

Crystal says:

My grandparents are always the ones with the tech issues – the funniest one was recently I was telling my grandma about my Verizon MiFi. I had brought it over to their house a couple weeks ago, so I could connect to the internet (they couldn't remember the password for me to connect to their wireless…argh). So anyway, she says, "So you can take this with you anywhere you go, and connect to the internet?" And I said, "Yes, as long as there's a signal."

So, yesterday we're talking, and she goes – "So if you take that little device with you, is your internet still on at home too?"

Uhhh…that would be a no grandma.

Crystal says:

Oh.my.gosh – I'm in the IT field, so this post had me CRYING I was laughing so hard. Brought me back to the old days in training where people where still searching for the 'any' key to continue.

Tiffanie says:

Our Executive Director was meeting with an IT Company about possibly setting up Data Storage with them. Their use of the terms "in the clouds" completely boggled his mind. He actually thought it was in the clouds and no amount of explanation was going to help him understand what was actually happening. We never went forward with the data storage.

Crystal says:

Holy crap that's funny.

shotsie, the mother- says:

My one-on-one yesterday at the Apple store was a real trip for my aide ? (tutor? facilitator? helper? oh wait, my "service provider," that's it!) My response to almost everything he showed me was, "How was I supposed to know that?"

Kerstin says:

My parents and I once debated whether someone was dead (can't remember who) and my dad said "we pay enough for those googles, look it up."

Crystal says:

hahahah

John says:

I think I can handle Liz's question for all of us married men: No.

Jennifer says:

My Dad the other day asked how to move his GMAIL messages from his phone to his computer- "the machine".

After a long explanation that included a pantomine type dance about how the emails really live "on the web"- and can be found on any computer, i walked away cursing because the new problem was security on "the machine" .

This man is a career pilot. If he can keep a metal bird in the air, surely he should understand web-based mail.

Christy says:

My mom was watching my son and he wanted to watch a movie on the portable DVD player. I had put the " hold" switch on the last time we used it so his little brother couldn't turn it off or press any other buttons. She called me and said she had put the movie in and has been " holding on" for 15 minutes, but nothing was happening. The screen said " hold on"……..

Crystal says:

bwahahah

Sounds giggling to me. Laugh out loud too..

Abigail says:

I'm so bad with technology. Actually, let me rephrase that. I maintain that technology hates me. Why else would it constantly change? I don't have time to relearn things. I can use a pen and paper just fine. Why would I need an app for notetaking? I can play card games with actual cards. Who needs Angry Birds? Why are the angry in the first place? What's with all the eggs?!! Do you know how many times I've hit restart on my computer because it's not connected to the internet???

Dana says:

You have to meet my mom. On their home computer, my dad had moved the shortcut to their email program from lower left to upper right on the desktop. When I asked her why is she no longer emailing me, she said that she no longer had an email – it had disappeared.

Oh, and did I mention about the time when I was on the phone to her trying to get her to log into her Facebook page (yes, I set it up all for her, I was barely trying to explain to her how to get there.) After 15 min of frustration, hair pulling and minor yelling (on my side) she happily announced: "OK, I am there. But I can't see where to log in". "Ugh mom, how does the page look like?" "Well, it has those colourful letters on top… G-O-O-G-L-E" [insert a scream of desperation on my side]. After all this time all she managed to do was bring up search results for Facebook in Google… Bless!

Becky says:

I work as a veterinary technician, and had a client once tell me that he needed medicine because his dog had "the flea."

You're a much better sport about it than I am. I, too, know these folks (one is in my immediate family). They infuriate me.

It's not like they're wondering about how an atom-splitter or a time-machine works. Holy crap, cellphones and personal computers have been widely available in one form or another for at least 20 years. They're way past the "gadget" or "fad" phase. In fact, they are integral to everyone's daily life, just like central air conditioning, dishwashers and microwave ovens.

My mother called me one day and said she didn't want to pay for voicemail on her home telephone anymore. She said she'd called the phone company and asked them to remove voicemail from her bill, but she was still getting voicemail messages. When I asked her how she was accessing the messages, she replied:

"Well, when I see the machine blinking I just press 'play' and the voicemail message comes out."

She was listening to her own ANSWERING MACHINE for Christsakes.

Far from endearing or cute, I find this willful ignorance just a form of laziness. If there is ANY work or thought involved, she's just not interested. Ugh …

Dolan says:

Hilarious

Liz says:

Well? Did Siri give up the b.j. or not?

Debi says:

Unfortunately I sound a lot like your wife. At least you have the answers!