Tiny Trouble

This is the connector that plugs into the back of my computer tower and links it to the router downstairs.  We have not “gone wireless”… this set-up has served us well. Until Friday, when my internet and email went down without warning or apparent cause. I checked all the things I knew … nothing worked. Perhaps the cable company was having problems… no the other computer worked fine. I was stumped.

My son, who looks after technical challenges for me, was out of town.  When he got home  he repeated everything… without success, and then checked the hardware and connections. You see that tiny, tiny, almost invisible finger of plastic at the top of the plug, like a tiny spring? It had snapped off. It is not helpful to discover this on a Saturday evening. Either removing the cable and taking it in to have a new plug installed or replacing the cable completely would mean snaking it back through walls and ceilings from one end of the house to the other. So eventually he tried Crazy Glue. Yes, Crazy Glue! Second try held, and I have my computer up and running again.

Not being able to use my email, the internet, or my blog for that long reminded me how much I depend on it. When I am away, it doesn’t seem so important, but there it was on the desk in my studio, calling to me, mocking me.

I am reminded of how important tiny almost invisible components can be in large and complex systems. These plugs sell online for $19.95 for a hundred. Twenty cents apiece! But you need both tools and know-how to replace them! A twenty-cent part knocked out my computer for two days.

The conveniences… and “necessities”… we take for granted are mysterious and fragile.  There is probably a larger message in this about our vulnerability as a society to the weaknesses and complexities of the technology we depend on and take for granted. Probably. But I am not going to go there. Worrying about the larger implications can wait. I am just glad to have my computer back.

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2 Responses to Tiny Trouble

  1. debbierodgers says:

    Oh – for want of a (probably penny) nail…..

    Yes, our society is far too reliant on technology (I don’t exclude myself from that). Imagine for a moment what would happen to businesses and governments if the computer systems that handle global financial transactions were to crash…

    BTW, using crazy glue was brilliant!

  2. motleydragon says:

    It is sobering to consider how dependent we are on systems and technologies we neither understand nor control.

    As I write this at 4PM, highway 403 east to Toronto, is backed up for miles because of a noon-hour collision that caused a fuel spill; part of Hamilton’s central mountain residential area has been without hydro for hours; and a hurricane watch on the Gulf coast is recalling the nightmare of Katrina. You have to know that is really serious when the Republican Party has announced it is delaying their nomination convention on the basis of that warning!

    And this is August… usually it is winter weather that we worry about in terms of accidents, power outages, and cancellations.

    Are your citizens and communities more resilient and self reliant on the Atlantic coast?

    When I was little, I knew, I really knew, I really believed that God and the Grownups could keep me safe. I am not little anymore, and both God and the Grownups have failed too often to mention.

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