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Friday, March 29, 2013

A BUMP ON THE ROAD TO THE SHINY TECH FUTURE

Even Kirk and Spock had trouble with Nomad


Today’s report from the real world:  the technological future continues to retreat ahead of us.

Those of you who follow this blog on a regular basis know me as a something of a Luddite, despite my fascination with the mysteries of space travel, the possibility of alternate universes, the vagaries of time and other such wonders.  I still play CD’s, (in fact I can’t seem to part with my vinyl collection); I won’t give up my “dumb” phone; I don’t do Facebook or Twitter; I love watching movies in a dark, cavernous theater.  I even (gasp!) prefer a map to GPS most times.

So you may be surprised to hear that my television system is state-of-the art via DirecTV satellite HDTV hookup with DVR.  I never watch anything in real time, thanks to the DVR, and I could watch any number of movies or shows, thanks to Netflix or DirecTV OnDemand.  This is not to brag, just to provide a background for the next part of the story.  (Also I hate commercials.  Not that anyone likes them, but other people seem to be able to sit through them without wanting to toss something at the screen.  I lost that ability years ago.)

My husband travels overseas frequently for his job, so when DirecTV offered a new service called Nomad that allows customers to download pre-recorded shows from their home systems to their laptops or tablets, we jumped at it.  Netflix or OnDemand doesn’t often have the latest episodes of our favorite shows, or you have to pay to play.  This way, what we’ve already recorded on our DVR would be available for us to take with us anywhere!  Wow!

And, actually, when you think about it, this should be a no-brainer.  The DVR is a computer, right?  Why shouldn’t you be able to download stuff from one computer to another?  So, cool, get the little Nomad thingy, hook it up and we should be good to go!

Well, not so fast, there, pardner!  Apparently these computers need to be able to talk to each other.  Then there is the issue of the router.  And the security software on our mobile devices.  And the fact that the Nomad thingy is brand-new and apparently has bugs they haven’t worked out since very few customers have tried it yet.  And, of course, the DirecTV technicians haven’t all been trained on installing the Nomad device.  And on.  And on.

And you know how these things go.  First you try the install yourself.  All seems correct, but you get an annoying little “error” message on your computer.  You do it all over again, but the message keeps coming up.  Then you call tech support.  They walk you through all the steps you just went through, and the message comes up again.  Twice.  They try numerous things from your end and from their end.  They send you running up and down stairs (because, of course, the Nomad and router are located on one floor, the TV and DVR on another!).  Lights blink on and off on Nomad.  Lights change color on Nomad.  But still the error message keeps coming up on the computer, refusing to allow you to connect with Nomad online.  (At least Nomad does not try to take over the house or drive the cars.  Given Captain Kirk’s unfortunate experience with something of that name, we’ve been lucky so far.)

After at least an hour of this, tech support gives up.  The dreaded words, “we’ll have to send someone out,” leave her lips.  Darkness falls in your heart.  This will cost you.

Things are taken to the next level with the arrival of the technicians the next day.  At least they don’t make you wait from “8:00 until 12:00”, but arrive bright and early at the crack of dawn.  But hopes are dashed by the end of the visit.  The techs are stumped, too.  Nomad has defeated them.

So, currently Nomad sits blinking, happy, but dumb, in a corner of my living room.  The DirecTV folks, to their credit, have called 53 times—to see if we’re okay, to see if the service call worked out, to get more information once they figured out the service call was ineffective, to offer consolation, to avoid a lawsuit, for their robot to talk to Nomad, who knows why they’re calling?  Maybe they think if they keep calling we’ll eventually tell them to go away, and they’ll be off the hook.

The DirecTV folks say they haven’t given up.  They are giving the problem to someone at a “higher level”.  Do they mean The Man Upstairs?  The Great IT Guy in the Sky?  Think I better tell hubby to take a book with him on his next trip.  Jehovah probably has better things to do than to worry about the frivolous technology of his diversion-hungry creations.

Warmest Congratulations to all the GH and RITA Nominees!

This has been such a terrific week for the newest class of RWA’s Golden Heart® and RITA® nominees.  So many of them are our friends and colleagues from last year’s Firebirds class and, of course, our own Sharon Lynn Fisher leads the way with her RITA® nomination for Best First Book.  So excited for you, Sharon, as you gather one more in the many kudos for your excellent work!  And congratulations to all the nominees now headed to Atlanta wearing that shiny GH® or RITA® glow!

Cheers, Donna

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