Friday, October 11 2019

rob, rigatoni, troubleshooting, and apple

Dear Journal,

Good morning everyone! This is probably the best I've felt all week. After Wednesdays afternoon's outage and Wednesday night's pizza binge I was feeling pretty low energy. I was also psyching myself into believing that I was coming down with a cold. But it appears that all I needed was a good supper and a good night of sleep. Do you ever get paranoid when you suddenly remember how long it's been since you gotten sick? I treat getting sick like jury duty. If it's been a while, I start to get suspicious that it is about to happen.

Yesterday, I spent most of the day documenting Wednesday's outage. Since it wasn't in an environment that impacted customers, no official post mortem was needed, but my team thought it would be a good idea to fill one out anyway just to show people that we weren't messing around.

After I was done with the report, I went out to lunch with Rob. We sat on the patio of Argus, where the waitress greeted him by name. Argus is clearly Rob's place, and he made it feel like a scene from Cheers. We ate some lunch, threw back a beer or two, and Rob let me finish his fries.

I worked on some other stuff in the afternoon, then head home to find Marissa and Rodney snuggling on the couch. Marissa was taking a well-deserved couch nap after cleaning a few of the house windows. We're planning on doing the rest of them this weekend, but she wanted to see what it would look like. I immediately noticed the extra sunlight pouring into the kitchen, and it made me feel proud and happy. I guess you shouldn't underestimate what good windows can do to your mood.

I took Rodney to Hy-Vee. Our fridge was pretty much empty, so we had a big shopping trip ahead of us, but Rod was also in a good mood and he was up for the challenge. As we passed the snack food, he sheepishly gestured to a box of M&M rice crispy treats, and after I nodded in approval he happily lobbed them into the shopping cart. I let him eat one on the way home. And with that treat, I hope he realized how pliable I am when it comes to snack foods in turn for helping me pick up groceries. That's the whole appeal of grocery shopping with your parents, isn't it?

For dinner, I fried some pancietta in olive oil at the bottom of my Dutch oven. We had some really nice looking lemons in the fridge, so I couldn't resist zesting one of them into the mix. I dumped in a can of cheap red sauce, cooked it down, snuck in a tablespoon of butter, then tossed in a whole box of rigatoni. After letting all that get to know each other, I folded in some parmesan cheese. That's my goto for making quick pasta on a weeknight, and for all intents and purposes it's replaced the function of mac 'n cheese in our house. As we ate dinner, Rod and Marissa talked about their busy day working outside.

After dinner, Marissa put Rod to bed so I'd have time to help a friend set up her new iPad. Over the phone exchanging plenty of screenshots over texts, together we navigated the perils of iOS, finally adding a new email account. "IT WORKS THANK YOU," she replied in the test email. We were feeling pretty good about our success, then suddenly almost out of jealousy for the new device, her iPhone started acting up and suddenly she couldn't send emails from that device. We tried to work our magic, but around 10:45 we had to raise the white flag, since there's only so much you can help with over the phone (especially when it comes to troubleshooting that same phone).

As a long time IT guy, I'm aware of how exhausting it can be, even if I'm the one helping you. It still takes effort on your part to follow my instructions, describe what you're seeing, and track with our progress. My philosophy is that there's nothing wrong with saying "I appreciate the help, but let's take a break." It helps to step away from a problem, and sometimes they even fix themselves when we're not paying attention.

I was disappointed in Apple. Let's be honest, for people that don't have the time to treat computers like a hobby, Apple is the de facto choice. I prefer Android - not because it's good - but because it's cheap. This leaves Apple with the unique responsibility of shouldering the majority of the population - the people that don't particularly enjoy using a computer. There stuff has to be really good, especially when it comes to common scenarios. It's hard to describe how frustrating it is to encounter a bug while helping someone with a common use case.

I wise person once said "A computer is like an evil genie; it will give you exactly what you ask for, even if it's not exactly what you wanted." Trying to configure an 2019 iPhone to read emails was a funny introduction to our evening movie pick Minority Report. Taking place in 2050, it has to hold first prize for most technologically optimistic. Tom Cruise busily ran from flying cars to computers he controlled by waving his hands, and not once did I see him log into iCloud. If that's true, then we have 30 short years to clean this up, Apple.

Happy Friday, and hope you have a wonderful day today. Be careful what you ask a computer to do, because it will do exactly what you asked.