So Barry Manilow marries his long term manager Garry. Oh Mandy, I bet you didn’t see that one coming. You could have knocked me over with a feather boa when I heard the news. Blimey, next you’ll be telling me that Sir Cliff’s a bit hint of mint.
You could say the headline ‘Barry and Garry marry’ wasn’t exactly a shock to me but two things did surprise me this week, and they both involved technology, my favourite ranting subject. First up Apple’s customer care support. Now I’ve written glowingly about their help in the past but this week they exceeded my expectations. Our grandsons were over last week-end and spent loads of time on my desktop playing games and things. I don’t know if they unwittingly uploaded a gaming virus but I ended up with a malicious pop-up which advised me that my machine had become infected and had frozen my screen. The solution it offered was to call a toll-free number for advice. Reluctantly I tried it fearing some bloody scam. The guy on the line told me he was from Microsoft and wanted to know a wholebunch of details like my full name and passwords, so that he could ‘pass me on to an Apple advisor’. Umm. I put the phone down and shut my system down and re-booted only to find a mock Google landing page which whenever I put something into the search bar delivered me to some dodgy looking gaming sites. Oh lawd.
I decided to call Apple support directly. Now I don’t have a care policy (because we’ve got several devices and Apple don’t offer a multiple unit deal annoyingly) so it usually means now that it’s necessary to pay for an advice fee. Fair enough. But the guy who answered listened to my problem, said I was right to call them and said I needed some high-level skill on the case as it appeared I had inherited a seriously troublesome problem. Oh double lawd, this sounded ominous and probably expensive. Anyway he hooked me up with Ben, a US (!) advisor, who asked how skilled I was at following instructions. Hopeless I said. So he asked me to programme something in which I just about managed and bingo he told me that he was now looking at my screen and I could more easily follow his directions by following his red arrow cursor which had appeared on screen. So some guy in Apple HQ was able to see what I was doing on my computer live. Blimey this was amazing and a bit scary.
But we ploughed on and he could see the malicious pop-ups and fake Google page so he got me to install the best ‘scrubber’ Apple have, something called Adware Medic which cleaned out the virus. Then he proceeded to remove the Mackeeper application which he spotted on my system which he said was doing nothing helpful. We spent about half an hour doing this and I was expecting a whopping advice charge but instead he gave me is personal number and asked me to call him should the problem re-occur which he was sure, wouldn’t. No charge for rescuing my beloved machine once more. I’ll say it again that Apple really are a special kind of company. Compared with the nit wits you have to deal with at BT they make my old company look like a frigging donkey farm.
And on to my next technological challenge, this time our Samsung tv. We bought it when we got back from Italy so it’s just over 5 years old and, of course, out of any warranty. Well it’s recently started to behave very oddly. The volume/sound reduces to zero all on its own. And after doing this 3 or 4 times it then becomes impossible to use either the remote or the tv’s own control buttons to raise the sound. Usually you have to switch it off and wait a while and restart everything. You can imagine how frustrating this is and it was driving my eldest grandson nuts over he week-end when we were trying to watch a film. Occasionally the bloody thing does something even more infuriating by turning up the volume to the highest level which not only annoys us but most of our neighbours in Twickenham Green too, especially when the remote can’t correct it and you have to run over and switch the sodding thing off. I can’t even blame the remote or the coalition Government for this one. It’s the damned tv, which looks like it needs replacing.
But first off I went online (on my beautifully scrubbed-clean desktop) and when I put Samsung tv sound problem in the search box, discovered that this problem wasn’t unique. It seems that 100’s of people have experienced something similar. Almost as if those inscrutable Koreans had programmed in a driven-to-distraction bug timed to explode one day after the 5 year warranty expires. They couldn’t do that could they? Well if Apple can watch my screen in Cupertino, California then nothing would surprise me.
But what did intrigue me was that several of the people who had gone online about the errant sound levels had discovered a solution to the problem. All that was needed was to disconnect all the wires and connectors and remove the back panel of the tv. This would expose all the internal wiring and the secret wire was the one connecting the inside of the control button panel on the side of the tv. Disconnect this and the problem is usually solved. It sounds as easy as defusing an unexploded bomb to a technical dufus like me. But I had the looks on my grandchildren’s disappointed faces etched in my mind so I gave it a go.
This could end one of two ways couldn’t it? Well to my great surprise I got the back of the telly off and found the wire and disconnected it without drama and got everything screwed back together again without losing one bit. I’m surprised, nay amazed, and delighted to say the tv works beautifully again.
Up yours Seoul.