I admit to being a bit of a geek. I am excited about the potential of new technology and, whenever there is a new update to any bit of software on my computer, I have to be restrained if I am to resist the temptation to hit the download button.
But, in the last 24 hours, I have been reminded that sometimes you need to look behind the technology.
Last night, after the seventh day in a row of shovelling what seems to be an unending fall of snow, I flopped into my armchair and decided to watch television. I hit the right sequence of buttons on the home cinema, Sky box and TV (I did tell you I was a bit of a geek).
Nothing. Just a message on the screen saying there was no satellite signal.
I started fiddling with cables and trying to work out how to remove the smart card.
After 15 minutes with some mild cursing, it was my wife who brought me back to earth, fairly literally. Have you checked to see if the icicles aren’t blocking the satellite dish?
A geek hates to admit the high-tech approach was wrong. But, she was 100% right.
The biggest, thickest icicle on the south-facing roof had built itself into a huge, signal-blocking tube that dropped from the gutter straight onto the Sky signal receiver! It could not have been more precisely engineered if it tried.
It took nothing more high-tech than a broom handle to reach up and smash the icicle and, hey presto, restore the satellite signal.
Then, this morning, I was plagued with a temperamental laptop for the seventh day in a row.
This time it was particularly annoying as I had gathered all sort of fellow geek opinions on a computer help forum as to what was wrong and had, on their advice, implemented the procedure to reset the SMC (system management control). It had seemed to work, so I was more than frustrated to see the black screen this morning.
Then, I remembered that it seemed fiddling with the battery had been the key to bringing the ‘on’ button back to life.
I took a pin and very gently and very carefully put a little more spring into the tiny copper contacts that engage in the battery.
Yet again, the problem was not the high tech, but the low tech. Computers may be relatively new, but the problem of making a good copper contact is as old as... well maybe not the hills.