The WML Diaries
For many years, I have dealt with the "Why Me, Lord" Syndrome, a condition that has beome so prevalent that it bemuses my friends and has reached shorthand levels of WML, and even reached the point that my pal Ed Bott suggested that I start the WML Diaries. After the latest, I figured that, yes, it was time to wave the white flag and start.
The tie that binds all the tales together is that they tend to have the phrase, "I've never that before" used at some point in them. And that usually doesn't occur because of some small happenstance, but most of the time because something convoluted and quite bizarre has occurred. Bringing about..."Hmmph. I've never seen that before." To which the only appropriate response is -- Why Me, Lord? Or now, just WML...
There are too many tales over too many years to explain, but here are just a few in recent years.
A few years ago, I was flying back on KLM from the IFA tech show in Berlin I'm invited to. It's a very long trip, about 13 hours, but happily KLM and most international flights have very advanced entertainment centers, which are like the ones you're used to for domestic flights but on steroids. Tech overload and fun, and I settled into my aisle seat and looked forward to media heaven for the next 13 hours.
Except -- it turned out that the wired-remote control at my seat had a glitch and was controlling the seat to my right, and hers controlled mine. The flight attendants tried everything they could, which was basically rebooting the system several times, but to no avail. Because of the logistics, I could easily lend my remote to the passenger on my right and let her use it, but the position of her cord was to problematic for me to use. So...for the full 13 hours I was without this heavenly entertainment center. "That's so odd," said the personable KLM flight attendant. "I've been flying for 15 years, and -- I've never seen this problem before." I rolled my eyes and explained the "Why Me, Lord?" Syndrome to him. He loved it, and even came back to me a couple hours later to ask me to remind him what the name of that funny condition was. The "Why Me, Lord" Syndrome, I explained. The "Why Me, Lord?" Syndrome.
Around the same time, I was on an American Airlines, and tapped the button to turn on the overhead light. But nothing happened. I tried again and again. Nothing. But as I tried, and before contacting the flight attendant, I noticed something odd -- whenever I hit the overhead light button...an overhead light eight rows ahead would go on. I clicked it of...and the distant light went off. A few more tests confirmed it: my button controlled the overhead light eight rows in front of me. (That person must have been completely bewildered why his overhead light kept going on and off.) I called the flight attendant over and explained the situation. "Wow," she said, "I've never seen that before." Why Me, Lord?
A few months ago, I had a cable TV problem with a couple of channels, and the tech (who clearly was very knowledgeable) swapped out the old DVR and gave me the new cable box that Time Warner is now using. In the meantime, we discovered that my WiFi was lost. He thought it might have been related to issues with switching to a new cable box. The problem seemed unresolvable since, when we logged into the account, the box to “enable wireless” was grayed out, so it was impossible to change anything. He tried several things, and we discovered that when you re-set every setting and it had the default ID name and default password, it worked fine – but when you switched the ID (actually knon as the SSID) name to anything else, and then put in a password, the WiFi immediately went out, and the WiFI network disappeared.
And throughout this whole bizarre process, he said, “Hmmm, this is odd. I have never seen this before.” And yes, I told him about the "Why Me, Lord?" Syndrome…
A final story. (Well, final for this article. There are so many more, and many others, I'm sure, to come. But for now and our purposes here, this should suffice as a appetizer.) Recently, I upgraded my version of Quicken. I’d been fine with the very 2003 version, which is why I kept it. It always ran perfectly. I didn't use the bells-and-whistles, and it did absolutely everything I needed. But it had a hiccup and stopped doing one thing I needed, and so that meant an upgrade after 13 years…
It became a bizarre, horrific mess. Without explaining it all, one example will suffice. After upgrading and converting the files, the software picked up “Bill Reminders” from 2003, which sounds okay, except that it actually carried them ALL over...from the intervening 13 years! Every Bill Reminder from almost the past decade-and-a-half! And there was no way to turn it off. You could turn ON Bill Reminders with one click, but you couldn’t turn them OFF. You had to delete each one manually. And there were 1,500 of them!! (There’d have been more, but that’s the limit Quicken will save.) Never mind that the dollar amounts it was reminding me of were freakish, like in the tens of billions of dollars each! Really. And because there were 1,500 reminders, it used up SO much memory that it kept freezing up the program half-a-minute after each, individual deletion. So, the phone tech and I did it one…by…one...by...one. Yes, 1,500 of them, having to wait almost 30 seconds each time. (It got better as the number of remaining Reminders went down. During this process, I offered a suggestion – “In the next version of Quicken, how about if they add an option to turn off Bill Reminders with one click…” That's a good idea, he said. And then added, "I have never seen this problem before. And I said...oh, you know. WML.
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Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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