Process of elimination

Bill-newby L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.

Nobody likes computer problems though we’ve all had them.  What makes them so exasperating is that one hasn’t a clue what’s causing the problems.  It could be the computing device, the “server” (whatever that is), the “network” (another mystery), the WiFi modem or even the weather!  And don’t think of mentioning the “Settings” (which have about as much appeal as reading the manual before operating your new car).

If one is driven by circumstances to decipher the problem on one’s own (because for some reason you haven’t access to “tech support” or you’d prefer not to struggle with a foreigner for whom English is his or her third language), then the resolution lies in some characterless experimentation which is designed to eliminate possible sources of the problem.  This campaign of course only takes place after one has effectively got on one’s horse and ridden off in all directions, the standard unprincipled effort to “do this and that to see if it works” which usually it doesn’t.

Anyone with the slightest appreciation of computer problems knows that the starting point is a re-boot of the offending device; namely, turn off the entire system (not just re-start it) and wait for an ample length of time (the VooDoo magical duration customarily extends no less than three minutes), then turn it back on again to see if anything has changed.  Usually not.  From this strategic maneuver the next point of departure is to shut down one’s WiFi modem, again being certain to unplug the power source and wait a recommended 10 minutes (as though electricity from your house somehow drains at a donkey’s pace unlike normal electricity in the rest of the world).  At this level of quack doctoring, there may be improvement but it certainly isn’t guaranteed and one is reminded that this less than scientific process of analysis is nothing more glamorous than hit-and-miss.

Having exhausted the mindless guesses at what is wrong, now begins the real work of elimination.  If one is robust it entails a Reset of the computing device.  This scheme is an attempt to return the device to its uncontaminated original state.  If undertaken the Reset necessitates re-loading the personal account information which may be part of the problem.  Once again however there is no assurance that this prolonged eradication will resolve the issue.

At this stage of sleuthing it becomes necessary to adopt an entirely new game plan.  In what has now become desperation you reverse what you were doing, turn it on its head. Instead of looking for what doesn’t work, it’s time to verify what does work.  Oddly enough this too is part of the process of elimination.  If for example the suspected problem is one which would be expected to affect all of one’s devices, then it is imperative to check whether it does.  If not, then you can isolate the one device to which it is appurtenant.  This still does not plainly focus on the problem but it may succeed to eliminate what were considered possible related problems. The next step is to particularize the issue on the offending device.  This means that the health of any similar functions must be investigated piece-meal, one at a time.  Hopefully this will expose the nucleus of the problem.  Even then however the certainty is lacking.

Only when one has painfully gone through each of these tiresome procedures does one finally resort to Google which I hasten to add is where one should have begun in the first place.  The ploy is no more complicated than this:  Ask Google if there is a problem with XYZ.  You will likely be astounded to discover that your problem is not unique; indeed you are probably in surprisingly good company and you will therefore ascertain that the problem you are having is pervasive for the device in general and yours in particular.  Only then will you face the unhappy (though oddly alleviating) conclusion that a.) things don’t happen quickly; and, b.) you’ll just have to wait until the Universe corrects itself because all your fussing, complaining, jigging, stewing, vitriol and phillipics are but a waste of time and energy.  It is not just you who has the problem; everybody does!  As I say, the realization is nonetheless soothing as it distracts the anomaly from oneself to a system and there is always comfort in the faceless object of scorn.

In the end the answer to your problem – like the answer to so many others in life – is to wait it out.  All your manipulation and interference is but a dust storm of activity.