Blessing or a curse? The mysteries of the tech touch

Some people simply aren’t doing it right -- or maybe computers really have something against them

Blessing or a curse? The mysteries of the tech touch

I'm pretty sure we all know at least one person who is convinced that they're cursed by technology. Though they use laptops, smartphones, tablets, and other trappings of modern consumer tech, they always seem to come out on the losing side. While the rest of us swim through our daily digital chores, devices in their hands invariably develop problems that defy logic.

It might be a smartphone that suddenly won't unlock no matter how they try, or a laptop that goes into some bizarre accessibility mode that is impossible to escape, or another affliction that leaves even veteran technology users puzzled. "Wow, I've never seen anything like that before" is a common refrain.

For these people, modern technology is very frustrating. No matter how much they may want to join the ranks of the technologically adept, the universe simply won't allow it.

Of course, the universe requires balance, so there are also people for whom technology always works. They routinely perform feats of magic and restore dysfunctional technology to perfect working condition with a simple laying of hands. Many times they are as much in the dark about why this happens as the technologically bereft are about how they have failed.

Unfortunately this phenomenon is not limited to consumer tech, but reaches into the data center too. There are admins that appear as skilled and capable as any other, but they always seem to attract trouble. If both power supplies on a firewall blow up at the same time, it's when they're swapping cables. If a storage array loses three disks at once, it's right as they were migrating data off it -- but had only started. They are the Gil Gundersons of IT, and not much can be done about it.

It's hard to believe in the boogeyman, especially in an industry that is entirely founded on logic and demands an explanation for every action. Even if problems with an infrastructure can be traced back to alpha particles, there's always a root cause. There has to be. Once in a while we might shrug and chalk up a minor miracle to influence from the Great Unknown, but generally we need to know the reason.

Perhaps those plagued by technological gremlins lack some fundamental troubleshooting capabilities that others use unconsciously, so minor problems become major frustrations. Perhaps the cloud of bad luck that follows a hapless admin around a data center is rooted in a lack of attention to detail that would head off inexplicable problems early, if only they were noticed in time.

Or perhaps there are those of us who are tech whisperers and those who are tech challenged. If so, I would posit that the two are equally problematic -- it's no better to "fix" a problem by simply pressing a key than it is to have pressed that key a dozen times with no result.

I think that some can escape the clutches of tech purgatory if they devote enough time to honing their troubleshooting skills and powers of observation. At least they might be able to better diagnose the oddities they encounter. Many won't ever achieve a functional relationship with technology, and that’s perfectly OK. We all have our strengths and weaknesses -- but you might not want to leave some folks alone with your new laptop or storage array if possible.