I’ve been spending loads of time at the Apple store as of late. Not by choice, and not to consume more products per se (OK, well indirectly perhaps) — but to repair my dying laptop. You see every two years or so, just like Moore’s Law, my technology breaks down at the most critical time. I’ve since come to dub it Altman’s Law. It’s annoying, super frustrating, and undeniably a first-world problem.
The modern malaise of my professional life has always orbited technology. I go through an increasingly light-hearted version of the grieving process (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) with each technology failure. Sometimes it’s triggered by water magically jumping from a cup onto my keyboard. Sometimes it involves my phone deciding to dive off the table and see if its screen can withstand a 3/12 foot drop. Other times it might involve a thief that just can’t resist my divine product. But most of the time the technology just fizzles. Kaput. Regardless of the why, here are some tips to help mitigate the heartache (and drama).
If you haven’t purchased a dedicated hard drive for your Time Machine back up stop reading and go do that now. Beyond giving you an exact replica backup of your current working situation, having your data safeguarded gives you peace of mind.
When my computer dies, usually I’m gobsmacked. I pray that the breakdown is a trifling issue. I’m hopeful the computer got really tired and decided to take a short nap. The first time a meltdown occurred was in 2005 and I admit I was angry with myself for not backing up the hunk of junk that sat uselessly in front of me. The same feelings of resentment surfaced in 2007 and again in 2009. After that my anger seemed to morph into some twisted sort of humor. I’d say to my little silver buddy, “I’ve given you such a nice home, why do you hate me so much?” On reflection, if I had current backups each time I would have hated my laptop a wee bit less.
It would be a stretch to say I suffer symptoms of depression from technology failures. That would in and of itself be sad. But I do often find myself bargaining with my devices, “If you just work for me today mate, I’ll give you tomorrow off — promise.” I’ve smartened up and now religiously work in the cloud.
What this actually means differs from person to person. A photographer friend of mine pays a third party cloud company a hefty sum each month to back up all of his photos and computer files. I, on the other hand, write in Medium, work in Google Drive, and play in iCloud. Pretty simple really. If you have a heavy appetite for data, then upgrading your iCloud to 200GB should do the trick. There’s also a 2TB option if you happen to be a Russian spy (OK, you probably wouldn’t be working in the Cloud then, but you get the picture).
I know someone who sleeps with her iPhone. Yes, directly by her side (apparently this is not uncommon). This is not the kind of love I am speaking of. Treating your devices with care is a no-brainer, yet so many including my former self — treat technology like dirt.
Like humans, technology is flawed. I didn’t turn my laptop off for years, in effect never giving it a good night’s rest. I failed to run memory and hard drive diagnostics to help identify any issues early on. I was guilty of never cleaning my screen or keyboard. And god knows I could regularly be seen eating and drinking next to my keyboard — playing an bizarre game of mac-roulette. As you might imagine I’ve since changed my habits. If you want your technology to go the distance, treat it with the same care you would your dog.
When all else fails and your technology fails you, I recommend skipping the denial and bargaining and getting straight to the acceptance. Think of it as an inevitability that you are now well prepared for. Assuming the breakdown is within your warranty, you can stroll right up to the genius thinking, ‘Look who’s the smarty pants now?’ And if it’s after the warranty has run out, at the very least you’ll be ready to say goodbye.
Jonas Altman is a writer and serial entrepreneur. Join thousands of other nerds and receive his monthly digest on the Future of Work simply by clicking here
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