Friday, October 27, 2006


I don’t believe the world is out to get me. I don’t adhere to the idea that technology is constantly changing just to do me in. But it is.

Well, okay, maybe it’s not aimed specifically at me. Maybe I’m just getting old. Unlike my kids, I can honestly say I remember a time before the Internet, before cell phones and iPods and PDAs. Now I have all those things – a cell phone, a PDA, Dell’s version of the iPod, a laptop, and I’m constantly on the Internet. But being an active participant in this constantly changing world doesn’t mean the world isn’t conspiring against me (and us).

Have you ever bought a computer or printer? Of course you have. Let me tell you what would happen if you paid for it, walked out to your car and changed your mind. You’d carry it back inside and tell the clerk your decision. He’d look sadly at you and say, “I’m sorry sir/ma’am, we don’t carry that model anymore.”

Writers – and that’s you, me, and probably most anyone who’s reading this blog – depend on technology. Even writers who do their drafts by longhand have to have a computer. I know of only one writer, well, actually two since they’re a husband and wife team, who aren’t connected to the Internet. I have one friend who doesn’t have a cell phone and even she told me yesterday she’s decided to break down and get one.

So, whether we like it or not, we’re all connected to the unseen mass trying to do us in. The average person can’t keep up with the constant changes and updates. And if you have a problem, there’s no one to talk to.

I’m probably average when it comes to knowledge about technology. I can use email. I’m pretty good at researching via the Internet. I do my own website, blog and newsletter. Sort of. I admit I use an easy template for the blog and I use a service, Topica, to mail out the newsletter. But when something goes wrong – and have you noticed that it’s usually not your fault – it is so frustrating to try to fix it. It’s like running through a maze blindfolded while the mad scientists watch from high above, laughing and chortling.

For a week and a half now, at least, I’ve been having a problem with the service that hosts my website. Not so much with the website but with the eboxes I have connected to the site -- specifically, the mailboxes that my newsletter subscribers use to write to me. Hostway would not let me get into two of them. Every time I tried, it would send me to a page asking for an address, a password and what interface I wanted to use. Interface, sminterface, just let me in. I tried every combination I knew, but could not check my mail. You can’t call anyone to get help anymore, so I emailed. Of course, the address they give you is never the actual department who handles your problem. They’d email back and ask questions then email and tell me they were directing my question to someone else. Of course, that someone else never gets back to you.

Finally this morning, I hit upon the right combination of address, password and interface. Voila. I’m in. In one box alone, 952 emails. And Hostway will only let you view 10 at a time and if you find one legitimate email among the spam and click it to read, when you’re done, Hostway takes you back to the first ten and you have to start all over. I have to admit, I gave up and hit delete all. I’d already notified subscribers to Doing It Write that I was having a problem and given them a new address to resend email.

I have a friend who has a business hosting websites. One of the big advantages she touts is that if you have a problem, you have a real person to contact – her. I’ve been meaning to switch, but kept putting it off. I’m trying to update my website so it’s not so bulky and so it looks more professional. I wanted to start with a new website with a new host. Problem is, I’m not a professional web designer. No matter what I come up with, it still looks amateurish. But writers need to have a web presence. When a reader googles you, you need to be findable. So I’m going to cut the bulk and make the move. Soon.

So is the constant changing of technology, the lack of personal service, the fact that your seven year old is more tech savvy than you are, a conspiracy against writers (and everyone over thirty)? No. Does it feel like it is? Yes. Now that I’ve figured out how to get into my eboxes, could I help you with your problems? Email me. I’ll get back to you.

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