We may not have digital hiccups on par with NASA and Microsoft, but our tech-addicted staff has seen more than its share of electronics behaving badly. Read some of our own worst-case-scenario stories, and feel free to leave some of your own in the comments section below!
I have had a couple tech nightmares. Probably the funniest one was when I was in NY pitching to some rather important people on a large media buy. The room was pretty quiet and everyone was acting very awkward (first meeting sales pitches usually are) when my cell phone went off blasting Jay-Z’s Big Pimpin as the ring tone. It was in my bag, and I had forgotten to silence it. Suffice to say, it broke the ice, and everyone had a good laugh.
Scott Steinberg, Publisher
True story: There’s nothing more a working parent and professional craves after a long week of waking up at 4 a.m. with a teething baby than a little downtime, and sweet escape. So, with my wife graciously volunteering to keep an eye on a certain grouchy infant, I thought I’d dare the impossible – trying to kick back and relax for an hour with a mindless video game. To give you an idea how rarely the opportunity beckons, my title of choice was Gears of War 2, which had literally gone untouched after an initial play or two a year ago after its release in November of 2008. Hence you can imagine my delight upon booting the console and looking forward to revisiting an old friend to be greeted with every enthusiasts’ worst fear: The red ring of death, signaling the machine’s complete breakdown. Ironic, perhaps, but I hadn’t been that incensed since my mother accidentally shut down a six-hour session of Final Fantasy on the NES before I’d had a chance to save. The moral of the story? Apparently, the difference between men and boys isn’t the size of their toys – it’s their appetite for punishment, and propensity to burst a blood vessel.
The annual Consumer Electronics Show in January is to tech journalists what the Super Bowl is to sports journalists. That makes it the absolute worst time for Murphy’s Law to kick in and create a perfect storm of tech problems. After checking and rechecking all of my equipment for CES this year, I managed to forget the charger for my camera. Not a disaster, but the SD card slot on my laptop also sporadically quit working sometime before CES, forcing me to connect the camera every time I needed to transfer pictures, killing the battery even faster. It lasted through a day and a half of shooting before petering out on me, leaving me with only my iPhone to capture everything for the remaining time. Calling, texting, e-mailing surfing and shooting pictures turned out to be too much for the little device, which died in the middle of every day if I didn’t manage to sap a little juice from the wall between every meeting. Worse yet, the AT&T 3G dongle I counted on to upload content to the site in between a flurry of meetings couldn’t seem to hold a connection for more than 30 seconds without dipping out, forcing me hoof it through the hordes to the press room for Wi-Fi half a dozen times a day. I probably burned off a few of those Vegas steak dinners in the process, but I’m not sure if was worth the near aneurysm.
My freshman year of college: The week before my winter finals, my iBook G4 and its faulty hard drive decided it not only wanted to delete all of my pictures and music, but also all of my final papers, study guides and PowerPoint. Luckily, I had most of my papers saved on a thumb drive. Not so luckily, my anti-Apple, PC-loving freshman year roommate decided to accompany me to the Apple Store to retrieve my data. Before I could get my laptop looked at, we were kindly escorted out of the store after she pushed a Mac Genius and told him to “get a real job.”
Imagine coming out from a concert that you drove over two and half hours to get to, to find that your car had been broken into, and your bag with an Apple G4 laptop, missing. That was my situation after a Hoobastank concert back in 2004. Three years worth of journals, pictures, music – my whole digital life was gone in 30 seconds, or however long it took a thief to break my rear window and open the front door. I can only hope the password on the operating system led the thief to wipe it and start clean, rather than cracking it to root through all my folders and files.