E. Winter Tashlin

Technological Triumphs & Tribulations [PTAS]

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | April 12, 2014 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: computer trouble, DIY, PTAS, technology, Transcending Boundaries Conference, Volkswagen

It has been a week of technological triumphs and tribulations in the Tashlin household this week.

Last weekend I gave the keynote address at Transcending Boundaries Conference 2014 in Hartford, Connecticut. Door-to-door from my house to the hotel was two hundred and one miles each way, which doesn't sound like all that much until one considers just how I got there.

My husband Owen wanted to be present for the address, a major highlight of my education and activism career. However, due to his work schedule, he could only come to the event on the day of my keynote. I, on the other hand, had to both teach a workshop (Kink & Disability) and run an opening ritual on Friday.

This is how I found myself and my ex-husband Asrik crammed into my little 1972 VW Super Beetle for the more than three-hour trip south and west from my home in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

It's taken a great deal of work to get my 42-year-old car up to that kind of drive, and this was the second drive of this kind in three weeks. Most of that work has been done by Owen and me, and we justifiably consider it to be quite a triumph.

Our technology tribulations started Saturday just before my address. The clamp for the lower radiator hose on Owen's 2007 Toyota Prius failed, causing the hose to blow off six miles from the conference hotel, which in turn led to the little gas engine vomiting out all of its coolant and the hybrid system going into an emergency shutdown.

We fixed that in the hotel parking garage between my keynote and a workshop my mom and I teach: "Growing Up Queer From the Parent & Child's Perspective." It was a busy day.

Two days later, my 2010 MacBook Pro decided that its LCD should now be rending black as green lines, and red as yellow ones. It's not young, and the unibody case got dented to hell when I unexpectedly had to gate-check my carry-on during a recent business trip, so component failure was not a giant shock.

Lacking the money for a new Apple, and being interested in exploring the other side of the fence, I ended up using my speaking honorarium to purchase a Lenovo Yoga Pro 2 convertible Ultrabook. It was an amazing machine - lightweight and well-equipped - and I quite enjoy Windows 8.1 with a touchscreen.

Except for one tiny little hitch: it proved unable to render the color yellow.

I'm a photographer, so that's not really a state of affairs I can live with. No monitor calibration could address the issue, the monitor actually can't accurately render the color yellow. It's a problem that has plagued the company since the machine came out.

So that went back, and an quirky and quite interesting Acer R7 convertible laptop took its place. The Acer lacked the SSD that I prefer for doing photo editing, so I installed one. I try to be handy like that.

Unfortunately, it turns out the R7 isn't without its little challenges too. Sadly, it just can't maintain WiFi signal more than a few feet from the router. Yet another problem another manufacturer is aware of, but can do nothing about. Its wireless system sucks, and no amount of driver updates or replacement hardware can fix it. The consensus on the internet is that it's an interference issue with other components in the case.

So I ripped my MacBook apart. I traced the problem to a worn-out display connector, and now run the machine without any screws in its case, allowing me to perpetually re-seat the thing every time it decides to turn the night sky all Matrix-esque.

Today's photo is the worn-out crankshaft from an old air cooled VW engine I salvaged for parts a few years ago. My takeaway from the week has been that maybe when it comes to technology, I should stick to steel - and leave the digital crap to other people.

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