The Hardware Whisperer

Train_wreck_at_Montparnasse_1895I’ve built a reputation over the years of being a smart, knowledgeable guy about tech gear. I’ve helped people with tech problems, written articles on troubleshooting, and given advice on how to build PCs.

In reality, I am a fraud.

Recently, my wife called out, “Loyd, can you help me with the stove? It’s flashing a weird error.”

We own a Bosch induction range, which generally works pretty well. I knew why she really wanted me to come into the kitchen. I didn’t go to help troubleshoot the problem. I went because of my aura.

You see, I’m the hardware whisperer.

I walked into the kitchen, and she smiled, saying, “It’s working now.”

“Did you try turning it off and on?” I said.

“Yes, but that didn’t work. But it works now that you’re here.”

You see, I have this weird reputation among family and friends. Hardware works around me. Some of them believe my mere presence intimidates the PC, or stove, or camera, or whatever, into working. Others seem to feel I have an aura, akin to the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field that somehow affects the entropy state of tech gear. Decreasing its entropy returns whatever¬†problematic¬†gizmo back to a state where it works properly. A few believe it’s just coincidental luck.

The reason all this makes me a fraud as a technology writer is that I rarely encounter problems other people seem to face on a daily basis. Windows works. Systems I build POST on the first press of the power button. Whenever we do our Friday night LAN parties, I’m often waved over when someone has a technical glitch, which then mysteriously disappears when I look at their system.

Yeah, the hardware whisperer. That’s me.

I did have a problem that dogged me for a couple of years, in which no one could connect to my PC when playing multiplayer games, so I could never act as host. But that also seem to have passed. I was practically ecstatic when I bought a Nikon D600, only to discover it was throwing oil from the shutter onto the sensor, which ended up being a Nikon QA problem.

But still, I had something that didn’t work right! I was so happy!

Even when I run into technical problems, I often fix them on instinct, like Luke using The Force to fire the missile right into the exhaust port. A system doesn’t post correctly, swap out the power supply, everything now works. Bear in mind it could easily have been bad memory, a dead motherboard, or some other failure mode. The next time a system doesn’t post, I swap in a graphics card. System boots on the first try. Trial and error is a stranger to me.

Am I exaggerating? Probably. I’m sure a lot of what happens is mere confirmation bias and coincidence. After all, you can get ten coin flips in a row to come up heads, if you’re lucky.

That means that somewhere in the world, there’s some poor person who can never get anything to work right. Brand new cars break down, cell phones never get signal, and PCs are almost unusable. So I suppose it could be worse.

Excuse me, I have to go. My daughter can’t get the scanner to work, and I need to go stand by it.


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