Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


I.T. Came From Beyond!

Last week, just before New Year’s Eve, I got a new MacBook Pro. It arrived here at my company, our friendly trusty I.T. company came to set it all up — and then discovered that Apple has yet again forged ahead with new hardware that leaves mere mortals behind. The last time I got a new laptop (four years ago), we discovered that there was no longer any way to play or burn a CD or DVD. (In fact, I now have no way to play a CD anywhere, because my car won’t play one either.) And of course the powerpack attachment is different every time — sometimes the new version inserts straight in; sometimes it’s a different attachment; sometimes it’s magnetic. In this particular case, we found that Apple has removed both the Cat 6 cable (which I need to connect to something here in my office) as well as all the USB ports. Instead, I’ve got these nifty little slots that, well, nothing plugs into except the new Apple powerpack.

Now, as a longtime Apple user (happily using Apple since 1982), I have to admit that I appreciate these cutting-edge advancements. I just wish they didn’t always cut me at the last minute. For context:  I’m leaving for Spain on Saturday and I need all my stuff to work.

So, we ordered a thingamajig that slots into a couple of those nifty little slots and now provides a couple of USB ports and a Cat 6 port. So now I can do things like, well, attach my iPhone and iPad that are clearly also from Apple. No, I don’t like to think that Apple removed those ports in order to force me to buy a new iPhone and a new iPad. I would never think that. Instead, I think that the new MacBook Pro has a hidden cost of an additional $79, because that’s what the cigarette-lighter attachment that we had to buy and that I think everyone will need costs.

With that safely overcome, last night I set out restoring my iPad. I say “restoring,” because when I went to update its operating system two months ago, the screen froze and no manner of ministrations would thaw it out. Instead, I just didn’t use the iPad for two months. But now my plan is to take it, and not a laptop, overseas, thereby cleverly keeping me from doing any corporate work while I’m there, because I haven’t loaded the corporate-work email on it. Instead, I’ll go to see Pere Ubu (!) play, and check out Hieronymus Bosch and Picasso, and nibble on boquerones and sample tapas and down glasses of tempranillo without ever once wondering what’s going on with my email. I devoted almost two hours last night to restoring my iPad, synching it to the new laptop, confirming that everything on the old laptop was now running and working on the new laptop, and went to bed feeling happy and satisfied, delighted with my accomplishment and proud that I hadn’t needed the I.T. people or even my friendly and helpful colleague at the company to rescue me on any of it.

The next morning, ensconced at my desk and well aware that my task list was lengthy but ready to get absolutely everything under the sun done so that I’m fully prepared to leave for my trip, I opened up the new laptop and logged in — but it wouldn’t take my password.


So I did what anyone would do:  I typed the password in again.

And again.

And again.

Because why would we assume that it wouldn’t magically be different on the third try?

But it still wouldn’t work.

Which was puzzling — because my password hadn’t changed. Or… had it? Because, it suddenly occurred to me, I’d synched it with the iPad, and that has a different password, one all its own, so I tried that one. And when it didn’t work, I tried it again. And again.

Then I wondered, Hm, if maybe it hadn’t somehow defaulted to one of my other passwords that I use for the other electronics and the other accounts. After all, they’re all synched. So I put in the password for my phone. But that wouldn’t open the laptop either. Then I put in my master password (well, one of my master password — yes, my passwords live in a house with two masters, and also 10 mistress passwords). That didn’t work. Then I wondered if I’d used the right case, because for some of them I’d gone from upper case to lower case, about 12 years ago, when I was in a business meeting and my wife texted me to ask for one simple password of mine and had somehow unknowingly changed every password I had anywhere and completely discombobulated my synched systems when she changed that one password.

(Isn’t life so much simpler with modern technology?)

So, now I got out some very old tech — what we call a pad and pen — and I wrote down every password I use. Yes, I have them memorized. There are 12 base passwords in all, as well as a variation system that, no, sorry, I can’t disclose here. Then after typing each of the 12 passwords in, and it not working, and then typing it in again, and it not working, and then typing it in a third time, and it not working, I scratched it out. When all 12 got scratched out and I still had no access to my new laptop, I started to feel the creeping dread of a man lost in a labyrinth in a horror movie:  What if it takes all day to get this resolved? What if I never get “that” document back? What if this never gets resolved? I’m leaving on Saturday!!!!

Finally, we put in an electronic support ticket with the friendly, trusting I.T. company and they called.

I love these guys, and told them so yet again, but did ask, “Um, how long do you think this will take? I’m always glad to see you, and to talk to you — but I’m really jammed at the moment.”

They said maybe very little time, maybe longer. (This is a response I will be adopting myself in the future.)  They told me to manually shut down the laptop, which would bring up an admin screen upon reboot, and they could help me reset a password from there.

“Great!” I said. These guys have always solved every problem, and I was feeling confident I’d be back on my way quickly. But I didn’t know how to manually shut down the laptop; Apple seems to have removed that button.

“You know where the digital fingerprint button is? It’s that one. Just hold it down.”

So I looked at my keyboard — really closely looked at it, to find the digital fingerprint button — and noticed something else.

A green light.

Signifying that…

My Caps Lock button was on.

I pressed that off, entered my password…

… and my laptop lit up faster than you can say “Open Sesame.”

I guess I left the Caps Lock button on somehow from before…?

This is why I have an I.T.  company on retainer.

And why I should just stick to what I do better.

2 Responses to “I.T. Came From Beyond!”

  1. Dan Says:

    Don’t let it worry you. Lots of older folks do dumb stuff like that.

  2. Jim Markley Says:


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