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Best of TechWorthy: The Unwritten Rules of Technology That You Must Obey

August 3, 2009

Please scan these lists to ensure that you are in compliance:

Basic PC Laws

Let’s start with Nerve Central–the computer.

Law 1: For every fix that a Windows Update patches, the update will break two more things on your PC.

Law 2: The likelihood that Windows will automatically install time-sucking critical updates is directly proportional to your need to get your PC started.

Law 3: The hard drive always fails just before you were going to back it up.

Law 4: Your data will get corrupted just before you plug in your new backup external drive.

Law 5: Your backup plan is only as good as your last successful restore.

Law 6: The number of USB ports on your Mac will always be one less than you need at any given time.

Law 7: Feeling time pressure to make a computer fix quickly will cause you to take longer.

Law 8: If you close the PC case with screws before testing, it won’t work; If you test before closing, it will.

Tech Support Rules

Now that you’ve mastered the basics, you’re ready to move on to Tech Support.

You ARE the Tech Support!Law 1: Fix a computer for a friend or family member, and you’ll be tech support for life.

Law 2: Build a computer for someone, and he/she owns you!

Law 3: Recommend a product that you’ve used with no problems, and the friend/family member who buys it will immediately descend into RMA [product return] hell.

Law 4: Show any handy IT skills at work, and your company’s IT department will start referring difficult coworkers to you.

Law 5: If it’s broken and you call tech support, it will fix itself as soon as a representative answers while you’ve been on hold for 90 minutes.

Internet Ordinances

You can find a world of trouble online. For instance…

Law 1: Within a month of agreeing to be “friends” with your boss on Facebook you will regret it, big time.

Law 2: The crappier the Web site, the sleazier (and sketchier) the ads.

Captcha drives us nuts!Law 3: When entering “Captcha” verification codes on a Web site, you’ll always type in the numeral 1 when the site wants a lowercase L, and a capital O when the site wants the number 0.

Law 4: Just before taking out the boss in a WoW raid, your Internet connection will die.

The kitten did it.Law 5: The difficulty involved in redeeming a rebate is directly proportional to the dollar value of the rebate.

Law 6: A nasty draft e-mail will always find its way to the (unintended) recipient.

Precepts of Mobile Tech

Desktop technology isn’t the only source of inevitable woe in your life. All those shiny mobile devices can cause pain, too, since the freedom of untethered technology doesn’t extend to immunity from rank on rank of frustrating unalterable laws. I report 10 (well, actually 11) master Mobile Laws here.

Law 1: The charger for your current cell phone will not work with the next cell phone you buy.

Law 2: Your laptop’s charger weighs half of what your laptop weighs.

Law 3: A laptop battery will drain at twice its normal rate whenever you leave home without your power cord.

Corollary: Your laptop’s battery life is inversely proportional to the amount of work you need to get done on a single charge.

Law 4: Your iPod or iPhone will be on its last burst of power just as the plane door shuts.

Law 5: A replacement battery charger will cost 70 percent of the original purchase price of the device. For phones, the figure is 140 percent!

Law 6: Your cell phone will inevitably break before your two-year contract is up, forcing you to overpay for a new, less-cool model.

Law 7: The proprietary charging plug (cost to produce: 50 cents) for your device will disappear within two weeks and will cost you $40 to replace.

Law 8: On any vacation, the memory card for your digital camera will be safely lodged in the card reader on your desk at home. (And the camera’s proprietary battery will be dead, with the charger sitting next to the card reader.)

Soft drinks are also bad for PCs.Law 9: A cup of coffee on your desk is guaranteed to render your laptop utterly useless.

Law 10: Your MagSafe adapter will always come unplugged precisely when you need to charge your Mac laptop’s battery.

Software Statutes

Finally, if entanglements with hardware principles don’t leave you bound and gagged, there are always software standards to render you helpless.

Law 1: Your software provider’s online support pages contain explicit instructions for troubleshooting every conceivable problem–except yours.

Law 2: Nine times out of ten, tinkering with your Registry to fix a system issue will create a new problem that’s more severe than the original.

Law 3: Ten times out of ten, downloading a spyware product will create hidden processes/services more insidious than the original malware/adware encroachment you set out to stop.

Do Not Enter!


Law 4: The performance increase you can expect from running a Registry cleaner can be calculated as    z(n + y), where n is the number of Registry entries cleaned, y is your system CPU’s clock speed in gigahertz, and z = 0.

Law 5: The larger the number of people who want your iPhone app, the likelier Apple is to reject it.

The Granddaddy of Them All: iTunes will crash as soon as you want to watch a movie rental at the last possible minute of the day when your battery dies while you’re on a 16-hour flight and forgot the charger next to your only camera on your computer desk at your apartment, on top of your monthly rent bill, which, by the way, was due yesterday. Dang.

That’s it. No, really.

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