Technology–just waiting to fail

Wayne MitchellNearly 25 years ago I was given some advice, sort of a warning really, about becoming too dependent on information stored in a computer.

The computer technician at the South Carolina newspaper that I was editing at the time suggested keeping a paper copy of anything that was really important in any file on the computer. Oh, we had a computer backup system that supposedly made it impossible to lose files, but he was a little leery of it.

“Remember, there are only two kinds of hard drives,” he said, “ones that have failed and ones that are waiting to fail.”

I was thinking about his advice during a bad week last week on the technology front in our family.
Joe, our son who commutes to Ole Miss and is studying computer science, called from school to say his laptop computer had quit working.

“What has he done to it now?” I thought to myself, as the memory of a cracked screen, two broken keyboards and a failed hard drive flooded my mind. His laptop had had a tough four years.

But it was none of those things this time. It was worse. Something called the “motherboard” had failed. It would cost nearly as much to have it fixed as to buy a new laptop.

And being without a computer while it was repaired, even for a few days during an intensive summer computer-science course, was not a good option.

Translation: Joe went off to school last Thursday with a new laptop.

He had only been there a half day when Jenny got a phone call from a number she didn’t recognize.

It was Joe, calling from a friend’s cell phone, to let his mother know that his cell phone had stopped working.

“Well, great,” I thought. “He’s probably dropped it. First, the computer; now the phone.”

But Joe never got my lecture about being more careful with electronic equipment. By the time he got home, he already had researched the message on his phone screen: “Error: Unable to find bootable option.”

It turns out lots of people who had purchased that model of the Nokia Windows phone had been having similar problems. It was a defect in the phone.

So, the good news was that it wasn’t Joe’s fault. The bad news was the phone couldn’t be fixed. The even worse news was the warranty against defects was good for 12 months. He had had his phone 18 months.

Saturday we went to the Verizon store in Tupelo and got him another phone. We’re now technology poor.

And I’m pretty nervous.

Why? Because I have the same model of Nokia Windows phone Joe had. We got identical phones for Christmas in 2013.

Fortunately, though, being an old-fashioned-kind-of-guy, I keep my phone numbers and calendar in a planner book as well as on my phone.

I heeded the advice.

And I know my phone is waiting to fail.

T. Wayne Mitchell, Gazette publisher, can be reached by phone at 662-534-6321 or by email at

About Wayne Mitchell

Publisher of the New Albany Gazette