If Not Dementia, Tech will getcha

It is hard enough dealing with memory misfires every day. But when you throw in tech problems, it’s like a life sentence. Computers can mess with one’s mind so badly that it’s not surprising to see the increase in dementia diagnoses.

Case in point: I have one of those new Amazon ECHO devices. Being short on outlets to plug it in, I dug into my parts reserve and pulled out a MONSTER brand power strip. Plugged in the strip. Plugged my laptop computer in where it says ‘Computer’, plugged in my Cable Modem, my printer and an external drive. That freed up a place on the old strip to plug in the ECHO.

Signed into my laptop, then into the Amazon ECHO app and began the setup for my ECHO. A few instructions later and Bam! my ECHO was up and running. “ALEXA. Play Bruno Mars” was follow by Grenade and more Bruno. It was great, except …

At that point I shut down my laptop as I was going to listen to the ECHO for a while. “Shutting Down” said the message on the screen And then the blank screen … and no music? “What happened?” I thought.

OK. What did I do wrong? It was working just a minute ago. I turned the laptop back on and went through the ECHO setup all over again. I repeated “Alexa Bruno Mars” – it played Bruno Mars.” OK. That must have done it. I shut off the laptop again. And again … no music! WTF!

Back to the laptop. There must be a problem with some driver … maybe the Router or the Cable Modem or the Wireless card? I went so far as to call my tech buddy Josh Dickson. He’s a guru and works with all kinds of gizmos and gadgets. “If he can’t do it, nobody can …”.

“Hey Ken. Thanks for emailing me. I’m busy the rest of this week so I can’t come out ’til next week. And I have to charge $75 to check it our … more if the router needs to be replaced.” replied the Geek.

Now I am wicked cheap. $75 is a week of groceries. I used to be a geek but with my memory problems, its been a long time and tech has just gotten more confusing. The human species has always wanted a computer that worked as easy as a toaster – what we got is anything nut. After all, the operating system we use was written by a college dropout. Much of the hardware too.

What is breaking the wireless connection between my ECHO and the Internet? And why is my computer disconnecting that connection when it shuts down. I went through all the power options and energy saver options I could find. I replaced drivers – and did computer restores. This was destined to cost me $75. I gave up for the moment – it was 3am – and took a break.

BAM! There it is. My cable modem was dark. The router was fine but the modem was off. “Why? Why me?” Of course with the modem off, there’s no way for ECHO to connect to the Internet. Back to the laptop I went. There must be a setting somewhere that shuts down the Modem. Where? I sent off another email to Josh, my computer geek. “It’s odd,” I wrote. “Both my modem and my USB 3.0 strip both shut down by the computer when it shuts down. Great power saver concept but I need it to stop. By this time I have wasted hours on this. Imagine the bill I would get from Josh if he had to go through all this again. He’s going to suggest at that point that I need to replace something – new laptop, new router, exchange the ECHO .. i searched the Internet over and over. My mind has at this point drifted out into space. I sat back in the rocker and closed my eyes. WTF!

I think it was out of desperation that I decided to start at the wall outlet and work my way to the laptop. Money is a wicked motivating topic. I got my flashlight out and looked at all the wires and on/off switches and … you know the only thing I really changed was that new power strip … let’s see. “Green Power. What does that mean?” On the box is the answer “Monster GreenPower eliminates energy waste and saves money by automatically switching off outlets.” You’ve got to be kidding me. So everything I have plugged into this power strip stops working when the primary outlet is shut off. The solution was obvious. I felt beat once again by the greenies. This is like driving off a bridge into a river only to find out that the electric windows don’t work under water.

In the end – I got rid of the “Green” power strip. Now the modem stays on, the bits and bytes continue to flow and Alexa now hears me with my laptop off. “Alexa … Stop the World – I wanna get off!”




Kenneth Capron

About Kenneth Capron

Ken Capron comes from a medical background. His Dad was Maine’s 3rd radiologist. His Mom a Mass General nurse. His sister a Physical Therapist in Maryland. His oldest sister was a Resident Manager of a senior housing facility in Maryland. Ken himself was trained as a CPA with a focus on non-profits and healthcare. He worked as Controller at Wentworth-Douglas in Dover and then six years as Director of Accounting at Maine Med. Ken likes to say he’s had 16 different careers – from Real Estate Broker to hobby store owner. Ken also is a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer. In 2013, Ken founded MemoryWorks to provide support to people with dementia, their caregivers and all the providers that care for PWD.