I like to think of myself as a pretty smart guy. I accumulate a lot of information and knowledge, which helps me in many areas. Unfortunately, I often recognize that one can think of themselves as being so intelligent that they can do some of the dumbest things. I have two stories for you.
by Niklas Plessing
The first involves my car. I noticed one evening when I came home that the light on the roof of my car didn’t come on when I opened the door. That freaked me out because it’s pretty dark in my garage in the evening and we don’t have a light in there. I determined the next morning that I was going to figure out what the problem was.
I got my tools, went to the car, got out the manual and went to work. I knew where the fuses were, so I pulled out the pliers so I could grab those fuses and went to work. In about 30 minutes I’d looked at half the fuses, those that I thought addressed the light issue, and I couldn’t find a thing wrong. At that point I determined that maybe the bulb had blown; I didn’t test that first because I don’t have any replacement bulbs had that been the case.
The thing is, I’ve had my car about 4 years now, and truthfully I don’t know where everything is inside. I got in, started driving, and I only look at stuff when something strikes my mind. I look up at the light and I notice there are 3 buttons there; I’d never seen any of these before. None of them were pushed in, but one of them said “lamp”. I pushed that one in and the light came on. I closed the door and it started dimming like it’s supposed to do. I opened the door and it worked again; ugh! All that time when all I had to do was push a button. No idea how it got turned off, but there you go; it’s worked ever since.
A few days ago I went to a friend’s house because she had a computer problem. I didn’t remember what the problem was until I got there and she told me again, but I’d brought all my tools and some programs to check the sucker out, just in case I needed them.
She said there was no sound and that they’d been missing it for almost 2 months. I picked up the speakers, cheap Dell speakers, and they looked fine. I checked the connection behind the computer; all was good. I checked all the volume controls on the computer and made sure everything was turned all the way up.
Then I opened up Windows Media Player and started up a song. I heard something, and it was one of the songs playing. But the sound was really weak. I went to a different song and we could hear it, but it was low. We went through all the processes again, and the sound was still low for everything. We opened her iTunes and played a couple of songs there also; same problem.
However, the sound seemed to have increased in some fashion; that was odd. I looked at the speakers again. I couldn’t believe there wasn’t any type of volume control on them; who ever heard of speakers without volume control in today’s world. Then I took a good look at both speakers. One of them had a raised part that the other one didn’t. I thought the volume control might be under that, so I grabbed the one speaker and tried lifting it up. It wouldn’t come off, but the volume went up. I realized that was the volume control; duh! I had once again taken almost 30 minutes to figure out a problem that could have been solved in less than a minute. These folks, however, hadn’t figured it out in 2 months, so at least I was better than they were.
All of this reminds me of the apocryphal story of the U.S. and Soviet space programs. The U.S. was trying to figure out how to write in space, so they spent millions working on technology for pens to work in zero gravity. The Soviets used a pencil; problem solved.
Sometimes the correct answer is sitting there in front of us and we miss it. Of course, that’s not as funny as going through the rest of the steps, but it would save some time. Something to think about on a rainy Wednesday; at least it is here.