Computer problems? Try a toothpick or a paperclip

It has long struck me as strange that I must sometimes use “ancient” tools here in the Digital Age to get my high-tech toys going.

This morning, for instance, my new Acer laptop completely quit on me.  Crashed.  I tried everything to revive it.  I even thought briefly of mouth-to-mouth through the vent for the cooling fan.

As a last resort I pulled out the Acer’s Quick Guide and decided to reset the battery.  The instructions on Page 8 read: “Insert a paperclip into the hole and press for four seconds to reset the computer.”  Which I did with great success, noting later that the first patent on the paperclip was taken out in 1867, shortly after the Civil War.  That  was roughly 145 years before my Acer was built.

Not long ago Nebra asked me to set up her digital, tell-me-everything Omron pedometer.  So again, using every ounce of my brain power, I rushed to the Instruction Manual.  On Page 9, I was told:  “Press the SET button on the back of the unit with a thin, sturdy stick that will not break easily.”

How’s that for modern?  Rather than whittle down a twig from the mesquite in the backyard, I found the perfect tool.  The ancient toothpick, which has been mass-produced since 1869.  Even then, I had to snip off the sharp end with a second ancient tool, a pair of scissors, to prevent damage to the pedometer’s complicated innards.

It is believed toothpicks of some sort were used by Neanderthals.  We’ve come a long way, baby, yet . . . .


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