Adventures in Tech Support

In 2014, I got my parents their first devices; they were now equipped with two shiny new iPad Airs, ready to experience all the wonders that technology had to offer!

It’s a great big world out there, so we started small. First, I showed them how to navigate to the shared photo album so that they could view photos and videos of Lily (my niece, their granddaughter) at any time. Three years later, Dad discovered on his own that he could post comments. πŸ˜†

It’s been slow going, but over the past 6 years we’ve covered:

YouTube. “This isn’t your video? But you know this person?”

FaceTime. Yay, video chats with a (then) toddler who has no interest in video chats!

Google Maps. “Wow, that’s your grandmother’s building in China!”

Google Translate and iTranslate. No more confusing and inelegant linguistic gymnastics to try to explain a word or concept in another language. (Huge shoutout to iTranslate for supporting Cantonese for years!)

eBay. This was my least favorite. Dad was lovingly and generously trying to get nice designer gifts for family and friends back home in China, but at slightly discounted prices. Little did he know, people lie online! I cannot count the number of counterfeit items I received and had to return during his eBay phase.

YouTube comments. “Did you know you can view and leave comments on Youtube? People can be wild!” Oh dear. …Hey Siri, how do you say “Trolls” in Chinese?

Charles Schwab. Dad has always enjoyed learning about companies and investing a little where possible. Until a few months ago, he would call Schwab’s automated phone line to make the occasional trade. This was inefficient and costing him money, so I got him set up on the app. Initially, I was hesitant given his inexperience with technology (e.g., “I meant to buy 10 shares, not 100!”), but so far so good.

FaceTime again. This time, Mom wanted to know how to initiate calls. After walking her through it several times one afternoon, I suggested writing down the steps so she could refer back to it later. “Nah, I’ve got it!” The next day, I received a text message from her. Plot twist: she doesn’t know how to text! The text simply contained my phone number — it was clear that this was a failed attempt to FaceTime, and she had not gotten it.

So many concepts like logging in, usernames, passwords, copying, pasting, and text fields. The first time Dad got signed out of an app, I tried to explain how he could sign back in over the phone, thinking it’d be pretty straightforward… nope. Take a moment to consider how you’d explain this to someone who has never signed in to anything, ever. Concepts aside, for us, it involved going over:

  • What/where/how to press.
  • Tapping vs. pressing the screen.
  • Characters (like *, ^, @, ) that I don’t know how to say in Chinese.
  • Text fields. Take the screen below as an example; Dad had no idea that he could (and was supposed to) enter information into those white areas on the screen.

Icons. When trying to guide Dad to a specific place on an app, I asked him to click on the thing on the bottom of the screen that looks like a bell, or the one that looks like a person. “I don’t have those. I have a hat, and ummm…” We’re all accustomed to icons that look like these and what they represent, but Dad with his new-to-technology eyes, was stumped:

Wifi. For years, their internet would go down randomly and for extended periods of time. “The internet and phone weren’t working all last week; it must be because of the weather or because there were too many other people online.

The worst part: I had no idea until way after the fact — after they’d been without internet and phone for days or even weeks — because they didn’t want to “bother” me. I installed a mesh network a few months ago, and I’m so grateful that I can use an app to confirm that their wifi is working and speedy. (Thank you so much Eero!).

Needless to say, it’s been a slow, bumpy journey, but now some basic tech is part of their day to day lives, and I’m so grateful. They’re a little more connected and autonomous, and have a slightly better understanding of the very significant and impactful advancements we’ve seen so far in their lifetime.

…What should I show them next?

Travel

Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life – and travel – leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks – on your body or on your heart – are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.

A Visit to The Burn Center

I burned myself pretty badly two weeks ago, and it wasn’t healing as expected, thanks to my stupid, sensitive body. I was reacting to everything: the antibiotic ointments, the bandaid adhesive, the nonstick pad, etc.

At my husband’s insistence, I saw a doctor. And at my doctor’s insistence, I saw a wound care specialist.

I was expecting an uneventful visit to the Bothin Burn Center this morning, but was surprised by a flood of thoughts and emotions as I waited for the staff to process me as a new patient:

  • What constant stress the staff must be under.
  • These poor folks in the waiting room, who had real issues that needed attention.
  • How absurd it was for me to take up the doctor’s time, which could be used for treating serious burn victims.
  • How stupid it was of me to be so careless, causing me to waste all this time and money.
  • And worst of all: What if my carelessness had caused me to burn someone else… or a child? The thought alone brought immediate tears to my eyes, and the concern was later exacerbated when I saw a toddler, cautiously but curiously exploring the hallway with her parents, wearing a compression garment (to apply pressure over healing burns and grafts) around her teeny, adorable face.

But as usual, the bad thoughts brought good ones — details that I can never take for granted:

  • How lucky that my loved ones and I are in reasonably good health.
  • How fortunate I am to have the healthcare and resources to take care of any issues that do arise.

Automattic GM 2017

After 10 days away, I’m home. I’m excited to be with my people here and get back to my routine, but I’m also a little melancholy knowing that I won’t see my coworkers for an entire year, if ever again. (I’ve never been good at goodbyes or finalities.)

I admit that that sounds dark, but it actually makes me very appreciative for the time I do get to spend with them, which is why I do everything I can to make the most of our week together.

Here’s a random, disjointed glimpse of my GM, minus most of the work stuff. Because, well — it’s work. It’s kind of weird to take photos of people in the middle of a meeting or class… though there’s a few of those too.Β πŸ˜€

Gorgeous sights. Face swaps. Surprise doggos. Improvised lobby dance parties. Late-night eats. Catching up 1:1. Prom. Immature jokes. Honest conversations. Peace signs. Homeroom. Twinning. Champagne. Domains. Nodules. Surprise connections.

As someone remarked this week, “You’re really good at burning the candle at both ends.”

 

 

Cheers to my team, and I hope to see you all soon.