Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Failing Honor

What is left when honor is lost?
Publilius Syrus (100 BC), Maxims

When honor dies, the man is dead.
John Greenleaf Whittier, Ichabod

We have officially been homeless since for 27 days. In that time we have slept in more beds than Tiger Woods and bounced around the map like mad chooks in search of their heads.

But we did not worry. Home is a state of mind in the 21st Century as technology lets you do anything anywhere any time.
  • With our GPS guiding us, we can travel further than the Leyland Brothers and Albie Mangels combined (sorry, American readers, but you'll just have to google them if it matters to you).
  • With our phones, we are always in touch.
  • With our PCs fixed with wireless broadband, we can do the things you need to do - read and write e-mails, pay bills, book the place we are going to sleep at tomorrow and play online poker.
  • With our iPods and Kindles, we can pack hundreds of albums and books into devices that fit into your hand.
  • And we have our digital cameras and Flip videos along to record all our adventures and share with our family and friends.
And here's what has happened in the 27 days since we handed technology the keys to our lives.

  • The touchpad on my laptop stopped working, making it impossible to do anything on it.
  • My mobile phone wouldn't hold a charge, but it didn't even matter because the keypad wouldn't respond to anything I did trying to enter numbers.
  • The iPod turned on and then immediately froze, refusing to acknowledge that I was tapping just about every icon on the screen hoping one would respond.
  • The GPS started acting flaky, and then finally refused to come on at all.

I quite honestly started to wonder if I had somehow developed some negative energy that was sucking the life out of my electronic devices.

I certainly had to take my lumps for even more pure human error in this sorry tale. I forgot to pack the battery charger for the digital camera, so once we had taken the first batch of pictures there was no way to take any more. Since the charger is now sitting in a box in a container in a warehouse in Hobart, we had to buy another camera.

Now, some good news. The phone and the PCs seemed to be reacting badly to the high humidity in Port Douglas and have been - more or less - OK since we returned to climates that the Good Lord intended for human habitation.

The iPod responded well to the AG principle that anything that isn't working should be shut off and turned on again. It - so far - has not frozen again.

But the sad news from this trip is that Honor, our GPS, is seriously out of sorts. This is the same Honor who led us across America in our great adventure last year and became my favorite (and LK's least favorite) electronic device.

But something has gone wrong with Honor. She stays dark and quiet most of the time. I know electronic devices cannot suffer from depression, but that exactly describes her condition.

It is no small thing that LK has spent weeks abusing her and pointing out her weaknesses lately, but I am not ready to blame LK. It seems to me it started to turn sour when Honor became overwhelmed trying to deal with the South Australia Southern Expressway (the "Reversible Expressway"). For the first time ever, every route she suggested was ignored. Every time she calmly said, "Turn around at the first opportunity," we proceeded straight ahead.

I think her confidence was destroyed that day. She was wrong - repeatedly - and, even worse, she was no longer needed.

Consider what happened a week later near the Bay of Fires in Tasmania. We were driving along a steep cliff and yet Honor insisted that we "turn left in 50 yards." I think at that stage we should have realized she was suicidal and did not even care that all of us in the car would have gone down with her.

Anyhow, she's mute now. Wouldn't even talk to us when we went to Canberra last night or on to Wodonga today.

I felt the only chance to bring her back was to put her in shock therapy today, doing a re-set and a complete re-install. (But first I had to go to an electronics store because I had packed the device that connects her to the PC.)

Alas, all to no avail. Honor still refuses to speak, won't even turn on the lights.

We have no choice but to replace her tomorrow. And when I say no choice, that's especially true because the extended warranty I bought for the GPS is also sitting in a box in a warehouse in Hobart, and I can't even get there if I don't get another device.

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