In the last couple of weeks, I’ve had to troubleshoot several technical problems that, while not critical, were extremely frustrating, annoying and inconvenient.
Two of them had to do with setting up my new computer. I am now using a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 as my main work computer. And mostly, I absolutely love it! However, there have been a couple of problems.
1. Getting the tablet into the docking station involved a whole lot of jiggling. This is the first time I’ve ever used a docking station and I love the idea. But there were no instructions about HOW TO actually insert the tablet, so that the little piece that actually made the connection between the tablet and docking station was really connected. The first time, it took me a while to realize I wasn’t connected and that I should be looking for a little light to come on, on the side of the docking station, unless I wanted to run down my battery. I would put the tablet in and jiggle it around, and hope that I got it, and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. I tried looking for a HOW TO INSERT INTO DOCKING STATION guide, but could find nothing, as if it was just too obvious no one should need help. Finally, I found this page:
and I almost overlooked the solution. I read that I had to just slide the Surface into the docking station, but that just wasn’t working for me. It would not ‘just slide in’. Then I read the next part which said: then slide the sides of the docking station into the sides of your Surface.
Well, it had never mentioned that I had to slide anything open before putting the tablet in. But once I knew the sides were suppose to separate, it only took a few seconds to figure out how to do it. Slide the sides open, insert the tablet, slide the sides closed. And now I’m set.
2. The docking station has a mini display port that can be used to connect to an external monitor, which I have. In fact, I have two, for two different computers. So I looked at Amazon, and found an adapter for connecting a mini display port to a VGA cable. It hooked up fine. But the color just looked wrong. I tried the other monitor, and the color still looked wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what ‘wrong’ meant, but it didn’t look the same as on the tablet screen. And certain colors I’d used for highlighting on some documents turned completely black on the external monitor. So I used my search-fu to dig through pages and pages that were returned when I just searched for ‘color is funny on external monitor.’ Finally I found a page that talked about adjustments on the external monitor, which I didn’t think were necessary since the monitors worked fine with other computers. But on that page, I got enough information to determine that what was wrong was that ‘red’ wasn’t being displayed. The background on the tablet screen was purple, and the background on the external monitor was blue. And there was no red anywhere. So I was able to narrow down the search and look for details about no red available, and found a page about bad pins. The adapter had only cost $8, and Amazon will replace it if it is bad, so I just ordered a new one. And when I returned from my trip to Philly on Friday night, it was waiting for me. First thing Saturday morning I plugged it in, and now my extended monitor has a purple background, too. So the problem was just defective hardware.
3. My second computer had previously been used as my powerhouse machine, and that’s the one I would run my SQL Servers on. I would run TSQL scripts but didn’t create content, with either Word or PowerPoint on that machine. But occasionally I needed to actually have a Word doc on that machine, or I needed to use it for presenting, so I would need PowerPoint files on it. It seemed that some Word docs and some PowerPoint files would get corrupted when I copied them to that machine. I got a really nasty corruption error and then nothing would open. But not all files were like this. It happened most often when I downloaded from my Cloud storage (I have been using Box.com since long before OneDrive). When I copied over a local network share from one machine to the other, it was fine. Or if I copied onto a USB stick and then onto the other machine it was fine. But downloading from Box.com would corrupt files. I was almost ready to leave Box.com but then testing using OneDrive gave me the same behavior. Downloading from either Cloud storage location would corrupt my files. But only on one machine. I could download to my new tablet and everything was fine. Not cool. But I was going out of town and couldn’t spend more time debugging.
However, I had to keep debugging, because the first day of class, I didn’t have the slides with me, and I had to download them. And they wouldn’t open. So I spent the first day presenting off a PDF file. In my hotel that night, I copied from my tablet onto a stick and then onto the machine I was using for teaching, so I thought I was set. Then Friday morning, I got an email from the manager, with a PowerPoint slide attached. She asked me to display the slide during break as it had the instructions for the student evaluations. The file was corrupted and would not open. There was no other source for the files, I had to open it. So I did one more online search, in the last 5 minutes before class started, and found this:
It turned out it wasn’t a corruption problem at all, it was a trust center issue.
If you are using Office 2010, you need to check your setting in the Trust Center. Go to File>Options>Trust Center>Trust Center Settings>Protected View. Make sure the first box is NOT checked.
I unchecked the box and the manager’s PowerPoint slide opened right up. And so have all other downloaded files.
4. And finally, there is a technical problem with my phone, a Nokia Lumia 920 Windows Phone. The navigation software with step by step directions has just never worked well. I have gotten lost multiple times. I try some fix I’ve heard about, and on the next trip, it happens again. The main symptom is that it just freezes, and I’m driving along, thinking I have miles to go before my turn, and actually I’ve passed it already. And when that happens, there is no way to force a refresh. Even stopping the navigation and choosing a new destination comes back right to the screen that says I still have all these miles to go before I need to turn. Last week when I was driving to my hotel outside Philly it froze up right before a really critical intersection, and I didn’t know which direction to turn. I knew I had to take a certain hiway, but I thought I needed to go west, and the signs were for north and south. So I made the wrong choice, and ended up totally lost. The trip took me almost 2 hours when it should have taken me 45 minutes.
So in my hotel I started a dedicated search. Was there better navigational software for this phone? Was it a hardware problem and I needed to replace the phone? Or a bug in the navigation app? Finally I found a support forum discussion that might be relevant. It mentioned making sure that Wi-Fi was off, because that could sometimes interfere with GPS. And I do almost always forget to turn the Wi-Fi off when I leave home or hotel and hit the road where there isn’t Wi-Fi everywhere.
It seem a bit better now with the Wi-Fi turned off, but it’s not perfect. On my drive home from the Seattle airport Friday night, I put it to the test. Although it didn’t freeze, it did lose the signal multiple times. I didn’t get lost, since I knew my way home, but it would have been nice to know that I would be able to navigate next time I was in unknown territory. And I still have no confidence in that.
So three out of four isn’t bad, but I still need to figure out what to do about my phone. Maybe it’s time for an upgrade?
Online searching is certainly a powerful capability we have now, and figuring out the best search terms takes skill and patience. I like to think that all my searching for SQL Server solutions has helped me find other technical solutions more efficiently. And I decided to blog this so I would have a record of my solutions in case I ever needed them again!
I hope you are all having a wonderful start to your new year.
Oh, and GO HAWKS!