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In a Technology-Driven World, Learn to Embrace Your Inner Geek

May 24, 2013

Unless you live in the woods and have no electricity,  chances are you’re dependant on computers and software in  many aspects of your life and business. And chances are you’ve run into “glitches” that throw a speed-bump in your way.

As a self-storage owner or manager, maybe you can’t get your management software to do what it’s supposed to, or maybe that report you’re trying to run won’t come out right.

My advice? Don’t give up and keep things in perspective.

I recall many years ago when I bought my first computer. It was a Dell, and it probably had as much RAM as a one of today’s digital pedometers. Nevertheless, I was excited with my state-of-the-art purchase, and ready to connect up and dive in.

Right off the bat, I went to change my “video card” settings to get a better display. But somehow, I hit a setting that blacked out my monitor. My computer still worked, but had no display. Within minutes of setting up, I was dead in the water.

But not quite.

I got on the phone with a tech support agent, and found out what to do. He had me boot up the computer in MS DOS (remember that?). Now, in MS DOS, you practically have to be a programmer to do anything, but somehow, I navigated through it using only keyboard commands (remember, I had no screen display to use a mouse with), and was able to reset the video card properly.

I had conquered my first technical problem. Fast forward to 2013, and the number and breadth of technical problems continues to grow, just as technology grows. But there’s always a solution.

A news report I heard recently really helped put things in perspective. Apparently, NASA was having problems getting the Kepler telescope to operate properly.

On May 15, NASA officials announced that the second of Kepler's four reaction wheels had failed. The wheels position and stabilize the telescope to point precisely at stars, and it needs at least three of the devices to be operational. As a result, they’ve had to put the four-year-old telescope into protective safe mode

The Kepler telescope-- an astonishing feat of technology which has found more than 2,700 possible Earth-like planets --is a floating observatory orbiting the sun 40 million miles from earth.  Yes, you read that right: 40 million miles from earth. So they couldn’t just walk over and yank out the processor and take a look.

Amazingly, they weren’t going to just throw in the towel.

Officials are assessing their options, which include putting the craft into point rest state, which leaves Kepler to float around in space while scientists figure out whether they can fix the wheel, or using Kepler's operational thrusters and its two remaining wheels to turn it into a general data collector rather than having it zero in on specific stars.

NASA officials remain optimistic. "We are not down and out," said Charles Sobeck, deputy project manager for Kepler at NASA's Ames Research Center. "The spacecraft is safe and stable. We'll proceed with our investigation."

I love that attitude, and it’s helped me face my own technical challenges, which suddenly don’t seem quite as threatening!

So the next time your computer hiccups or your management software won’t behave properly, set about solving the problem, and remember to keep it in perspective.

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