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Technology: First Do No Harm!


  12:51:00 pm, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 550 words  
Categories: Ranting

Technology: First Do No Harm!

Normally, this blog is all about solar power - its potential, the policies that can help to make it grow as an industry, and the players - good and bad - that determine how solar is perceived by the public.  But today’s post is a bit different - today’s post is a minor rant about technology that should empower us but instead leaves us ready to scream.  Perhaps you will identify with my plight…

Doctors take an oath and promise to, first and foremost, do no harm.  If only technology companies would adopt that same principle, how much easier would our lives be?  As I prepared to work on a series of proposals for prospective solar clients - my actual job - I was struck by the disturbing number of technology snafus that have surfaced in the past two weeks or so.  Mind you, every one of these items was working properly at one point but as of now, they just aren’t.  Check this out:

  • VoIP Missing in Action - we use a VoIP service for our incoming phones which gives us lots of nice features like receiving voicemails via email.  But yesterday it simply stopped working when our router got “confused"?  Calls got misrouted.  No voicemail.  No notice until in the middle of a call with a client the call just went away.  Restarting the system fixed the problem but for how long?  And why did it go away in the first place?

  • The Invisible PC - our network has a number of PCs and the ability to share files and resources (like scanners) is pretty key.  This was working ok until we “upgraded” to Windows 7 on all of our machines.  Now all of our PCs see each other - except mine.  (Obviously I have bad MS karma.)  Which meant that our scanners couldn’t see my PC either.  Seriously?  Most frustrating - this really was working when we first upgraded and then it just stopped.  (And this is just the tip of the Windows 7 iceberg!)

  • iOS 5 Killed Bluetooth - on a more personal level, my iPhone was recently “upgraded” to iOS 5.0.  But now none of my Bluetooth devices - earpiece or my car’s hands free kit - work.  Googling this problem indicates that it has been around since beta versions of iOS 5 going back to last Spring.  So how is it that the official release occurs without this being fixed?

  • Google Voice, Where are You? - We also use a Google Voice number to allow multiple cell phones to pick up on certain calls.  Worked like a charm when we set it up six months ago.  Not anymore.  Now none of the cell phones ring and voicemails are never forwarded.

It is experiences like these that lead me almost to laugh when potential clients ask about maintenance for their solar power systems.  If only the rest of our so-called “hi-tech” world functioned as smoothly as solar power systems just think of the added hours in the day we would all have instead of spending them trying to fix things that we never broke in the first place!

Are you listening, Apple?  Pay attention, Microsoft!  Google, don’t be Evil!  Just get it right and let the rest of us get on with our lives!


Ok, I feel (a little bit) better now.

On to those proposals… assuming Excel is willing to play nice.



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John Cotten
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Amen and well said. At 50, I sometimes miss writing all of my invoices by hand and not having a cell phone/dp applied as part of my anatomy. Life was easier then, you could actually listen to a 30 minute jam on the radio without being interrupted by a phone call. Sigh….
10/27/11 @ 05:29
Comment from: Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO
Hey John, I’m older than that but I don’t miss doing things by hand - I just want the folks who sell us this stuff to get it right before they drop it on our heads! Part of my frustration comes from my past life - I used to develop software for a living. Don’t think we could have gotten away with such “buggy” products but then we were working for the Bell System and mistakes weren’t really tolerated in that environment!
10/27/11 @ 06:36
Comment from: Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO
Ok - just got off the phone with Apple re: the Bluetooth problem and lo and behold - a fix (though I must confess it makes no sense to me)! Here’s what I did: Settings->General->Reset->Reset Network Settings - now mind you, this resets things like your local WiFi settings which presumably is quite different from your Bluetooth settings. To the best of my knowledge, those are two entirely different technologies. Anyway, after resetting I was told to re-enter my local WiFi network password. Did that - and suddenly it all works! Both on my headset and in my car! So I won’t look this particular gift horse in the mouth, but who would have ever guessed that this was the way to fix my Bluetooth problem? Lest you think I’m actually moving in the right direction, however, it appears that my year old iMac is now in big trouble as it takes 10 minutes to get past the initial gray screen and then behaves in a most unstable fashion. Sigh. And the beat goes on…
10/27/11 @ 17:34

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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