Frustration

Technology tends to work for me. When it doesn’t work, the causes of failure tend to be consistent with symptoms. Rarely, I am vexed because multiple components failed at the same time. On the other hand, sometimes tech works for me with an almost mystical consistency. This is both a boon and a problem: When I do tech support service for others, the alleged failure may vanish and the system works with modest fiddling. And once I leave again it ceases to function. My secret hypothesis regarding this phenomenon is a combination of ambiguous user interfaces, and users inadvertently doing things improperly, what Microsoft diagnoses as Error Between Keyboard and Chair

There are a lot of ambiguities. And often connecting things to other things is a matter of making sure all the segments are plugged in to each other. Much of the process of advancing operating systems is automating this process. For instance, no-one generally has to tune the Winsock (Windows Socket API) when going on line, as we did in the early 90s. These days it’s hard to get our devices to not connect to the internet.

My Bluetooth keyboard has been disagreeing with my tablet. (Is Bluetooth capitalized? I guess it’s a trademarked standard like Compact Disc or Long Play or Universal Serial Bus). It’s worked fine before. And minutes before, I had used the keyboard to message on my phone. Perhaps that’s the problem: can Bluetooth peripherals only be paired with one other device at a time? If so, that makes Bluetooth conspicuously less useful, at least for me.

Still, my phone’s Bluetooth was off, my Tablet’s was on and still I had to un-pair and re-pair it three times before I could type this. That should have been a no-brainier for Mr. Tooth. And given I’m an easily frustrated soul it meant that I ran out of tolerance for writing. Or at least for creating content that wasn’t complaining.

My first impulse is to say that Bluetooth as a small-peripheral wireless standard isn’t really ready for the big-leagues, not the way USB 2.0 with plug-&-play can be assumed to work without struggle.

And that’s what it’s competing with right now. You plug a USB mouse or keyboard into an Android device (Kit Kat or later, maybe even as early as Gingerbread) and the device knows what to do. Also, full-sized Bluetooth keyboards retail about $100 where USB wireless keyboards run about half that.* And, as my experience is showing me, Bluetooth is considerably more finicky.

Sadly, since Bluetooth is universal across Android, iOS, OS X and Windows, it’s the standard right now for device peripherals. But it’s at the place that USB 1.0 was, which is to say it’s quirky at best. (USB is also standard, but requires a physical interface which is tricky on small or slim devices, hence the need for a micro-USB interface. Also, I’m not sure if plug-and-play — the engine that makes USB…well… play when you plug it in — is consistent across all platforms)

I think the biggest point and complaint here is that for me creativity deadlines and tech problems don’t mix. I can handle tech difficulties fine, but not at the same time that I’m trying to create content. Like an all purpose vacuum cleaner that can be configured to shampoo rugs or brush shag or or squeegee linoleum and wood, I only have attachments sockets to do one at a time, and the mental process of changing from one task to another is slow and intricate. And when I’m suddenly required to shift gears in a hurry, mostly I end up panicking and risking shutting down. Because I am crazy that way.

I suspect I’m really not all that unique in that regard.

* My standard keyboard of choice (for the moment) is the compact-but-still-full-scale Logitech K360. It’s $30 at retail and goes on sale once or twice a year as low as $15. Add $5 for the mini-USB interface for the dongle. Plug it in and any Android device will know what to do.

Gripe: A modest warning about Logitech is that their customer service for warranty processing has become much more difficult to navigate than before — I’m sure to discourage customers from taking advantage of it — but I’ve had few incidents of need to call them about product failures.

Also: Way up on my wishlist of Bluetooth peripherals is a Bluetooth USB hub. Pair it up with your device, and it works like one to four USB sockets. Why is this not a thing?

Edits: Aargh! Bad markups! Bad!

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