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Computerized Investing > September/October 2008

Editor's Outlook: When Technology Strikes Back

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by Wayne A. Thorp, CFA

While I am not proud to admit it, I am cursed when it comes to technology, specifically computers. In college, my very first laptop had its hard drive fried by a virus my 3.5” floppy disk picked up in a university computer lab. Since then, things haven’t gotten much better. It seems I have left a path of malfunctioning monitors, poisoned processors, and wrecked registries in my wake over my 11 years at AAII.

The past month or so has been particularly frustrating. When I started to experience some problems with my home wireless network, I decided it was time to upgrade my router. While I don’t like being on the bleeding edge of technology, I do like my state-of-the-art toys, so I opted for a “Wireless-N” router, which claims faster connection speeds and greater range. Early one Saturday morning, I disconnected my old router from my cable modem and Vonage telephone device (did I mention I like my electronic toys?) and followed the seemingly simple instructions. However, after installing the router software and reattaching all of the cords to the correct devices, I had no Internet connection. An hour on the phone with the router company’s support resulted in the suggestion to call my cable company, which I had to do from my cell phone since my VoIP was out. After 30 minutes on the line with my cable company, they transferred me to Microsoft support in India believing it was a Vista issue. My frustration level reached its maximum when I was told to call Dell, since they installed Microsoft Vista on my laptop.

In need of an Internet connection, I packed up my laptop and headed in to the office. I called Dell and spent over three hours on the phone with one of the most patient technical support representatives I have ever encountered. While I learned a lot about computers, after all potential solutions were exhausted the conversation ended with the suggestion that I rebuild my system.

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