Living with gadgets without IT support

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Living with gadgets without IT support

We all need to learn how to operate a wide range of technical equipment. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

In March 2016, we won a contract that required weekly meetings. Even earlier, in 2015, we had won another that, likewise, saw us meet the client every Wednesday.

For these and many other projects we or our clients set up diary items, recurring, forever.

Then we completed the projects, and the meetings stop. Only the diary items didn’t.

And in our beautifully synchronised communications world, even across two phones, one laptop and a tablet, my calendar became steadily more cluttered, with meetings that weren’t happening.

Indeed, as things stood, after the apocalypse, after my own funeral, and after my grandchildren’s grandchildren have had grandchildren, I would still have been being reminded of Monday meetings at 9am, and Friday meetings at 1pm.

So how was I to turn the dial of my life from 2015 and 2016 to a real calendar for 2019?

First up, I learnt to turn off the redundant recurring alerts on my phones, which was the single biggest hangover, so many of those non-meetings at least stopped giving me one-hour-ahead and 10 minutes ahead alarms. They are silent now. But they still appear on my screens, and in my day’s list: most irritatingly when scheduling a real meeting for the same 2pm.

I asked the 2015 client to annul the Wednesday afternoon meeting series: but she’s a busy CEO, and the invite continued, even through another two rounds of projects with her with different, but irregular, meeting times.

Until last week, the client from March 2016 obviously went into some calendar cleaning himself – suddenly I got an email notifying me of the final meeting in the series, its termination: three years onwards. Even that was strange. I don’t know now if that meeting will disappear after the new meeting alert I received, but I am sure he was trying to delete it, as I had also tried, and failed.

So, at long last, I put some more effort into this, and got our IT lead to show me how to rescue my own calendar.

It turned out the main problem was that I had always tried to cancel these meetings from my phones, which cannot be done. I wasn’t a fool: the pathway just isn’t there.

I needed to go in through Google itself, on a laptop, open the computer version of my Google calendar, click on any one of the recurring events, and then click the pencil sign that stands for edit.

That opens a new tab that offers ‘more actions’ on the top right. One of the options is ‘remove’, which brings up a pop-up to remove either that one event for that one week, or every future event in that whole recurring series.

All done. Cleared. In fewer than 10 minutes of calendar ‘house keeping’ I am back in 2019.

But as I look back now at the number of problems created, and even hours lost, in a mounting pile of diary clutter over nearly half a decade, it has got me reflecting on consumer life without IT support.

Who do we ask once our phone is full of alarms from three and four years ago? Does everyone work where there is a professional IT support team that can step in and catch up their personal knowledge on running a Google calendar? For we aren’t born knowing. No one trains us. We didn’t learn at school.

Yet the truth is we all need to learn how to operate a wide range of technical equipment where support is scant, and in this, there is a secret you should know.

The IT guys look up the answer on Google. It’s just that simple.

One IT support guy recently wrote on Quora, a social media network I’m on, that he has literally never resolved a glitch or an error message without either looking it up on Google or knowing how to do it this time because he previously looked it up on Google.

So even I can manage that. I tried it: ‘Removing recurring calendar items’. I got 2.2m results and the first one a YouTube clip showing me how to do it.

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