Techman Texts: Don't always assume blame for tech failures

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Technology has become so complicated that many people, when they have a problem, just assume that it is their fault. But often it is a shortcoming of the technology.

TechMan experienced this just last week. He had to spend some time in a waiting room at Eye and Ear Hospital, so he took along his Verizon 4G Wi-Fi hotspot and his laptop.

When trying to surf the Net, he discovered that no websites would connect. Being curious, he tried the same thing at home and had no problem.

Tech Talk: Technology potpourri

This week on "Tech Talk," Ced Kurtz and Laura Schneiderman talk about the end to Plasma TVs, FAA allowing most electronic devise use throughout flights and Adobe was hacked. (Video by Melissa Tkach; 11/4/2013)

So he called UPMC and asked if there was any obvious reason for this behavior. The hospital public relations people were nice enough to inquire of the technical department. (It didn't hurt that I was calling on behalf of a newspaper.)

It turns out it was problem that UPMC was unaware of and will fix.

Here is part of the reply: "We were able to duplicate the problem with the Verizon MiFI on several floors [including the fourth floor] at Eye & Ear Hospital. Simply, the problem is a lack of a strong enough 4G signal and we have escalated the issue to Verizon Wireless. The fix will most likely require ... additional coverage added to the existing Distributed Antenna System."

Apparently no one had brought this problem to their attention before. It pays to ask.


A rant: I pay a pretty penny for Verizon Fios TV service and it bugs me that they take every opportunity to commandeer my screen to promote their own services.

Since the spring, I have had a "home screen" that comes on when you turn on the TV. The picture is in a little window in the middle surrounded by, among other things, promos for renting movies from Fios. You can turn it off by going to menu, settings, television, promotions and checking disable. Doing that also seems to shut off the annoying promotional popup when I turned on on-demand. Just give me TV programs, not promotions.


Plasma miasma: Plasma TV displays are about to join Betamax and HD DVD in the technology graveyard.

Panasonic, the last plasma maker, will stop producing new units in December. Plasma has been unable to compete with the cheaper LCD units.


Superdrone: got a look at one of the U.S.'s most sophisticated spy drones. The Global Hawk can travel halfway round the world on a single tank of fuel and can track a man on the ground -- even when the earth is covered by cloud -- from a height of about 60,000 feet.


Hack backtrack: The hack of Adobe is much more extensive than initially reported. According to, usernames and encrypted passwords from 38 million Adobe users were stolen but did not contain credit card information as did the originally reported 2.9 million pirated accounts. Portions of the source code for Photoshop, Acrobat, Reader, and ColdFusion were also taken, reports Krebs.


Website of the week: Believe it or not, offers lots of information that is not top secret. In the library section, the World Factbook tells you just about anything you want to know about any country. There are other resources as well.


Geek quote of the week: What do we want? Time travel. When do we want it? It's irrelevant. -- Anonymous

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First Published November 4, 2013 9:09 PM

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