TechMan texts: Computer behaving badly because of software change

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It is easy to anthropomorphize your computer. To TechMan, it often seems like an obstreperous child, refusing to do what it is told and instead doing what it wants.

A recent example: Until recently when TechMan started his iMac, it would automatically connect to the home WiFi network. All of a sudden, it started to say there was no Internet connection. To get it to connect, TechMan had go through connecting to the network manually. Why?

The computer is a machine driven by software and it does exactly what the software instructs it to do. If its behavior changes, some underlying factor must have changed. There are many possibilities — the Internet provider may have updated the router software or firmware; the maker of the computer may have updated the operating system; I may have mistakenly typed a key combination that changed a setting on the computer.

I probably will never know the cause and I just want to change it back. But I do know it wasn't because my Mac was mad at me for having an affair with a PC.


Come on, baby, drive my car: Last week, the California Department of Motor vehicles said the state could be willing to allow privately-owned driverless cars on the roads as early as next year. One aspect of driverless cars that has not been discussed much is privacy.

Suppose it is Google whose software drives your driverless car. The search engine giant could know where you drive to and when you do it, what route you take, where you stop, what you put in your car, and who’s in the car with you. Paranoid? Maybe, but worth thinking about.

Denationalizing the Internet: The U.S. will give up its role of overseeing the system of Web addresses and domain names (.com, .gov etc)  that form the basic plumbing of the Internet, turning it over in 2015 to an international group whose structure and administration will be determined over the next year, government officials said Friday. The U.S. has been under international pressure recently to cede control, which it has maintained since the Internet began as a project of the U.S. military. Another bit of fallout from the National Security Agency revelations.

How thoughtful of Microsoft: When Microsoft stops issuing security updates for Windows XP on April 8, only one-third of the world’s 2.2 million ATMs using the system will have been upgraded to a new platform, according to Reuters.Many banks have agreed to deals with Microsoft to continue supporting their ATMs until they are upgraded — for a fee, of course.

One good idea: European politicians have voted to back a regulation that will force smartphone makers to use just one type of charger by 2017, reports. The regulation was meant to cut down on the amount of electronic waste. If this country would do that, TechMan could stop carrying around a half dozen chargers.

Slim pickings: Nearly one-third of households in the United States have either no choice for home broadband Internet service, or no options at all, according to data provided by the Federal Communications Commission. Figures show that 37 percent have a choice between two providers and 33 percent have a choice of three or more sources for their home Internet service.

No deal: Internet service provider Time Warner Cable recently offered customers a discount of $60 per year on home Internet service if they agreed to a plan that capped their data at 30 gigabytes each billing period. According to, Time-Warner CEO Rob Marcus said very few broadband subscribers, "in the thousands,"  have opted for the plan out of its 11 million U.S. broadband customers.

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