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I went to a presentation the other day by someone who coaches entrepreneurs, who steadfastly asserts that microchips are the enemy, because the computers, cell phones, tablets, and other devices we use are controlling us, rather than us controlling them. He went on to explain how we need more leisure time, more time off the grid, and that it will actually make us all productive, which I buy into and try to practice. Except when I can’t, because I do this Internet marketing thing for a living and microchips aren’t always optional.
Some of you know that I take August off each year and try to get a lot of other rest, too. I don’t blog when I am on vacation. I don’t do Twitter when I am not working. I have four kids, so my wife and I are busy, but we do the best we can.
So, Saturday I am leaving on an 11-day trip to Europe, which I am not entirely looking forward to. I mean, meeting people and helping them with Internet marketing is nice, and I have a lot of friends over the pond that I will love to connect with, but it is a long time away from my family, which creates its own stresses. I am feverishly trying to take care of all the things my wife and my kids need from me before I leave, while at the same time preparing all the work stuff for the trip.
And the work stuff means that I have to make friends with the microchip. And it means that when, at 9 pm last night, the microphone I was using to record my voice-over for the Univesity of California Irvine course stops working, I am stuck. I am out of time and can’t complete the work because of a technical problem. And it means that when I tried to reboot and Windows no longer boots, that I must spend a few hours trying to fix it, which consumed the rest of my evening.
And it means, worst of all, that this morning that I set aside for my wife and I to have a leisurely breakfast and some peace and quiet before I disappear probably isn’t going to happen, because my wife is the one who knows how to rescue a Windows computer in distress (or reinstall it if all else fails). Yeah, I am the former IBM Distinguished Engineer, but my wife is the IT person in our house. (She sometimes calls me an Extinguished Engineer.)
So, how can we manage the microchip? In our business, it isn’t as simple as just turning things off. Sometimes we can have all the good intentions of turning things off, but when they turn themselves off, then our free time disappears.
Luckily, my computer boots Ubuntu also, so that is how I am writing today’s blog post. But I can’t survive 11 days in Europe without being able to boot Windows–there is no good substitute in Ubuntu for PowerPoint. (I’ve never gotten OpenOffice to properly read and write Office files without messing up the formatting enough to throw a lot of stuff off.)
So, my wife and I will have together time this morning, basking in the light of our LCD screen. It wasn’t what we planned, but I guess some people have real problems. I guess that digital marketing would be easy if it wasn’t for the digital part.