TechMom Tuesday: Quite the Sticky Pickle


I write a monthly column over at AlliOSNews. It’s a techie site – extolling all the goodies and gunpowder on the Apple OS. (SHINY TOY!) I’m TechMom. And these are my stories on how technology is really used. This is what you must deal with, as I am a Silicon Valley nerd by day.

I’m well aware it’s Thursday. TechMom Tuesday is typically published the first Tuesday of every month, but this month your techie insights were delivered late because I went on vacation and then the regularly scheduled belated column was derailed due to technology fire drills. I reserve the right to rant more or less as the technical goings-on, well…go on.

Today’s column is brought to you by the theme of “Well no kidding Captain Obvious.” But I shall share this tale of terror as a reminder to everyone out there.

Under no circumstance, should you use your laptop in the presence of liquids – especially any containing sweetener. Syrup will congeal to create quite the sticky situation within the innards of your technological device.

Last week I tucked the TechTots into bed and retired to the comfort of the couch. For company, my crotchety old dog curled up beside me, my 13” MacBook Air, and a delicious adult beverage I’d just concocted. I leaned back to grab my napkin and my fancy glass tipped forward.

I saw the small pooling puddles breaking off in militaristic formation across my track pad like angels of death; splashes sullied the bright white markings on the black keys. The napkin was now mission critical. I sopped up the spill and, heart pounding, continued working on a much-delayed TechMom Tuesday for you. I thought I may have escaped unscathed.

But the series of unfortunate events was just beginning.

When my OS X baby was next undocked for my relaxation and writing ritual the following evening, I noticed a distinct lack of clicking when I attempted to navigate the wonders of the inter webs with my mouse. (Just to be sure, I rebooted. Because that is what one does whenever faced with a potential technological problem. You are likely not shocked that nothing changed.)

As I twisted and turned my machine around within various visual points of view, the contraband goo snuggly stuck within the track pad – mocking me with its vice-like sticky grip – as I stared into a kaleidoscopic precipice of horror.

My first reaction was to flip my technological appendage onto its back and immediately pry the casing off. All I needed was some glass cleaner and I could wipe my track pad off and be back in business in no time!

Ladies and gentlemen, this is very very wrong.

For starters, Apple doesn’t use standard screws. You need a special tool to breach the defenses of outer realms (which is totally not fair because the liquid intruder just oozed right on in). Using a standard Phillips head could result in stripping the screws so that no one can get in. Ever again.

Second, the innards of your computer are tiny and tricky to navigate – including both the battery (which could potentially warp and explode) and the hard drive (without which you have a very large paperweight).

I was strongly encouraged to leave this to the professionals.

I made an appointment at the Genius Bar, finding one only slightly way out of my way because they had a next day appointment. PRIORITIES, PEOPLE!

It was all planned out – our TechFamily would head down to the Farmer’s Market, enjoy some local produce, then I’d dash over to the Apple Store, get a quick wipe down and continue about our idyllic sunny summer Sunday.

Suddenly the fog of an out-of-body experience overcame me. Apple employees in blue shirts moved around me, customers swarmed the shiny screens and I heard a muted voice cutting through the haze.

“Good news, I didn’t find any indication of liquid damage. But the track pad is completely warped; I recommend a replacement. Now, we do have the part in stock, so would you like to go ahead and check in your computer? We can quote you now, and should be able to give you a call that it’s ready by tomorrow morning.”

What? I was expected to voluntarily hand over my laptop to these strange people for multiple hours? They wanted me to exit their establishment without my machine?


I wasn’t sure what to do. “I don’t know how long I can be without my computer,” I muttered feebly at the very nice genius. “Is there any chance I can get it back today?”

Oh how our device addiction strangles us. I was still in possession of my waterproof iPhone and my iPad. I could still write – all of my key documents live in the cloud. Aside from the frenzy of stress stemming from my own careless grip on the stem of a wine glass, the only real burden would be attempting to brave the workday with only iOS devices.

See, I work in a BYOD environment. From a corporate perspective this translates to “Bring Your Own Device” – an option for employees to use the technology they prefer. For many employees, this translates to “I don’t want to use that bulky bulk-rate PC you otherwise typically provide.”

We’ll see how the iDevice experiment goes (although maybe I’ll just start with a weekend – a whole work day sounds a smidge too traumatic for me) and just maybe my next computer will be an iMac.

One that will live in a transformed clean room where no dust can enter – much less a drop of liquid.


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