Slaying Dragons #18 – Troubleshooting

John Watkinson looks at Troubleshooting.

Sound only needs air to travel in, but once we want to transmit or record sound, we have to use technology which is imperfect and subject to failure. Locating and rectifying failures then becomes an integral part of dealing with technology. Efficient faultfinding requires a logical or scientific approach.

Sadly, such an approach is not common in the real world. Technology is recent and homo sapiens did not evolve to use it. As a result when problems occur we see all manner of emotion-based behaviour, ranging from denial to making it look like somebody else’s fault.

Another unfortunate development is the throwaway society we have created, where increasingly items are made to be un-repairable so that they have to be binned. That is great for the manufacturers, who get to sell a new one; tough for the owner and the environment.

Having spent a lifetime solving problems with technology, I am now accustomed to being the only person who doesn’t know what is wrong when a problem arises. Everybody and his dog jump to conclusions and immediately know the cause and the solution. Sometimes I get to fix it later when none of those solutions worked.

Many people have no concept of how to identify a problem and proceed to prove it. No one would dream of asking a painter who was half-way through painting a wall if he had finished, but everyone will ask a troubleshooter who is part way through identifying a problem to tell them what the problem is. This is like asking Columbus in mid-Atlantic what he was going to discover. After the problem is fixed, and only then, do I know what the problem was.

If the problem is serious enough, the troubleshooter will be asked by journalists what caused it. The answer will always be the same…

(contd)
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