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Cognitive Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski, Yeshim Deniz, Zakia Bouachraoui, Elizabeth White

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Keep Calm and Compute On

When it comes to the failing of modern technology, the truth is it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when. These disasters come in many forms: hard drive crashes, failed logic boards, and no one is safe from attacks by coffee, beer or baby vomit. Sometimes things like minor software problems can snowball into full-blown nervous breakdowns.

I’ve seen grown adults cry, throw hissy fits, even violently throw their pieces of personal technology at the floor (pro tip: this helps nothing). There’s no sense in losing your mind, when you’ve already lost control of your device; these things happen and it’s important to keep your cool when they inevitably do.

Dealing with technological disruptions and disasters requires both foresight and composure—things that are easier said than done, but important all the same.

Having a backup of your data helps to mitigate the circumstances beyond your control. Repair costs and missed deadlines are bad enough; these are separate, anxiety-inducing issues that don’t need the added stress of having lost your entire digital existence. The mechanisms for backing up—whether to an external drive or cloud-based service—have been made so accessible, there is literally no excuse for data loss. NASA put a man on the moon, the least you could do is back up your data.

When you experience technical difficulties, it is important to remember that only one of these two things can be true: you’re doing something wrong OR these are circumstances beyond your control. That said, it’s important not to assault yourself, your device(s), or anyone else. Instead, you can follow these steps to technological zen:

1. Turn it off and on — This is troubleshooting 101, you’d be amazed how often this works.

2. Google — If it is user error, then it’s vital to read whatever error messages you encounter and change your behavior accordingly. Don’t be afraid to type your problem into Google; if you ask your tech savvy friend, neighbor or nephew for help, this will be one of the first things they do, so have the common courtesy to at least attempt it for yourself.

3. Whine a little — If your Googling has yielded no relief or the thing won’t even function enough for you to Google at all, maybe this actually is a circumstance beyond your control. At this point it’s acceptable for you to complain and maybe make some weird noises, but it’s best to do this by yourself just to get it out of your system. This may sound like weird advice, but it’ll help you keep it together.

4. Wait it out — Servers go down, weird things happen, sometimes all you have to do it wait. Do your dishes, throw a load of laundry in the wash, go for a walk, whatever you have to do to make you stop pressing buttons and making matters worse for 15 minutes.

5. Consult a professional — Make a Genius Bar appointment, call your IT guy (or lady), and above all, be nice!  Remember, they are trying to help you.

Whatever it is, it’s important to remember to breathe; whatever you were doing cannot possibly be important enough to cause a grown adult to freak out like a wild monkey who has awaken to find himself in captivity. So keep calm and compute on.

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