A dalliance with tech failure on vacation

I’m not phoning this in, there’s just no tech news I’ve run across that’s interesting to me today and trying to get back into the review process takes a few days as I don’t open packages and then write the review while just holding a product (you know what site you are, I am indeed looking at you.) So I thought I’d write up some tech fails that happened on vacation.

The start

Five hours before I had to be on a plane, we had a three hour power outage at work, the UPSes signaled for shutdowns of five servers, and three complied. Two didn’t get the memo and powered off while running. This … let’s talk about RAIDs rebuilding times some other time. Amazingly bad timing. When I managed to get things back up the VPN software failed for no known reason. Had to end up doing a restore after all the backups were reverified.

Sweating bullets I managed to get things all back and working with 12 minutes to spare before I had to be gone or miss the flight. Got home and of course our flight was cancelled.

After our flight was cancelled everything was shifted 12 or so hours over. I’d had a schedule and notes coordinating getting out of the house at certain times. At 10:20 turn this off, at 10:25 have this shut down and disassembled, etc. I’d managed to do all of this in a pretty cool calendar set of events and planned it in advance so I would simply not have to think about what order to do these things in.

And with the flight being cancelled on Tuesday I rescheduled these to Wednesday… most of them… some I evidently rescheduled in another year. Oh well, everything got done except shutting down a bitcoin mining computer in an attic with air conditioning turned off. What could happen? (spoiler: nothing, I remote shut it down later.)

Key tracker

I threw my wife’s Samsung Key Tracker in one of the suitcases with a bunch of tech and wires. I’m absolutely sure the TSA loves opening my bags with spaghetti charging wires and bricks of ALDI cheese… I think on the way out we managed to keep the cheeses elsewhere, but on the way back in there was Tillamook to be had.

While the key tracker did its job, more or less, I had an interesting thing happen with it. At one point I checked the thing, I think we were in St Louis at this point. I’m guessing someone’s phone picked up my key fob and before I was off the plane I knew where our next plane was because it had been loaded in over there.

When I got near my phone couldn’t find it, I mean I didn’t expect it to. I decided to use the “notify me when found” option on the app and never received a notice that it had been found.

When I got home I checked my old phone for some reason, the notice that it had been found was sitting on that phone, but not the one I am using now.

One of the Gs stands for “gone”

I was in Sandy, Oregon trying to survive on a DSL connection that topped out at about 5mbps. This isn’t because Sandy is some no-net town, this entirely has to do with the inlaws and not having upgraded their system for years. Pretty sure there’s fiber at their pole. Pretty sure Sandy Net is a thing. They only need higher speeds when we’re there as 8mb works fine for one device streaming or video calls.

Two years ago, pre-pandemic, which is the last time we were able to visit we were looking at 5mb for them, maybe 8-20mb on Sprint. This time T-Mobile was rocking about 80mbit on average where I was staying. Awww yiss.

Unfortunately any 5G connection would only last for a few minutes, then cycle to LTE, then to edge/no data connection. Worked fine when I went to another town, but was unable to do fun things like use my phone for more than a couple of minutes. I’m told this was a fairly large issue that was not just Sandy related, but don’t know. Both our phones were having the issues so I knew at least that it wasn’t my phone.

Most of the time I was sharing the inlaws 5mb internet with my wife who was working remotely, and two kids who were YouTube Kids-ing.

It cleared up later on in the visit, after I’d given up all hope.

Oh, you’d like to you Google Pay? Hah hah.

One of the issues we thought was a connection issue involved attempting to purchase a ticket to a ride on Mt Hood. Google Pay refused to ever work for my wife, stuck at authorizing card or some such. It appeared we actually had signal but the attendant told us we didn’t actually and to join their WiFi, which required downloading some app… Wife did, I didn’t, still didn’t work. Got to pay extra with my credit card as the online version had a discount.

Still have no idea what that one was about except it failed.

Lyin’ cheatin’ Fitbit

As chronicled in some other posts, the Fitbit and Google Fit were greatly overestimating my distance due to power saving mode evidently being on. As such, aiming for a caloric deficit of no more than 500 calories on the trip (I was on vacation) I managed to show a deficit of over 9000 calories on vacation and… checks weight… yeah, I gained half a pound.

Not particularly worried about it, it was vacation.

Google Trips has no way to update that I found

Google Trips took an email and made me a neat little trip. This all got messed up when we got bumped a day, and there seemed to be no way to have it update its information. As such I got announcements for rental car dates and times and flights that were no longer valid. Not a huge deal, but more calendar entries I had to make. No obvious way to update the trip.

I hear you like synced movies on airplanes

My iPad 4, we discovered, no longer works with Plex. It still worked with Netflix so I installed that and synced some movies from Netflix. It also no longer works with Messenger Kids, because you need an iOS version greater than 10.something in order to send a text message evidently. Seriously Facebook.

The big fail here was the Amazon Fire Kids tablet – we installed Netflix and Plex, synced a bunch of movies, and then when we were off the ground and away from the internet in the sky those apps refused to locate in the Amazon Fire Kids profile. The launcher was in some sort of weird not normal mode. Couldn’t even search the local device for the apps.


Slightly fewer tech fails than usual. I pre-downloaded maps of Oregon, pre-synced movies and verified they were there, and basically only worried about trying to keep some digital entertainment options. Work, thankfully, did not explode much which was good because my laptop … well, that’s an article in itself.

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Paul E King

Paul King started with GoodAndEVO in 2011, which merged with Pocketables, and as of 2018 he's evidently the owner. He lives in Nashville, works at a film production company, is married with two kids. Facebook | Twitter | Donate | More posts by Paul | Subscribe to Paul's posts

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