Current Events

I think I recreated a famous Spousal Unit moment last night. At least, I have a horrible feeling I did. I will deny all knowledge if asked.

Years ago, my wife was traveling with her sister and niece through Italy, and managed to black out an entire hotel just by plugging in her curling iron. Voltage matters, people.

However, that was years ago, when the most complex equipment somebody had was probably a curling iron, or perhaps an cassette player. One of the joys of traveling with entirely too much electronic gear (iPad, iPhone, MacBook, digital camera, CPAP) is that there is no hotel room in Europe that will have enough plugs to charge all of them at once. Plus, all of the plugs over here are different, and the voltage is different, so you need adapters, and if your device is old enough, you need current converters. (Just plug it in. If smoke comes out, you needed a current converter.)

Luckily, all my devices are dual-voltage, so I just need an adapter. Well, one adapter for each device. I solved that problem by bringing a small extension cord with multiple outlets. Plug the devices into the extension cord, and you only need one adapter.

I’m in the South of France, so I was actually surprised to find two outlets available in the bedroom. One was actually by the bed above the bedside table, so that was perfect for the CPAP so I don’t die in my sleep. Everything else I have can share the “other” outlet.

My first night, I had left my laptop in the bag, and was just using my phone and my iPad. So, before I went to bed, I plugged the extension cord into the adapter and stuck it in the wall. Then, I plugged in the iPhone and the iPad. Both showed “charging”, so I went to sleep.

In the morning, I swapped them out for my laptop so I could get some work done. Then, I went to the office and tried to stay awake all day (including having someone schedule a 4pm – 5pm meeting with me.)

So, last night, feeling lucky, since the extension cord had an extra outlet I hadn’t used yet, I plugged in my MacBook. So, I had an all-Apple extension cord. All I needed was a AppleTV, which would have been nice, since almost everything on the hotel TV is in French.

I got ready to go to bed. Then, the lights went out. Oops. It’s dark in here.

So, I panicked. I had a flashback to my wife blowing out a hotel with her curling iron even though I wasn’t there – I’ve just hear the story enough to feel like I was. I wondered how to repair the damage. What would the Spousal Unit do?

First, hide the evidence. The computer and its cords go back in the bag. Next, check around the room for any fuses, using my phone as a flashlight. I couldn’t find any.

So, the next step is to ‘fess up. I called the front desk, and said, “Uh, I may have blown a fuse.”

The clerk said, “No, it is a general failure. We are trying to find the problem.” (See? Good thing I hid the computer!) “We should have everything back in ten minutes or so.”

About five minutes later, the lights came back on. So, I turned them off, since I was trying to go to bed.

I didn’t charge my MacBook last night after all. I’ll survive.


Apple products are famous for their ease of use and greatness of cost. The cost is actually offset by many by the ease of use (and the “coolness” factor if you’re a dork.) 

Most of the time, Apple products just work. They’re intuitive, they do what you want (mostly) and if you’re not a true geek, you don’t need to ever look at internals or manuals. 

However, this means when they fail, they fail in a spectacular fashion. This is what happened to me. 

Actually, it’s still happening. 

My iPad is apparently full. Usually, I get a warning that I’m almost out of space, and I delete some stuff – the problem goes away. This being an Apple product, you can’t just easily expand the space, which would also solve the problem. You can, however, buy a larger model iPad. 

So, last night, my iPad crashed. Hard. In fact, it wouldn’t turn back on. So, I called it a night. 

This morning, it wouldn’t start. So, I Googled for help, and the Apple site said to reset your iPad, press the Home key and the Start key. I was a bit concerned that “reset” meant “wipe out”, like it does in the rest of the computer world, but this is Apple. It just started up and I was ready to go. 

So, I went to the configuration panel to delete some stuff. As soon as I pressed Usage, the iPad went back to the Home page. Then, it rebooted. 


So, I thought – how do I make this into a hard drive, and I’ll just move some of the files off? 

I attached it to my PC and nothing happened. It mounted as a camera, but there wasn’t anything built-in to download photos. So, my Spousal Unit took over. 

At this point, the universe almost turned inside-out. She is not supposed to be IT support for me. 

She plugged it into her Macbook and Photoshop tried to start downloading files. Then, it crashed. 

I updated iTunes on my backup PC and connected it. It started thinking about syncing, then it crashed. 

Finally, Photoshop started on my PC and began downloading photos. I managed to get about forty at a time (out of over three hundred) before it would reboot. So, progress, I suppose. 

At this point, it looks like I’m going to the Apple Store. Their tech support people are called “geniuses.” I always thought this was a bit over the top. However, sometimes, you do need to be a genius to work around a system that is designed to not let people work around it. 

What is annoying to me is that I AM A COMPUTER PERSON. This should not be difficult. I’ve dealt with out of disk space errors on everything from mainframes to smartphones. Why is this so hard to fix? 

The Spousal Unit said she will take it to the Apple Store, but I really want to go along. I want to learn that if you hold the power button with your left finger while facing Cupertino, pressing the Volume button up and chanting Steve Jobs’ name backwards (“Gates.. Gates…”), the damn thing will just mount as a drive. I would really like to know that. 

I suppose I could also just buy a new iPad, which I think is the actual plan for making you go to the Apple Store to see a genius. 

In the meantime, I have most of my photos off the iPad. So, that’s a start. I guess.