The Roy Ploy

If you’ve never seen it, that’s Roy and Moss from The IT Crowd with what should actually be your first step in any computing problem: the unexpected reboot, AKA ‘Have you tried turning it off and on again?’. The Roy Ploy.

I’ve been struggling with a computer issue all week. I use an Airport Express to stream music wirelessly to my home stereo from my computer. iTunes does it natively, but since I started using Spotify, I’ve also got myself a copy of Airfoil which can send the audio from any application to the Airport Express.

Except when it doesn’t.

I scoured the internet looking for possible solutions. I upgraded the firmware on the Airport Express. I hypothesised a networking conflict between iTunes and Airfoil. I returned to factory settings – and I even tried assigning a static IP address.

Finally, in desperation, I got on Twitter and asked for help. A response from a user called Moozim (who has an interesting website you might want to look at) pointed me in a few interesting directions – until finally:

“Try turning everything off and then back on again: Router first, then Mac, then Airport Express.”

Naturally, that did the trick (slaps forehead). And it got me thinking about all of the little tips and tricks I’ve had to pick up in my 20-odd years online.

My one best tip I could possibly give you is to be ABSURDLY paranoid about backing up files. I’ve had more catastrophic hard drive losses than I care to think about. I have mirrored drives, total redundancy and off-site backup up the wazoo these days. I’d have to simultaneously have a housefire, a catastrophic hard drive failure and a bus crash on a Friday in order to lose anything significant these days.

I know that like me, much of your life is tied up in these infernal error-prone machines. When you run into difficulty – where do you turn? What are your best bits of advice for computer maintenance?