14 October 2005

Technician’s aura: the receiving end

So here I am struggling to figure out why my camera constantly snaps into USB mode when there’s nothing plugged into the USB socket.

I’ve stripped the back off it, and it works perfectly... until I go to put the back, back on. The fault looks like a loose connector, worn cable or dodgy PCB track — but no sane amount of pushing or twisting of components can induce failure, only reassembly. Not even complete reassembly, either, sometimes it goes bonkers when the back is well over a centimeter away from being properly seated and sometimes it stays sane until the back is almost in place. Argh! The frustration! There’s no rhyme or reason to it and at this point I’m about ready to spike the camera into the ground...

But then I remember that my highly esteemed sister-in-law, the professional photographer, is due shortly to retrieve one of her offspring. An electronics tech, she’s not, but she is bright, careful and generally good at whatever she turns her hand to, so maybe she can figure something out. I set the camera aside, and wait.

In due course, Jane arrives. So I pick up the camera and demonstrate. It works perfectly — first time, every time, assembled or not. The ghoulash of emotions this raises is kind of difficult to describe. Elation that the camera works. Frustration that I don’t know why it works. Hilarity at the “am I alone in a room with a madman?” looks Jane is giving me. Irrational fear that henceforth the camera will only work in Jane’s holy presence. And so on. It’s very instructive to be on the receiving end of Technician’s Aura for a change.

'dead bug' construction

This picture of an XboX sync separator being assembled in “dead bug” mode demonstrates the camera fully functional after its Jane Therapy.

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