Back in the day, when I was working at Sybase, I prided myself on my technical abilities and got a lot of satisfaction from solving all sorts of user problems. These days, I'm more likely to be figuring out where to get the perfect new pair of shoes or whether the great TJ Maxx item I've found will turn out to fit in with the rest of my wardrobe and become another bargain basic.
Yesterday and today were different though, bringing back my pleasure in figuring out how things work and solving the problem when they don't work. We've had a number of great hand-me-downs (or ups as Peter says) from Meg: computers, iPhones and most recently her older Nikon D70. It had been sitting in the pocket of Peter's duffle bag since Christmas, and finally I took out the camera and all the other stuff that goes with it, to see whether I could get it working. The battery was dead so I figured out how to replace that with the extra one she had included. But when I tried to take a picture, nothing worked. Knowing the answer to that would be RTFM, I started in and discovered that CHR on the screen meant the memory card might not be properly seated. I reseated it, found the AUTO settings, and got started taking pictures with, what was for me, a rather intimidating camera after all my little pocket size point and clicks.
Today I resolved to tackle our Vermont coffee problem. Again since Christmas, we hadn't been able to brew a good latte on the Miss Silvia and weren't sure whether to blame the espresso machine or the grinder. I had made one attempt in VT to recalibrate the grinder but without success, so I brought everything back home with me after our last ski weekend to get it resolved before our next trip. First I bought some fresh, finely ground beans which brewed a decent, though kind of fast, latte. That meant I had to concentrate on the grinder which was definitely not grinding anywhere close to fine enough for espresso. While waiting for online technical support, I discovered a new FAQ that seemed likely to be the answer. I hung up and decided to proceed on my own. When I took the grinder apart to check for broken or missing burr holder flanges however, I found all three to be in perfect condition. Since I was half-way there, I finished taking it apart to look again at recalibrating the grinder. This time everything made a little bit more sense and seemed a bit easier. Finding a tiny screwdriver for the calibration screw was the biggest challenge, but I discovered my eyeglasses kit was the best source. I lined things up as far as possible to the right, just as it recommended for finer grind, and when everything was put back together again, the grind was indeed finally fine. We may still have to deal with the too fast rate of flow when brewing the espresso, but we're on the way to those good lattes again.
Best of all though, is the pride I feel in tackling these technical unknowns, figuring the stuff out, and ending up with successful results. I like being technically savvy like in the old days, and guess I should challenge myself more often.