Skip to main content
This post is part of my 2022 Word Project. You can read what that’s about here.

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Remember the days when you had to connect your computer to a Cat5 cable to get internet? And depending on where the outlet was, you might have a big fat wire stretching around three corners of a room or across a doorway or, in a pinch, strung across the ceiling with tacks like the ugliest Christmas lights ever, minus the lights?

Then WiFi was invented and we lost one of the thousand wires that tethered us to the walls and a joyful day was born.

And then someone decided that this new wireless utopia meant that everything should be connected to the internet. And the universe wept.

TVs. Refrigerators. Coffee mugs.

The coffee mug was USB, and connected to your computer so you could run a program to keep it warm. I’m not even kidding you. There was an app on your phone so you could make a profile for it and set the temperature and then it would keep the mug at that temperature until further notice.

It was just ridiculous.

The problem with it, other than the fact that your coffee mug was connected to the internet, is that it basically continued to cook the coffee, low and slow, for the entirety of the time you let it sit there.

The other problem with it was that when the wire burnt itself out you were left with… a mug.

We went through two of those until finally buying a Yeti. It is thermal. It has a lid. Do you know what it connects to? Nothing. Do you know what it does? Keeps your coffee hot. Do you know what it doesn’t do? Blow a fuse.

But the coffee mug is not the story. It was just a bit of flotsam that surfaced as I tried to leave my apartment today. I waved the blob of gray plastic that we call a “key” over the black panel above the doorknob and it went BEEEEEEEWWAARRrrrrppppp and died.

Then nothing.

I called maintenance.

This is not the first time this has happened. The first time it happened, they had to replace the battery in the doorknob. This time he was here a bit longer, because, as he explained, he had to get it to connect to the internet so he could update the firmware.

On the doorknob.

Do you know what should not connect to the internet? A doorknob.

I mean, I can appreciate the utility of a digital key. When you go to a hotel and swipe a little key card, that doesn’t happen by magic. Someone programs it to read the plastic card in your hand.

But having to get into and out of my own apartment at the whim of the internet and a firmware update? It’s a little disconcerting.

I actually didn’t even realize that the thing had died when we left. I heard its death wail but I had been listening to beeping trucks and wailing sirens all morning so it barely scratched the surface of my brain.

It wasn’t until we got home and I realized that the door had never locked in the first place that I figured out what had happened.

It’s probably a good thing I didn’t know, because what would I have done? I wouldn’t have knowingly left the door unlocked, with our laptops and TV and printer and probably thousands of dollars of bourbon and our firearms and whathaveyou. But that would have put a crimp in the fact that we needed to be somewhere in ten minutes.

Do you cancel your life because your key needs a firmware update?

It’s just… ridiculous.

But I suppose it’s no different than the car key settings being “in the cloud” so that if your internet connection is disrupted, your seat suddenly moves to a different position and your air conditioning goes on in the dead of winter.

I mean… why not? Life can get dull. We need a good story now and then.

“My doorknob needs a firmware update” may not have been top of my list, but it’s there anyway.

Coincidentally, I was talking to my mother later on and she was bemoaning the fact that she couldn’t make herself a cup of coffee because she couldn’t get the coffee maker to connect to the WiFi.

I told her to put water into a pot on the stove and boil it. Because do you know what doesn’t need the internet? A pot.

And do you know what doesn’t need to connect to WiFi?

Just saying.

Photo: my brother and I doing our famous Malfunctioning Door Face. It is a running joke between us that is just too appropriate for this blog. You can watch the movie clip of its source here.