Is it plugged in? Is It Turned On?
Many years ago, a wise engineer gave me the best tech-support advice I’ve ever received. He said that if something isn’t working, always ask yourself two things: “Is it plugged in? Is it turned on?”
This sounds ridiculously simple, but in the course of a career spent surrounded by computers and other highly technical and infuriating equipment, I’ve found it to be the most useful piece of advice I’ve ever received.
First of all, is it plugged in? Check to make sure the plug is actually securely plugged into the wall or power strip. A few days ago I was staring at my electric kettle wondering why it refused to boil and realized that I had plugged in my coffee grinder instead. If you are plugged in, make sure the power strip or outlet is turned on. If it’s turned on, double-check to make sure it is functioning. Outlets break just like anything else. If your device uses batteries, make sure they are properly placed and working. Even if you’ve replaced them recently, try a fresh set and see if that makes a difference.
Power cords aren’t the only things that come unplugged. If your device has cables of any kind, make sure everything is securely in place. Sometimes cables to a monitor, modem or headphones can work loose.
Is it turned on? Don’t take this as an insult. I’ve seen an engineer with a master’s degree struggling to figure out why something wouldn’t work for half an hour before realizing he’d neglected to flip the on-switch for a server. On/off switches are not always clearly marked or conveniently placed and it can sometimes be difficult to tell if something is powered on or off.
Hopefully, these two simple questions can save you a lot of trouble when dealing with electronic devices.