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I Don't Know Nearly As Much As I Think I Do

I Don't Know Nearly As Much As I Think I Do

As someone who works with technology every single day, I pride myself on knowing a lot about it. I manage blogs for other people, I give talks about social networking, and I'm always reading up or playing with the latest gadget.

Whether it's an Android smart phone, a digital camera, or rigging up said camera to my computer and using it for a video conference, I try to stay up with most of the latest consumer technology developments, so I can answer questions for friends.

I recently won an Apple TV, the little black box that uses your home's wifi connection to stream TV shows, movies, and YouTube videos over the Internet. Although we watch NetFlix over our Nintendo Wii, I thought I would try the new device out.

Our TV uses an HDMI (high definition multimedia interface) cable, which produces an ultra-sharp picture that's almost more vivid and clear than real life. When I pulled out the Apple TV — which is as big as stack of 10 CDs — I saw that it only had a plug for an HDMI cable.

Problem was, it had a smaller HDMI plug than I expected. It was actually a mini-HDMI plug, and I didn't have the appropriate cables. I had a regular HDMI cable, which had standard-sized plugs on both ends, but nothing to fit a smaller HDMI socket.

I headed to Fry's Electronics (think Wal-Mart for the geek set) because they have reasonably-priced HDMI cables. I found a guy in the TV section, and explained what I needed.

"Seriously? I didn't think the Apple TV had a mini HDMI plug."

"No, it does. I looked at it last night."

"Huh," the guy said, staring into the distance, trying to wrap his head around the idea I had just presented to him. I waited patiently for the little hamster to get up to full speed on the wheel.

I always have various degrees of success at Fry's. It's not that they don't have what I need, it's that they're not always as knowledgeable about what I'm looking for

For example, a year ago, my wife and I went to Fry's to get her a netbook, a very small laptop that's more suited to surfing the web than storing anything on it. Two different salespeople tried to steer her toward a laptop, saying the netbook would get slower as time went by, and couldn't store photos and music. I explained that she needed it primarily for web use, not photos and music, but they were undeterred We ended up buying a netbook from another store for the principle of it.

My guy finally clicked into gear and said, "let's just go ask the Apple guys which cable we need. They'll know."

We walked to the Apple section, and he explained the situation.

"I didn't know the Apple TV needed a mini HDMI," said the Apple guy. "Does it have the standard RCA plugs on the back too, or just the HDMI?"

"Just the HDMI," I said. "It's the new version."

"I didn't know the new Apple TV came with the mini HDMI," he repeated, trying to wrap his own brain around the idea. "I mean, I've got one, and it needed the regular HDMI cable."

I was getting a little impatient, because my family was waiting out in the car for me. "Look, I know it's the mini HDMI because I checked it out last night."

"I'm not saying you're wrong. I'm just surprised." He pointed me to the right aisle, and I found the right cable for $14. When I got to the car, I told my wife why it had taken so long. She rolled her eyes at the memory of the netbook debacle. When we got home, I opened the package, and plugged it in.

"Uh oh," I said.

"What's wrong?" asked my wife.

"It's too small. It needs a regular plug," I said, my face turning red, little beads of embarrassed sweat popping out on my forehead.

I stared at the Apple TV that had betrayed me. Do I take the cable back and risk embarrassment, or do I just keep it and learn a $14 lesson that I'm not nearly as smart as I thought.

I decided to keep it, because I actually will need a cable with a mini HDMI plug. Also, I didn't want to go back and admit defeat. A man has to keep what shreds of dignity he has left. But I thought I should send Fry's an apology for my impatience and questioning their product knowledge.

Or at least I would have, but my daughter was using my laptop, and my wife's computer is too slow to be much use.

My book, Branding Yourself: How to Use Social Media to Invent or Reinvent Yourself (affiliate link), is available on, as well as at Barnes & Noble and Borders bookstores. I wrote it with my good friend, Kyle Lacy.

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  1. Erik, I love this! Change is the new stability. It's always refreshing to hear of other tech-savvy people who work to stay current. Even if we immerse ourselves totally in gadgets and tech, we can't keep up. Add running a business and caring for family to the mix, and it's that much more challenging.

    Thanks for being real.

  2. Thanks, Mary. I'm glad you liked it. I figured most of my techy friends would get a kick out of it.

  3. You had me at the headline, and lost me at HDMI. I KNOW I don't know as much as you think you know.

    I frequently walk into (insert computer or electronic store of choice) and rattle off the specifications I've just learned on-line followed by "please don't be fooled into thinking I know what I just asked for." At least now I'll know what to do if I ever win an Apple TV. That's a relief.

    (funny post, thanks for sharing)

  4. Green with envy for your fancy digital camera!


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