Diagnosing Problems: Check Basics First!

So, all the wonderful Christmas decorations up and time to take some photos!
Damn - camera doesn’t work - needs batteries.
Open up new pack of batteries and put them in - crap, still doesn’t work! Camera blinks on for a second and then dies.
Blast some air in the battery compartment - maybe dust is affecting it?
Try again.

Oh well.
Go buy a (cheap) new camera - just need it for the Christmas shots.
About $40 later, home with a new camera.
Step one - insert batteries.
Used the same new batteries I had opened for the other camera - hmm. They don’t work.
Open another pack of new batteries (we bought a bunch on sale), and they don’t work either.

Gee - I wonder if the batteries we bought on sale are not good?

Off to buy “real” batteries, at full price.
Voila! “Old” camera works perfectly now.
“New” camera being returned to store today.

Moral of story:
Before you dash off to replace some technological gizmo, check to make sure the problem isn’t something stupid like using those cheap-ass batteries you thought were such a deal.


When I started electronics school, literally the first thing I was taught was to ask the question, “Is it plugged in?” :slight_smile:

With a meter you can check your own batteries immediately and know what’s wrong.

Batteries have a date stamp on the bottom in most cases.

Always have extra batteries, especially for occasions.

Always have some rechargeable batteries and a charger.

So return the new cheap camera and buy a VOM and you are $30 ahead. That’s enough for rechargeable batteries and a charger at Wally World.

A month ago, give or take, I came home, went upstairs and flipped on the light switch. No light. Drat!

Went down to the basement, retrieved a light bulb, walked upstairs, put lightbulb in light fixture, flipped switch again. Still no light.

Check lightbulb in other light fixture just to make sure.

Have “Aha” moment.

Someone else had turned off my light fixture–by tugging at the light pull, rather than flipping the switch by the doorway.

Returned new bulb to basement-- and muttered at the most likely suspects.

Regarding the OP: back in the days of film cameras, my standard advice for anyone having camera problems was, “Change the battery. If that doesn’t fix it, then change the battery again.”

It’s no longer such a big issue, since most cameras use rechargables now, but apparently the advice is still occasionally applicable.

The answer to that one is always, “Yes.” I’ve learned to instead ask, “How many prongs are on the plug?”

Why do you think computer helpdesks always ask if you rebooted your computer? It fixes a pretty substantial percentage of all computer problems – enough so that it needs to be tried.

True story. The easiest $20 I ever made…someone bought an Apple II computer* and couldn’t get it to work. Offered me $20 to come over and take a look. I looked the computer quickly over, then walked over and plugged it in. The expression on the guy’s face was priceless** :slight_smile:

*Yea, I’m old.

** yea, I kept the $20 :slight_smile:

I did the exact same thing a month ago.

No money was involved, but a friend was puzzled at why their printer stopped working. I surveyed the desktop situation and surmised that one or more stuffalanches had occurred.

Looked behind the printer, and it was plugged in. Ah, but cables have two ends. I looked behind the PC and found an unplugged USB cable that was about two inches too short to reach. I tugged at the cable, and a pile of desktop junk moved. :eek: After freeing the cable and plugging it in, the printer came back to life.