The Case of the Missing Dongle

I love teaching at UW-Madison’s Writers’ Institute. This year was my third time, but my first time using a projector. Everything was taken care of in advance: conference rooms, projectors, screens. Nothing was left undone.

Imagine my surprise when I went into my first room, set my laptop on the podium and wondered, How on earth do I get what’s on my screen to “talk” to the projector so it can show the audience?

I ran to Laura Kahl. She’s like a kick-butt, young faerie godmother, and MacGyver combined; she’s the maestro that keeps everything and everyone in harmony! 

Way too polite to point out that I was supposed to have brought an adapter, she immediately pointed out one of the Madison Concourse Hotel IT guys. “He’s got a dongle,” she said. My eyebrows shot into my hairline. “He’ll get you set up.”

A dongle is an adapter that connects to another device to provide it with additional functionality.

I approached the handsome young IT guy and said, “Pardon me, do you have a dongle I can borrow?” He answered with a great big smile, “I’d be happy to loan you my dongle.” And we both burst out laughing!

That little piece of equipment is what kept my audience connected to what was happening on my laptop screen. At the end of the conference, I returned the adapter to the technician. The first thing I did when I got back to Boise was to purchase a dongle of my own at the Apple store. 

What keeps you connected?


54 thoughts on “The Case of the Missing Dongle

  1. LOL! It is always handy to have a fellow with a dongle around. I do love the young folks with their technical acumen. Thye have come to my rescue many times.

  2. Hi Laurie,
    I make a habit of keeping many different ways of connecting. Being something of the ultimate boy scout I usually have multiple “dongles” in the zip pocket of my laptop bag.
    I keep myself engaged in many different networks – a list of some on my blog

    At the report-back of the post earthquake Ministry of Primary Industries funded science teams last week, I was called in to coordinate all the audiovisual gear for the 15 different presenters. A couple of minor glitches, but they were sorted out fairly quickly. The evening seemed to go well.

    Just got home from my 4th meeting this afternoon (streamcare group, cycle club, boating club, then Lions Club). Ailsa, Jody and I walked out and saw an elephant seal (an unusual visitor in these parts) this morning, and I sorted out some IT issues for a business between meetings this afternoon. About ready for bed. Just have to walk Huia and I can call it a night.

  3. Don’t you love those presentation tech issues. Good to know about dongles, ha! Laptop and phone are vital. Power went down this week (for only an hour). I use these moments to check my readiness for longer power failures (or scarier grid failures). I purchased a “power bank” for charging my phone. Haven’t figured out yet how to use it; does one have to pre-charge it. No instructions. As a slow technology adapter generally, I think so many techies assume knowledge or talk in techie language. I work at staying current and yet often hit brick walls. Fortunately, I do have good friends who are savvy to the tech world.

    • Audrey — I would be utterly, completely, and totally lost in the black hole of technology if it weren’t for Len. I try to stay somewhat savvy, but it seems to change overnight 🙂

  4. Your story prompted a memory. A partner and I were team teaching at the college with a full auditorium. In the midst of a PowerPoint presentation, we tried to connect to a movie clip from The Witness, and something went wrong. While my colleague scrambled to find the solution, I entertained the audience with my experience of cooperation in the Mennonite community.

    We found a technology fix and the beat went on, but the audience wanted more stories. It occurs to me now that their response has fed into my impulse to write memoir.

    Here’s to dongles, an unforgettable story, Laurie!

  5. As the director of the Writers’ Institute I am so happy to hear that Laura and the IT gentleman were there to assist you Laurie. I want everyone to know that your presentations at this year’s conference were outstanding, as usual, and that you inspired many of our writers – and I’m happy the dongle was there to save the day. Here’s to you – and the dongle! Applause, applause!!

  6. LOL! I didn’t care much for the word dongle when Peter first mentioned that it would be a good idea to buy one for our travels, so I called it ‘the pingle’ and that stuck. It has come very handy over the last year and that’s how I have managed to post my blog on the move. It is a wonderful device, whatever you want to call it! 👍😂

  7. Ah, you are so fortunate. Most places, including many prestigious universities, require Mac users to provide their own dongle and expect them to know that ahead of time. I vaguely recall a similar situation at a Story Circle Conference presentation I was scheduled to do about then years ago. But it wasn’t a dongle. Whatever the problem, it’s unnerving to step up and not be able to just plug in. Nice when everyone has a sense of humor!

  8. I loved your story about the dongle. You have a gift for storytelling. I felt like I was right there with you.
    Your story reminds me of the time I found a little piece of plastic at the ferry terminal. I brought to the booth and said, “I don’t know what this is but it looks important.” My face was a little red after uttering this confession because most people know my husband as a computer guy.
    The person in the booth said, “I don’t know what it is either but it does look important.” And we shared a laugh.
    I’m pleased to report that the owner of the piece of plastic did return and was overjoyed that it (whatever it was) was still there.

  9. Every single time I think how far we’ve come due to technology, I am simply amazed. The benefits could be certainly rewarding… it’s up to us to choose how to use it … sending love dear Laurie 😘☀️

  10. What is keeping me “connected” as I teach my summer enrichment literature program for the twenty-eighth consecutive year is the invaluable learning tool, the ole “smart board” where I can display films, photographs, audio readings, video readings and other fascinating documentation. It really adds many dimensions!

    Fabulous post here!

  11. I forgot my dongle to connect my Iphone to the car sound system so we could listen to our audio book on our 19 hours of driving last November. So I just turned up the volume and held the phone between the seats so front and back could listen – my arm kept getting exhausted at all the good parts!!! I need a different dongle to hook up other equipment and yes everything is sold separately these days. I even need one to use my head phones. Oh my! Glad your system worked out and you could complete your class with program. Whew!

  12. What fun! I wish connectivity was as easy as owning a dongle! (Or borrowing one.) Very fun post, Laurie. I stay connected in many ways: to friends: e-mail, phone, long walks and lunches with those who are local, texts; to family: texts, photos, visits near and far, many many hugs; to myself: long walks alone, meditation, inward smiles, and once in a while, a “talking-to.” 🙂 xo

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