Lost in Cyberspace!

If they gave Technological Quotient tests and ratings, I would probably have a TQ score in the lowest percentile on record. Especially in the section connected to computers. Don’t misunderstand. I do value my computer highly and all my writing is transcribed on Microsoft Works. See how easily I spun out that magic name?

But… and this is a very large BUT… when there is a problem with my computer and I take out the yellow file to call for technological support, I enter a world filled with dreaded unknowns. The problem usually takes many hours — or days — to solve. It always results in extreme tension, mounting exasperation and the distinct feeling that I am living in a strange new country with an incomprehensible language. In short, I feel like a dummy and I hate that feeling.

Here’s the latest tale: First, the basic facts. I own a Dell computer with Windows Vista software. It was installed in my office in early 2008 and six months later, I graduated from Dial Up to Broadband Wireless in order to access the Internet faster. I hope you note how I use these terms effortlessly. Whether I understand what they mean is an entirely different matter. I had been on AOL since I started with my first computer over ten years ago. I use the Internet constantly for research on Google and for e-mail which I enjoy with family, friends and professional contacts.

Therefore, when I found one afternoon that I was unable to connect with the Internet, I knew there was serious trouble. I turned off the computer and waited until the evening, since sometimes the clever gremlins who live in the box will work out the problm. No such luck this time. Nor the next morning. So I knew I had to take out the yellow file and call AOL on their 800 number. The routine will be familiar to many of you, dear readers. First, the automated questions and answers until the correct responses are recorded to reach a consultant. Sometimes, there is a long wait, with music. The day I called was Saturday, before eight a.m. I was lucky and without delay, a voice said, “Hello, how may I help you.” Hooray! A human being.

After we talked about my problem, she did some hocus pocus on her end and had me make some moves on my computer. I followed her instructions that were pretty simple and reached a point where the screen showed the same ominous message I had found in the first place: “There is no connection to the Internet”. Right! Back to square one. She then informed me that the problem was not with AOL but with my server or provider. It took me a moment to realize what that meant, but to make sure I asked her, “What’s a provider?” She rattled off a few names and I realized that Comcast was the provider for my husband’s computer and for mine since it had been connected when the Broadband was installed.

Next step was to call Comcast on their 800 number and go through the same dreary automated system of my screen name, my actual name, the type of computer etc. etc. and to describe my problem before I could talk to a consultant. This time, I was introduced to a new world of technical jargon, the land of modems and routers. I learned that my computer had been connected to Comcast through a router that was attached to the modem on my husband’s computer. The consultant wanted the brand name of the router. First I had to go to my husband’s office and find it. “I have to go to his office. Don’t go away,” I said to my telephone expert. I discovered a flat black box entitled Linksys on top of his modem with three wires (blue, white and black) hanging down in back. When I told the consultant “Linskys” , he then gave me the discouraging news, “We can’t solve your problem. You have to call Linksys. I’ll give you their 800 number.”

By this time, I was somewhat numb, but I persevered. I didn’t try to fathom why a “Broadband wireless” system had wires attached. After the automatic routine to reach a consultant, a man’s voice answered. He sounded far away and I learned he was in the Philippines. His name was Renz. I started by asking him to speak louder and more slowly. There was background noise that didn’t help. He began by asking, “What’s the model number on the router?” Back I went to the Linksys box and found that number in tiny print on the bottom. I relayed the vital information. “What’s the serial number?” was the next question. A second trip to discern the teeny, tiny numbers which I again found. Back and forth between the offices I went. Then we hit a major obstacle. Both computers had to be on at once with two people on the phone and my husband was downstairs having his breakfast. I said, “Give me the case number and we’ll call back later.”

I went for a long walk though the quiet lanes to get rid of the major case of anxiety that had built up during the hour talking with the three people who were supposed to fix my PROBLEM. When I returned, I learned that my husband had called Linksys on their 800 number. He had been walked through some of the same tortured steps I had traversed . Then he had been told that they could not fix what was wrong. He/I had to call Encor since they were the connector of the wire to my computer from the router. And Linksys did not have an 800 number for Encor.

At that point, due to a combination of aggravation, mental exhaustion and incipient hysteria, I moved to Plan B as our daughter often says. I called Hank, the professional who had installed my computer and the Broadband Wireless. Whatever it would cost was worth it. After I left a message on his answering machine, I felt relieved. Hank would come and solve the problem.

During the night, I awoke and suddenly remembered Hank bringing a wire to the front of my computer and plugging it into the modem next to my starter button. He had asked, “Is it okay to do this up front?” “Sure,” I had replied. At three a.m. I began thinking of all the times, when minor problems arose, the instructions included turning the computer off and restarting. As soon as I arose at six, I went to my office, found the little plug and pulled it out. Then I plugged it in, turned on the computer and reached my Desktop within seconds. I clicked the AOL icon. VOILA!! I WAS CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET! I’m not sure what the moral of this story is. But I feel GREAT! I don’t have such a low TQ after all. Like The Little Red Hen, I did it myself.

Epilogue: I changed from AOL to Gmail when I started my blog: Dimensions 2. And a new Tech Whiz has replaced Hank who disappeared from the area. I’m happy to report that I haven’t been lost in Cyberspace since.

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3 thoughts on “Lost in Cyberspace!

  1. Sometimes what seems like a big problem has an easy answer, but no one thinks to ask you, “Was the modem plugged in?” I know everyone can relate to your Internet Connection story. I like the upbeat ending.

  2. I really really am impressed mom that you know how to talk with IT people know what a router is and what smart enough to go to gmail. Amen

  3. Thanks for the belly laughs!!!! I howled all the way through your blog, because I can’t begin to tell you how many times I lived through this same story. Hilarious! I have decided to switch to gmail as well, so when I get a chance I will rid myself of verizon.net. Thanks, again.

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