Saturday, April 26, 2008

And... we're back

Don't know what ya got 'til it's gone...

We were supposed to be hooked up last week. On the great Friday move-in, Cox was supposed to come by and get us back online. They came by, but things didn't quite go as planned; namely that the technician said I needed to have my computer running for some reason. It was still packed away neatly. He offered to come back later and I got the computer running - sans speakers - just in case he did come back.

He did finally call - but we were at dinner, fully figuring that by 7:30, he'd called it a day.

So we made due netless for the next seven days. I kept myself busy with learning, kicking ass and finally getting frustrated at Tiger Woods 08; I later kept myself busy with learning, kicking ass and, at times, getting frustrated with a used copy of NCAA Football 08. (I am proud to say that Penn State knocked off unbeaten and fourth-ranked Michigan; were such an event to happen in reality, I would find myself in hysterics for days afterward. Sadly, even in the best of years, Penn State has proven no match for the Wolverines.)

We rescheduled for today, having largely resolved the logistical issues of internet in a three-level townhouse: We'd go with a wireless network, preferably one that had wired jacks in the rear. That limited the cost to just a router and a PC adapter; a wireless XBox receiver runs around $78 at Amazon; at Best Buy, it was just under $100.

So, in the midst of much running around today, I came home with this beauty from Linksys and the accompanying PC adapter.

The installation proved more difficult than first thought - though I was mostly hanging out while the technician did the hard work. Trying to merge cable internet and satellite TV isn't easy, apparently. Something about satellite TV needing one cable per television.

But he worked diligently and completed the task - hopefully not too late for a Friday happy hour.

With our good friend Donna on her way over, there was little time to worry about computers and networking. She became our first official dinner guest at the new place, so long as burgers on the deck qualify as a dinner party.

I knew at some point, Lindsay and Donna would have myriad things to discuss. So I bowed out a bit after dinner to get this thing running.

Setting up the router was easy: Hook it up to the computer, let it rework the settings and call it good. The PC adapter was much more troublesome, due in part to my own silliness.

I needed an open slot in the rear of the computer. It took me at least 15 minutes to realize that the slot holder would not simply disengaged, no matter how much I bent the metal. I had to go inside the PC to take care of that.

It took me another 15 minutes to figure out how to open the damn thing. Whaddya know, there's a tab that you push in one direction and the side cover slips off. That was about the fourth thing I tried.

With the computer open, I tried to slap the card in. It seemed secure enough, so I buttoned it up again, hooked up that funky antenna thing (which proved difficult for one with pudgy fingers) and went to try it out.

Except for one problem: Windows didn't load. After the initial startup screens, I saw only a black screen - no login or anything. Nothing in the manuals described any sort of problem.

So I thought I'd get some help from the tech support at Linksys. I waited until Donna left and Linds was ready for bed; I dialed them up and got no help whatsoever.

I had a simple problem, or so I thought. Yet the CSR wanted to know my phone number, my name, my e-mail, what kind of router I had, when I bought it, how I connected to the internet before, who my ISP was - all of these ridiculous questions that had nothing to do with the problem.

I tried twice to explain that the problem was NOT that I couldn't get online. The problem was that my computer wasn't working at all after installing the adapter.

So here was his solution: Let's check the configuration. I'll need to take the router, PC adapter and hook them up to the internet source - in this case, a cable modem downstairs. I explained that would not be possible; the internet source and the computer were on two different levels, which was why we decided to go wireless in the first place.

"But to solve the problem, we must check the configuration," I was told.

"Well, I guess I'm outta luck then," I replied. I hung up.

Linksys, you really need to do a better job with the tech support. Simply having people read prompts from a computer is not the way to help your consumers. Not once did I feel like the person I was speaking to had any knowledge of the product, nor did he in any way try to diagnose what was going wrong - which, to me, is the essence of tech support. My problem had nothing to do with the configuration; I don't even work in IT and I know that.

I tried looking at the card again. I opened up the computer and the adapter wasn't so secure after all. I tried moving to a different open port, got it snapped in snugly - I was sure this time - and tried again. I got some of the indications I was expecting, but not all. Linksys' own wireless viewer left only one option - exit. The router was on and pumping out airwaves, even if they didn't connect to anything.

I uninstalled the software and tried to do it again. This time, everything came up rosy. I saw a Yahoo page on this computer that I hadn't seen in some time - eight days, actually. But still.

So I'm back. Finally.

This is really starting to feel like home...

1 comment:

ME said...


Why do I have a feeling you're going to have a heck of a time getting that Xbox running.

I hate to be THAT guy, but man, setting up my Mac & the Apple wireless network was literally 1. turn on Mac, 2. plug in router, 3. connect cables, 4. done.

Sorry man. At least it sounds like things are improving in the new place.