Thursday, June 18, 2009

Thursday: Back Online, Finally

I had a one day, 21 hour, and about five minute, 'vacation' from the Internet.

Not by choice.

Tuesday afternoon, about ten minutes after four, I was writing a post for another blog. A little after that, I noticed that I couldn't get a web page to load. It didn't take long to discover that I couldn't reach anything on the Internet.

I checked this household's telephone and television connections: they were fine. We get all three through one company, and the signals come through one line.

Just the same, I called the company.

Or, more accurately, called a company. After a while, I discovered that I was talking with the wrong outfit, and opened a dialog with our Internet provider.

The good news was that there were no service problems in our area: and that my modem seemed to be in good shape.

The bad news was that we got a 'communication error' code from my computer's network card. Which meant that the problem was something I'd have to fix.

By now it was Tuesday evening.

Wednesday, I called the local Wal-Mart and had a talk with Ron, in the electronics department. He gave the opinion that it might be my router: which was likely enough, considering its age. So, I went in and bought a router. It took me a few minutes to find one, since the design has changed since I got mine. (I'd been looking at the photos on the boxes, not the lettering.)

Technical digression: this router is a device that connects all three working computers in the house to each other, and to the Internet. I set it up so that the kids wouldn't be asking me to use the 'business' computer for getting online. Quite as often.

Back home, I opened the box, read the instructions, and started the installation process. The first message I got, after acknowledging the standard software agreement, was that the setup program couldn't find a working network card.

So, it probably wasn't the router, and almost certainly was the network card. I didn't return the new router, since I wasn't convinced that two pieces of hardware wouldn't stop working at the same time.

I went back to Wal-Mart, had a face-to-face talk with Ron, and discovered that they didn't have any network cards in stock. That particular store had cleared out their stock. If my card had failed just a little earlier, I could have gotten a bargain.

A phone call to Computer Specialists, up in Alexandria, told me that the "network card" in my computer was an integrated part of the mother board. It couldn't be replaced, but if I opened the computer, I'd find slots available for a new network card. One of which they had.

Happily, #1 daughter had to go to Alexandria Wednesday afternoon, so by yesterday evening, we had a new network card.

That we couldn't fit in the computer.

We'd gotten the case open, vacuumed out a little dust that had accumulated, #1 daughter removed a sticker that would soon have fallen off one of the internal fans, and determined where the new network card should go.

It. Just. Wouldn't. Fit.

So, #1 daughter suggested that we take out a card that had been used for phone and USB connections, but was not now in use. The new card should fit in its slot.

The operative word there is "should."

It didn't. The new card almost fit, but there was a less-than-a-millimeter's difference between part of the new card, and the slot it was supposed to fit into.

Today, Thursday, we tried again. More accurately, #1 daughter tried again. I prudently stayed out of her way and didn't try to "help."

She called Computer Specialists, had a chat with one of the technicians there, and learned that any of the open slots could be used. Also, that the slots, although they looked alike, didn't all have the same dimensions.

A few minutes later, she had the new card in place.

Skipping over more technical details, and the process of putting the computer back where it's stays on this desk, at 1:15 today we got our first working connection to the Internet.

The elapsed time since the network card's failure, once again, was: one day, 21 hours, and about five minutes.

Then, we discovered that #1 daughter's computer couldn't find the Internet.

Two of the cables weren't attached the way that they had been, before. That was a quick fix, and now we have a working system.

And, I've got almost two day's worth of work to catch up on.

That 'vacation' was probably a good thing, though. I spent quite a few hours of it up in the attic, getting re-acquainted with the book collection, admiring the re-organization that's being done by #1 daughter and others, and doing some long-overdue book-and-notebook research and creative work.

My wife, bless her, told me that seeing me in the old lazy boy up there was a "Father Knows Best" image: all I lacked was a pipe.

Now, back to catching up.


Brigid said...

"Wednesday, I called the local Wal-Mart and had a talk with, in the electronics department."

Might want to fix this sentence.

Brian H. Gill said...



Yeah, I might. And, did.

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