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In Which the Writer is Netless

I’m sitting on the porch to write this. It’s a lovely morning, just a touch of cool, not enough to make me want a sweater, just a beautiful late-summer morning promising a warm day later. So why am I on the porch, not at my desk? Welll…. and why didn’t I write this last night, which I had every intention of doing on my way home from work? Well…

As a writer, we’re familiar with the idea that we need to throw difficulties at our characters. As writers, we’re all too familiar with finding the time to write – well, most of us are. I’ve had challenges for my time since the very beginning, children, work, school, and work again. Even this, I’m writing in the middle of a family discussion of how the day’s schedule is going to flow. The family is used to my abstraction, fortunately.
Sometimes, though, if you have too much going on, you can’t even. Like last night. I got home to be bombarded with ‘the internet is out!’ From all sides. The First Reader, who needed to send an important email for a work thing, took priority, but I’m well aware that the kids need their ‘net like they need, um, I dunno, maybe they could go on a diet. Anyway, to make a long story short – because geeze, guys, this could easily turn into a novel – we sort of have internet this morning. And by sort of, I mean that we have WiFi, but the wired computers have no ‘net. It’s baffling. I spent an hour on the phone with my inestimable brother-in-law who was being very generous with his free IT expertise, and we determined that I’m a ditz when it comes to setting up routers – I thought I’d changed the name and password, but it turns out that I had for the WiFi, but not the router itself, and that was still on admin admin. Yeah, I know. Twenty lashes with a wet noodle. I urge you all to learn from my failings and check your router – log into http://youripaddresshere and update firmware, change names, and so forth. Do it while you have internet!

Unfortunately, even after the three-ring circus on fire that was my workaround for getting the firmware update file onto my computer – let me tell you, this is the last time I’m buying an Apple product. We could download the file from the manufacturers website, but then could not transfer the file from the iPhone or my iPad via usb cable. The only thing I could access in the internal storage drive was the photos file, and I couldn’t put the zip file into that. So it wasn’t until I dug out my old Android tablet that I was able to put the file onto the computer… and then it wouldn’t upload to the router. We kept getting a sad piece of paper icon and the message that the connection had been reset. At that point I apologized to my BIL, let him get off the phone, and…

Well, I didn’t fix it. I still have no idea why the WiFi works, but the Ethernet cables do not. I tried another router (our internet providers sent us one, but I was using mine, because it was a stronger signal) and that didn’t get it done, either. Look, I could understand one computer having a problem? But this is four? And I’m totally and completely frustrated and today, of all days, is not the day I’m going to spend another few hours on the phone with my internet provider, especially after the ‘call was lost’ late last night on my final attempt to have them reset the modem.

Pant, pant. Sometimes you have to get it all out, and then refocus on the next thing. I have a bad tendency to hyper focus on an issue until it’s resolved. Fantastic if I can do that, for getting something done. Not so great if I need to be spreading my efforts out into other equally important matters. I’ve learned in writing to break away from something I’m blocked on, and work on another story. Sometimes this actually helps break up the block. Today? I think taking the Junior Mad Scientist to the Fall Gardening class (it’s part of her Ecology class this semester. Homeschooling is fun) and then both girls to the local ComicCon won’t help the internet one bit. The router is… wonky. I may have to replace it. But it will help my sense of balance immensely to take the First Reader when I drop the kids at the con, and spend the afternoon with camera in hand, exploring Cincinnati and chatting with my beloved.

Perhaps we’ll even plot a story or three.

(Header image: “Hellhounds Just Want a Cuddle” by Cedar Sanderson)

28 Comments
  1. Ray #

    Being responsible for IT at multiple offices I keep a couple of these in my desk drawer. Because cabled networking is an imperative, but if you’ve ever had a 48 port switch die in the middle of a business day, you are literally stuck in a crack.

    https://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833166116&ignorebbr=1&cm_re=usb_wifi_adapter-_-33-166-116-_-Product

    September 15, 2018
    • We’ve got a couple floating around – hence getting a computer online, using one.

      September 15, 2018
      • I’ve never heard of this failure mode. Usually Ethernet works and wifi is screwed up, the reverse is a new one.

        Be sure to post the reason and the fix when you find the bug, I’d be really screwed if this happened to me.

        September 15, 2018
        • It is a very common issue with Xfinity/Comcast.

          In fact, it is my life at present. Wi-Fi works, try to plug an Ethernet cable into my gaming laptop and no connection.

          I’m too lazy to call their support at present. Probably should, for when the inevitable happens and the wi-fi does go out.

          September 15, 2018
          • I can tell you that Spectrum/Time Warner is completely confused. But that may be a permanent condition, not just my specific problem.

            September 16, 2018
      • Ben Yalow #

        The key thing with those wifi/usb adapters is that many of them need an install package for their software. So be sure to have the original CD or download (and possibly install) it before you use it, since getting it when the machine is off-net can be more difficult.

        September 16, 2018
  2. CACS #

    There is something about computers.

    If the automobile had caused as much frustration, with the incidents of sporadic service (often unexplained), accompanied by lengthy attempts to get relief through the help lines, would they have become such personal necessities?

    September 15, 2018
    • I think that based on stories of early automobiles, they did! Just worked out the kinks after some time.

      September 15, 2018
      • Aye. And the early lack of standards (which pedal is which was NOT sorted out for a while!) makes Duck Dodgers bit about “I had the silly thing in reverse” seem so much more likely – chances are shifter patterns were also all over the place for a while. Heck, I’m now used to the (once) common stick with reverse being after the highest gear – and hard to get to from there, but the first car I drove any amount was an Alliance… and Reverse was before first (had to pull a ring up the shifter control to get there).

        September 15, 2018
        • RCPete #

          The M35A2 6 x 6 truck had a really odd shifting pattern, and in the forward gears. OTOH, that beast was designed long before “human factors” was ever a thing in the military. On the gripping hand, it’s popular in back-country fire fighting.

          September 15, 2018
      • Margaret Ball #

        Aren’t there a couple of Kipling stories about the joys of early automobiles?

        September 15, 2018
    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard #

      Sign Seen in one Data Processing Office “To err is human, to really fowl up things requires a computer”. 😉

      September 15, 2018
    • My grandfather told me you could break your arm starting the Model T if you weren’t careful. For all the problems modern software has, it doesn’t usually physically harm the user!

      September 15, 2018
      • Depends on what you’re asking it to do and what you’re letting it control.

        September 15, 2018
    • TRX #

      So, you decide to hop into your flivver and go to the store:

      Turn on fuel tap.

      Use the hand pump to pump some air pressure into the fuel tank.

      Open the taps on the cylinder head and give each cylinder a squirt of fuel – not too much, not too little. Close taps.

      Adjust the fuel/air mixture using the lever and slip ring on the steering wheel. (you’re driving a *modern* car, not one of those oldsters with a tiller!)

      Adjust the spark the same way. You want the spark to be just after Top Dead Center.

      Give any exposed valve gear a shot of oil with the oil can.

      Turn the ignition swith to “on”.

      Find the crank handle, insert the end into the ratchet on the front of the crankshaft, and pull up briskly. Keep doing it until the engine starts or you collapse. Note: incorrect cranking technique or improper spark setting can cause the engine to kick back forcefully, often resulting in a broken arm, or a compound fracture. Anaesthesia isn’t in general use yet and antibiotics haven’t been invented.

      Once the engine is running, go back to the steering wheel and adjust the spark and mixture controls to keep it running. If you’re too late, I hope you haven’t fouled the plugs, or you’ll have to get the toolkit out.

      You’ll have to fiddle with the spark and fuel mixture often, as well as keeping pressure pumped up in the fuel tank.

      If these antics sound bizarre… starting a light aircraft engine wasn’t a whole lot different, half a century and more after cars had electric starters, automatic chokes, and fancy carburetors that adjusted their own mixture with fluidic feedback systems…

      September 15, 2018
      • Ooo, pressurized gasoline fuel tank, o.0 Dang! Hope there’s no leaks…

        This is why gasoline fuel injection systems don’t have a lift-tank in the engine compartment, they run the pressure and the drain all the way back to the main tank. People don’t maintain cars very well, little tanks will rust out, plastic cracks from the heat over the years.

        Diesel injection systems do have a lift-pump and reservoir system. I know this because mine started pissing fuel all over the engine compartment one day. Cracked plastic reservoir.

        Nice thing about diesel, its hard to set it on fire.

        September 15, 2018
      • You forgot the rabbit’s foot, stained-glass sunglasses, lucky horseshoe, and pope-soap-on-a-rope for the light aircraft start. And some turbine engines…. SIGH. They can sense when you are in a hurry. That’s when they strike.

        September 15, 2018
        • Mary #

          Computer maintenance is NOT a black art.

          There are SOUND TECHNICAL REASONS why you have to sacrifice a black goat every new moon.

          September 15, 2018
          • And rubber chickens periodically.

            September 15, 2018
            • Mary #

              Rubber DUCKS. After all, you use duct tape, not chicken tape.

              September 15, 2018
              • So THAT’s what we’ve been doing wrong!

                September 15, 2018
    • Mary #

      Remember that Ford did a stunt once, of driving three (I think) automobiles up to a location, taking them all apart, sorting them by part, picking a few pieces at random and replacing them from stock, and then putting together three automobiles and driving them off.

      The reason why it was a stunt was that no other automobile company in the world could do that. There was too much variation in parts.

      It was a big step in the assembly line when they got all their hammers and files taken away and told — don’t fix ’em individually if they don’t work off the assembly line — make sure they work off the assembly line WITHOUT fixes.

      September 15, 2018
      • I know nothing about Teslas but didn’t they hit the news for not being as good on the assembly as Ford was 100 years ago?

        September 16, 2018
      • snelson134 #

        That was still a major problem in British factories up until after WWII.

        September 16, 2018
        • Mary #

          Freedom’s Forge by Arthur Herman goes into how American businesses, taking up orders from British sources, had to begin with the blueprints, which were not precise enough for American-style assembly lines.

          September 16, 2018
  3. MattB #

    The Swedish-designed 40mm Bofors AA Gun had a brilliant design. Only problem was, assembly took something like 130 hours and something like 50% of the pieces were labeled “File to fit during assembly”.
    Once the US Navy got hold of the design in 1940 or so, they spent 6 months redrawing the blueprints and building the jigs and gauges.
    US Built Bofors guns take around 12-20 hours to assemble, and NONE of the parts have to be modified.

    September 16, 2018
  4. 23 skidoo

    September 17, 2018

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