Monday, June 25, 2007

I had issues

Last week I was having serious connectivity problems with the Internet. First of all, we decided it was time to upgrade our cell phones and decided to shop around and look into changing our mobile carrier to Cingular/AT&T and bundling our local and Internet services with our mobile. One piece of advice -- shop around for technology services every few years. Doug and I don't do this often enough, but when we do, we always seem to get more service for less cost. Since we had not really looked at our DSL since we bought the house six years ago, we found that we could upgrade to a faster speed and save $30 a month. A no brainer, right?

That's where the problems started. I kept asking if we would need to upgrade our modem or router and was told no. I put the order in on Monday and the new service went into effect on Wednesday. What did the new service bring? An outage, of course.

First, I thought it was just the storm coming through that knocked out service. That happens sometimes. I had a lunch meeting so I decided to just leave early and hang out in this cafe, drink tea and use their wireless. After the meeting (and the storm), I went drove back home. Still down. I had several things I needed done, and another meeting that evening, so I went to another cafe and hung out there the rest of the afternoon. While there, I called AT&T. I was told that the service upgrade was happening that day and that's probably the issue. No big deal I thought.

Until the next morning, when there still wasn't service. Still in bed, I called AT&T. We looked at the modem, we looked at my settings, we looked at everything and decided it was the router, which wasn't theirs. They gave me the number to call Netgear; when I did, I found out that we were out of warranty (of course) and couldn't get phone service without paying $1/minute. We could, however, get free email tech support. Just how I was supposed to email without connecting to the Internet, I didn't bother asking.

Before he leaves for work Doug hands me another router, still in the box, that we got free when we bought the laptop. It's not as good as Netgear, but promises that it's easy to connect in just 4 minutes. Even I could do it, right? Wrong! Massive chill pills and the thought of picking up shards of glass were the only thing that kept me from throwing the new router at the window. It's time to leave the house and find a connection.

I live in the 'burbs. Despite it being close to Dell, there aren't a lot of cute little cafes teaming with wi-fi and I really didn't want to drive all over town to get a connection. First stop, Starbucks, where my hunch was confirmed -- it's T-Mobile only and you have to pay for the service. Those capitalistic bastards! Next stop, Java Cafe, which was more of a greasy spoon diner, but it had free wi-fi. By this time my battery is low on the laptop from all the previous time on phone support, so I take the only table with an outlet, a big corner table, and order breakfast. I get online and go the the Netgear site and email tech support and wait for a response. I'm okay for awhile, but lunch time comes and the manager boots me out. There's a wait and I just can't take up the table any more. I understand, but am still pissed. I have things to do, I need my Internet!

I have no idea where to go and get in my car. I start heading for one of the cafes I hung out the day before and then decide to try this little Thai restaurant instead. They send out emails to me and seem pretty tech-savvy. Maybe they have wi-fi. They did, and had one outlet with an empty table nearby. I sit down and start computing. After the lunch "rush" (three tables) is done, I realize something -- I am the only person in the restaurant and it will close in 30 minutes. Great. I had to pick a place that closes between lunch and dinner and I am the only person keeping the waitstaff from leaving. Ugh. However, I finally received a response from tech support and decide to go home and try it again.

Unfortunately, it didn't work. Even with the email from tech support, I couldn't reset the router. Frustration is high so I do the only thing I know to do. I leave it for Doug and go to a girls' night out. Alcohol, while it won't fix the router, will make it so you temporarily don't care.

The outcome of the story? Doug came home, spent a few hours cussing at the router, but then realized I was coming home and that he wanted any peace, needed to get it working, which he did.

Yes, my Internet addiction is being fed. It's at the point where I can't even remember not having the world at my fingertips. My frustration of not having access makes me wonder if connectivity is worth it. Then again, I don't really want to find out.

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