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My oldest daughter is normally a calm person, but sometimes she can be very stubborn. No idea where she gets it from.

After some odd decades of slamming into various brick walls, most of them metaphoric, I’ve become somewhat accepting of things getting fouled up, especially mechanical or electronic things. My laptop hinge breaks, I hook it up to a monitor -- now I’ve got a desktop computer. That’s just the way it goes. My lawn mower explodes? I get another mower, and write a column about it. Or five.

Our new laptop computer came with wireless internet capabilities. I had this fantasy of sitting on my front porch, answering e-mails and enjoying the mild spring air (assuming spring ever comes), even though I knew it would probably never happened. We’d received a wireless modem when signing up for DSL – I hadn’t asked for one, but who am I to argue?

Now I had a computer that could actually go wireless, and … it didn’t work. It detected the signal, but wouldn’t actually hook up to it. There was some button pushing and cursing (by me, not the computer), both unproductive. Then I shrugged in that fatalistic way I have, plugged it into an Ethernet cable, and away we went at high speed. No big deal.

Until my oldest asked to borrow the laptop. She took it to her apartment, where she has the same modem that I do, and was able to get it to go online – wirelessly. Excited, she brought it to my place and to show me how to work it, which produced – nothing.

I needed to get some stories e-mailed to the newspaper (because it’s a whole block away, and heaven forbid I should actually walk there), so I was prepared to let the whole thing go and try another day, which would probably have been never. If I can’t stop the leak from my bathtub faucet, why should I believe I can make an electronic device that’s smarter than me do what I want?

But boy, do I ever have a stubborn daughter. She wanted to call – wait for it – tech support.

I tried to explain to her that asking tech support for help is like asking Adolf Hitler to respect your borders, but she’d hear none of it, and against my better judgment I let her make the call. In no time at all, a customer in Indiana was talking to a technician in India. Me being a supportive dad (plus it’s my computer she was trying to fix), I stayed with her, instead of getting my stories sent out on Old Reliable, my ancient Mac.

For an hour and a half, I stayed with her.

I know lots of people in lots of countries. Most of them are smarter than me. Now I know a lady in India who isn’t. For instance, when Charis explained that we can’t get a wireless connection, she suggested hooking up the Ethernet cable.

Excuse me? Can you say “Wireless?” Nice try.

Charis repeatedly went around with this lady about whether it’s a problem with the way the computer is set up. How can this be? We’d had it online wirelessly at three other places, by then. In fact, it went online so easily that it was almost Mac-like in its simplicity; only at my home is at acting all Windowsy. (Leave me alone, I can make up a word if I want to.)

So finally the lady asked me to authorize her to control my computer. Those of you who don’t worry about viruses and spyware should take note of this: A brain-dead tech support person in India proceeded to take over of my computer. We were sitting there, watching the mouse move around all by itself, opening and closing windows, typing in instructions, ordering pizza. From India.

And the lady couldn’t figure out how to get me a wireless connection from ten friggin’ feet away! After awhile we realized she kept doing the same thing, over and over, expecting a different result, which as we all know is the legal definition of insanity.

All the while she lectured about how the wireless card has to be turned on, or how we might not have the right software. An increasingly frustrated Charis kept explaining to her that the SAME COMPUTER went online just fine, using the SAME MODEM, at her place.

My other daughter and I started to back away, slowly.

Pretty soon we realized the lady was actually into DOS, the computer’s holiest of holies inner control, typing in funky commands like “BOOTC://SCRWDUP”. I kept waiting for the laptop to start spinning around and spit pea soup at me.

It was all over when Charis demanded to speak to Bill Gates.

I kept hissing at her, “Let it go! She’ll screw it up so much we won’t be able to go online anywhere!”

I saved a lot of money that night, heating the house from the steam coming out of my daughter’s ears. But the good news is, our laptop can now go online wirelessly, anywhere it can detect a signal.

Except my house.


( 22 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 1st, 2007 09:45 am (UTC)
If your wireless connection is working elsewhere, that pretty much tells me the PC is fine and the signal is stuffed at your place.

Wireless signals can be wacky. They don't like masonry and can be iffy over different levels. On top of that, other things could be interfering with the signal.
Feb. 1st, 2007 10:16 am (UTC)
*can* stop the signal
That's what Charis tried to explain to the lady -- that the wireless was working elsewhere. She just wouldn't listen. Anyway, I'm getting a strong signal, so I can only assume there's a setting wrong in the modem that messes up delivery of wireless, but not of wired internet.
Feb. 1st, 2007 10:35 am (UTC)
and now my cat is looking at me funny, backing away very slowly...

not usual for me to sit in my bed and laugh out loud every 5 seconds or so

that was hilarious and a great read, as usual

PS love "Windowsy", will definitely use it
Feb. 1st, 2007 11:41 am (UTC)
I appreciate the opportunity to freak out your cat. :-)
Feb. 1st, 2007 04:12 pm (UTC)
Ah ha!! My husband may have sorted out your problem.

If your daughter bought her own modem that would mean she set up the encryption code, or it came without an encryption code which means it can easily be set up on the wireless network. You will then be using an unsecure network which is fine as long as you have passwords to protect important stuff like log ons or financial stuff.

If you have been supplied a modem, it may be that the company you got it from conveniently forgot to give you the encryption code which will enable you to access the wireless network. Yes, you computer can see it, but without the WEP or WPA code (same thing, different name) it won't let you log on.

Disconnect the computer from the ethernet cable. On the task bar there is a wireless icon. Double click on that. There should be the option to 'show wireless networks' button. Click that. Assuming that the wireless router is broadcasting, it will be broadcasting it's name (SSID) and if its 'open' or 'secure'. So you should be able to see it.

If it's set as 'secure' you need to have the encryption code (WEP or WPA) on the laptop otherwise it won't connect. They should have supplied this on a disk or in the documentation that came with the router. Usually it's on a disk.

The alternative - plug the laptop into the router with the ethernet cable, open Internet Explorer and type in the address bar: (or whichever one works)

Hit return and it should take you to the router control and it will ask for a log in and password. If the people who supplied the router are lazy they won't have changed the password, so the base password and log in is: leave the log in blank, and type in 'admin' or 'administrator' as the password. This should bring you up a set of pages and one of the pages should give you the chance to enable/disable security (or encryption) and if you click the disable option hopefully that might solve the problem.

Good luck....! I hope that all makes sense!

Feb. 1st, 2007 05:23 pm (UTC)
I hope that all makes sense!

Well it all makes sense to me, but then I had to go through all that when setting up our wireless and then again with the laptop (twice).

I have got a really long ethernet cable just in case though. *g*
Feb. 2nd, 2007 03:08 am (UTC)
really long ethernet cable
Me, too! I could actually be in most of the house using it; but it would be kind of nice to cut the strings, so to speak.
Feb. 2nd, 2007 03:06 am (UTC)
As soon as I get a chance I'll give it a try -- thanks!
Feb. 2nd, 2007 11:57 pm (UTC)
*gasp* Murphy is Bill Gates!
I managed to get to the website, but I wasn't able to login ... apparently someone there *wasn't* too lazy to change the password. *sigh* leap_to_faith has the software, I'm going to have to wait for her to dig it out so I can try to find the encryption code. I don't remember seeing it, but that was a long time ago and I've slept since then.

The wireless part isn't a really big deal, anyway. Right now I'm having problems with it taking forever to start up, and the sound quality being crappy. I've run all the maintenance and anti/everything ware, and used a program called Tuneup 2007 to do still more fixes, and can't figure out how to solve the problem. In the end I have to face the fact that if Murphy wants to mess with you, he and his laws are just going to mess with you ...
Feb. 1st, 2007 05:24 pm (UTC)
It was all over when Charis demanded to speak to Bill Gates.


You're a lot more philosophical and accepting than I am. I don't know that I'd ever have called tech help, but I did spend ages googling and browsing tech boards when trying to get our wireless set up.
Feb. 2nd, 2007 03:14 am (UTC)
ages googling and browsing
Yeah, well ... I didn't have enough column space left to tell *that* part of the story ... :-( Besides, since the story ended up being about my daughter, it didn't fit to put in all the frustration I went through trying to make it work before she tried it.

Trying to edit my columns down to a thousand words or less is one of my biggest writing challenges!
Feb. 1st, 2007 08:43 pm (UTC)
My laptop often seems to 'miss the beat' somehow when it tries to link with our wireless system at home, even though it will easily pick up a couple of others - and I just go to network connections, disable it and re-enable it - when it then tries it always manages it. I would guess you'll have done that, and Kazzy's advice sounds more useful - but at least you know you are not alone!
Feb. 2nd, 2007 03:17 am (UTC)
One thing just about everyone on the internet has in common is the experience of running into technical problems ... :-)

Yep, I tried re-enabling the network connections, but I appreciate the advice. I'll let everyone know if Kazzy's idea works!
Feb. 1st, 2007 09:53 pm (UTC)
Oh lord I *love* it when tech support people won't listen to you. I've gone through similar things at work where I'll call, tell them the problem and why it's happening but I don't have the security clearance to fix it, they'll show up and try everything BUT what I said needs to be done for at least 30 minutes then finally do it my way and then explain how I didn't know what I was talking about *headdesk*
Feb. 2nd, 2007 03:18 am (UTC)
Hm...sounds like all tech support people go to the same school of customer service!
Feb. 1st, 2007 11:05 pm (UTC)
So finally the lady asked me to authorize her to control my computer.

Oh, fuck that.

I would never.

Btw, is your router secured? If your modem detects the signal but you can't connect, that's the mental leap my mind makes.
Feb. 2nd, 2007 03:20 am (UTC)
No, it's unsecured. Which makes me nervous all by itself ...

One of the scary things is that she could easily have taken over my computer *without* me authorizing it ... all I did was say yes. :-0
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 2nd, 2007 06:49 pm (UTC)
computer professionals
Sadly my daughters, like me, know just enough about computers to make us dangerous. :-(
Feb. 2nd, 2007 09:27 pm (UTC)
Next time, I would call the Geek Squad before I called the computer's designated tech support. They seem to be the only professionals that listen.
Feb. 2nd, 2007 11:58 pm (UTC)
geek squad
"professionals that listen" ... what a concept ... :-)
Feb. 10th, 2007 03:07 am (UTC)
Is it fixed yet? (I dream of a wireless connection but wonder if it will turn into a nightmare!)
Feb. 10th, 2007 07:01 am (UTC)
Nope, no wireless at my house ... but we've got a 30 foot ethernet cable thanks to a computer savvy friend of mine, so it's really not a huge problem. The way my schedule goes, there never was a chance that I'd get to relax on the front porch, anyway.
( 22 comments — Leave a comment )

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