DSL: The Yellow and the Blue

And then the internet died.

I’d like to blame it on having a new furnace installed and the air ducts cleaned on the very same day, but I had a connection for at least an hour after all the trucks left–until suddenly, I didn’t.

This happens a lot. Our network originates at the Ancient Family Computer and the only router that will still play nicely with it. It’s a fragile relationship. A train goes through the village and the engineer talks with the dispatcher: I lose my connection. A traffic helicopter takes a shortcut to the Zoo Interchange or a fire truck goes up the street: I lose my connection. The International Space Station passes overhead or our neighbor fires up his hot tub…

So I’m used to this. I have developed Procedures.

I turned off my laptop connection, waited a couple of minutes, turned it back on. Nothing. I could, however, tap into Walking Partner’s network. We use the same DSL service, so I knew the problem was neither my computer or a neighborhood outage.

Vibrations from a truck going down the street or city crews trimming trees have been known to jiggle the all-important Yellow Cord just enough to disconnect it from the CPU. I check the connections. All cords were tight: Blue, Yellow, telephone lines, everything going into the battery backup.

I turned off the modem, waited a couple of minutes, turned it on. Nada. The internet light wasn’t on, and there didn’t seem to be enough lights blinking on the router, either.

I powered up Ancient Family Computer to check the router connection, but when I entered the address to get to the router settings, Firefox told me it couldn’t find the page.

This had never happened before. I reconnect the router several times a year–it goes out a couple of times a week for a while, and then whole seasons will go by before I need to do it again–and Firefox has always taken me to the connection page.

I was feeling fried by this time; eight hours of listening to sheet metal and power tools of one kind or other had done me in. I fixed supper, paged longingly through a couple of Women’s Sportswear catalogs, breathed deeply, then used Walking Partner’s network to search for  “[Name of DSL Provider]” + “outage.”  Somewhere on the first page of the search results, I saw a reference to my DSL provider’s self-support tool.  Aha! I had forgotten about that, mostly because it had never been helpful before.

But this time, it worked. Self-Support Tool ran through a few tests and eventually directed me to connect the modem directly to the computer. When I did, I was able to get to the router page! I reconnected the modem to the router, and set about trying to reconnect it, but I’d forgotten which port was home to Yellow Cord so my first try resulted in an “Unable to find” message. By this time, though, I could smell success so I persevered and eventually found the right port (2, in case you’re wondering). Voila! I was back in business.

I was too elated to do anything useful, so I just danced around the house for a while feeling all “I am the GREATEST!” and went to brag about it to my writer friends on the Blueboards. Coming so soon after the Water Shutoff Valve Situation on Monday, I needed all the affirmation I could get.

In retrospect, I see it was a good news/bad news event. The good news is that I was able to fix it–whatever “it” was–without having to deal with Level 1 Tech Support. Once you’ve been on the phone for Three. Solid. Hours. for what turned out to be a regional outage, you’re not eager to repeat the experience. So I’m grateful I didn’t have to do that!

The bad news is that I was able to fix it. I was secretly hoping this would be the time when we’d finally have to de-accession the old computer. Not going to happen. What’s worse, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to go out on me anytime soon, because this time, I drew diagrams of what lights ought to be on where, and which color cord goes in which port.

As I learned when I bought a portable pump after the Great Basement Flood of 1996, there’s nothing like having the solution at hand from eliminate the need for ever having to use it.

© 2010 Anne Bingham and Making It Up as I Go

This entry was posted in Notes from the Neighborhood, Tech Tips, The Writing Life and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to DSL: The Yellow and the Blue

  1. Susan says:

    Yikes. These kinds of problems are the worst. I feel so helpless when my connection goes and I’m not sure why or how to fix. It’s so hard for me to imagine pre-internet days, though they weren’t that long ago.
    Glad you’re back on board!



    • Anne Bingham says:

      The plague continues: this afternoon the hinge on one of our kitchen cabinets cracked and now the door won’t close. I’m convinced some Annoying Spirit (not quite evil…) has moved in to haunt us now that our protector, Pete the Magnificent, is on sick leave. And it’s a weird hinge, nothing I want to mess with; guess I’m going to have to call Walking Partner’s handyman after all.


  2. I just get so frustrated with “technical difficulties”! I’m glad your connection is back and I (knock on wood) haven’t had any problems like that in a while.


  3. MaryWitzl says:

    This is the story of my life! Our internet connection here is ridiculously sensitive and so capricious that I finally had to give up my writing group as I could NEVER count on it being dependable. And if one of us manages to get it working, it’s almost axiomatic that the next person won’t be able to manage this.

    What amazes and impresses me no end is that you can verbalize all this stuff about routers and modems and DSL providers. I’m so cyber-challenged, I wouldn’t know what half those things were.


    • Anne Bingham says:

      I know how to do it only because I have taken extensive notes! Also, if I don’t do it, it won’t get done. It may cheer you that I have not been able to turn on the TV or work either the VCR or the DVR for close to 10 years now. If someone needs me to remove one DVD and insert another to record a show, I require both a tutorial and a checklist.


  4. Karin says:

    We also have computer issues. Our old computer is called “The Dinosaur.”
    My laptop is picky somedays…
    Let’s just say I have taken up long hand more than I would like 🙂


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