Thursday, July 20, 2017

ELECTRONICS CAN HELP YOU BE ORGANIZED OR PLUNGE YOU INTO HELL

Well, here I am.  In our little RV on a little trip - going to a quilt show (quilting supplies and exhibitions of quilts) tomorrow and then on Friday go to a fiber show (wool and related items for sale) which we have never been to before. 

Well, that’s where I am suppose to be, but I am not.  While I use electronics - computer, cell phone, old cell phone as a PDA - to help keep me organized (even weekly reminders to write and post to this blog - along with every other day “make pudding” for snack, daily time to stop and “make dinner” and other reminders in addition to normal appointments to keep organized, sometimes something goes blooey and stops it all.
       
We were debating whether or not to go on this 3 day trip.  It is nice to have something different as a diversion, but it is a lot of money (for us) in terms of tolls, RV park, and admission to the quilt show (fiber show is free) and dinner runs a bit more than dinner out normally does for us. 

So, we were unsure what to do.  We filled the RV tanks with water and decided to decide at the last minute.  I packed up the snacks and related that we would need (including medications) and put them in the cloth supermarket shopping bags we use for same - one has blue handle - anything for the fridge goes in same, so I know to pull same and put it in the fridge in the RV right away when we start the trip.  (Why blue handle?  Well, 2 bags have beige handles and one has a blue handle so the blue handle is the odd “handle”out and easy to spot.)  Clothing is taken out to the RV in laundry bags, so to toss same in the laundry bags and throw the clothing and non-refrigerator bags in the RV and unpack them when settled in is not a big a deal. 

We were leaning towards going as of when we returned home from running errands yesterday.  Then the electronics crashed.

Husband goes online - on his computer - when he gets up for the day and then we both go online - on our computers - after we go out and run our errands for the day.  Yesterday he had no trouble in the morning.  When we returned I tried to download my email accounts to see the new emails and I could not connect to the Internet.  I tried going online - same thing.  Husband came up and with the usual “really, you can’t connect to the Internet - what did you do wrong” attitude, tried to connect his computer to the Internet.  No Internet.

We tried everything we knew - we rebooted the modem.  The lights on same went on and off in an odd assortment and would then start again - searching for the Internet over and over. We tried reaching the wifi from our cable co.  (While the cable co. insists this is impossible, we get their wifi in our house - according to them it only exists in the street - and when there is a black out that is how we get wifi for the laptops.)  No luck.  Finally we gave up and called the cable co - knowing exactly the conversation which would occur. We had the same conversation a week ago when our TV service went out.  “Unplug the modem.”  We did that already. “Do it again.”  Then a discussion follows on our wiring and splitters.  Our house was wired - by the cable co.’s private contractor - and I have to explain that our wiring is odd and splits on the outside of the house not inside the house.  (Each room with cable has its own line coming into it from outside.)  Finally - “We have to make an appointment for someone to come there.”  We asked if exchanging the modem might help and it was agreed that we would do that.    We remembered that we have two “drops” (we have 2 lines from the cable co.’s line into our house - each serves half the small house as they did not have enough signal coming through when the house was wired by them originally).  We take the modem to a line coming in on the other drop and try it there - it does not  work there either.  This says to us that this is something beyond the wiring to our house.  Logic would say that other people should be complaining, but in today’s world no one else on our street might have service through the cable co. 

Husband who before was not sure if we should go away, now is disappointed.  It is decided that we will get up early (well, early for us) and exchange the box and if this corrected the problem, we would then go on the trip. 

Now we were each looking for something to do so that our time was not wasted.  Husband started playing with a wifi dongle in his computer to see if he could use the wifi in the street.  Problems with the dongle.  He tried using his laptop - wifi from the street was very intermittent.  I did various things I needed to catch up on - bank reconciliations and such - which did not need Internet access.  Then again, every other thing I thought of doing needed the Internet.  Remember I still need to get contact information into my new cell phone - what a great time to do it.... Oh, I need to be on the Internet to do that.  And so on. 

By the way, we would have been able to do much less if we used “the cloud” (aka a cloud server) as we would not be able to access data and possibly even software (apps) as we had no Internet access.  Remember this if you are someone who is very gung ho about using the cloud - you could loss access to your data and/or software if you have no Internet access.

After dinner I figured I would use this laptop to check a few of my email accounts - family, reenacting unit, embroidery chapter, and accounting email accounts - the ones with possible important emails.  I tried signing into the first account using the wifi from the street.  In just connecting and seeing that there was no email in the account (and again in each successive one of the four accounts) it took 3 or 4 attempts to get into the account and open the email “in box”.  No new emails.  I gave up trying to do anything else on the Internet and played solitaire until it was time to have snack and go to bed.

Today we went to the cable co.’s “store” and exchanged the modem.  Husband told the employee that last time we exchanged the modem, and got the one we are returning, when we were given the box it was not “registered” and it was several days and an employee visit to our house for several hours to find out that when the modem was given to us it was not registered to our account first.  She told us that we have to register it when it starts and we should see the instructions on installing the modem and registering it on page 10 in the instructions.  We took the modem package and the instruction package and went home.

The instructions turned out to be of no value as they were for a router not a modem.  Of course, setting up the modem is not hard - plug it into the electric, plug in the incoming cable line, and plug in the outgoing Internet cable.  It started right up - doing the same as it did before. Lights went on and off in the same pattern as last night on the old modem and then started over.  Husband turned on his computer just in case it was waiting for him to do something.  No connection.

I called the cable co again.  The employee said that she would try to register it from her end.  She could not as there was no return signal.  We would need - a visit from a service tech.  First appointment is Friday  - No Internet from Tuesday night to Friday morning - if they can get it working then.  Oh, and if the problem is in the house - in the cable wires which the cable company originally installed or in the modem, which we just exchanged or anything else in the house, there is an $80 fee. 

The trip is of course, off at this point as we have to be here on Friday morning.

Now, we have noticed something odd about our cable company.  We call up with a problem.  We go through the hoops they want us to go through - which we have already done, not being stupid to try to resolve the problem without calling them.  (By the way, while on hold there was actually a recording saying that if one is having a problem with their cable box remote - check that the batteries do not need changing.  Really?  People are too stupid to think of this on their own?)  We are then told that we need to exchange equipment or have a service tech come to work at the house.  We agree to exchange the equipment.  Within a half hour later - by magic - the problem resolves itself.  (We thought we would have Internet this morning based on this “magic”.)  

So as we are sitting there upset at no Internet until Friday - don’t forget husband does counseling online so he is not able to work until this is resolved nor can we deal with orders which might come in for our handcrafted gifts business, husband notices that suddenly there is a window on his computer to register the new modem.  We put in the information and  voil√†, we have Internet again! What happened?  Did they send the service appointment in to the repair department and someone look and realize a switch was off?  Magic?  Why does this always happen?                                     
Just to be on the safe side we are not calling and canceling the appointment for the service tech until tomorrow - a day before they are due to come, but a chance to make sure that the service does not disappear again.        

It was too late by then to go on the trip, so here we are.  I did have a chance to transfer all the contact information for my embroidery group to the new mobile phone, as well as get a start on transferring the remaining contacts which were not “critical” to transfer.  Oh yeah, the cable company phone number had not been transferred yet - I had to find it in my old cell phone to call the cable co. - during the various calls, it was transferred in.           

I guess you knew that we got our Internet back - didn’t you?  How else could I have posted this?

THOUGHT OF THE WEEK-
If you must use “the cloud” have the information (data) you store in the cloud available to you on your computer, tablet etc. or in hard copy also.  This way when you have no access to the Internet, you still have the information to work with. 

Imagine if my checking and savings information only existed in the cloud and I had planned to write checks yesterday - I would not have known how much money I had to spend nor how much I could transfer to help cover checks.  This could have been a major problem - especially if the service really had been out until Friday - no access to information in the cloud for 3 days!

(And never forget - the cloud is not mysterious - it is only someone else’s hard drive - why not keep your information on your own hard drive or a flash drive.)

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