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Cut Steve's Blatherings

Friday, February 25, 2005

Computer Madness, Wireless Edition

      Last Tuesday, my laptop's wireless conection suddenly ceased to exist.  This was rather disconcerting, in a machine only a month old.

      My first attempt at fixing the thing was rebooting.  No go.  Then I took the laptop downstairs, so as to be right next to the modem.  That didn't work either, though I did establish that the modem was working (it's connected to the desktop by a cable).  Neither did unplugging the modem and waiting a minute.

      So, call Qwest®, talk to technical support, and we spend a long time checking this and that.  The computer still doesn't connect wirelessly.  Then the Qwest guy called someone from Actiontec®, the maker of the modem.  We did a lot of stuff, check this, change that, try a different channel and IP address, connect to the web via the desktop.  The verdict -- the modem was sending to the computer, but the computer was not receiving anything.  'It must be a hardware problem, see your vendor.'

      On Wednesday, I was too busy to go by Circuit City®, but on Thursday I toddled over.  The computer guy fooled with it for a while, including undoing some of the changes the Actiontec guy had made, et voilà, we were hooked up to the store network with no problems.  So, the hardware is working fine.   Go home and try again.

      Now things get really weird.  At home, there's now a new wireless network on my computer, which I assume was placed there by the guy at the store.  It's not secured, but it did work, for a while.  Am I logging on via my modem, or someone else's?

      And when I look for available wireless networks, the laptop is finding the home network, but giving me contradictory messages.  In the same window, it says I'm not connected and am connected.  The icon periodically grows a balloon saying Windows can't connect to my home network, but it will keep trying.

      Eventually, the new, unsecured network doesn't work anymore.  I call Qwest, and talk to someone who tries to help but doesn't know what's going on.  After some prodding from me, he gets Actiontec on the line again.  We delete my old networks, we install a new network, we try this, we do that, nothing is working, I'm still getting messages saying I can't connect, or that I am and am not connected . . .

      Suddenly, the Actiontec guy has a thought.  'Right click on the wireless icon in the tray; click "View available wireless networks;" in the new window, click "Change Advanced settings;" in the new window, the "Wireless Network Connection Properties" window, click the "Wireless Networks" tab; now press the "Properties" button; on the window for the home network's properties, press the "Authentication" tab; there should be a box there that says "Enable IEEE 802.1x authentication for this network;" is it checked?'  Yes, it is.  'Uncheck it.'

      The home network icon immediately tells me that it's connected to the home network, with signal strength excellent.

      How that authentication box ever got checked in the first place, I don't know.  Did some of my security software decide it ought to be on for me?  Did a Windows update check it?  Was it a gremlin?  If you have a guess, leave me word in the comments.

      Anyway, all's well that ends well, or sometimes, just ends.  The glitch is gone, and I can get back on the 'Net.  And if it happens again, I know what to try.


Happy Birthday to Me

      Today, I am fifty two years old.  Where the Hell did the time go?  I remember clearly when I turned thirty, and a friend gave me a card saying "Now I can't trust you anymore."

      This morning, I got up, wandered around in a daze for a bit (normal for me in the mornings), found most of the birthday cards my dear K. had procured for me (at Casa St. Onge, we buy multiple cards and leave them various places; one was in the refrigerator), and then we went out.  On Mon. morning, K. has a medical test at 8:15 AM, which means she has to rush there just after her shift ends.  We covered the route to get there from her work.

      The procedure, by the way, is a stress test.  K. had her first ever EKG recently, and she turned out to have a bundle branch block.  This is not especially worrying (I had my first EKG at age 18, and it turned out I had a bundle branch block then; I've never had any noticeable heart problems).  But the test needs to be done, because K. is scheduled for the same type of bariatric surgery I had Tuesday.  So our weekend will be the slightest bit tense, worrying that they won't OK the operation.

      Afterwards, out to breakfast.  We ordered one dish, and split it.  And most of my portion came home in a box.  The doctor and dietician told me that drinking while I eat would wash the food out of my stomach pouch faster, thus leading to slower weight loss.  In my case, the pouch drains to slowly that drinking is equivalent to eating, and the iced tea I swallowed meant I could only pick at my food.

      At the moment, I don't know how much I've lost lately, but I expect to be at Fairview-University hospital on Tuesday, and if I am I'll weigh myself again on their fat person scales.

      Other than that, not much has happened in the past week.  It's cold, we had a light dusting of snow, did I mention that it's COLD?  I hate winter, especially this far north.

      Hope you all have a good weekend.


Friday, February 18, 2005

Maybe I'm Getting the Hang of This Diet Thing

      Today I'm managed to eat almost normally, for the first time in a month.

      I had a little take out dish of pasta salad, maybe a cup in total volume.  I ate it very slowly, a fork full or two at a time, over a period of hours.

      And I didn't get sick.  In the past, I've gone over the limit almost every time, and hit a sudden "wall" of pain and/or nausea.  This time, no discomfort.



Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Concerning CPAP

      As anyone knows who was in the neighborhood when I went to sleep, I snored, loudly.  A few years ago, K. became concerned when I stopped snoring.  Instead, I'd turn blue and go without breathing for a long time.

      So I was tested, and it turned out that I had sleep apnea.  To deal with this, I had two options.  The first was to have a hole placed in my throat, permanently.  The second was to sleep with a machine.  I chose the machine.

      Sleep apnea is caused by the soft palate falling down against the back of your throat, cutting off your air supply.  A CPAP machine blows a continuous stream of air into your nose, forcing the palate up.

      The amount of air pressure you need varies, and overweight makes things worse.  I assume the gut diminishes air intake, but a double chin does too -- the fat in the throat strangles you a bit.

      Till recently, I had my machine set as high as it would go.  Also, I changed the air filters daily.  If I didn't, I could feel the loss of flow, and I'd start to snore.

      Now, I've backed off to two thirds pressure, and the air filters don't seem as critical.  I attribute this improvement to my weight loss.

      Ideally, I'd like to get rid of the machine permanently, but for now I'll settle.


Happy St. Valentine's Day, Anniversary

      Yesterday was not only St. Valentine's day, it was also an anniversary for K. and I.

      We met in the fall or winter of '84.  In early '85, we started living together, and have been together ever since.  We didn't note the exact date, but it was close to St. Valentine's day, and we decided to use it as the anniversary.  So this is our twentieth Co-Habitation anniversary.

      In May will come our eighteenth wedding anniversary.

      Thank you, Jesus, for this woman, and for the fact she still loves me.  I sure love her, and the past twenty years have been the best of my life.


Progress Continues, Irregularly

      My weight seems to be going down.  While I haven't been near a scale that can accomodate me lately, my face looks thinner, and I need less pressure on my CPAP (more on CPAP in a subsequent post).  My pants have gotten quite loose.

      My wounds are also better.  On the thirteenth, we had two to three inches of wet snow.  I shoveled it without any problem.

      And of course, my appetite is still amazingly low.  I eat less in a day than a meal would once have been.

      The downside is that my stomach is still quite sensitive, to solid food and to overfilling.  A sip of something too much, and it's Nausea City.

      Overall, very good.


Wednesday, February 09, 2005

"Then you can eat, long as you don't inhale."

      Which is my problem with my diet.  I've always been a fast eater.  But with my new, effectively tiny stomach, one mouthful too many and it's sudden pain and nausea time.

      But that's pretty much the only drawback.  I have effectively no hunger pangs, even though I'm eating hardly anything.  I can tolerate soft foods now, if I eat them slowly enough and chew them well.  I'm losing weight (pants that were tight before surgery are loose now). All things considered, this is just fine.


She got that right

  nbsp;   My beloved wife K. said today that I'm really enjoying my Xmas/St. Valentine's Day/birthday/anniversary present, the new laptop.

      Damn straight.  Right now I'm sitting comfortably in bed, blogging in the dark by the light of the screen, kept warm by electric blanket.  Marvelous!

      Thank's again, my love.


Sunday, February 06, 2005

Computer madness

      Well, at last it is accomplished.  I'm in the cellar, typing on my feeble old desktop computer AND I've got my laptop connected wirelessly, accessing different web pages.  FINALLY!

      As I detailed in my previous blog entries, the day before I went to the hospital for stomach stapling, my Intel 2100 modem appeared to break.  Qwest tech support said they'd send my a new, external modem as a replacement.

      When I got home from the hospital, I tried to set it up, but it wouldn't work.  More tech support, and the guy I was talking to finally determined that my line was incompatible with the Actiontec external modem they'd sent me.  I could either get a new Intel 2100, or I could ask to have my line upgraded so it would work with the Actiontec.  I decided on the upgrade, but they sent me a new Intel 2100 too.

      Meanwhile, my old Intel 2100 was working again --go figure.  So I surfed on the desktop till the upgrade was done.  Then I decided to set up the new modem with the laptop.

      It wouldn't set up.  Call tech support, and the woman I talk to decides the Actiontec is bad.  She'll send me a new one.  I try to use the old computer, and it won't connect with the web either.  Call tech support again, try this and that for a while, try setting up a new connection, it still won't work.  She thinks the drivers are bad.  Reinstall them, please.  Only I can't, because the disk I have with the old modem can't be read by Windows XP.  She'll send me a new disk.

      While waiting, I get to thinking.  I had been trying to set up the Actiontec, and had to enter the user name and password for my msndsl.net account.  The password contained capital letters, and I'd been using the caps lock key to enter them.  I tried setting up the Actiontec again, only using the shift key instead of caps lock.  This time, it worked!

      So, today's task was to get the desktop working again.  As usual, little was simple.  First, I tried getting the old modem to work, using the new drivers Qwest had sent me.  No joy.  OK, get rid of old modem.

      I got the old modem out of the computer with no problems, except that I lost a screw and never found it (I worked around that with electrician's tape; Note to self: buy more screws).  I decided not to put the new Intel 2100 in the computer, as something one of the tech support people had said in one of our many conversation implied that the line could only use one modem at a time.  Instead, I brought the Actiontec modem downstairs, plugged it in, and ran the installation disk.  Then, I tried to add a new computer to the modem.

      Failure.  The modem would not connect.  After two attempts with the Ethernet cable, and one with the USB, I called tech support.

      Tech support works with me a while, and has me try the laptop to see if it will connect.  It does.  She then tells me to take the disk out of the drive.  "Just plug the computer into the modem with the Ethernet cable."  Given that the instructions that came with the modem said "Put the CD in first and do whatever it tells you to," you'd think that it would say somewhere 'If the modem has been set up, and is connected via wireless only, then you don't need to run the "add computers to network;" just plug the new computer into the modem with whatever cable you used for the initial setup.'

      So I plug in the Ethernet cable, and it still doesn't work.  I open Internet Explorer, but it doesn't bring anything up.  Tech support fumbled around for a while, try this, ping that, and determined that the computer and the modem were communicating, but we still couldn't get anything to happen.  No matter what we do, the IE window stays blank.

      So, tech support puts me on hold while she goes and looks some things up.  Meanwhile, I reboot.  Still no joy.  When the computer comes back up, she tells me to click "Tools," then "Internet Options," then the "Connections" tab. Under "Dial Up and Virtual Private Network settings," there's three radio buttons.  The one checked is "Always dial my default connection.

      "Try clicking 'Never dial a connection,'" she says.  And behold, it works!  You'd think that somewhere or other in the setup instructions, this would have been mentioned, wouldn't you?  'Once the Ethernet connection with the modem is made, bring up a browser window and tell the browser not to dial anything.'

      Overall, the tech support people were nice and hard working, but they need better training.  None of them had the complete picture, necessitating several extra calls.  If I were looking for a new ISP, I probably wouldn't choose Qwest.  They skimp on training and instructions, thinking they're saving money, but they incur extra costs down the road.  And the customer gets rather frustrated trying to make things work.

      Anyway, all's well that ends.  I can finally use both computers again.  Meanwhile, I have three other modems I'll have to return to Qwest.


Saturday, February 05, 2005


      Yesterday, I had to drop some forms off at the hospital, and I took the opportunity to step on the special fat scales.  Four Hundred Thirty Nine, down seventeen pounds since the last time I was weighed, on January 26th.  Down twenty five since the seminar in September.  GLOAT

      Later, K. and I went to a restaurant, for the first time since the surgery.  I ordered a "cup" of clam chowder (more like a small bowl, really), and also decided to break the rules.  Since the serving was limited, I decided to drink with my meal.  This is verobtten, because it supposedly washes down the food quickly and leaves you hungry.  Instead, the iced tea filled me up, and I hardly touched my soup.

      So, this is all working out pretty well as of today.


Thursday, February 03, 2005

It's alive!

      At long last, the notebook computer is up and running, the new modem is working in wireless mode, and my fingers are trying to get used to this new, too small keyboard.

      Anyway, I'm now in good shape for the first time in the past week.  I had a slight case of sore throat, but that appears over.

      Last week, I went to the clinic for my followup appointment, and weighed in at 456.  That's a pound less then the day of surgery, and considering what I was wearing at the time, probaly two or three pounds less.  Great, though the behavioral adjustment is high -- more on that later.

      So, this evening, all is good with the world.

The Sauds Must Be Destroyed -- And Will Be!