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Cut Steve's Blatherings

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.

THE SAUDS MUST BE DESTROYED -- AND WILL BE!

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