Sunday, May 1, 2011

Are We Connected Yet?

Originally Posted on August 11, 2007

A memo to everyone: I am not as tech savvy as you assumed I am!

Story time: the duplex I live in has wireless Internet. This is courtesy of an old Linksys router given to me by my friend Scott to help make life easier for my iBook. It’s always about the laptop, folks!

The setup was not bad and it worked well with Time Warner Cable (which was taken over by Comcast here in Minneapolis). I did not secure the Wi-Fi, so my neighbors started picking up the signal. One next-door neighbor paid a few bucks to use it, which seems only fair. One of my roommates also shared the Internet through his wireless.

A few weeks ago, I was informed by my roommate that the wireless was down. Sure enough, the wireless piece of the router began to operate infrequently. I re-routed my roommate onto the wired network so he can get online.

Following the re-route, I received a call from one of my next-door neighbors. Turned out that she bought a new laptop and was using my wireless signal to get online. She first asked whether the Internet was down. I explained to her what happened.

That was when I decided to replace the router. I must be crazy from the heat, but, hey, it had to be done!

The good part was that I knew which router to get. I knew the model, the specs and how easy it would be install. I asked friends and co-workers that had the same model and they gave it the highest praise possible. Better still, it was a Linksys…a perfect replacement for the one that’s dying next to my cable modem.

I called around and checked out some places. It turns out most places have them for the same price. No edge anywhere. However, I knew where I would get the best chance at getting one without the hassles and being oversold on the product.

Now, I never buy anything from Best Buy anymore. Compared to most places, the selection’s decent, as are the prices. The help is a completely different story. Though I must admit that I had plenty of traffic from their GLBT employee group due to at the JustFair Lobby Day at the capitol. Hey, they support queer efforts locally…even the event that Intermedia Arts put on with the Minneapolis Public Library where my colleague Lori L. Lake read from her book Snow Moon Rising.

But, I digress…I went there. I took Metro Transit all the way down to the store in Richfield from work in St. Paul. I lost track on how long it took, but, hey, I got there! Construction and residual traffic be damned!

When I walked into Best Buy, I went directly to the networking section next to Geek Squad. I was lucky…they had it in stock! I bought one…and took it home on the bus. OK, it fit in my backpack…that made life infinitely easy for me!

Originally, I planned on setting it up on Saturday. Of course, everyone who knows me also know that I would not take too long to figure that I can do it now, as opposed to tomorrow. One problem I found was the installation needed a Windows machine. I have a Mac. Ah, but my roommate has a Windows machine to run the installation CD on! Why? After a lengthy time on hold with Linksys technical support in Manilla, I was told that I can use the router with my Mac, but they will not support Macs on the router. Sounds illogical, don’t you think?

After running the disc on my roommate’s laptop, I thought everything was done…right? Wrong!  Somehow, neither of our machines would pick up the wireless. Luckily, at around 11:00PM, I got a hold of Scott. He has the same router that I just bought and had the same issue getting his and his partner's iBooks to read the wireless signal after the intial setup. After a few panic moments, he helped me work on the wireless settings on both the Mac and the Windows machine. The problem was that the WEP security was automatically enabled and shut out any access for either machine to pick up. It took a few steps to reconfigure both machines to get it to work.

At just before midnight, the Wi-Fi was again re-established at the duplex.

I must admit that I am not entirely tech savvy enough…or patient…to figure out these things on my own. It’s very frustrating to not have this skill. You think that everything is easy to install with a click here and a plug there. Wrong! Nothing can be that easy!

One last thing: don’t be afraid when you do not see documentation automatically available when you purchase something electronic. I’m all about saving trees, but please make it easy for someone to get the documentation needed to operate said device to everyone’s satisfaction! In my case, just because I use a product that is not directly supported for the computer I use, I bought the damn thing. It is sitting in my bedroom next to the cable modem. The Comcast bill is in my name. Please don’t make me the bad guy when I call for technical support next time, a’ight?

In the end, things do work. Just be glad I did not end up with the same revolving fate as Ice Cube’s unlikely father/homeowner character in his last two comedies.

1 comment:


    Michael Larson: Wow! Quite the story!

    I’m glad it worked out for ya. It is odd that there is not widespread Mac support. Get on board you dumb companies!