Quelle horreur!

>> Saturday, November 17, 2007

When I got up this morning, I'd been booted out of the matrix, and no red pill. When I'd gone to bed last night, the internet was just fine. I'd left DownThemAll! sucking down a bunch of old Pseudopod podcasts--I only recently discovered the site, and I thought it might be fun to listen to a couple of them when I drive up to the mountains for a conference at the end of the month (and the rest I might eventually listen to at the office during lunch). But when I got up--stalled? Snagged? What? How can this be?

So I did the usual things you do when you're trying to fix a computer problem. Here's an old joke:

A mechanic, an electrician, and an IT professional are in a car, riding down the road. Suddenly, the car sputters and stalls out; they manage to pull over to the side of the road, pop the hood, and gather around.

"It's probably the transmission," the mechanic says.

"You have no idea what you're talking about," the electrician says, "it's obviously the alternator."

"You're both nuts," the IT pro says. "All we do is jump in, put the key in the ignition, and keep trying to restart it until it works...."
So, yeah, when I can't find a software solution, I unplug and replug the Westell modem BellSouth sent me when I got DSL. Not that I'm an IT guy, I just know how these things work: there are invisible gnomes inside them.

Eventually I'm so desperate that I actually call the AT&T helpline. (BellSouth is now AT&T again. Thank the venality and/or stupidity of our friends at the FCC.) After convincing them that I've already rebooted the modem, they lead me through all sorts of useless procedures before they figure out they can't help me. The lady on the phone is surprisingly nice, but useless. They decide they have to send a guy out.

The guy is incredibly nice, but he can't get anything to work, either. And it turns out--how does AT&T make any money? Oh yeah, monopoly--it turns out that the professional internet repair guy has to call the exact same help desk I called. You'd think the field guy would have the top-secret phone number to AT&T's hidden mountain fortress headquarters, or maybe (at the very least) some kind of Theora Jones sitting back at AT&T HQ in front of a computer terminal, talking him through it as he wades through the crap, but no.

Eventually, he discovers (to nobody's real surprise) that the problem is outside the house. It's a bad DSL port. So now I'm online again, and hopefully we're fixed. And I gotta confess: I'm useless without the damn internet. I know it's pathetic, but I pretty much have to have a browser open or I feel... urgsghahgs, or something. (Feel free to drop that word into your casual conversations.) I don't use cell phones, I don't have cable--the interwebs is my news/communications/entertainment one-stop solution.

However, the whole thing has set me back a bit. I'm not sure I'm going to get any writing done today. If you don't see a NaNoWriMo daily update today, consider this to be it. Meanwhile, I'm off to do some of the errands I was going to do earlier today, before I got jacked back in.


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