Blogging beneath the stairs

>> Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Around three o'clock on Friday our wireless router decided to stop working. It does this once every blue moon or so, and usually I can stumble my way through reconfiguration screens or, when push really comes to shove, I can get an answer from a Linksys helpdesk. This outage, unfortunately, proved to be beyond my understanding, and so I knew I would have to call Linksys customer service.

This outage happened during a particularly busy weekend for us--Wendi had her studio open to visitors on the TRAC tour, and since we were tethered to the house for eight hours a day we decided to finally screen in the downstairs porch. We've had the screen and the wood for some time too, so it was a project we'd already paid for, just not finished.

It took us all weekend, but we got the screened in porch finished, and it's awesome. Pics to come as soon as all these tech issues are resolved--which may be a couple of weeks now. Here's the sordid tale: it was Monday before I had time to sit on the phone for hours with Linksys, but at last I girded my loins and made the call. About three months ago, we had an issue with always having to reset the new laptop's internet connection whenever we moved it from place to place in our home (which we do, a lot, to watch TV on the internet). I got that situation resolved through marathon calls with Bellsouth (our ISP) and Linksys--both of whom were helpful, knowledgeable, and fairly efficient. Linksys charged me $40 for 6 months of service, which, at the time I was happy to pay--particularly as I anticipated there might be further problems.

There weren't further problems--not with that issue--and I was happy. Then when the router went out, I at least had the six month thing to fall back on for help again. Or so I thought. When I called up on Monday, I learned that what I had bought from Linksys was not six months of service on all my Linksys products (a router, a wireless access point, and two wireless cards for pre-wireless-world computers) but instead six months of help on just ONE of those items--the wireless access point.

First of all, that's a load of crap. The woman on the phone before did not tell me what I was purchasing was attached to one device. I was told I was buying a six month service plan, and that was it. Further, she helped me work through issues with BOTH the wireless access point AND the router. So imagine my surprise--and my frustration--when the new person I talk to tells me I'm going to have to pony up another $40 so he can work on the router. (The wireless access point at least, he tells me, is still covered by my previous fleecing.)

I said no. I said I would go online to the help forums and seek my own answer. But of course the online forums are hit and miss, and this time was a miss. About this time, when I was ready to hurl the router out the window, Paul called, and I gave him an earful about my travails. He agreed that $40 for service was a rip-off, and said, "You could buy a new router for that price and get a year of warranty in the bargain!"

Cue the light bulb.

So after I got off the phone with Paul, I hooked the laptop directly into the modem, got online, and priced out new routers. Which now, it turns out, come with wireless access points INSIDE them! (Shows you how long we've had this router/wireless access point--I think it's going on eight years now.) And sure enough, for $50 I can buy a brand new (and faster!) wireless router/access point that comes with a one-year warranty.

It's truly a disposable culture we live in when it's cheaper to buy a new item than it is to fix the old one. There's something disturbing about that, and the fixer in me shudders at the thought. If something breaks or goes wrong in the house, my first inclination is to repair it, not replace it. I'm still using an electric razor I've had for a decade, even though the clipper attachment--which I, as a bearded fellow, actually use--broke about five years ago. Instead of replacing it, I opened the thing up and fixed it. A little plastic part had broken, and I couldn't replicate that, but I was able to create a work-around fix by drilling a small hole in the outside of the plastic shell and screwing in an eye screw that took the broken part's place. Ta-da! Years more service.

So while I hate to throw in the towel on the router, no drilled hole and eye screw are going to fix it. It's beyond my abilities. So a new router was ordered last night, and will be shipped in 5-9 days. In the meantime, our laptop sits underneath the stairs, hooked by an ethernet chain to the modem. (Because of course we don't have a phone jack anywhere near where we have our computers. How last century!) So for the next week or two, all of our surfing and blogging and tweeting will be done beneath the stairs, hidden away like Harry Potter in his cupboard.

I'm off now to straighten out my back and sit in a chair...


DaviMack June 20, 2009 at 5:03 PM  

You know, it almost sounds like you live in the UK ... almost, though, 'cause I guarantee that if you moved across town, you could keep your same phone number (it takes 21 days to move a telephone number 6 blocks, here in Glasgow, Scotland).

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