As I relax here at home and prepare for "Long Island vs. Old Man Winter: Round Two," I shall relate the story of how my house has returned to the twenty-first century, at least in terms of telecommunications. The physical structure of the place remains old, and in many instances, not very energy-efficient. But now...we have Internet throughout this dwelling.
It started with a fairly innocent question during Saturday night's dinner; my mom asked me how I liked the iPad. I told her that it was just fine, and doing about as well as it could be within the prevailing limitations of communication infrastructure. I allowed about a minute to pass, and then asked the question that I'd hoped would set us on the road to broadband: "Mom, when's the last time you used dial-up to get online? Because that's what you're paying AOL for." She couldn't recall when she had last used the telephone line. I then gave her the relative price comparison between Optimum and what she had been paying for that dormant AOL service. It didn't take much convincing for her to sign on to getting Optimum Online. She agreed even after a brief inquiry into the merits of Verizon FiOS, with her saying she didn't want to further line the pockets of the Dolan clan. We will...but the net cost is negligible to her, as the difference in cost will be tacked on to my monthly rent going forward.
After we waited out Sunday, we drove over to the Cablevision store in Huntington to get the stuff. That was a relatively seamless transaction. The true fun started once we got home and I retired to the freezing cold basement to begin the process of setting up the equipment. I hooked in the splitter, ran the cables, and slipped the installation disc into my computer. And...nothing. The software wouldn't even install. After a few unsuccessful attempts, I grabbed my mom's (formerly my) computer, which still runs Windows XP. It took the software, but wouldn't take to the Internet connection. I went through the computer's settings to make sure they were good, and then ran the installation program a couple more times. Nothing. The most telling sign that success wasn't in my immediate future was the light on the cable modem that blinked at regular, two-second intervals. If there was a problem with the signal entering the house, it wouldn't be that constant. Thus, I decided to call Cablevision to see if they could help me get a handle on it.
The service call began with an automated sequence of voice prompts, which proved unable to solve the problem. I was eventually connected with a representative, who suggested a few other things. The last of these required me to connect the cable modem to the main cable line entering the house...and even that failed. And so it was that I bound myself to the schedules of the guys in the trucks, committing myself to a large block of time at home (between roughly 3 and 8 pm). Thankfully, they arrived - with TWO vehicles - just before four. As soon as they entered the basement and looked at the particular model of cable modem I'd been given, they had a preliminary diagnosis. They said that over the several years that model had been in use, that they'd seen three of them work. They also said that the Optimum installation program was unnecessary. That told me that they were solid, and wouldn't jerk me around. They hooked their big cable testing tablet into the line going to the modem, and confirmed that the entering signal was fine. They swapped the modem for a different model, and got it authorized properly. While they did this, they had to speak with a dispatcher; they were briefly on hold, and I heard the words "your call is important to us." Knowing that the support guys have to listen to the same messages as us common folk gave me a small pang of sympathy for them. After more than a few gyrations, modem resets, and computer resets, the Google home page appeared in the browser on my mom's computer. To paraphrase Scotty, "Captain! There be Internet here!"
That done and the Cablevision people gone, it fell back to me to establish a secure wireless network. Just one problem: the router I'd pulled out of storage still had its previous settings on it. Settings from two years ago in Connecticut. Settings that I did not remember. But there's a reset button on the back! I just press that and try again and we'll be good, right? Nope. But I did have Internet down to the basement, so I Googled how to restore the factory defaults on the router. Ah, I have to hold the reset button for five seconds! Done and done. Now we should be good...no such luck. But what's this...why is my network card trying to be connected to two networks simultaneously? Let's reset that. And, one more run of the router software installation...YES! Victory is mine! A secure, wireless network has been established, and both computers in the house and my iPad are authorized for access. I retire to my room to exhale - and to warm up, since I didn't have my jacket in the basement. I glance at my documents folder, and open a file called "Network Security Settings." Wait a minute...those aren't the settings I just established. I had to just shake my head. The previous settings for the router had been there all along. Ah, well.
Such a series of trials and tribulations, and for what? So I can now sit here on my futon and type this entry from my iPad, without having to put it into the window to pick up anything I might want to link to. But what does that matter, really? After all, civilization as we know it is about to come to a screeching halt. I had an inkling of it when the seminal event happened just after midnight last night, as the BCS Championship Game drew to a close. And The Onion confirmed it this afternoon. Freaking Musberger. I never did like that guy.
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