Sunday, August 2, 2009

LELA's just another pretty face

I am a confessed Luddite, but that's not synonymous with idiot. I decided to go wireless.

I did my research, even knew ahead of time that the Verizon DSL modem/router needed to be bridged before setting up a new router. I bypassed a sale for a cheap wireless router because I read reviews about Linksys and their phenomenal service, and decided that I'd plop down a case's worth of beer money for peace of mind.

I went for Linksys' sleek WRT160N.

Staples had a coupon if I bought it online, so I ordered it, had it sent to the local Staples, and a day later it was ready for pick-up. On the way to the store, the heavens opened up, and the Staples entrance was impassable--3 feet of water, no challenge for Noah, but a bit much for my Civic. That was clue number one.

I had read that versions 1 and 3 were fine, but that V2 was a disaster. I opened the box. V2. Like the rocket. (The Nazi V-2 rocket killed over 27,000 people--about 20,000 of the victims were prisoners who were forced to build the rockets.) Clue number two.

Here's where it gets bad--I found wonderful instructions on-line on how to bridge the Westell 6100 to make it a dumb modem, how to configure the router via the website, how to secure the system. Then I met Lela.

Lela is my personal technology expert, provided free by Linksys, and despite being a bit cyanotic, she's kind of hot. And I am a sucker for free. And so, against every fiber of common sense in my body, and because it was 2:30 AM, I slid Lela into the CD, and waited for her to purr.

She commands me to slide this cable there, this one here--doesn't seem quite right, but I am smitten by Lela, who looks like Lady Plavalaguna, the alien diva in Fifth Element.

Everything was just groovy until something, or rather nothing, happened. Frozen. I reboot. Still frozen. I click on other icons.


Leslie, the love of my life, is a writer, and a very good one. She just finished a novel, nestled in the bowels of this now-frozen machine.

I call tech support. "Earl" assures me I can just delete Lela; I tell him I cannot. After a bit of safe mode action and a few reboots, Earl tells me he need to talk to his supervisor. Seems Earl cannot delete it either.

Earl gets back on after an uncomfortable pause--"You'll get a call from Linksys in 24 to 48 hours." Um, does that mean we're done? "You will get a call from Linksys....You will get a call from Linksys." I am still waiting for that call....

I've been married a long time, but even a solid marriage might not survive losing 2 year's worth of writing. In a moment of logical, I zoom the computer settings back in time, to a time before I fell to Lela's siren call. I put the cables in order--modem->router->PC.

I figure I'd log on for technical assistance to set my security. Here's a snippet:

Michael Doyle: Should I go ahead and reload LELA? [08:49:38 AM]
Michael Doyle: And should I upgrade the firmware [08:49:47 AM]
Michael Doyle: poke [08:50:47 AM]

After a bit of back and forth, we get to here:
Jhoneil (22042): Your concern here is you want to secure your wireless network, correct? [08:57:31 AM]
Michael Doyle: So I thought maybe I'd just reload LELA, forget about the third party security [08:56:33 AM]
Michael Doyle: Yes, I want to secure it-- [08:56:39 AM]
Michael Doyle: If I can do that without LELA, that would be fine [08:56:51 AM]
Michael Doyle: (My bigger concern was not getting divorced when my wife realizes I fubared her puter) [08:57:33 AM]
Jhoneil (22042): Okay. I can help you secure your network manually. If that's what you want. [08:58:58 AM]
Michael Doyle:
Great! [08:58:03 AM]
Yes, Jhoneil, that is what I want!
Jhoneil (22042): Both wireless computers are online wirelessly to the router right now? [08:59:33 AM]
Michael Doyle: THe pc is hardwired to port 1 of the router, the laptop is wireless [08:58:47 AM]
Jhoneil (22042): Great! [09:00:03 AM]
Jhoneil (22042): But I'm sure you are chatting on the hardwired computer. [09:00:19 AM]
Jhoneil (22042): So, there is no need to worry. [09:00:24 AM]
Michael Doyle: I am chatting on the wireless [08:59:23 AM]
So I guess there is a need to worry after all.
We spent the next dozen minutes trying to get the laptop hardwired to the internet. It did not end well:
Jhoneil (22042): Did you connect the cable firmly at the back of your laptop going to the router? [09:13:57 AM]
'Michael Doyle' disconnected ('Concluded by End-user'). [09:13:09 AM]
I've given up on Lela, I've given up on Linksys tech support calling me back this decade, but I've not given up on the internet. I found a wonderful site with simple, cogent directions, and here I am, playing on-line via a wireless, and perhaps secure, line.

The lessons?

Avoid cyanotic purring technical experts.
Avoid using bots when you have a clue what you're doing.
Don't start playing with new tech toys at 2:30 AM
And don't expect LELA to return your calls.


lucychili said...

...and save redundant copies of treasures.
because the probability of technical conniptions is directly related to the value of the assets at risk. you can slap me with the causal/correlational card but man it happens so often.

so glad it is resolved.
would be interested in the novel.

John Spencer said...

you are the most technocratic Luddite I know.

doyle said...

Dear lucychili,

I'm sure Leslie backs up her stuff, but losing the computer is like losing a typewriter in the olden days. Writers are used to certain tools certain ways--I bet even Dante had a favorite quill.

(I can only imagine the panic of Dante's wife when she misplaced the quill....)

Dear John,

I was once on the front edge of this business--what do folks call it, early adopters?

The Luddism came late, but not without thought.

While I am not willing to accept the Ordnung, the Amish test for new tools makes sense. Will it benefit, or will it separate, the community?

I assumed the wireless would benefit, but given our mortal nature and how many hours I spent configuring the thing, maybe a loss.

nashworld said...

My God...

I was almost breathless reading this.
Glad you got that one solved. Wow.

What strikes me after reading this post is the reality that I have come to understand so many times on my own. And that is... my own ingenuity and the loose connections of thousands of other brains on the web... will usually combine to fix what I need.

How many of us are there in the population that can truly plunk away until we find the right set of information? Troubleshooting simple things (the *new* simple things, that is) will likely be an even bigger venture in the near future.


doyle said...

Dear Sean,

You raise an excellent point, maybe the point, one I missed.

As long as my connection was working, I could solve it with help from others; even more telling, I had developed a plan prior to allowing myself to be suckered by a pretty (if cyanotic) face.

Now I need to go back and reconstruct how I decoded what I needed to know and remember that several competent heads are better than a CD-ROM.