Monday, November 18, 2019

it's alive

How pleasant it is to be able to connect to the internet, to sit at home and read web pages and one's e-mail. What's that you say, it's just an ordinary thing? Not after three days without it.

Several months ago, when we finally got our balky and frequently non-functional modem replaced with a competent new one, the otherwise helpful AT&T repair person did not disconnect or take away the old power supply in the form of a large grey box that sat next to the modem. We did not then know that it was obsolete.

We found that out when it started beeping until I found the sound switch and made it stop. The alarm was to say that the battery was failing. I phoned up the second-tier help line that I always use. They said it was obsolete, but they also said that we'd need to replace the modem along with it. I kept explaining that the modem had already been replaced, and since it was working fine I didn't want to risk replacing it again. But their script read "replace modem" and I couldn't get them off it. So I gave up and kept the thing.

What I wasn't told this time was that when the battery finally failed the modem would go dead. That's what happened three days ago. It was only after puzzling over and tinkering with the modem for some time that I realized what the problem must be. This time when I called the help line I just said the modem was dead, and they made a technician appointment, but not until Monday.

In the meantime, I thought I might be able to buy the power cable for the model of modem we have. Nope. AT&T store carries no such thing. Neither does Target. I can't think of anywhere else around here more likely. Clerks at both places recommended Fry's. I said, "Have you been to Fry's within the last few years?" They said no. Once the bursting emporia for all things electronic or electric (as well as the other needs of the traditional male techie's life: two kinds of magazines, computer and men's; two kinds of consumables, potato chips and soda), its vast stores are now nearly-deserted empty spaces. How they stay in business has actually been the topic of puzzled local newspaper articles. And Radio Shack is also gone.

I could of course order the cable online, but it wouldn't get here before the technician did, so why bother? An hour before the appointment window, he phoned and said he'd be here in 30. (Our phone works because I avoided the temptation to hook it up to the internet service.) He was here in 30, too. I explained the situation, he tested the line just to make sure and then replaced the power cord with the sleek new one, no giant grey box, and took the old one away. He also rebooted our TV set, which hadn't occurred to me would be necessary and would have taken some fumbling if I'd had to do it on my own. No charge, no need to replace the modem, and he was quickly gone, the only trauma being to Maia, who ran off when the doorbell rang and took refuge ... in the room with the modem in it.

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