Wednesday, June 30, 2010

UPDATE -- Computer Problems Continue

: Bear is leaning in to wave hello to everybody today, but is not yet officially "back", because she doesn't yet have full access regularly to the Den again. In fact, she's writing this on her little Treo PDA gadget, and plans to upload it to the Den via the Internet next time she gets to a library where she can borrow a computer for an hour or two of use.

It has been a rather frustrating two weeks.

The $125 computer she ordered off of eBay might have worked, if it hadn't arrived broken due to rough handling and inadequate use of padding in the packaging. One of its memory circuit boards had fallen off the motherboard and was bouncing around loose in the case. And the DVD drive had been shoved back into the innards of the computer, and twisted somewhat.

Bear toyed with the idea of putting the thing back together and hoping it worked. But she decided that circuit boards aren't really made to be bouncing around inside metal computer cases while crossing the country, and didn't want to have it seem to work in the beginning, and then turn out to be damaged later, too late to get her money back.

So she made arrangements to get her money back right away. Fortunately, it was an honest seller, and she did get a full refund, including shipping cost. But it took about a week to get the money back for that, and of course, it left her with no computer still (except for the dying one she has been limping along with).

Meanwhile, she still had some hopes of getting on the Internet when the modems she had also ordered off eBay arrived. She figured she'd hook one of them up to her old computer until she could purchase another main computer, and that might hold her for a few weeks.

To review for just a minute... Remember, Bear ordered two used modems, (since they were only $9 apiece, and don't last forever). The telephone company people did state clearly that the ups and downs in her modem's power just before her connection went completely dead (that they were seeing at their office on their monitoring gadget), meant that she definitely needed a replacement modem, even though the error message was reading "cable unplugged" on Bear's computer. They informed her that her only solution was a $53 modem that they would happily sell her from their office.

So Bear figured that the eBay replacement modems would surly do the trick, when they arrived. Even if one of them was broken, the second one was bound to work. Since they're exactly the same brand, model number, etc as the original modem, how could she go wrong? The seller advertised that they came without power cords and cables, but Bear wasn't worried about that, because the phone company people had assured her it was the modem she needed to replace. And she still has the old modem's power cord and cables.

Unfortunately however, it was apparently not a modem problem at all. Because both the eBay modems she bought, when they arrived, reported the exact same error message that the original modem reported, and refused to put her on the Internet.

All three modems were now in unanimous agreement... "CABLE UNPLUGGED. CABLE UNPLUGGED. CABLE UNPLUGGED."

This did not do much to cheer Bear's mood. Now she had three modems and still no Internet access, even though the phone company had assured her confidently that "cable unplugged" translates into "you have to buy our new modem for $53 to solve your problem."

Bear now had clear evidence before her that "cable unplugged" more likely translated into...

Cable unplugged.

So she took the next logical step, and started accumulating new cables. (After plugging the modem into an older computer still lying around, to make sure it gave the same error message.)

She figured, since all her cables are plugged in, that she might have a defective cable -- especially since the cables are threaded through a door crack, to get from one room to another, and tend to get pinched in the door occasionally.

So, the next time she did errands (about a week later), she stopped off at her favorite Thrift Store. Happily, she found a brand new telephone cable there for 30 cents, and a used-but-good-looking LAN cable for 80 cents.

However, unfortunately, neither of those did the trick. So it's now narrowed down to one of two problems. 1) Her modem's power supply cable is bad -- quite possible because it actually has a visible cut from being pinched in the door -- or, 2) there's a cable inside the WALL that's problematic.

Obviously, Bear is voting for number one, because number two involves the phone company coming out and charging her ridiculously high prices for a service call to fix stuff inside the wall.

However, we must remember that Bear does not have an extra power supply cable yet, although she now has three modems.

And, surprise, surprise... The power supply cable for the modem is not a simple, standard type power supply hookup that you can just grab at your local Wal-Mart. That would be too easy.

In fact, the power supply is not even the kind that you can substitute a Universal power supply for...

This modem comes with a very unique and rare type of power supply, which Bear searched an hour for on the Internet during her next library visit, and still was unable to find. The volts and milliamps and all those little numbers wouldn't line up... noway, nohow.

It became clear she only had one option... The only way to get another power supply and so to get another good power supply CORD was to buy another used modem off of eBay -- this one advertised as including the power supply cable with it.


Unfortunately it was also more expensive -- 23 bucks.

So Bear now has a fourth modem on the way. Due to arrive sometime this week, with a power supply cable. It also has an extra LAN cable with it, so she'll have an extra LAN cable, for good measure.

At least now it doesn't matter that these types of modems only have a two to three year lifespan. Bear figures she's likely covered for 6 to 9 years, at least, even so.

Meanwhile, still not having a replacement computer, Bear searched eBay again last time she was at the library, for another cheapo computer.

This time she actually found one for $70 with free shipping. And it looks like it could possibly work. This one's from an office liquidation company in Chicago. The seller got a bunch of computers from an office going out of business, that he's now selling off.

It's a desktop -- the tower only -- with no peripherals (keyboard, mouse, etc) and its memory has been wiped clean. So it has no operating system at all. But it has a 2.4 G processor and 512 MB RAM.

And Bear has accumulated all sorts of peripherals from dead and dying computers over the years (similarly to how she seems to be accumulating modems, all of a sudden), so that's no problem.

And she's planning on trying to load Debian Linux on it for its operating system.

With all the computer problems, Bear has had a little more time on her paws over the last couple of weeks (not being able to do her normal computer work). So she decided to make use of the time as best as possible, learning more about the free Linux Operating Systems that are available. During one library session, she downloaded lots of info to her PDA's memory card about the options available, along with Linux manuals and articles of various kinds, explaining these types of operating systems. She also downloaded a demonstration sample program of one of the Operating Systems to a USB stick, to try out.

And she was quite impressed.

A person can download the full Debian operating system itself totally free off the Internet. But it takes a lot of computer time to do so -- way too long to try on a library computer.

So, liking the sample much, Bear went ahead and paid $19 for a set of CD's that have the full Debian OS on them. The CD's also contain a lot of other "open source" software, like Open Office, a web browser, an email program, etc. -- many, many other major programs. Well worth the $19, if she can get it all up and running on her computer.

So, if the $70 computer is usable, as advertised, she's going to load it with Debian and go ahead and learn to use that now instead of waiting for some future time to learn it (as she was originally planning).

Now definitely seems to be the right time to move away from paid software, into free software, if at all possible.

Bear has noticed something interesting in the midst of all this...

Even with all the time spent learning Linux these past couple weeks, and all the computer trouble and glitches, she has spent less time on the computer than usual because of the lack of Internet access.

At first, that was pretty frustrating. But then she started noticing...

The house is slowly getting cleaner...

She's getting more freshly cooked food...

She's actually becoming more productive with general writing, as well...

She's starting to feel a lot less stressed...

So it's likely that when Bear does finally get regular access to the Internet again (assuming a day such as that will ever come around again), she won't want to be on the Internet quite as constantly as she has been in past months. Likely she'll try to keep it down to just two or three days a week of letting her computer connect to the Net, instead of daily, as in the past.

Bear had already been planning to cut back some. But now that she's seeing some of the good effects of actually being almost totally off the Net for two weeks, she's realizing that the idea of cutting back has been confirmed more than ever as being definitely "right direction". And so is determined to follow through, even more.

Hopefully, she'll find a happy medium -- somewhere between zero access and excessively constant use.

Meanwhile, Bear does have "Zappy and I, Part 3" written (the concluding segment), ready for her next chance at Friday Fiction access. But, since she doesn't get to the library on Fridays, it will have to wait until her modems (or cables or phone company), decide to cooperate and let her back on the Net before participating in the Friday Fiction loop again.

Rewriting Part 3 did cheer up the Bear much however, on one particularly frustrating day in the midst of this past couple weeks...

But that's another story.
Bear's news and free multi-media Christian resources: Bear's Writing Den


Denise said...

Praying for you.

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