Saturday, January 22, 2005

The End of a Frustrating Week

The week started out quite nicely, with a family friend's call on Monday. (A Holiday to boot...) Instead of my attempting to drag her ancient (in dog years) Compaq system into the new millennium and install DSL, she wanted to purchase a new setup.

My second favorite thing in life:
Go to the store and purchase techno-toys w) someone else's money and get to set them up...

Off to purchase a new laptop, WiFi Access Point, Network-ready printer (WiFi or Ethernet), USB key-fob, Microsoft Office, etc.

Got everything to her house and started configuring:
1. SBC/Yahoo DSL disk install. A-OK, create account, connects fine w) laptop-to-DSL Modem.
2. Connect AP/Router/Firewall to Modem. Connect to Access Point. Everything fine.
3. Install Office.
By now I have lost track of how many times I have re-booted.
4. Run printer driver installation program while connected to printer by Ethernet cable. Wizard sets up WiFi connection from printer to AP. Printer drivers install.


Wants to boot in safe-mode.

Eventually accept last known good configuration.

Windows XP (SP2) boots, shows desktop for about two seconds, then that stops and the only application running is Norton Anti-Virus.

I repeat the reboot process numerous time.

I attempt a recovery, though the disks provided w) machines now-a-days are SP woefully inadequate that that word seems hardly applicable... ;-/

At one point, in fact, I successfully run the Norton Update. It connects to the site, through the AP and updates, pretty as you please.

Apparently, the computer is running perfectly, with the 'minor' problem of having no desktop... ;-/

I return the whole mess (sans printer) to the retailer on Tues. @ noon. The young Squadsman assures me, in his geek-smugness, that he won't even have to check it in, just run a quick non-destructive recovery. I said I would leave it.

Good luck kid.

I call @ 4:30, as they have not contacted me.

"Oh yeah, we are just finishing up, it should be ready by 5:00"

Hah! At least some vindication.

Haul the whole thing back and notice that the recovery was a LITTLE more 'destructive' than he thought. He, He, He...

Re-install Office. Re-install/configure printer.

Everything working fine, although I did have to 'play' a bit to re-establish the WiFi connection to the AP. (There were at least five other signals in her neighborhood, but everyone is running WEP and we should all be able to play nice...)

Left her working on a Word document.

She called later that evening, couldn't re-connect to the WiFi connection after the machine had gone to sleep. A little research indicated a problem with XP SP2 and WEP encryption. Seems the WPA addition in SP2 BREAKS WEP! Told her I would come by Thurs. and fix it. (I could always turn off WEP as a work around, while simultaneously stop the AP from broadcasting it's presence. Then seek out the driver fix on the laptop-manufacturer's support site...)

Wed. Traveled to Columbia for my daughter's endocrinology appointment. While I was gone, SBC calls my friend wondering why she hadn't connected. (What, exactly, had done the night before?!?) The SBC rep was happily leading her through their little support script, including RESETTING the MODEM, before she determined that a wireless network was involved. At that point, the SBC rep started doing her crab imitation (can't back up fast enough) and washed her hands of the whole thing...

Thurs. Can't get to the outside world, although I can see the printer just fine.
Re-run SBC/Yahoo DSL installation wizard. It fails to recognize the modem. (Yes, I had plugged directly into it.)
I am forced to re-boot.

It wants to boot in Safe-Mode.

Same exact scenario as Monday.

I went with my friend, everything in tow this time and explained what had happened.
Spoke w) the Geek Squadron-leader.
Learned about what I had done wrong, vis-a-vis the DSL modem.
I left her to deal with the manager about installs, fees for same or returns.

I could probably have patched the whole kit together just fine, but will never know for sure.

The Squad sent a pleasant young Geek to get everything functioning this afternoon.

Things I learned/re-learned.

NEVER run the DSL install wizard!
Set recovery points!
Sometimes your Murphy field is just too strong. You should just walk away, before you cause permanent damage...

What I know:

It should NOT be this HARD. If I can't do this, it's for DAMN sure the average customer will be out of their depth. We go to the store and purchase thousands of dollars of equipment and then spend hours of time with on-line or phone support getting it to all work together.

And we accept it.

Admittedly, if it were easy, I would be out of a job.
Well, I would probably be gainfully employed MAKING it easy, but you get the idea.

But, in the end, It should NOT be this HARD.

In the meantime, I will be changing my e-mail. If you wish to e-mail me, please click:


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