I have worked in and around computers since 1971. And yes, we did have computers back then. Just to put things in perspective, the Romans had opened the Coliseum only a few years before that, and Chuck Yeager was beginning to think he wanted to learn how to fly. The Wright Brothers were still stealing apples and kicking cans down the road, and dreaming of owning their own bicycle.
1971 was a long time ago. I worked first for Control Data Corporation in Atlanta as an entry-level database programmer, and then with a bit of experience under my belt I got a job with the State of Georgia Mental health Department. Neither job paid very well – I would have seen a better paycheck as a gardener, but at least the work was inside, with air conditioning.
After working up a flow chart and writing some code (In COBOL), I had to punch my own cards on a keypunch machine, stack them neatly (and in order, of course) in a shoe box and run them across town to the data processing center where the guys in white lab coats would load the cards into the hopper on the card reader and push the big red Go button to wake up the room-sized (really large room, too, with all of the cables run under the floor) IBM 360, which would, in about .3 of a second, spit out my cards almost before it had a chance to read them. Then I would take my stack of cards back across town to my cubbyhole-sized office and try to figure out why my app didn’t work.
I have always had a love-hate relationship with computers. And they know that.
Office politics put an end to my job about half way through the project and I quite happily went back to work as a gardener. The pay was much better, I didn’t have to freeze mu butt off in the air conditioning, and there was no interoffice bickering, either.
I’ve been around computers a lot in my life – I’ve gotten away from programming over the years, though I did work in Fortran, IBM Assembler, Perl and some of the ‘C’ language variations and even Unix, and worked as a Novel Sys Admin back in the day. I’ve taught DOS and Windows classes to newbies, repaired and upgraded PC’s and spent years in software QA ( testing) and hardware testing. My last two jobs in the industry saw me with my own software QA lab with over a million dollars worth of servers and over thirty employees in my department.
So I know something about hardware and software and how they’re supposed to work together to make our lives a little easier.
Actually, they don’t. But that’s a rant we’re not going to go into here (and probably shouldn’t, ever. The computers will know, and that will make them very angry with me).
So here I am in Deland, Florida, almost a year before I intended to be anywhere near Daytona, where I plan to locate the next Terry Rankin novel. Since I don’t have a fixed domicile (and don’t want one), I am renting a room in my nephew’s home while I wrap up a writing project and begin to do the research on that novel I just mentioned.
There were three computers in this home, and when I arrived only two of them had internet access via a 2-wire DSL connection provided by ATT. Basically a 1200 baud modem connection (though it was DSL, it was painfully slow). The modem and the router were installed on my nephew’s computer in their bedroom at the back of the house, and my computer was in my bedroom about 50 feet away at the front. I used a Linksys N1000 Wi-Fi adapter to connect to the 2-wire DSL router.
For the first few months I could barely load a web page in my browser, and checking my email was enough to put me into a rage.
I offered to cover the cost of broadband cable internet, and that offer was quickly accepted before I could change my mind. So I contacted Brighthouse and ordered the service. They showed up the next day and a few hours later we were up and running. My Linksys N1000 adapter was retired and I was given an Ethernet connection direct to the router.
For the first few days things went swimmingly, until my nephew’s wife began to complain about how slow her Wi-Fi connection was (via an old Belkin Wi-Fi adapter). She couldn’t play her internet based game – the action in the game was choppy, and my nephew said it took way too long for his email to load…
Golly, gee, why did that sound so familiar???
Our computers are set at opposite ends of the house, and there is one concrete block wall and a few wood and sheetrock walls between them. I discussed the issue with my nephew and told him we needed a Wi-Fi Extender and he agreed to pay half the cost. I drove over to the Best Buy store in Daytona and picked up the Linksys (Cisco) RE 1000 Wi-Fi Extender. It cost $79.00.
The next day I finally had time to set it up. The box contained the Extender, an Ethernet cable (unnecessary), a power cord and an install CD. Everything you need, other than a bit of common sense and/or someone who knows what he’s doing.
The instructions on the CD are very clear, and very short, and not very helpful if things don’t work the way they should the first time ‘round. They didn’t.
Before you connect the Extender to anything, you slip the CD into the reader and it does a search for the Wi-Fi signal. Then it tells you to plug the Extender into an electrical outlet close to your computer. You are also told that if your computer is not using an adapter to connect to the Wi-Fi signal to move to a computer that does use an adapter, or to disconnect the Ethernet cable between your computer and the router and make an adapter-based connection.
I had an Ethernet cable connection with the router and saw no need to change that (silly me, but I didn’t know that at the time, did I?).
So I moved to my nephew’s computer at the other end of the house and tried to set things up there. Four hours later I gave up. I was able to set up the Extender, but it could not access the router (no, it didn’t make any sense to me, either), so there was no internet connectivity, and that was the point of the exercise, wasn’t it?
I reset the Extender to its default settings and carried all the bits and pieces back to my computer, where I disconnected my Ethernet cable from the back of my computer and reconnected my Linksys adapter. Then, being somewhat impatient I slipped the install CD back into the reader and proceeded to screw things up once again. An hour later I realized that I hadn’t rebooted my computer after reconnecting the Linksys adapter.
So it was still trying to read data via the Ethernet cable. Which was no longer connected to my computer.
I rebooted. Once the system was back up it took about two minutes for the installation to complete. The Extender was working, but I still didn’t have an internet connection.
So I called tech support at Brighthouse and after a few minutes that problem was solved (somehow the settings for the IP and DNS servers had been changed to FIXED instead of Obtain – and no, I have NO idea why this was changed or what forced the change) and my internet connection was up and running.
Once the Extender is connected properly and you know everything works, you can unplug it from the power source and move it to a more central location in the house, and even turn it this way and that until you find an optimal location – one that provides the maximal signal strength to the most distant computer.
So the Linksys RE 1000 Wi-Fi Extender works, the install CD is easy to follow as long as everything goes swimmingly the first time and persistence and a few phone calls can usually handle any problems that may come up due to a lack of information or a wish to avoid what seems at first glance to be unnecessary labor.
So everybody’s happy. Except for my nephew’s son, who still needs a Wi-Fi adapter for his computer, along with a computer table. And I still need a grounded 3-wire outlet so I can connect my expensive UPS into the wall. The house is all 2-wire electrical service and the UPS refuses to accept power from an ungrounded supply. But I have an electrician due on Monday to price that for me.