And the blame goes to…

Hello, my name is Christine, and I’m an Internet addict. (Hi, Christine.)

No, I don’t spend hours and hours searching out porn or shopping online or randomly surfing, but I do make my living online and go into sweaty, gut-clenching withdrawal when the Internet goes down for any reason. What e-mails am I missing? What client is offering me a new project or making a request I can’t fulfill? What do you mean I can’t blog? Or find that cookie recipe? Or check my bank account? I’m in agony.

So these intermittent outages I’ve been experiencing for the past month or so are driving me nuts. When it happened last Thursday night, my call to Comcast tech support resulted in an offer to send a tech out the following MONDAY! Fortunately, my Internet came back on its own a couple hours later, and stayed on all weekend. On Monday this week, the Comcast tech put a whole new line from the street to our house, and saved a couple bits from the replaced line to show us where it was frayed or pinched. That should solve any problems, he said. At the same time, we’re also having some issues with our digital cable “digitizing” (pixelating, bitmapping, tiling [his word], whatever you want to call it) every now and then, mostly noticeable on one channel. Well, the new cable line should fix that too.

Nix on both counts. Still getting the occasional digitization. Still getting the intermittent outages — this time, from 5:30 p.m. last night to 9:30 a.m. this morning. I was beside myself.

For now, I’m back up and running. A Comcast tech will be here again tomorrow. Comcast phone support tried to tell me he thinks it’s my modem (which is MY modem, not rented through Comcast, and getting on in years — purchased 5 years ago) and that I could should get a new one from Comcast (because it’s SO much better to rent one from them because they”ll swap it for free if there’s ever a problem. In the last 5 years, I’ve had zero problems with my modem, and had I been paying them the $3/month rental, they would be up $75 over my purchase price. What a deal!).

The other issue is that the phone support rep told me they will be upgrading Comcast service at the end of the month, and my existing modem (a Motorola SB4200) won’t be able to handle the new speeds. If I decided to buy one on my own, I should look for a modem with DOCSIS 3.0 technology — BUT nobody is selling them (like at Wal-Mart or Best Buy). Or anywhere else either apparently. Even though Motorola has a new DOCSIS 3.0 modem (model SB6120), nobody has it for sale online either, not even on Motorola’s Web site.

So, we’ll see what happens tomorrow with the Comcast tech. I’m not convinced the problem is at my end (or else why would it keep coming back on?). And I’m not convinced they’re sending the right type of tech person out. When I had intermittent problems at my previous house, they sent someone who actually came in my house, sat at my computer, and looked at the modem logs and such. Eventually, this wonderful tech was able to trace the problem to an underground cable that had been clipped by construction in the area.  I just hope whoever comes tomorrow has the same computer and troubleshooting skills. If he recommends a new modem, I’ll gladly buy one (assuming I can find one). And yeah, I may even break down and rent one from Comcast —  I can’t afford to not be up and running, and it’s a business expense I can write off.

But still, something seems a little fishy, and a little random (Oh, just go buy a new modem, even though all your modem lights are on as they usually are and you still can’t get online. Maybe that’ll fix it.). Time will tell. I’ll happily post an “I was wrong. It was all my fault.” update if that turns out to be the case.

 The man who can smile when things go wrong
has thought of someone else he can blame it on.
                                       ~ Robert Bloch

Oh, I know you…

I keep a folder in my Favorites called “Blogs I Might Like” (how’s that for wishy-washy) and visit them regularly — mostly as a lurker (non-commenting or anonymous viewer). I have about 15 in there — not many considering the blog population is in the tens of millions. A couple are the blogs of friends I actually know; most are not.

On one of them today, the blogger was apologizing for not having a “usual” entry because she was terrified about having to go to the doctor’s this afternoon to see about a potential heart problem. She asked for prayers.

I felt bad for her. I commented for the first time ever, offering a few words of comfort (I hope). Many others, also lurkers, offered similar thoughts.

It got me thinking about how blogs make you feel connected to someone. Someone you don’t know and will never know. I’m not sure where this woman lives, but I admire her site and what she puts out there for the world to see (a little green with envy, too). I am sad to hear of her troubles — like I know her, when really, I don’t know much of anything.

I feel that way about all of the “Blogs I Might Like.” These are people who have struck a chord with me for whatever reason — personal, professional, collegial, as a fellow writer, or a fellow lover of cottages or gardens or cooking or the ’burgh.

That’s the beauty of writing. Of transforming thoughts and experiences into words on a page. It takes time to do that. More time than just telling someone. Maybe that’s why I like e-mail better than voicemail or, even, usually, real, live phone calls. Why I’m more comfortable writing than talking. Maybe that’s just a sign of introversion, but I like to think it’s a sign I’m doing what I was meant to do — connecting to people through written words rather than verbal ones.

Sure the Internet has enabled the information superhighway — in turn, it’s enabled my job. But I find it more amazing how it’s enabled people to connect as never before. My “favorite” bloggers are both strangers and friends. How weird — and cool — is that?

Someone to tell it to is one of the
fundamental needs of human beings.
                              ~ Miles Franklin