Thursday, January 26, 2012

How I fixed the Internet

OK, so this might sound like an exaggeration, but yesterday I fixed the Internet. Well, I fixed the Internet in our house. It was a long time coming--roughly eight months, to be exact.

Last spring, my husband, David, and I registered for our wedding. One of the places we registered was Bed, Bath & Beyond. A day or two later, I realized there were a couple of changes I wanted to make to our registry. I tried to do it online, but the website was down. It stayed down for the next several days, and it wasn't until I was able to access it at a friend's house that I realized that it was never actually down at all. Well, outside our house, that is. I shrugged it off as one of those weird things and moved on.

A month or so later, I tried to visit the Starbucks website. It, too, was down. It didn't take me as long this time to realize that it was another website that wasn't working on our network (but ONLY on our network).

Since I'm not a coffee addict or in the middle of redecorating my house, I didn't worry too much about these things. But then, last week, the situation took a turn for the worse. After being laid off, I was eligible for unemployment. I have to file every week and, you guessed it--the website I needed wasn't working at our house. The next day, David tried to start work on our taxes, only to discover that Turbo Tax wasn't working. A quick trip to his sister's house confirmed that both of those websites were, in fact, up and running.

Now, towels and lattes are one thing. But taxes and unemployment claims are another. This problem had to be fixed. (No disrespect meant to BBB and Starbucks. I happen to love both stores and their products.)

Since these websites worked on our computers everywhere but our house, and since other people's computers mysteriously stopped being able to access the Internet when they brought their laptops to our house, it seemed clear that the problem was not our computers, but the network at home. It was like there was a big, anti-BBB, -Starbucks, -Turbo Tax, and -unemployment bubble surrounding our house. That, at least, may have been easier to fix. But I digress.

I called AT&T, who provides us with our Internet. I spent roughly two hours on the phone with a man who was extremely nice but, sadly, unhelpful. He did reiterate to me several times that AT&T and the network were NOT the problem, because we could access the Internet.  Point taken. However, we couldn't access ALL of the Internet. We couldn't find ANY website we wanted. And a couple of those websites, we really needed. So, we still had a problem.

After I got off the phone with AT&T, they called back. This time, it was a woman in San Francisco who had checked the signals and assured me they were coming through clearly. She suggested I switch browsers. I told her I'd already tried but that it hadn't worked. She, too, was very nice but ultimately not very helpful. I gave up.... at least for a while.

That night (after going to my sister-in-law's house to file for unemployment for the week, and after David had tried calling AT&T and got disconnected and did not get a return call, despite their taking his number in case of a disconnection and promising to call back immediately), I spent another hour or so chatting online with an AT&T rep, who tried yet a few more things to fix the problem, all to no avail. We gave up, decided I'd go to Best Buy in the morning (the employees there have often been able to solve my computer problems, even those not directly related to their products or services) and went to bed.

I was about to doze off when David said, "Maybe it would work if we unplugged the Ethernet cord and plugged it directly into the computer."

I was almost asleep, so I think my response was something like "Mmmmmm." But his words did come back to me the next day after a trip to Best Buy.

I've always gotten good help from Best Buy employees, and this time was no exception. The guy told me he'd never heard of this particular problem but suggested that a new router might be the key. We'd bought a new modem a few months before and knew that our router was on its last leg. Why the router would have this problem, and why a new one would fix it, no one was sure, but it seemed worth a try.

I spent $40 on the new router--which, I was assured, could be returned if it wasn't the solution--and headed home. I set it up without too much trouble. There was only one small problem--it wouldn't connect to the Internet. David and I both have laptops and have a wireless Internet connection. I had to plug the Ethernet cable in to my computer to set up the router, and when I unplugged it when I was finished with the installation, the Internet connection was gone. What good was a laptop without a wireless connection? That reminded me of David's comment the night before. Turned out he had been right... but we still needed a wireless connection.

I called Netgear, the maker of the router, to see if they could help me. The call turned out to be shorter and more successful than the one to AT&T the day before. I'm still not entirely sure, but I think the fact that I'd named the new network the same name that it had had from the old router was the problem. It also didn't help that the password I'd chosen hadn't come up. At the Netgear rep's instructions, I deleted the old network and changed the password again to the one I wanted, and.... IT WORKED. I couldn't believe it. I'm sure the Netgear lady thought I was crazy to be so excited, but I couldn't help it. As soon as I hung up with her, I called David. The conversation went something like this:

Him: "Hey, what's up?"


Him: "That's great! You fixed it! Way to go!"


Him: Silence. Probably wondering what the crazy person on the other end of the line had done with his wife.

I realized later that years (literally, years) ago, someone else had exclaimed the same sentiment that I had: ALL the websites worked, and they worked wirelessly! This was several years ago, when wireless networks were invented. And here I was, saying the same thing.... years later.

Oh well. I don't care.... I'm just excited that now ALL the websites work, and that I can file for unemployment and file my taxes while reading about lattes and new towels and sheets.

Ah, it's the little things...


  1. This whole post reminds me of non-smoking smoke breaks! This is the kind of stories you would tell me on the sidewalk outside of our office. Aw I miss you!

  2. Haha... yeah, we certainly had some good stories. :) I miss you too!