Tuesday, June 3, 2008

My Wireless Router, a Love/Hate Relationship

The thought of drinking my morning coffee, writing and researching on the front porch, has haunted me for years. One glorious fall weekend years ago, in a cabin by the Nolin River I was able to realize my dream.

It was raining. The porch was covered and screened from bugs. I sat cross-legged in a rocking chair and typed away for hours. Paradise found, I thought, this is the way it “Should be.”

Last year we put a roof over our deck, turning it into a comfortable front porch. This winter I resurrected a dead laptop, installed wireless router, and bought a wireless card; all in pursuit of the Dream. I got it all set up, working with wires, and then unplugged the laptop. While I sat at the office table, I had internet. So I carried the laptop into the den. I was able to get new web-pages sitting on the couch in front of the fireplace.

That night, I carried the laptop into the living room, plopped down beside my husband, fired up the laptop, waited for the popup to announce that I had a wireless connection. Nothing! The laptop bogged down so badly I couldn’t get Word to come up. I rebooted the laptop, the popup popped, it said I was connected, but I couldn’t get any pages. Argg!

Being a tech savvy person with a degree in IT, I knew that the problem wasn’t my trusty DSL connection. It hadn’t wavered in three years, bless its little gizmo heart. I went to the source of the problem: the router. I pulled the plug from the back, counted to ten, plugged the router back in, and then went back to the living room. The wireless network came back up, behaving itself the rest of the evening. I had conquered!

Unfortunately this was the opening shot in my ongoing war with my router.

My wireless network, like most of the rotten little gizmos, is finicky about connecting. My house is 70 feet long, hardly a McMansion, but there are three walls between my office and the living room. A network connection in the living room is a crapshoot at best. If I carry my laptop to the next room, my bedroom, I can’t get Internet at all.

In fact, if I want to use the laptop at all in the bedroom, I’d better disable the wireless card or the laptop will use all its memory to connect to the network. Under those conditions I can’t use Word at all, it freezes solid.

What to do?

Routers like my Linksys are stupid little boxes. They run on firmware, software by any other name still has bugs galore! I knew from my IT job that updating firmware fixed a lot of router problems. So I went to the Linksys website, checked the FAQ page for directions, then downloaded the packets to fix my beastly gizmo. Everything went fine. There was only one thing to do, test it.

That first night, I had Internet in the bedroom.

I don’t know why it worked that one night, but it hasn’t worked since. Rats, foiled again! But now I can get internet in the living room, as long as the TV isn’t on.

Go Figure!

Technology is only fun when it works. The rest of the time, it sucks!

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