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Saturday, 7 January 2017

Cause and Effect...

Microsoft Windows XP Logo
Losing XP in 2014 causes internet loss in 2016-17...
... or, how Microsoft's abandonment of Windows XP led to my starting the new year without internet access.

Several years ago, we purchased a small netbook computer to take on our travels. When these little things came out, it was quite exciting because suddenly, computer nerds didn't have to travel with large laptops. The netbooks had only a ten inch screen but they were fully functioning computers with responsive keyboards and abundant hard drive space. Our little Acer was equipped with Windows XP, which is still my favourite version of Windows.

In 2012, Microsoft announced that it would no longer support Win XP beyond April 2014, which meant that we had to find ourselves a new little computer by that time. In the intervening years, netbooks had fallen out of favour, but I was still able to source an Asus unit with an eleven inch screen. It came with the horrifying Windows 8, which — as soon as it was available — I upgraded to the not quite as horrifying but still aggravating Windows 10.

Bottom line was, however, this computer ran as slow as MOLASSES from your refrigerator.

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My other half put up with this as his main computer for a couple of years... until last month when he started playing some games on Facebook (oy!) and announced that he wanted a new computer because the drag on the one that he had was just, well, draggy.

Acer Switch One
New computer...
We got him a new Acer Switch One and it was zippy in comparison. Hubby happy with purchase. End of story, right?

Then I noticed that something else was getting "draggy" as he played these games... our internet connection. It slowed to not allowing me do anything on my computer as he played and the connection started to break on a regular basis. I took to resetting the router several times a day.

The week between Christmas and New Year, I decided to take advantage of the holiday sales and bought a new router. (Our existing router was coming up ten years old and was two "standards" behind the current.) I started what should have been a fifteen minute installation on the morning of December 30 and then ran into problems.

If you are still reading, let me give you an important takeaway from my experience:

never start a hardware installation right in front of a long weekend

I called up my ISP and described what was going on. We soon suspected that the modem might actually be wonky, but the help desk guys wanted me to test out the direct connection on a second computer just to be sure. (Who actually has a second computer these days with an ethernet port??) I had errands to run, however, so I said I'd try later on by borrowing Mom's laptop.

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Meanwhile, the minutes are ticking away on the last business day prior to New Year's weekend. I guess they eventually came to their senses, because someone called back while I was out and said that he'd send out a new modem... given that we'd had ours for almost ten years. It was sent right away, but with the upcoming holiday, it wouldn't arrive until Jan 3 at the earliest.

Later that afternoon, I reconnected the old router and the internet connection was back up. Yay, right?

Dead modem...
Not so lucky the next day: the modem's lights were dark. Over the next few days, a couple of indicators lit up, but it was never operational again.

So it was the modem.

And now, it was a matter of no internet.

I don't have data on my cell phone plan. Hubby does, but it's not much of an allowance before extra fees kick in. It was quite an adjustment over that period to check my email just three times a day and do whatever I needed to do online (like answer those emails) and then turn it off. All those spontaneous thoughts of "I wonder what..." — and there were a surprising number of those — went unanswered.

The internet and its instant availability have changed the way we live. As I've said before and will likely say again, some of those changes aren't necessarily good. Nevertheless, we've come to rely on having internet as a utility, sort of like heat and electricity.

Now, I'm not saying that I need the internet in the same way that I need heat and electricity — especially not when it's freezing cold as it has been this past week — but not having it wasn't convenient or pleasant. (For example, I wrote this blog post in a text editor since I didn't have access to Blogger.)

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Funny enough, it reminded me of the old dial-up days. I'd dial in, do what I had to do as quickly as possible and then terminate the connection, not wanting to tie up the telephone line. Of course, this was back in the day when people actually had — and depended on — land lines rather than cell phones.

Shiny new router...
Looking back on 2016, it was probably a given that I would close out the year with technology issues.

In June, my hard drive died a slow death that I was fortunate enough to catch in time. It was on its literal last hours while being serviced, when the technician was able to copy everything onto a new drive (solid state — no moving parts!) over the course of a day and a half.

I was prepared for the worst. I keep decent data backups, but having to reinstall everything would have been a horrendous hassle that I wasn't looking forward to. Therefore, if you're still reading, here is the second takeaway from today:

happiness is knowing that your hard drive can be cloned

That said, I didn't exactly break out the champagne on this one. Ten days after I got the computer back, it started freezing and having unexpected shutdowns on an almost daily basis. With a little bit of luck and a lot of research, I got it back to some semblance of stability, but I'd never before seen so many BSODs (blue screens of death) in my life as I have over the past half year.

Apart from world peace, my hope for 2017 is merely to go back to taking my technology for granted, like most people do!

What about you?


  1. Technology can be great and can also make our lives worse off too. People panic when their connections are lost, especially in stores because they can't function or make a sale without the computerized registers. They turn us away rather than write down our purchases and enter the data later. The world would stop if we lost all this techy stuff. But it really wouldn't affect me too much. I'd have more time to sew and knit.

  2. Oh Rochelle I do feel for you! We had so many issues with our internet last year when they decided to roll our the super dooper fast connection and then hound everyone to switch to it! All seems to have settled a bit now - although I think some of it is that we've gotten used to the glitches and the disconnect-reconnect when it all disappears completely (which it seems to quite frequently!!) The internet really has changed a huge amount of the way we live our lives, but I'm trying to embrace it not shun it as our girls are a constant reminder of how fast things are moving and I don't want to be left behind (as my girls often like to point out I am!!!) I like your two wishes for 2017!!! :)

  3. Ah, yes... the old dial up days when we queued to use the Internet and did so in a timely manner so the rest of the family didn't complain too much. And at the time, we didn't think it could get much better. How quickly things change. Glad you got it all up and running eventually.

  4. Bless your heart - I can relate to every word you say. lol May we both have a New Year full of new sewing projects and less computer problems, as I do love my computer but Hate when things go wrong.I really don't know which is the bigger brat at times -me or the computer??? LOL

    1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. I don't tend to get stressed out by much but I can tell when I have computer issues that it wears me down. I wouldn't want to wish them on anyone, so yes, let us both have a year free of tech problems in 2017! :-)


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