Thursday, June 26, 2008

Where do I start?

So, my parents have been having problems getting online. Last time they had problems reading their email, it was because they neglected to double-click on the email subject. I don't know if the reason they weren't double-clicking was because the web interface had changed and they originally didn't have to double-click, or if they simply forgot how the web email interface worked.

Anyway, I was pretty sure that this situation would be similar. I was thinking that in the long term, I should simply come over and install Eudora, a very good email client that I used to use "back in the day".

My Mom cut me some slack and said she would call Verizon herself, and talk to their technical support. I was very encouraged by her proactive attitude, and hoped it would all go well.

Well, she called the tech support, and talked to a very sweet gal. But there was a disconnect somewhere in the conversation. And about an hour later, while I was at work and about to head out to go grocery shopping, I get a phone call.

Mom: "Well, I talked to the gal at Verizon. And now I can't get the modem plugged back in."

Me: "Huh? What do you mean you can't get it plugged back in?"

Mom: "I just can't get it plugged back in."

After explaining I couldn't come over, being told that was ok, but then hearing of some more difficulties they were having, I groaned and said I was coming right over.

I drove like a bat out of hell to get there. I was hoping I'd lose a minimal amount of time plugging the DSL modem back in, and spend most of the time showing Mom how to reset it in the event it went out to lunch again. I assumed that's why the tech. had them unplug the DSL modem's power... to ensure it got a good reset.

I needed to finish helping my parents out quickly so I'd have enough time to go grocery shopping w/o wearing out our babysitter, aka my Father-in-Law.

It's been intensely and unseasonably hot for a few days. The baby has been sleeping with us in the "co-sleeper" bed, in the middle of our bed. He's too long for the co-sleeper, so I literally took scissors and cut off the end!

Logan's been sleeping with us because the master bedroom is the only one that has air conditioning. It got air conditioning in late May one weekend... about a week after a heat-wave.

During the recent heat wave, it never really cooled off at night. Well, our house didn't, anyway! The heat wave was breaking, but I was really wiped out and in a BAD mood.

I got to my parent's place after cursing out several very slow drivers. Knocked impatiently. Marched into the living room, went straight for the computer. Looked at the DSL modem, which was happily plugged in. Reached to my left towards the computer, and noticed...

...that the mouse was unplugged.

Me: "You unplugged the mouse."

Mom: "Yes..."

Me: "Why did you unplug the mouse?"

Mom: "Well, she told me to do that."

Me: "No, she told you to unplug the modem."

Mom: "Oh. I thought she said the mouse."

In all fairness, in the middle of the conversation with the tech, their portable phone died, and they had to call the tech back later to finish trying to fix their internet connection. So, that could have greatly contributed to their confusion about which device to unplug!

That and their hearing may not be all that great. My Mom is 79, and my Dad is 85! And the fact that they can get online and even check and/or type email, considering how recent that technology is and considering how they certainly didn't start out as computer geeks, is something I have to really give them credit for.

I've noticed that the older you are, the harder it is to go through a paradigm shift, especially if you aren't used to adopting new technologies in general. So in order to survive, you basically have to always be learning something new, if only to keep your brain limber enough to handle the next paradigm shift. And of course you have to watch to see what that paradigm shift is going to be, so you don't get left behind. My parents do keep learning, but high-tech stuff is still difficult for them. It would help if they actually were interested in computers... it's really hard to learn something that you aren't interested in. I know from experience, from starting in the wrong Engineering major before I got a clue and went after Computer Science.

So, back to our story:

There I am, finding out that the device that was unplugged was the mouse and not the DSL modem.

I groan, and reach around to plug the mouse back in.

I can't get it to fit.

It's a PS2 connector. It can only go in one way. It's fairly idiot proof.

I carefully try to push it in the way it should go. It won't budge.

I pull it out and look at it.

The pins are bent.

Me: "The pins are bent."

Mom: "What?"

Me: "What did you do to this mouse cable's connector?"

Mom: "Well, we were having problems trying to get it back on. We tried to turn it."

Me, looking horrified, and turning back to the computer: "Oh, I'm sorry."

Mom: "It's ok, dear."

Me: "I was talking to the computer!" Literally, I was. Hey, I'm a computer geek.

I studied the connector. It might be salvageable. I asked Dad for some pliers, and was unfortunately kinda snotty with my folks at one point. I was tired, but I had no excuse. You're supposed to honor your parents. Heh... now that I'm a parent, am hoping my son is merciful with me in my old age, LOL!

I pulled out the keyboard connector and held the mouse and keyboard PS2 connectors next to each other, to get a GOOD reminder of the CORRECT position of the pins. And then I spent the next 20 minutes with the pliers, slowly pushing the pins back into place. It took 20 minutes in part because I'd think I had gotten it, would try to push the connector back in, and it still wouldn't fit. So I'd have to do more fine tuning.

Early on in my pin-unbending experience, I noticed my Dad hovering behind me. Unfortunately, more snottiness on my part ensued.

Me: "Hovering doesn't help."

My Dad took the Lord's name in vain and walked away muttering. I immediately regretted my impatient comment, and apologized later.

I should say that, given how hard it is to reach the back of the computer where it is in the living room, coupled with their age and the low light levels in that section of the living room, it's understandable that they, uhm, didn't get along with the PS2 connector.

And also, in their defense, they have NEVER thought the CD-ROM drive was a cup holder!!!

The long and the short of it is that the mouse is working again. And that as far as I could tell, their phone line was fine. So it was either the DSL modem or something wrong with Verizon. Or so I thought. Anyway, my parent's not being able to get online was not a PEBKAC at all. [PEBKAC == problem exists between keyboard and chair, i.e., user-error.]

Verizon sent someone out and the tech (who my parents were very impressed with) figured out that there was just too much hooked up to that one phone line. It was a very long line that was split twice to go to an answering machine and a fax machine. So he went ahead and added a jack in their wall, and now they are happily back online.

Still thinking about installing Eudora on their computer, though. ;) Afraid the web-interface for reading email is just SO busy. Very ad and news heavy, lots of popups and distractions. Makes it harder for non-techy people to get around. [No offense, Verizon.]

Anyway, I had thought I was doing really well with maintaining my patience, considering how I can handle Logan crying now, but I was wrong. Still need to work on my patience with people above the age of 1, LOL.

Oh, and my parents are NOW very much aware of the fact that NOTHING ON THE BACK OF THE COMPUTER REQUIRES TWISTING IN ORDER TO BE PLUGGED IN!!!!

Me: "Even if it acts like you can twist it, just don't!" Don't worry, I was laughing when I said it, and so were they.

Course, after I told them that, and had driven back home, I remembered how you have to unscrew the 2 screws on a serial connector in order to disconnect it. :P

I think I just need to give them a back-of-the-computer training session, LOL! Or hope that no techs tell them to disconnect a serial cable...

1 comment:

Xane M. said...

Most computers mess up with connectors. Mouses and awkward connectors... Well, I hope that something like this doesn't happen again...