Switch To Wireless Internet

by JL Beeken on 1-29-2011

This week I decided to switch to wireless Internet.

I’ve been thinking about a netbook and being able to use that somewhere besides sitting in my usual chair. It might weigh only 3 pounds so I could put it on my lap and stretch my legs out for a change. Maybe not all that different than sitting in my usual chair? Then I got sidetracked to Kindle. Since eReaders don’t really ‘do PDFs’ or videos either, which is mostly what I want, that pushed me over to Apple iPad. And from there into the depths of Tablet PC’s and that’s where my heart is now set.

My ISP is sending me a wireless modem. Free for the duration of my contract with them. Instead of having a modem and a router, the router is already built into the modem. How cool is that. They’re doubling my Internet speed and they reduced my monthly bill by $3! Whose birthday champagne were they drinking over there? And for no reason except I called them up to ask a question.

Wireless CardDELL sent me a wireless card to go with my new desktop. All I had to do was work up the energy to call them. Talking to India is always a challenge and that’s why it’s taken this long. The wireless card I probably could have handled but I was confused by the 90-page user manual and the black box with the 6-foot cable. Turns out that’s the antenna. That’s all my computer desk needs; another box with another 6-foot cable. All this to dispense with the ethernet cable. Surely there’s some irony here.

It took me two hours to update the security on my laptop before I could use Skype to make the call. You’ve heard about my laptop. One click can take twenty minutes to register. And then I called.

The tech couldn’t explain to me in English I could understand which way around the card was supposed to be inserted. If I’d looked at it for 5 seconds that would have been obvious. Sort of.

For the sake of simplicity, I tried to reduce her to answering Yes or No. I ask the questions; you just say Yes or No. But then she’d take off again on long rambling strung-together words. I haven’t screamed at a tech support person for the past 3 years; I’ve really mellowed out. And I didn’t scream at her either.

All by herself she gave up and put me through to her supervisor. Within a minute it became clear that the card was not built to fit my computer. That’s the third time in a year I’ve been sent DELL parts that belong to other computers.

The wireless card left a gaping hole in the side of my computer about 1″ by 2″. Not a huge crater but a large dust problem. My choices were now:

  • Get a non-DELL part that fits that I would be responsible for replacing if it fails.
  • Get a wireless USB key from DELL.
  • Plug the hole with Thermocol. Thermo-What? Or something else … whatever … as long as it’s non-flammable. OK, now I had to be an expert on flammable and non-flammable materials used to plug holes in computers where the parts don’t fit. That’s way too much responsibility. I mean, try Googling that last sentence.

So, they’re sending me a USB key. This call took 1 hour and 48 minutes. Then I had to put my desktop back together. Four hours total going nowhere. Not today particularly, because it’s all in the attitude isn’t it?… but some days I wonder if this is the day when my love affair with computers grinds to its absolute and final end.

From here out this should be relatively painless:

  • Plug the USB key into one of the non-surplus USB ports. Install the driver from the enclosed CD.
  • Plug in the wireless modem.
  • Call my ISP tech support for configuration ins and outs.

By the end of the week it should be done.

Next step: Decide if I want to spend my life savings on a Tablet PC.

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