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How Not To Kill Your Computer

I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with computers. Okay, so not always. It started my senior year in high school, when for some bizarre reason I decided to take a computer programming class (learning a language which no high school senior in the past fifteen years – at least – would have heard of). Today, the fierce cycling of emotions usually revolves around the Internet.

It was bad enough when we lived in the suburbs and the Fios Internet would go goofy sometimes. “What’s wrong with this thing? Is it our box? What is Verizon doing? AARGH!! I hate Verizon Fios! I hate the Internet!”

That was my reaction to the maybe five percent of the time that there were connection issues.

(I’m still waiting for AT&T to call and tell me why on earth they couldn’t run DSL to Plano, TX. Hello? Can you hear me?)

And then, we moved to the middle of nowhere

If I could go back to my suburban self and SLAP her for complaining about the Internet service, I would. Man, people just don’t know when they’ve got it good! Probably a good FIFTY percent of the time that we are trying to do something online, we lose Internet connection. This is because we live at a high-ish altitude in a semi-humid area where the edge of cold fronts and the edge of warm fronts are constantly colliding, and this somehow interferes with the signal. At least, that’s my theory.

J deals with it pretty well. Yeah, it’s pretty easy to be laid back about a glitchy Internet connection when you’re not doing research, uploading books to the Kindle store (or trying to set up promos for said books), blogging, downloading podcasts, or uploading videos to YouTube.

Me, I’m another story. You think my Internet conniption fits were bad in Plano? Honey, you should see me now!

But even THIS frustrated my husband!

When we bought B’s computer, the weather was fair. And continued to be fair. But as soon as he begun using it, neither of our computers could keep an Internet connection for more than ten or fifteen minutes. By the fourth or fifth day, the Internet wouldn’t stay connected for more than a minute at a time!

B and I were both getting frustrated beyond measure, and even J had something to say about it. He was still the more relaxed one, however; he had to sneak up from behind me to take the sledgehammer out of my hand.

“That’s it!” I shouted. “If you won’t let me kill the computer, then we’re going into town and talk to our ISP.”

I marched into the store with a six-shooter in each hand and a scowl on my face.

No, I didn’t. I never scowl at service people. They get enough crap from impatient customers who act like the problem is the CSR’s fault.

When the woman asked me what was going on, I explained our situation with a smile. Nobody else had been in to complain, she said when I asked, but she would put in a ticket to their tech for us.

When we got home, J got on B’s computer and figured it out: the consarned machine was downloading tons of updates! It hadn’t been the ISP’s fault at all. The next morning, I check the phone to see if the tech had called. No, but the ISP had sent a text message saying that in the past ten days, we had already used up 80% of our bandwidth – and we had twenty days left until the next billing cycle! Aaahh!!!

Note that up until then, we had only ever used about 20% of our bandwidth FOR THE ENTIRE MONTH.

I hoped beyond hope that it was the downloading taking up all the gigs. J thought it was. I called the ISP and upgraded from 25 to 50 GB per month. I asked her, and she said yes, if you buy a new computer all the updating can be quite the gigabyte hog.

Blah. Stuck with almost double the cost for Internet for three months, all because of a new computer. But we were all relieved to understand the problem now. There was not a giant, invisible cloud sitting on the cell tower, laughing at and mocking us because it was keeping the signal from going anywhere.

On the upside, the tech had done something to increase our uploading and downloading speeds, so that the updating finished quickly that morning (and I no longer have to wait 30 minutes to upload a ten-minute video – yay!)

The downloading of updates finally finished, and we could all happily continue on our merry Internet-using way, right?

The plot thickens

I wish that were the end of the story. But it’s not. Recently, I made the mistake of introducing B to the world of video games (yup, I’d kept him back in the Dark Ages with me – and wish we would’ve stayed there. But that’s another blog post for another day). Remember B, my hypersensitive son who gets angry at the drop of a hat?

Well, even with the updating on his computer finished, and even when the weather is decent, and even with the fix the ISP tech made, it turns out that the Internet drops a lot more hats than we previously thought. See, now that he’s playing games, the router is plugged in a lot longer, and so we’re seeing a proportionate increase in the number of Internet glitches. Along with a proportionate increase in the number of meltdowns, fits, stomping, yelling, and slamming out the door.

No, not me, silly! I’m talking about B. It’s especially bad when we’ve just discovered a new game that looks really, really cool and that we’re so excited about we can’t sleep for thinking about playing it the next day.

I’ve already told him two or three times in the past week that if he breaks his computer, we’re not getting him another one. Good thing we hid the hammers from him.

On the other hand, I still know where they are, even though J stowed the sledgehammer in a safe place. Hmm…better go talk to J about this.

Anyway, time to talk to B about expectations, I think.  While I tend to be optimistic, we’d better make an exception for the wireless Internet service out here and take on the old philosophy: “Blessed are they who expect nothing, for they shall not be disappointed.”


P.S. – Therefore, you should be jumping for joy that I was able to publish this post…

P.P.S. – Oh, so, how not to kill your computer: have an Internet connection that works. If that’s impossible, pick up a sledgehammer, run to the nearest boulder, pretend it’s your computer, and let ‘er loose!

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