Don't ask me if it's T1, DSL or doo-wah-diddy. I don't know. I do know that if the plug goes into the special wall outlet and if the little computer screen-glyph in the corner of the screen doesn't have a red X (or in Windows 7, a little yellow triangle with an exclamation point), then I am connected to the whole world.
I also know that, Friday night, when I left the Undisclosed Location, I had Internet service. It was wonderful. I could push one button on my keyboard and my home page would spring into existence. I got to visit sites that would have taken me forever to load. I wanted to mention a couple of these in my next post. Maybe I still will -- in my next post, assuming I can ever get back to those carefree days of only last week.
On Monday, though, I had nothing. There was that accusing little yellow triangle.
I called Dell.
Now, I had done nothing to the wall connection, nothing to the network connections, nothing to anything except to remove the ethernet cord from my old machine and attach it to the new one. For three days I had joy unbounded.
Dell was sympathetic.
But, ladies and gentlemen, the people at the other end of the phone in these customer service locations, whether somewhere in the American heartland, the suburbs of Mumbai, or just outside of Manila, don't know everything.
Indeed, in the past three days I have learned how to get a "C:\" in Windows 7 and how and where to find the IP address -- only to find out late last night, and have confirmed this morning, that the address I was dutifully reading off was -- on the new machine set up in the Inner Sanctum -- merely a dummy Microsoft default address, the kind that some idiot made up to look like an IP address instead of providing useful information like "no active connection." In the meantime, with Dell's active cooperation, I had done the following:
- Performed a system restore to a happier time on Friday morning, before four "critical" security updates were downloaded (leading Dell and me to suspect, for a time, that Mr. Gates was protecting me from harm on the Internet by barring my access completely);
- Replaced my printer -- it jammed its last envelope in the midst of these other crises, turning my mood from sour to suicidal;
- Hosted a Dell technician who replaced the mother board because the suspicion then was that the internet card built therein was defective;
- Procured and installed a new ethernet cord to replace the one that had served without incident for four years;
- Reset my machine to original factory specs -- meaning that the programs and data I had loaded on last week were lost forever... or so I was told.
Looking back, now, even with the task at hand still not complete, it seems I may have been unduly mulish. But, from the outset, I knew this much: The only times we had ever had Internet connectivity problems were (1) when we failed to pay the bill (some people are so unreasonable) and (2) when the router or modem or whatever it is overheated and shut off. (Yes, I learned to fix this problem without knowing what it was that I was fixing.) On these occasions service was denied to the entire suite, not just to a particular office. We'd never had an issue with just one office hitherto -- and we had a brand new Windows 7 machine in said office. Was I really so unreasonable in assuming that these two events were related? Why didn't I also blame the printer failure on Windows 7? (Why? Because inkjet printers fail every couple of years, usually at inconvenient times.)
It now appears that there may be a physical problem with my Internet connection after all. I am awaiting a call today from a technician who does work at my wife's school. The teachers there swear by this guy -- and I'm hoping he can help me, too.
Perhaps I'll be able to recapture those happy times of only last week yet again.
It wasn't just the phony IP address that the nice folks at Dell overlooked. Yesterday evening, in the course of my insistence that it must be some software bug, a nice lady guided me through the factory reset options. But she was unfamiliar with Windows 7. It turns out that Windows 7 makes you back up everything before you reset and this is saved to an "Emergency" folder in the machine. The nice Dell lady led me to believe that this was just a palliative, that it would not really save anything that I could actually recover after the restore operation. She seemed surprised, then, at how long the backup took.
I tried looking for the "Emergency" folder after the restart, hoping against hope that I might be able to restore the status quo ante given the spectacular failure of this latest effort to restore my ties to the outside world. But I didn't find it -- not right away, anyway -- not until I was about done reloading my programs. Despite the top layer of "libraries," there is a still a directory structure in Windows 7, just as there is still a kernel of DOS lurking beneath the pretty Windows 7 shell. The directory, C:\EMERGENCY, seems to have an executable restoration file sitting there. If I'd found it sooner, I would have used it. As it was, I didn't make the attempt.
Perhaps someone who stumbles upon this will have experience in having tried it before? What happened when the attempt was made?