Technically Speaking Part II

This is the conclusion of the saga I started back last month with my TP-Link router…

As I’m sure I’ve mentioned before, I’m no newbie when it comes to computers, computer systems and the like.  I remember (vividly) a time when connecting to a computer network took way more than just flipping a switch.  Plug-and-play just didn’t exist in the 1980s.  Hell, personal computers were in their infancy at the time I was in high school. A TRaSh-80 was something you got at a Radio Shack.  Needless to say, I thought I was equal to the task of figuring this out.  Apparently, nothing could be further from the truth.

After having worked on different solutions, for many days I was rewarded with failure after failure.  Giving up after the fifth or sixth go-round of shutting off the new router, then the modem, then powering one on and then the other (and vice-versa) I posted a cry for help on the router manufacturer’s help forum.  There ensued a spirited conversation with a couple of tech-heads, but the solution remained elusive.  Although in the end, at least one hit on the right idea, even if it was sort of backwards when he suggested it.

I ordered a replacement from Amazon, thinking the router I had was defective.  Amazon was very obliging and sent me one in a couple of days.  Being wary of failure, I put off trying it out for about three weeks.  I’m an ace procrastinator when I have the opportunity.  I definitely put that to good use, even though I should not have.  This week I’ve been on vacation and many opportunities to work on this presented themselves.  But like some other things I’ve been meaning to do, it was put off time and again.

Until yesterday morning.  It just so happened that my wife had a dentist appointment in the afternoon, and I’d successfully discovered a manual for the fiber modem that I have.  Of course it’s not so easy as you’d think since it’s written in Portuguese.  Still, it had pictures, so with my basic understanding of a bit of Italian and Spanish, I pieced together how to disconnect the fiber line from the modem, having hit upon the idea it might be keeping power to the modem even after having disconnected the power cord.  After a little pulling and squeezing, I was finally able to remove the cable without breaking it.  The manual for the modem said to wait at least five minutes for the modem to ‘forget’ the MAC address of the old router.  Just to be sure, I waited eight minutes.  Put everything back together, powered things up and crossed my fingers.  Green light!  Success!  I fixed…oh damn.  It went back to Orange.  And stayed there.  Checking the web browser, setting up the router for the umpteenth time, I determined it still wasn’t connecting to the internet.

The time had come.  Cracked open the new router, saved the packing material and put the other one into the new box for shipping back to Amazon.  Connected it to the modem, turned it on and….bupkus.  It didn’t connect.  Again.  But even with this failure I discovered it wasn’t the router, it was something else.  Apparently at my ISP there was a breakdown in communication.  So I called their helpline and talked to one of the customer service reps.  I was all prepared to explain everything that I did when she mentioned that she needed to open an IT support ticket.  For what purpose I inquired.  So one of their techs could erase the MAC address of the old router from their system, thereby allowing the new router to communicate with them.  I asked how long it was going to take.  Just a few minutes she replied, but they had to call me back.  So I was going to be offline for awhile.  Unless I wished to reconnect the old router while I waited.  Thinking that was going to be more trouble than it was worth, I told my wife we were going to be offline for the time being, if she needed to connect to the ‘Net I could create a hot-spot on my phone and she could connect to that.  She said she was ‘good’ she could wait.

Less than 30 minutes later the phone rang.  George was on the line, ready to help.  I explained in basic detail what the problem was, even admitting that I’d dismantled the modem I had been provided four years ago, having been extra careful not to damage it.  I even lamented over the fact that the fiber modems they provide for their customers are nearly impossible to troubleshoot, as they don’t have easily accessible operating manuals.  Unless you’re ok reading Portuguese.  He apparently was unaware of it, but as I had apparently reassembled the modem correctly, he was able to see that it was online, but the router wasn’t powered up as he wasn’t seeing it operating from his end.  I have to be honest, when he said that it was a little creepy, that even though he was a good 12-15 miles away, he was able to see whether or not the modem was connected on my end, and the router wasn’t transmitting.  When you think about it of course it makes sense, they’d have to be able to see the hardware from their end in order to be able to better troubleshoot.

George asked for the MAC address of the old router.  I read it off to him, he confirmed that was the one that was listed in his system.  He asked for the new router’s address.  I provided that as well, he swapped out the addresses in his terminal and asked me to reconnect the router to the modem and power it up.  Voila!  The light turned green and stayed that way.  I went to the web browser, set up the router through it and it connected to the Internet as if it had been doing it all the while.  Damn.  I thanked George, he asked if there was anything else he could help with.  I said no, getting the router connected was my concern and that was now accomplished.  He wished me a good day, said if there was any further issues to give them a call and terminated the connection.

All for the want of a horseshoe nail.  Or a phone call.

My only lament is I sent back to Amazon a perfectly good router that wasn’t broken.  And that I spent a month troubleshooting and procrastinating when that phone call could have easily been made.  Damn it.

 

Interstellar Littering

So NASA successfully deposited another lander on Mars today.  Although in the process, they managed also to leave a bunch more debris on the surface of the planet, that will never be used again, certainly not for its intended purpose.  Basically, it’s just tossed aside because it has served its need in getting the lander to the planet.  By my count, we have put seven landers on the planet, along with assorted heat shields, balloons, parachutes, and (so far) two sky cranes which don’t have anything to do with the machines themselves, except for they were absolutely necessary to get the equipment to the planet in one piece.

It’s quite ironic to me that both JPL and NASA are very circumspect about not wanting to introduce Earth microbes onto other planets in our solar system, but they don’t seem to care too much about littering them.  Certainly, the Moon has been turned into a junkyard of sorts over the last 54 years, and near-Earth orbit is practically a shooting gallery of defunct satellites, space junk and it’s a miracle no one’s been killed in a space station from flying debris.  Space Command is currently keeping track of more than 4,000 objects in orbit around the planet, and that’s just the tip of the problem.

I’m all for exploring the solar system, and finding out about ancient life on the other planets that we have here, but do we have to make each one as cluttered as the one we’re currently living on?  Honestly, it doesn’t say much about us as a species if the only thing another space-faring civilization that comes across us discovers is we can’t pick up after ourselves.  I can actually see aliens arriving, dropping a pile of our space junk on the red carpet, and leaving, without so much as a word in their first contact, just a look of disgust.

Update:  Upon reading this again this morning, I feel it’s worth it to say that the United States space agencies aren’t the only ones to blame in this.  Certainly, the now-defunct Soviet Union, its successor Russia; India, China, Japan, the UK and I think South Africa, as well as South Korea, have all managed to put rockets into both low-Earth orbits as well as put landers and rovers on different planetary bodies in the interest of exploration.  In the coming years, I expect it’s only going to get worse, as the exploration of the cosmos steps up, in the expectation that we’re going to be putting people on the Moon as well as Mars.

In any plans though going forward, I would think there should be a serious discussion about what to do with the stewardship of these planetary bodies.  After all, they don’t really belong to us.  Or they will when we’ve treated them like the fictional planet of Sakaar from the MCU Universe, or Arcadia 234 from the movie Soldier.

February Chill

Saying it’s cold in February is like saying ‘water is wet‘.   It’s just something that you accept as being factual.  Of course, unless you’re living under a rock currently, you’re aware there’s a major cold snap happening in the southern United States, and people there are learning what it’s like to live in New England, or the Midwest in wintertime.  The language of frozen pipes and using a hairdryer to keep your water pump going is quickly being learned in places where such contraptions were unheard of before.   Just because we’ve increasingly become involved in a more modern world, with advanced devices doesn’t mean Mother Nature can’t throw a spanner into the works.

Up here in the Northeast, we expect every February there’s going to be a day or few days where the temperature is going to get below zero.  It’s expected.  In some ways, if it doesn’t happen, it goes down in the calendar as an unusual year.  I remember when I was working at my previous employer, back in ’95 or ’97 the temperature got down to about -17°F/-22°C.  I think that was about the only time in my recollection I was unable to get my vehicle started due to the cold.  I had to get a jump from the local garage.  Fortunately, I had AAA at the time (still do, even though we only use it every once in a Blue Moon it’s still something good to have) and they got the truck started (at the time I was driving a 1987 Ford Bronco II) and I was on my way home in due time.

Going by what the NWS (National Weather Service) is saying, today’s 3°F/-16°C is probably going to be the low temperature for this area for the winter of 2020-21.  Starting this weekend we’re due for a warming trend, and it will last until the end of the month.  Starting in March, temperatures are going to typically be in the 30s and 40s, and winter will be over completely later that month.  Even Easter is going to be early this year, in the beginning of April.

According to the thermometer, it’s already nearly 20°F/-6.6°C outside, so the cold snap is over.  Supposedly we’re getting another winter type storm tomorrow, but it’s not going to be as much as we ended up not getting yesterday.  At any rate I was able to take my snowblower out for another spin, and I got enough gas to last me for the remainder of the winter, and I can use it for the lawn mower in another couple of months.

I think tonight will only be a 2 blanket night with a comforter.  I might even sleep without my socks.  We’ll see.