Tag Archives: gadgets

Only Child cut off from communication

Only Child wonders if we should go back to simpler technology, like the rotary phone

Both my phone line and Internet suddenly went dead yesterday. I’d spent most of the morning emailing and then stopped to put dinner in the crockpot, something I should’ve done earlier. When I returned to the computer I couldn’t get to any website on the Internet. Then the ISP reboot menu popped up. But rebooting didn’t work this time (It has before). I picked up the phone. Dead. So were the extensions. So I panicked.

I felt like I was living a version of the new TV series Revolution but the electricity, gas, and water continued to function. Some of you may know I don’t have a cell phone. I refuse to be plugged in 24/7 and on a practical level I cannot afford the high cell phone rates charged in Canada.

I don’t remember the phone service being cut off for any reason when I was a child. Ever. Even during the big electrical blackout of 1965 on the northeast coast of the United States and going into Ontario, the phones worked. That was back in the grey ages when everything wasn’t electrical. Fast forward to the big blackout in Ohio and Ontario in August 2003 and my phone still worked – providing I used the “old fashioned” wall phone in the kitchen. If I had tried the electrically-connected phone in my home office, then I might have disconnected the phone service.

The situation gets weirder. I ran to my friend’s across the street (the one next door wasn’t in). Maybe just as well as the one across the street has the same telephone service provider as I do and next door doesn’t. The former’s phone worked fine and I booked a technician to come and fix the service for later yesterday.

I returned home to more weirdness. The Internet was now working. Okay. But so were the phones. (I have a DSL service which splits the Internet and phone service so if one is down the other usually isn’t). So I had to contact the phone company repair again to say – “It’s working.” But I requested the technician come anyway to check all the wires. They complied because I have phone care warranty. An hour or so later someone else called me from the phone company to say that all was working and they were cancelling the tech call. No. No. No. I went into my concern blurb and the phone care. This person said it could be one of their roving (as in a vehicle) repair people stopping to fix something and that would shut off the service for an hour or so. I’m supposed to guess that this is what happened? I’ve had phone disruptions/problems twice before in the past year and a half so I take no chances. When the tech person arrived and checked it out he found some bees in the phone box outside (he chased them out) and a frayed wire which he fixed. Scary stuff especially as I was stung three times by insects this summer.

The whole situation makes me think…again. I believe in conserving my use of utilities, but not to the point where I’m left in silence in the dark. That situation, or even partial situation, sends me into a big panic. Being an only person here doesn’t help…at least for moral and emotional support. However, no matter how many people are around when a utility stops working, the bottom line is you are isolated. Some people may want to go out and congregate with a lot of others. I tend to go out to get help only if I can’t phone for help. And stew and steam about it until it is fixed. That part comes from being alone.

Another thought: have we as a society become so wrapped in too much technology that when it goes it affects us more than say during the 1965 blackout? (I didn’t panic then. But I was a teenager at home with my mother; it actually happened while we were in a grocery store.) Has too much technology too fast doomed everything (appliances, computers, phones, sound systems, utilities, etc.) to a short shelf life filled with snafus and bumps along the way?

Cheers.

Sharon A. Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1960s, Living alone, Only child, Phone and Internet problems, Problem solving, Technology problems

Only Child chased by technological woes

How Only Child feels about her laptop’s operating system and the company that makes the system.

I want to go back a few years, at least to the mid 1990s when computer technology wasn’t so complicated and we still had email. Or maybe back further to the early 1960s – at least my parents were still alive. Living the life of an only person is getting tougher and tougher financially, especially when technology gives me a hard time to the tune of dollars and no sense. I’m ready to throw a very hot towel at a few companies. For my own protection I’m not naming companies, although readers can probably guess one of them.

Here’s what is going on:

  1. Last week, my computer techie (no, not my son. I do hire a computer tech service biz for some things) had to reinstall my laptop software because Windows 7 refused to get me connected via my password. Fortunately, my techie is good, so he found Windows 7 hidden on my hard drive, as well as some other programs and my files, plus downloaded/installed the others. But it was Windows 7 from when I got my laptop two years ago. So 98 updates had to be installed. Done by me, no less after the techie left. Yesterday I decided to check the updates downloaded and “ready” to be installed (I have a suspicious nature thanks to past experiences), Guess what stared me in the face? A service pack update. My techie just installed that five weeks before the password problem. No matter how many times I removed the tic mark before that one (or five other updates) and despite hitting “ok” afterwards, when I checked back, the same damn updates were clicked again, including the service pack update. As soon as I shut down the laptop, it would install. That sucker takes an hour to install and does it in stages. I wasn’t comfortable about doing it last time so had my techie do it; and I wasn’t comfortable doing it now. So I had to leave the laptop on overnight until this morning when he arrived to fix the system. He did and there were several more updates connected plus he installed an updated version of my anti-virus program. He gave me a discount but the two visits cost me just over $400.. I’m still going to try and collect from you know-what company – I can hear you now “Good luck.” However, I subscribe to Windows Secrets, the newsletter put out by Windows guru Woody Leonhard and I’m going to email them about my situation.
  2. My cable TV service provider lied last year. When Canada’s TV services went from analog to digital a techie at my cable company reassured me that if I have cable service I didn’t need to get a digital converter or adapter. I’d still get the service. At the end of April I received an important notice from the cable company. Guess what? All cable TV stations are being converted from analog to digital – gradually this year. The first wave starts May 31. They are providing a free digital adapter and free courier delivery, with no extra monthly fees, but are vague about who pays for the installation. The key words are “it is easy to install.” Yeah, right, if you’ve done it before” as a friend told me. I am also still waiting for delivery of the adapter seven business days after ordering by phone (all recorded voices). You get a phone number to call for initialization when it’s installed. Initialization? What is this? A credit card? Also, nothing is free as my rates went up one month before this notice arrived. I called the company’s billing number. As I suspected they’ve run out of adapters and it’s on order and should be here near the end of May. There is a charge if their technician installs it but I’m getting $5. off my monthly bill for a year because I’m a longtime customer, which I’m told is not connected to installation charges for the adapter. Really? A promotion that is run concurrently with this adapter nonsense?
  3. No. 2 brings up another technological problem in the electric department. The outlet by the TV is an old-two prong (the house was build in 1949 and not all outlets were upgraded to three-prong). While the adapter itself is two-prong (with an adapter – pun intended – plug-in) when you add in my TV and a lamp, I need a power board. Power boards are three-prong. The alternative is to run an extension cord across the front of the covered radiator to the other side of the room for the lamp. That outlet is three-prong. My neighbour across the street, an electrician, suggested doing this when I asked him if he would upgrade my electrical outlet. He refused to help me. Even if I could afford a digital TV, the outlet would still need to be changed to a three-prong. I’m going to ask the handyman I hire to do odd jobs as he is also trained in electrical work.

These are the fallouts from being an only person – no siblings and no partner to help. “Help” is a four-letter word which can mean anything from “money” to “knowledge and experience” to “moral support.”

Usually I like to take a learning experience spin on these setbacks. However, the only lesson learned here is to continue to be suspicious, to read between the lines and to ask questions and get facts. Be like a good journalist. Remember the old saying, “buyer beware.” That seems to apply beyond buying scenarios.

And to pile on more client work to pay the bills.

Comments from readers?

Cheers.

Sharon Crawford

Only Child Writes

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Filed under 1960s, Aloneness, Computer problems, Consumer action, finances, Learning Experience, Only child, Problems, Sharon Crawford, Technology problems, TV digital analog problems