Friday June 3, 2005
‘They’ decided to ‘upgrade’ the broadband service today. Despite best efforts, we were unable to determine exactly who ‘They’ were, nor the actual nature of the ‘upgrade’. All we knew was that someone was playing silly buggers with our service, rendering it unusable from somewhere around 07:00 all the way through to 18:00, when it trickled back to something approaching normal life. Grrr.
“I think we should go out for the day,” I said when Graham phoned the ‘help’ service shortly after 09:00, to be told that the ‘work’ might be complete in four hours. ‘Or so’.
[Okay, that’s enough of the apostrophes. I’ll be good and not use them for the rest of this, except where needed to indicate contractions and possessives.]
“Why’s that, then?” he asked, all innocence.
“Because when they say four hours it’ll turn out to be eight. Or ten. We can kiss the Internet goodbye until this evening, just see if we can’t.”
“Nah,” he said. “You’re just being pessimistic. Besides, I want to cut the grass and such.”
“Well, okay,” I said, walking away from my computer and settling in my reading chair to continue enjoying The Da Vinci Code. “Just don’t get cross if my pessimism is proved correct.”
“I’ll get cross if I want to,” he said. “A bit of cross is good for the circulation.”
“If you say so.”
“I do. I do.”
“Best not start that one again,” I said.
“No. You’re right. I shall go and cut grass.”
So, for a while, all was peaceful. The low-level growl of the mower came in from outside, the clock ticked the seconds away, the seconds stretched to minutes, and the minutes would have stretched to hours if rain hadn’t come in to stop mowing activities.
“How’s it going?” Graham said, all rain spattered and breathless after his dash from the garage to the kitchen.
“Fine,” I said, cautiously. “How’s what going, exactly?”
“Ah. Haven’t really been watching. Seems still to be up for thirty seconds, down for three minutes, repeated ad inifinitum.”
“No change, then. Coffee?”
All was well right through lunch and up to the time when I was ready for my afternoon nap. Then, getting impatient, Graham called the help line again, to receive a recorded message that was editted to be much the same as the earlier one but not quite.
“Oh, leave it, do,” I said. “It’ll come back when it comes back.”
“You’re probably right. Irritating, but right.”
“Just remember that. See ya in an hour or so.”
With no justification whatsoever it was more like two hours later when I came to.
“How’s it going?” I asked.
“Oh, no. What’s the matter.”
When I walked into the study I found out what was the matter. He’d phoned the help desk again. Several times. And they’d tackled the problem by doing the classic big corporation thing of spreading Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt.
They’d had him disconnect the cordless phone, saying that it was probably interfering with the network. Rubbish.
They’d had him disconnect the Netgear router and reconnect the crude BT router, cable connected, saying that the wireless router might be causing the problem. Rubbish.
They’d tried to have him disconnect the satellite TV receiver from the telephone, saying that it might well be the root cause of the problem. More rubbish, especially since our satellite TV receiver isn’t connected to the telephone.
After exhausting all possible delaying tactics, they finally admitted that, contrary to the recorded voice message, the engineering work was still in progress and that as a result we might experience problems for another hour. Or so. Why didn’t they say so before having him do all that disconnecting and reconnecting? “We have to eliminate all possibilities.” Grrr.
“What do you think we should do now?” Graham asked.
“Put it all back the way it was, switch it off, and find something else to do.”
Which is what we did. About six o’clock in the evening the service staggered back to life, staying up for several minutes at a time before collapsing and, slowly, extending the up-time until it was almost continuous.
“Okay,” Graham said. “You were right. We should have gone out for the day.”
“Oh, it was probably just beginner’s luck.”
“You might be an old fool, but you’re no beginner.”
I had no urge to smirk. None at all. So I didn’t. Might just as well have indulged myself in a good smirk, though, because just after we’d started catching up with our mail, uploads and such, I received my just reward for being right.
“Oh, bugger,” I wailed.
“Whatever’s the matter?”
“My mouse has died.”
“Change the batteries.”
“I just did. Twice. It’s dead.”
He came through to fiddle with the wiring in the back of my computer. All well there. We switched the machine off, waited, and switched it back on to ensure the problem wasn’t somewhere in the mysterious area between software and hardware. It still didn’t work. We fetched the backup cable mouse, plugged it in instead of the suspect wireless optical mouse. It worked.
“You’re right,” Graham said. “That mouse is dead. I’ll go order you a new one.”
“Thanks. It was nearly four years old, so I’ve had my money’s worth out of it.”
Hey ho. Off he toddled to play with overclockers.co.uk, and I was left with the horrid cheap-oh corded mouse, which has no wheel, no forward and back buttons, and is far too small for my hand. Oh, and it creaks. I really hate that. I shall have the new one on Monday, and that’s not too long, considering. I reckon that a significant element of my personal hell would be having to use a creaky mouse all the way through eternity. Serves me right for being right, even if I didn’t smirk.