Saturday, August 21, 2010

I’m Back! What Do You Mean You Didn’t Know I Was Gone?

Last night I was moving from room to room and computer to computer installing some programs and updates on two of my four systems, and on one of them – Munin – I noticed a little icon indicating that I had no Internet connectivity.

I went into my office and sat at Hugin to see if this was a problem across my network.


I looked at my router and saw that most of the lights were off.  It was a bit after midnight, so I concluded that maybe there was a maintenance going on or something, so I ignored it as best I could.  That lasted about a half an hour, at which point I decided to power-cycle the router.  Once it powered back up, most of the lights remained off, and I noticed that the lights that were on were very dim.

Some time back I got a package in the mail from Verizon containing a new power supply for my router, as there was some sort of recall on the old one.  I’d hooked it up and found that whatever fire danger the old supply may have posed was worth dealing with, since the new power supply didn’t seem to be able to actually supply power.  None of the lights would come on and stay on, they’d just sort of…pulsate.

In any case, I decided to give it another shot last night to see if it would work and provide steady power to the router.

Nope.  Just pulsating lights (this time only the two that were lighting up when it was on the old power supply).  I switched back to the old power supply and found that now I was getting no lights whatsoever.  Trying the new one again led to one pulsating light.

So my router – close to three years old, which is ancient in computer technology terms – was dead.

I called in to Verizon support, who, upon hearing the description of the issue decided it would be a waste of time to bother troubleshooting and confirming what I already knew, set up the shipment of a new router.

Which is great, except that it was Friday night/Saturday morning, and the new router wouldn’t arrive until, at the earliest, Monday.  And seeing as how UPS likes to deliver things when people aren’t home to sign for them, that would mean that I’d have to wait for them to make three failed attempts to deliver it before they would let me just go to the damn depot and pick it up.  (The Verizon tech said they always let him just pick things up after the first failed attempt, but that’s never been the case for me.  They always insist on trying three times.)

So I asked if it was possible to just connect my computer directly to the Ethernet port on the wall and at least have connectivity that way.  He said that it was, and that all I needed to do was a release and renew of my IP address.

The one problem was that I didn’t actually have an IP address to release, or to renew.  That was all he knew how to do, though, so I was boned.

I told him I’d play around with it and see what I could figure out.  I busted out my old Linksys router and hooked that up, but no luck.  Still, a quick Google search would – oh, right.

To get online, I fired up an app on my cell phone that lets me turn my cell phone into a WiFi hotspot and connect to the Internet via the phone’s data connection.  It worked pretty well, but while it was faster than the shitty connection I had back in my condo with that shitty, shitty, absolutely terrible cable company Direcpath, it was unbearably slow, and not at all suitable as an acceptable interim solution until my new router arrived.

(And while the connection between the phone and computer was solid, the phone’s data connection would frequently drop, rendering it useless.)

Nothing I could find online provided any help with getting my Linksys to work with the FiOS.  At one point I headed to Wal-Mart and to two Best Buys to see if they sold the FiOS-specific router (the router manufacturer listed them as retail stores that carry their products).

Why yes, I was going to go out and spend money to get something that I’m already going to get for free in a few days.  What’s your point?   I’m impatient and I thought it would be worthwhile to have a spare.

Alas, it was not to be.

Earlier this evening I decided to call in and see if maybe there was something actually wrong with my FiOS that was merely coincident with the demise of my router, since I was convinced that, given that it’s just an Ethernet connection, either plugging directly into the computer or through a router should work.

The person who answered my call told me that it wouldn’t.  I said that I was sure that it would.  She looked into a few things and ran a line test and was, I could tell – I did work in a call center myself, after all – that she was reaching out to more tech-savvy co-workers (via IM or chat) for assistance.  Initially she told me some nonsense about Modulation and DeModulation and how I needed my router to “translate” the signal to me.  I knew this wasn’t true because that would mean I had a modem (Modulate/De-Modulate is what that stands for, after all) rather than a router, though I didn’t initially call her on it.

(I didn’t want to confuse the issue further by telling her that I had a router hooked up, so I told her that I was directly connected from the computer to the wall.  Ultimately it made no difference; whatever settings I’d need to change on the computer to get it to work would simply need to be changed on the router instead.)

As I suspected, she thought I was using DSL.  I reiterated that I have FiOS.  This led her to pursue a different avenue of thought, and ultimately she found what she – and I – needed to know:  my connection is PPoE, not DHCP.  (It doesn’t matter if you don’t know what that means.)

So the problem was that I needed to set the router to PP0E and provide authentication credentials.  Namely my login information.  I had no idea what that information was, as I hadn’t needed it when connecting via the FiOS router.  Fortunately, she was able to provide my username and reset my password, and as soon as I set the router to PPoE and provided the login information, boom!  I was back, baby!

And that was the one bright spot in an otherwise irritating day, about which more later.

As it stands, with my current set-up, my Set-Top Box/DVR isn’t getting an Internet feed, so after it gets past the point of what it has saved, I will lose my guide, and I can’t do any Video On Demand stuff, but the Internet is the important thing.

I suppose it’s kind of sad how dependent I am on the Internet.  Honestly, most of my time at home on the computer isn’t spent doing a lot on the Internet, but not having it at my fingertips is frustrating, so I’m glad to at least have that one – and only that one; again, more later – frustration out of the way.

1 comment:

Merlin T Wizard said...

I don't know if I consider it that sad. The first thing I did after hooking up the PS3 here in the condo was look up the wifi info and get it connected, even though there's nothing I needed it for. Sometimes it's just the principle of the thing.

Also, just because I don't consider it sad, doesn't mean it isn't. It probably is, very very much so.

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