Scott Hardie | December 29, 2001
I suppose this entry would be understandable only to Matt and interesting to no one at all, but I'm gonna rant anyway. I've spent the past two hours failing to solve my mom's modem troubles.

The modem worked fine yesterday afternoon. We went out last night to the Murder Mystery thing (see next entry), but when we got back and I tried to go online at 11:30pm, it wasn't working. The error message was that the port was already connected. When I tried to run a diagnostic on the modem in Control Panel, it crashed Windows. I went to bed in frustration.

Same problem this morning. I uninstalled the modem and reinstalled it, twice. I shut down and rebooted the computer twice. I unplugged the phone line and plugged it back in, twice. All to no avail. The only progress was that, after the modem drivers were reinstalled, the diagnostic would work fine. It would even report that it got a response from the modem. But when I tried to use the modem to dial out, it would do nothing for sixty seconds, then report that it could not get a response from the modem.

The woman at Earthlink's tech support center was friendly and helpful. We tried lots of different solutions: Initialization strings, different phone numbers, adding commas to the dialing number, plugging in different phone cords, testing for a dial tone on the line, even the same things that I did before I called tech support. After nearly an hour, we finally hit on a so-so solution that worked. In addition to the modem that was already installed, we installed the Standard Modem that comes with Windows, and its universal code somehow worked where the manufacturer-specific code didn't. I am now connected to the Internet on the "standard modem." The only catch is that the standard modem codes that we have only go up to 28.8, not 56K. Sigh.

Matthew Preston | December 29, 2001
Man, I know exactly what you went through as I went through this same thing about two to five times a day when I worked at that ISP. The fact of the matter is, your modem is most likey a software based modem, meaning that the connection is based off of the workings of your operating system, not the workings of the hardware itself. I can only recomend going out and spending a great deal of meney on a hardware based modem. Something like a US Robotics (3COM). The more money, the better in this case. You will never have a problem with one of those. Anything from lucent, rockwell, hsp or with the word "soft" in it, is no good.

Also, I am glad to hear that you had a fairly enjoyable and helpful conversation with the lady from earthlink. You said to me once that you know that tech support people are only their to help. Keep up the good attitude! :-)

Scott Hardie | December 30, 2001
Computers are annoying in oh-so-many ways, but to me the most frustrating way is that they'll be working fine one day, then spontaneously break the next. I used the modem just fine at 2pm. It wasn't responding to commands at 11pm. No lightning storm (and we have a surge protector on the phone line anyway). No tampering. What's the fucking problem? I hope my kids' computers are a lot less fragile than mine.

On an unrelated note, thanks for the regular comments. For once I feel like I'm shouting out to somebody with these comments, instead of empty cyberspace. If you ever get your own weblog (I refuse to use the term "blog"), I'd be happy to contribute.

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