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BLACK PASTOR FLIPS OUT: OBAMA, WINFREY, WRIGHT ARE GAY? (Updated)

DAMN CONNECTIVITY PROBLEM IS PLAGUING ME

As with all things involving computers, I sometimes slip into "user mode" and wonder just what is it that "I" have done wrong to kill my system's connectivity with the Internet.

It seems to be one of our human failings to narcissistically consider that it is "our" fault when something goes wrong with the technology.

As I sit here -- offline and unconnected -- I will share my troubleshooting steps in the hopes that they may be of some service to others facing a similar situation.

Troubleshooting basics...

A word of warning: if you hear a crackle, smell smoke, or see little sparks -- shut down the system immediately -- just pull the plug! You can recover from a computer problem a lot easier than a house fire.

First, and foremost, I save all of the work that I have open on the desktop and shut-down any programs that I may have been using. The next step is to perform the Microsoft "three-finger" salute (control-alternate-delete) to re-boot my system.

I prefer a cold-reboot (power off) to a warm-reboot (restart) as I want to re-set all of my computer's hardware as well as my operating system. I do not want to leave anything to chance, so I normally go all the way to "power off." You should wait a few minutes before turning the computer back on. 

Sometimes, the computer does not shut down immediately and informs you that it is "saving your settings." This has always been a mysterious message to me because I always think it is saving the errors too.

Second, I turn the computer back on using the normal power-on sequence.  That didn't do it!

[missing step -- added after receiving additional 20-2o hindsight inspiration -- turn off all other computers on the network before starting to troubleshoot your connectivity] It seems that troubleshooting one computer at a time is preferable that beating your head against the wall for being dumb.

Third, I reset my wireless router by powering it off for a few minutes. That didn't do it!

Fourth, I reset my DSL cable box by powering it off for a few minutes and turning it back on. In my case, I am looking for three green lights showing that the modem is powered on and is "syncing" (communicating) with the telephone network. Activity is represented by a flashing yellow light on the DSL cable box. All appears to be well with the DSL cable, so I, once again, reset my wireless modem as per the third step.

Fifth, I, once again, re-boot my computer -- bingo, all is well in my household once again.

Should I still be unable to connect to the Internet, I can try bypassing the wireless router and plugging my computer directly into the DSL cable box.

Hint: always allow for accessibility to both your DSL cable box, your telephone wall jack (or other cable connections) and your wireless router. It makes resetting and troubleshooting much easier if you do not have to trip all over yourself in a darkened room where you can barely see what you are doing.

Even I call the PROs...

If I am still unable to connect at this point in time, it's time to speak with my ISP (Internet Service Provider). The help desk can tell you if their system is down or if they can see any connectivity issues with your circuit.

Hint, write down the customer support number for your carrier and place it somewhere convenient.  Trying to access the carrier's number over a dead Internet connection doesn't work very well.

By this time, the help desk is either arranging a visit from the telephone company or assisting you in changing some of the settings on your computer. You are often in good hands as most ISPs have competent help as they know that this is the "customer experience" that keeps you paying the bill or switching providers.

Hint:  If your carrier uses a mass support center in India, the Philippines, Canada or some other exotic locale, ask for a local support number.

Knowing when to call for assistance...

Most connectivity problems are usually short in duration and maybe somewhat difficult to troubleshoot. If you feel that you are unable to take the first five steps listed above, call for help immediately. Do nothing until someone provides direction. Believe me, computer problems can get worse fairly quickly.

Thanking your unseen (and often unsung) team...

And, of course, make sure that you thank your support representative and, if you are so inclined, mention that to their supervisor. If you should receive a follow-up survey, give them high marks. It can't hurt to have unknown friends in high places.

It's Microsoft's fault...

Being rather nosy, I decided to continue troubleshooting my system. I forgot it was Tuesday! On the second Tuesday of each month, Microsoft sends out their "automatic" patches which, depending on your computer system, may be automatically downloaded and applied -- sometimes followed by a re-boot.

For some inexplicable reason, one of the computers on my home network was automatically upgraded to Windows XP/Service Pack 3 and re-booted. Due to a coincidence of timing or some other seemingly random event, the network address of this computer failed to be automatically allocated within my home networking system -- and poof -- I was denied connectivity because my computer was trying to reach and unreachable address.

My bad...

As the kids day "my bad." I failed to turn off the other computers on my network before starting my troubleshooting efforts.  See the section in green above.

What can YOU do?

As with all things dealing with technology, things are bound to go wrong at some point in time. Stay calm. Even if you lose important information, it still will not help if you have a heart attack -- and lose documents! But it sure will put the value of those documents in their proper perspective.

If you do not know how to solve the problem, call for assistance before further complicating the issue.

If you are technically savvy, write down all of the support telephone numbers you may need, the critical settings for your system -- and have a valid backup.

If you are not technically savvy, write down all of the support telephone numbers you may need -- and have a valid backup.

And, if all else fails -- consider returning to writing version 1.0  -- using a pencil and paper.

-- steve

Quote of the day: "Life being what it is, one dreams of revenge." -- Paul Gauguin

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"The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane." -- Marcus Aurelius

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