Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tech

I consider myself moderately decent when it comes to technology.  I'm certainly not among the "early adopter" crowd, and I don't own any fruit-symbol-engraved equipment, because I keep thinking that they're going to come out with a newer, better, lighter, brighter, running-on-sunshine version that will also pick up my drycleaning for me and - bam! - they do.  But when it comes to our household, I usually take care of the tech stuff.  And this includes setting up multiple TVs, two computers, two networked printers, two Rokus (for Netflix), a new Blu-ray player, and managing the wireless signal and router.  And I can usually get everything to work, but not without an extraordinary amount of teeth gnashing, cursing, general tantrum throwing, and curling up into the fetal position to avoid being battered about by the ungodly miles of cables that I've unleashed around me.

The home computer system is a mix of old and new.  We've got a new desktop that's operating on Windows 7 after its seven-year-old predecessor hit the electronics graveyard with the blue screen of death; a six-year-old laptop running on Windows XP that doesn't project through the speakers anymore because of a design flaw that severed the speaker wire that's located in the laptop hinge (thanks for nothing, Dell); an eleven-year-old Brother laser printer, which is our stalwart workhorse and shows no signs of giving up the ghost; and a one-year-old multi-function Canon printer that I love having because I can scan everything and release myself from under the mountain of paper that comes cross my desk every week.  And all of these are connected wirelessly, although because the Brother printer (a gift from my parents when I moved to Chicago and got rid of the old dot-matrix printer that had seen me through college) is as old as it is, it has a parallel port connection, so several years ago I bought a Netgear PS101 print server to connect it to the router at the time. 

We've had DSL and a wireless network for several years.  After experiencing some "range" issues since moving to a larger space, and connection speeds that felt like dial-up dipped in molasses when several of our bandwidth-hogging devices are connected at the same time, I finally decided to upgrade us to a router with a (supposedly) wider broadcast signal and dual bandwidth to keep up with our burgeoning wireless needs, and opted for a torture device Netgear WNDR3700 router. 
Netgear Range Max Dual Band Wireless-N Gigabit Router WNDR3700-100UKS
But you know that game Jenga? 

Jenga (EA) - 4793XXXX

The one where you have to take out blocks from the bottom and put them on the top, without the whole stack coming down?  That's kinda how I felt when trying to install the new router yesterday, because it never seems to be as simple as just plugging something in and pushing the "on" button.  Nope, just like Jenga, it's one teeny-tiny move away from all crashing down.  At least that's how it felt to me.  And since all of our networked paraphernalia were working, you're probably wondering why I would have bothered with a new router and possibly upset the networking cart.  Well...I've been asking myself the same question since last night.  Is faster internet speed really worth it?  You can guess where this is going.

While it was easy enough to physically unpack and set up the new router with its requisite cables, it wasn't until several hours laters (including an hour on the phone with Netgear support) that I was actually able to get a decent wireless signal that wouldn't keep bumping me offline, because I had simply downloaded a newer version of the router firmware (as prompted by the router).  And after changing IPs and subgateways and IMGs and drivers and ports and god-knows-how-many-other settings (that I had to get from the support guy and not from the hopelessly unhelpful installation guide), I believe I have finally gotten the new router to work, and have gone around the house changing all the wireless settings on our myriad bandwidth-hogging devices.

Except - I cannot seem to print wirelessly from the laptop.  And because the PS101 is an "end-of-life" (i.e. discontinued) product, they don't offer any tech support on it.  The weird thing is that the laser printer is working from the desktop, but not from the laptop, so clearly the PS101 is still working.  I'm sure I just need to tweak the IP from the laptop or something, but right now I'm exhausted by the whole thing, so I'm going to give up for now.  If we need to print anything in the coming week, well, it'll have to be from the desktop until I have renewed patience.

But at least the internet is working.  Otherwise, how else would I get to tell you this lovely tale?

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