the totally avoidable temporary network loss


-- चार हजार एक सौ तीस-तीन --

I made the dumbest mistake last night, the kind that when you hang up with tech support, surely the people on the other end of the line with tech support laughed together and said things like, "What a couple of fucking morons!"

How the hell was I supposed to know the two white lights on the far right side of my Netgear wireless router were also buttons?

I must have undid them when I lifted the lid on my scanner, on top of which the router sits, when I scanned the birthday card I made for my dad. I did not realize it at the time. All I knew was that the router was picking up every wifi signal in the area except for mine -- I have always called it "Braeburn Apple," because my first router was an Airport Extreme purchased at the Apple Store, and the building I live in is called the Braeburn. Clever, right? Except the router I have now is Netgear and no longer an Apple product. It's still connected to an iMac, though, and sends wifi signals to two iPhones and to my Apple TV box, so there's that. Anyway, among the couple of dozen other wifi networks in the area, one of them was called "Don't tell my wifi I'm here."

I first noticed that the connection was oddly slow, and that's how I realized it had connected to Xfinity Wifi, the free hotspot wifi network for Xfinity/Comcast customers. The thing is, for reasons that have escaped me for a couple of years now, connectivity to those hotspots is total shit everywhere -- except from my office at work. Why it works fine down here on the waterfront but nowhere else, I'll never know. But at home, it sometimes loads web pages at a glacial pace, and more often than not it times out and I wind up with an error message. Sometimes my router jumps over to Xfinity Wifi even when Braeburn Apple is still visible in the list, and I just have to click back to Braeburn. But when I tried that last night, Braeburn was no longer visible.

Shit. And we were planning to all three of us -- with Shobhit and Ivan -- watch Sunday night's episode of Game of Thrones last night. This would not be possible so long as I was not connected to my wifi network.

Suspecting the problem was not with Comcast but with the wireless router, I called Comcast first; whenever they can help, they actually do, usually at no cost. The was the first time I did something really dumb. I was on hold, waiting for an agent, but I put the phone on speaker so I wouldn't have to hold for eight minutes with the phone on my ear. And then when someone picked up, when I went to take it off speaker, I accidentally hit the red button and hung up on them! I'm sure Ivan heard me when I shouted, "Shit, god damit it, fuck!" He may have also noticed that the wifi was not working, and I still don't know where he went when he left the condo in the middle of my conversations with tech support staff.

I called Comcast again and this time put on my headphones so I would not have it on speaker and make the same mistake again. Shobhit came home from work in the middle of this. By then, I was calling the phone number for Netgear that Comcast very helpfully provided for me, after they both rebooted and tested my modem, which I could already see was connected to the Internet and working fine. I figured they would not be able to help, buy also figured it couldn't hurt to call them first and see for sure. They did give me the phone number.

Netgear only offers a 90-day warranty of tech support and a one-year warranty for hardware. It turns out I bought this router a year ago last month. Shit sticks! But, I called the Netgear number to see what I could get from them anyway.

The first guy who answered seemed very helpful at first, and I started to think maybe he would help without charging me for the service. By now Shobhit was laying on the bed and had asked me to put it on speaker so he could also hear -- I managed it without hanging up this time. He even told me he would be able to help me, and put me on hold during which he would say he would check some things. He said things like this happen when there is lightning or a power surge or power outage -- none of which had occurred, of course.

But then when he came back on, he then went into a spiel about purchasing tech support for three months or six months or a year. The three-month one alone was $89, which literally made me flinch. That's nearly the amount I paid for the product itself!

Shobhit wasn’t having it, and he took over from there. This was one of the rare cases in which Shobhit being a belligerent customer worked in my favor, because I don't tend to demand to talk to a supervisor. Any time Shobhit doesn't get what he wants, he'll do that without a second thought. He went on and on about how it made no sense to rely on their product when purchasing tech support defeated the purpose of saving money on monthly payments on a Comcast product. Actually, he had things a little mixed up there; the modem, which was working fine, was the only product I had gotten to replace a Comcast product. The wireless router had replaced an Apple product, which had gotten too old to function reliably by last year, and replacements are stupidly expensive and so I went to Best Buy to get something cheaper. But we would have been in the same boat if this were happening with a new Airport/Apple router.

Shobhit didn't know that though, and demanded to speak to a supervisor. And once the supervisor was on the line, Shobhit was less belligerent but still persistent, and the guy actually did start asking us about the device and which lights were on and solid white and all that. He then started talking about the buttons, asking if the wifi buttons were on, and I was very confused. I couldn't find any such buttons -- until we figured out that the lights at the far right, which I always thought were just lights and nothing more, were also buttons.

I visited several forums online searching for solutions to this problem and no one mentioned these buttons.

But I pressed the two lights on the far right of the router, and they popped out, revealing themselves to be buttons. The Braeburn Apple network immediately appeared again, and that was all it took. We thanked the agent and hung up, both of us chuckling at ourselves. The supervisor, wherever he was in some other part of the world, probably hung up thinking about all the idiots he has to deal with in his job.

At least I know what to do if this ever happens again.

-- चार हजार एक सौ तीस-तीन --


-- चार हजार एक सौ तीस-तीन --

Ivan usually asks me what time we'll be doing something we had already established we'd be doing at home -- such as watching a movie or TV show -- but he didn't last night; he just left, while I was on the phone with Comcast. I have no idea where he went, but he was gone a couple of hours. His unusual inactivity on Facebook for that amount of time made me think maybe he took himself to a movie. He returned slightly too early for that to be likely but whatever.

In the meantime, Shobhit and I made ourselves grilled cheese sandwiches for dinner, and attempted the New York Times crossword, but neither of us were in the mood for its difficulty and we gave up after only ten or fifteen minutes. So we watched an episode of Bloodline again, during which I found myself strategizing: if Ivan wasn't back by 9:30 at the latest, I was starting Game of Thrones without him. He works the next five nights in a row, so there's no waiting any more days.

As it happens, he came in the door less than five minutes before the episode ended. He did seem slightly concerned, and craned his neck a little from the space in front of the door where he was taking off his shoes, to look toward the TV and say, "You didn't start without me, did you?" Nope.

He had some dinner to put in the stove so we started an episode of The Golden Girls to watch while we waited. He was ready within about ten minutes though so I switched it to Game of Thrones and we all watched, silently glued to the TV for an hour. This didn't feel like the best of the three episodes this season has aired so far -- of seven they're airing this year -- and even felt slightly anticlimactic when it ended. But, it still left me eager for next week's episode, so they're doing something right.

-- चार हजार एक सौ तीस-तीन --

This heat wave this week is almost disappointing. I still don't want it to be so hot -- especially when I'm at home in the stuffy condo without air conditioning, where I am forced to sleep on top of the covers, and have been the past three nights in a row -- but it's not quite as hot as originally predicted. At first they were saying 96° today; now it's 91°, and 89° tomorrow; no more forecasts above 90° after today. Earlier this week we had at least three days expected above 90°. The temperatures are being slightly tampered down, it seems, by smoke drifting down from British Columbia wildfires.

So which is better, I wonder? More breathable air in unbearable temperatures, or horrible air in more bearable temperatures? You be the judge!

In any case, Seattle kind of looks like shit today. It's like I'm back in Los Angeles.

-- चार हजार एक सौ तीस-तीन --