What Internet?

Do you remember life before the internet?

This will be short, in grumpy old woman mode. Heck yeah I remember life before the Internet! I voted before Al Gore invented it! I didn’t get a computer until I was in graduate school. It had two floppy disk drives. I got email the next year. No wonder I have such good handwriting. I took so many notes.

I wrote with one of these things!! Actually I still do.

And I typed long, annoying reports on an IBM Selectric typewriter. It had correction tape! Modern! Try doing footnotes with one. I did.

It belonged to my lucky boyfriend.

I even typed an entire book on the Basque language, being paid per page, using three different type balls.

I had so many of these. They typed.

I’m oh, so glad for the Internet, for word processing software, and social media. It’s a privilege we shouldn’t take advantage.

Internet AT LAST!

Last week when Sandy the Squirrel accidentally set off the transformer across the road, my fancy wired router bit the dust. Since then, I’ve been trying to get it fixed, replaced with a new one, or replaced by some other thing. It’s been gruesome.

My old antenna receiver has nothing to talk to now.

I have spent over 8 hours on the phone or online chat with various AT&T entities. Today was “only” two hours trying to figure out why I couldn’t get the new hotspot they sent to replace my fancy router to connect to the internet. I got passed from chat to chat. Finally they said they’d call me in 10-20 minutes. Um. They still haven’t called.

No one wanted to help my new hotspot.

I thought to myself, “Suna, you went online and on the phone to avoid driving to Temple. You could have driven back and forth many times by now.”

I thought of bringing my mouse catcher with me to wave around. I didn’t.

I stuffed all my equipment in grocery bags and hauled the Angry Snow Kitty to the AT&T Store. I took my knitting, expecting to wait a while.

By now I felt like this guy. Close to deceased.

Thankfully, they weren’t too crowded and I got a competent young man named Quincey to help me. After much trial and error, with consultation from the head tech guy, they figured out the hotspot was not configured correctly. They had to completely reset it. I was assured I couldn’t have fixed it myself.

My feelings about Quincey.

Triumph! Then, young Quincey showed me I hadn’t cracked my phone screen recently, it was just the screen protector. AND rather than trying to sell me a new one, he looked up which one I’d bought and walked me through getting it replaced under warranty! I just paid shipping. He’d done the same thing recently. How helpful!

My faith in customer service is restored. Both the guys who helped me said to just drive over there next time. I said I sure would. I have always had good experiences with this store. I’ll remember that. Online support? Nope.

I needed this sangria.

I’m SO glad this saga is over. Onward!

Just Goofy

Long day. Got a lot done and even received my new internet thingie. Can’t make it go, so more tech support tomorrow. Think of me.

I’m as stubborn as these persistent tie vines, though. I’ll get there.

By the time I got to an event I’d been looking forward to, a party for our recent Master Naturalist class graduates, I had a raging headache. Turns out the weather was changing. But the food was good and I enjoyed talking to friends.

Good job, Barbara D. It was delicious.

After all the serious photos I took, we got goofy with the paper flower decorations.

When I got home, Lee proved he was just as goofy as us. We all needed a good laugh!

Well, we dodged the worst hail from tonight’s storm and haven’t lost power. That’s probably because Martha isn’t across the street. Lightning DID hit the transformer across the road from her, though. Is Martha and lightning equal to Kathleen and snakes? let’s hope it’s coincidence.

I guess headaches make me goofy.

So Many Tasks, So Little Internet

It’s good to be home after a fun few days. Many family members were glad to see me and Lee.

Other residents were not so glad.

Excuse me. Why are you barging into our baby bird and poop production area?

Horses were also glad, and I was relieved to find Apache semi-clean after big rain. Drew, on the other hand, has mud dreadlocks that I’ll wait until tomorrow to fix. They at least got their exercise and food.

It rained a lot. You can see how high the water got. Our backup culvert got used for the first time in over a year.

Luckily, the ranch didn’t get struck by lightning or hailed on. Just rain. I guess if lightning struck, it couldn’t break my internet access any more than it already is. Sigh.

Good news: black-eyed susans are in bloom.

I came home with a big to-do list, most of it involving accessing websites. I had four or five Master Naturalist blogs, two horse shows to register for, weather data to look up, etc. Too bad for me. I believe I’ve used up my personal hotspot bandwidth. I got one short Master Naturalist blog up after 45 minutes.

And every flower seems to have its own lynx spider!

The to-do list did contain some non-internet tasks, so I got them all done. At least I have rainbow nails ready for the work week, which I guess will start off at the Red House, until I get that router fixed.

Prairienet: How I Made Friends and Found a Career

Today’s post is prompted by the happy coincidence that I found my very first volunteer nametag while unpacking a box today. It’s from way back in 1994 or 1995, when I was still living in Champaign, Illinois. Before THAT, I’d been an active member in the Champaign-Urbana Computer Users Group, where I met a whole bunch of wonderful nerdy people, including my PC mentor and close friend, Mark Zinzow, and the eventually famous eccentric genius Michael Hart, who was working on Project Gutenberg even back in the late 1980s. (I regret not having time to contribute back then.)

My name tag!

I did that, because I’d been the de facto PC tech person in every job I’d had since I got my first IBM PC (with two, count-em, two! floppy disk drives) to write my dissertation on, and I needed helpers! Yes, I actually knew how everything worked, back in those simpler days and times.

Time passed and I got a fine job working at Wolfram Research as a technical writer (career score #1) (where I got to work with my second eccentric genius friend, Stephen Wolfram). I stayed friends with the PCUG folks, though, hung out on Usenet to learn more. A few years later, after I’d left Wolfran Research to raise my two sons, I saw an ad for classes on the World Wide Web and websites, which was hosted by Prairienet, a community internet kind of deal where many of my old friends were volunteering. The kids’ dad said maybe this newfangled web thing would be a way to keep my tech skills up while raising the kids. I agreed.

I took a class from a wonderful woman named Karen Fletcher, and suddenly I knew enough about HTML to teach classes myself. This was my first technical training experience (career score #2). Karen was a wonderful friend, even keeping me in touch with horses way back then thanks to her partner who was a horse trainer. She was also a Master Gardener, so we hung around with similar folks.

So, while my kids were little and I was learning about breastfeeding from La Leche League (not linking to them), I was also learning about websites from Greg Newby, Karen, Mark, and others over at Prairienet. And hey, here’s a fact I love to share: the first website I ever made was for my LLL group. It didn’t have any images, though. Why? It was before you could put images in! Everything was text! We were lucky we had bold and italic to spice things up. And lots of asterisks.

Bad image, but my copy is in a box.

One of the friends I met in Prairienet was also a coworker, Bruce Pea. What a nice guy. He got it into his head to write a user manual for Prairienet, since he was all techy and understood how it worked. However, he was not a writer by trade, so I stepped in to copy edit that 1995 book, The Prairienet Companion. I can assure you it was a lot easier than copy-editing the Mathematica Book (second edition), which I had also been working on.

This book contained 95% fewer occurrences than the first draft contained. Thank you, past me.

I turned around and one day there I was, a technical writer and trainer specializing in software documentation and training who also built user communities. Careers are weird! It’s mostly luck and coincidence for me, not a path I was driven toward. But I sure had fun between 1985-1995 learning my webmastering chops!

Another fact: I am still friends with Connor Kelly, the first person to ever find out about a La Leche League meeting online. That’s career score #3, because I swiftly combined what I learned on Prairienet with what I was doing in La Leche League, and in just a year or two was on the real internet, making the website of the whole LLL organization (and many others on the side). That led to volunteer-organizational fame, no fortune, and a lot of drama. And in LLL I helped create a user community, like a baby Facebook that failed due to drama and infighting but looked good enough on a resume to keep.

Hmm. I think I just wrote my biography in a half hour. I can’t believe I dredged up all these memories of myself and the internet as we grew up together. I bet my own spouse hadn’t heard so much about what I did during the decade I just summarized. I’m glad I found that little pin.

Hard-Won Internet

I haven’t blogged today mainly because I’m so tired from getting things done that needed doing. The best is that after much struggle and endless calls, being on hold, and trying to explain what we want, we got rural internet installed so maybe I can actually Zoom successfully and, oh, maybe, watch something streaming???

There’s the thing that communicates with the cell tower.

Even once Josh the installer guy got here it wasn’t easy. We really are NOT near any good cell towers (as I knew). Josh wandered around looking for them, since this is line-of-sight rural broadband.

Where is that tower?

After he finally found a tower and put up whatever that is at the top of this post, Josh drilled a big hole in my house (eek) and used a cool glow-in-the-dark stick to pull cable in. Voila!

What’s that guy doing?

You’d think I’d be all set, but of course I had to run into a snag. The software to register the modem was all messed up, plus it wouldn’t accept my magical code. I had to get through three calls with three helpful but confusing people, then suddenly a different page displayed and I got in. No idea what happened but I’ll accept it.

Thanks, Josh.

There’s more. But I’ll save it for tomorrow. I have to get ready for my riding lesson tomorrow.

The Hermits’ Rest Has Internet!

What a day! Halfway through the lovely morning, the monthly allotment of my hotspot was reached. Insert sad music here, because I got this message:

AT&T Free Msg: You have used 100% of your 30GB of mobile hotspot high-speed data for this bill period. Mobile hotspot data will be slowed to a max speed of 128Kbps until 03/24/2021. Go to http://www.att.com/myATTUsage to track your data use.

Text to me from the phone people

Uh. That speed meant I could sort of load a Facebook page. But I could not Zoom, I couldn’t load my kanban cards, I couldn’t do much of anything.

So, the first part of the rest of the day was spent on the phone trying to get me some gigabytes! We had to figure out how our devices worked and what we had. That was complicated. The phone lady said we really needed to go to a physical store.

Glad I’m vaccinated, because we had to go to a store! But it was a good one, still limiting people in it. After more figuring stuff out, we ended up getting Precious Internet Device.

That’s the box it came in. The flowers show my true love.

Since PID also means pelvic inflammatory disease, I’m calling Precious Internet Device “Piddy.” I love Piddy.

Happily internetting away.

It took no time at all to get it working. Now we have the ability to go online, Zoom, and do work. I’m so relieved. It’s like a huge weight off my shoulders. I don’t think I realized how much my wonky online access was stressing me out until it no longer was!

Of course, this is my life, so a new issue HAD to arise immediately. I’d mentioned that my phone screen was cracked. The phone store guy (who was so much like us that it made shopping okay) said he thought only the plastic protector was damaged.

I took off the case, and could not remove the plastic, so the guy tried it. He took one look at my phone and said, “You seem to have a damaged phone here.”

Sure enough, with the case off, the phone began to expand! Eek! The case was separating!

Those metal things should be inside the case. And the phone should be thinner.

It appears that the battery is expanding. I’m waiting for it to go boom now. Thank goodness I can now connect the phone to WiFi overnight and get it all backed up in time to transfer my stuff over to the new phone that’s coming tomorrow.

I’m glad I got the phone insurance! They even discounted it because we’d paid so much in. Now, however, I’m ready for my technological issues to take a hiatus.

something poetic

(formerly The Lost Kerryman)

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