Notes from Taiwan, postaday2011 is Difficult When Technology Strikes Back

Having no Internet access makes this whole postaday2011 thing rather difficult. However, we just got Internet access restored at Y’s parents’ house in Taiwan.

There is a reason why the Internet stopped working. Yesterday, Y and I wanted to clean up the computer desk by the front door of their house and we wanted to throw out an old ethernet cable that snaked from the first floor to her second floor bedroom. The ethernet cable was problematic to remove, because her parents had telephone work done in the house since Y was here last. The telephone installers took it upon themselves to zip tie Y’s self-installed ethernet cable to every fixture, plant, and other impediment to easy removal. Luckily, I had my Gerber tool with me, so I hacked and slashed my way to getting the cable removed.

Next, we had to clean around the computer desk area. This is by the front door of the house where they pull their car inside the front business area of the house. It is more dusty here, and there were many ethernet cables, loose power cords, and power bricks that led to nothing. There was also an extra power strip supporting these vampiric go-to-nothing power cords. I began pulling things out that weren’t needed, but apparently, I made a mistake by switching the ADSL modem’s power brick with another. Unfortunately, it was so close in size, power connector, and power output that the wrong power brick permitted the ADSL modem to turn on without alarm and indicate everything was normal except no link to the wide area network over the telephone line. We did successfully clean up the computer area, but we have been without Internet access since then.

We called Ba’s Internet service provider Hinet, and they sent out a repair technician this morning. He was very friendly and quickly discovered the problem after eliminating the line as an issue. He installed a new ADSL modem, and took the old one away with the wrong power brick. After he left, I hooked up our Netgear wireless router so that we could get back online with our iPhones and iPads. All is well again.

I find it hard to believe that a power brick incompatibability would cause the problem that the technician described. Also, I find it hard to believe that I would carelessly swap power bricks. However, I was covered in black, grimy dust (the humidity here turns dust into a thin mortar-like substance), so I could have slipped up while I was rewiring everything under the table. So, it may not really be the technology’s fault–just human error.

Published by Jason W. Ellis

I am an Associate Professor of English at the New York City College of Technology, CUNY whose teaching includes composition and technical communication, and research focuses on science fiction, neuroscience, and digital technology. Also, I direct the B.S. in Professional and Technical Writing Program and coordinate the City Tech Science Fiction Collection, which holds more than 600 linear feet of magazines, anthologies, novels, and research publications.