Where’s Rod Serling when you need him?
You want to talk about adventures to the Twilight Zone?
Vacationing at a mountain resort in Virginia last week, I ran into an unexpected problem. In the past, I’ve been able to take the ol’ laptop (aka, Bessie) and keep track of things at home via the local WiFi. The resort itself is a hot spot and I’ve had no problems signing on in past years. This year the WiFi gremlins got me. The first day there I signed on with no problem. Bessie is a bit slow and showing her age. But that’s cool, I’m patient. She isn’t too happy with WiFi either since it leaves her files available. She feels like she’s walking around naked in cyberspace. She doesn’t like being treated like a Blackberry or and IPad. She has more class
The next day we were both thrown into the world of IP addresses and firewalls. Somewhere, somehow, we were blocked from accessing the internet. We got “time out” messages after we tried logging on. Once or twice ok, but for the next 24 hours?
I remember looking at the log in instructions, rereading them, going through them step by step, over and over. Finally, I called the help desk. There I met Robomenu – you know those “Please select 1 if…” recordings. My current issue was not in Robomenu’s preprogrammed brain, so I hit the star key to talk to a humanoid, the first of many. Together the human and I went through steps to log Bessie onto the net. It wasn’t working. Somewhere in the ether, Bessie had a blockage. Both human and I worked to clear the blockage. This is where it got really weird – human could see what I was doing. Human was somewhere else and because of the local WiFi net connection, he could read the computer. He was a ghost in Bessie’s brain. He didn’t totally ghost. I mean I could still operate the controls and move the mouse. True total ghosting is beyond freaky, when someone else takes control of your unit and works it for you. But one good thing came of it… the blockage was not Bessie’s. She was beating her head against the wall of the resort site homepage. “Yes, we will report the problem and get it solved from here,” said human. “Give us at least 1 hour.” “No problem,” said I.
Twelve hours later I was back with Robomenu trying to locate the human, since the problem still existed. Another different human came to our “rescue”… actually I think we interrupted his Dungeons and Dragons session. Again we were ghosted, and the same requests were made. Evidently, the IP address is supposed to reset every 24 hours and it didn’t. The problem was reported yet again. The resort experienced a power failure during the past 24 hours and they weren’t completely connected yet. They will take care of it, we were both assured.
That was Monday and today is Friday. In between, we talked to Jermaine and Dave, got a work order number, and many more promises to have the blockage cleared. So far it still hasn’t worked. Bessie must be totally attached to this IP address, because she can’t get rid of it or won’t give it up. The only solution is to take her out of the hot spot and allow her to cool off and reset. But in the meantime……this human is experiencing withdrawal! I figured I was going 21st century and becoming addicted to the Instant Info of the Net. But this week, I’m like a junkie looking for another cyber connection. No, I haven’t gotten the shakes or anything like that. But I’ve lost the ability to communicate with people via the Net. I also have messages that need to go out for business purposes.
What is the totally Twilight Zone thing for me is how frustrating this whole situation is! I can’t believe I’ve allowed myself to become dependent on nuts, bolts, and microchips. Where is my brain? Where is my own initiative? I used to be able to resort to Alternate Plan B when I would run into a roadblock. That’s what problem solvers do…. Come up with another solution strategy. This was the only wrinkle in an otherwise great vacation. I HAD to disconnect for a while! I have to keep reminding myself that this cybertechnology is a tool, and when it works, it’s great. The problem is our society is removing Alternate Plan B from the equation.
Mr. Serling! Help!!
Well today is actually Saturday and I'm posting this from the comfort of home.