Wednesday, November 16, 2005

My Electronic Soap Opera

My computer at home is so old it's like an electrified abacus. The operating system is so ancient it doesn't even really display much web content properly. It just barely has enough memory to simultaneously run its own operating system and a web browser, but will crash if you have more than two windows open at once. It's so old that it doesn't warrant spending any money to update the hardware (or software, for that matter). And, consistency and all, I have only a dial-up connection at home. Paying more than $10 a month for internet service just rankles. I often think of our Brazilian exchange student having to come to America to step back into the Stone Age.

On the road I use a much newer laptop, but I never use dial-up. I typically connect over a to-remain-nameless cell phone network via a bluetooth connection to that phone. Neat, and it works everywhere I travel, albeit quite slowly. (I have learned thru this little trial that my use of said cell phone as a surfing device with my laptop is definitively not what the company intended with the technology; seems I am using about 25,000% of the download capacity they expected. Too bad for them). So I'm not accustomed to what most people think of as normal web relations. I have experienced the 21st Century: my wife has a T1 connection at work, which for me is like what I imagine a maritally-sanctioned trip to a skilled, disease-free prostitute must be like. I recently added a WiFi card to my laptop, which of course increases the speed of things exponentially, but I've found only a place or two that doesn't charge.

So a couple weeks ago I learned that my local Wisconsin ISP is being bought out by Earthlink. They dutifully sent me a disc of stuff to install. In retrospect, I don't know why I installed any of it, since I don't ever use the dial-up. But I did install it, and after I did both my bluetooth connection and my WiFi connection ceased to work. And worse, the screw-up seemed to actually muck up something in the cell phone itself, so that neither the computer nor the phone were now working properly. And, as if on cue, the same day something happened to knock out our home phone service. I believe this is all three strikes from a single pitch. What's next? I cease to have running water and cannot find a bar of soap anywhere in Appleton?

I managed to get the house phone fixed, the repair person summoned from my last functioning cell phone (I have two), and I uninstalled the software from my laptop like it had physically scalded me. But now I learned that my little illicit bluetooth cell phone needs an over-the-wire reprogramming and the provider has neither the cable nor the software to do the job. This particular phone was always under the radar, purchased thru a now-defunct, super-secret special 800 number, and is no longer supported by the provider. Hasn't been for a year. (The kids at the local store stare at the phone as though it were made from Mystery Meat.)

Long and short, I got the computer back working, and the WiFi with it (I think). And now the cell phone is functioning again even without its needed reprogramming. But I have seen the future, and it is bleak and frightening.

And that's the real puzzler. I've only been blogging for a couple months, and this week of not being able to post or read blogs or read comments to my own blog except on the tiny screen of my functional cell phone was much more irritating and traumatic than I expected. It seems silly to feel somehow left out when I'm not able to read the blogs of people about whom, it must be admitted, I know next to nothing. And while none of this prevented me writing with my computer, it suddenly seemed pointless to return to my years of writing only for myself. Funny. I don't know what to think about this.

Anyway, I missed the writing outlet. I missed the validation of my own thoughts by others, strangers or not, and I missed others' writing. Funny how it gets under the skin.


The Retropolitan said...

You're suffering from blog withdrawal. Just have some coffee, and enjoy the self-esteem-raising comments that pour in.

Happens to the best of us.

mango said...

I used to have a little panic if my computer broke down, even before I was a blogger. When I'm home I never have the tv or even radio on, so having my computer connected is kind of reassuring - it's ok, the world is just there...