I spent the day trying to get a wireless router to work. The whole frickin' day. It's not working now, and I'm taking it as a triumph that the device is not scattered in a billion plastic shards on the tile floor. If I drank, I'd be drunk now.
It's almost unfathomable to me that this should be so difficult. I mean, here is a computer with the ability to talk to equipment wirelessly via some radio protocol evidently worked out to the finest detail; and here's one of those pieces of equipment designed for this purpose. One turns the router on, the computer recognizes it and will talk to it, and that should be the end, no? If only. Two pages download before all data transfer stops. The signal still seems to be there, but everything stops cooperating. Reset, try again. Another two pages or so, freeze. Nothing and no amount of time will get things started again except a depowering reset of the router. 10 hours and about 50 different attempts have not brought us beyond this point.
I was on the phone around noon to some guy in India for over an hour. He was remarkably patient and seemed to be doing things that were focused and purposeful, even if they were things the very need for which required some mental gymnastics on my part to acknowledge--we were dealing with obscure settings on sub-pages to sub-pages of which I had not remotely dreamt. And everything worked for a good 90 seconds after I hung up the phone. Then, two hours later, another half hour on the phone with my computer guru buddy, at the end of which we determined that it almost had to be a defect in the machinery. So a trip back to the store for an exchange, and an hour later we were facing the same dilemma with a different router (or, specifically, a different example of the same router).
Is it a Mac-vs-PC thing? Shouldn't be, since the local Mac store was selling this exact same unit (at twice the price). Is it a flaw with my Powerbook? No, because the exchange student's PC encounters the same problem. There is a CD of software that comes with the device, but it only runs on a PC. But that's apparently because I can simply talk to the unit directly with my Mac to make my adjustments. After supper, another call to India, and this time they forwarded me to "another level of tech support" who walked me through a router firmware update via Gabi's PC. And we were back in business. For another 90 seconds.
Now, I'm sure as hell not the most tech-savvy person you'll run across. And I'm not, by today's standards, someone who can lay claim to any special computer talents. Indeed, I think part of the reason I love my Mac is because, in an ideal world, I think we ought not to need to know shit to make the machine do what you want it to. But in the overall scheme of things, I always feel like I ought to be able to figure these things out, or at least with just a bit of help. Here it seems that even a couple experts on the subject matter can't help me get across the river. Maybe it's like medicine: you can get things like basic sanitation into the skulls of most people, but the details of biology on which medical science relies is simply beyond most of us. Specialization. What's left to do? Since I can't get someone to point me toward some errant setting one one of the router's pages of software, I guess I'll try a different brand of router.
I'm not soliciting for advice (though I'm happy to hear suggestions just the same), and this isn't even an entertaining story. Nor will the eventual solution be satisfying to anyone but me. But I had to get it all off my chest.