Saturday, March 27, 2010

Connection Problem

Apologies for my absence. We had "technical difficulties" on this end.

We sat up late attempting to render two of Stella's documents into a file format we could print from my computer... her fancy printer has quit, just as Murphy's Law requires, at the most inconvenient possible time, half a day before a deadline.

No problem, right? Right: email 'em to me; let me print 'em. Um, that may take a while. Just locate and install M$ Word 2003 SP3 in my copy of Word so it would support newer file type converters that recognize .docx files. Like any M$ install procedure, the SP3 and the converters together, on a three-year-old machine, took about 1½ hours.

Exhausted, we emailed and printed the documents... only to discover that my ancient HP inkjet printer has gone defunct, mostly due to disuse, and neither head-cleaning nor new cartridges helped... the printed output looked like crap, completely unacceptable for a presentation document. Damn that printer... it lasted only about 15 years of useful life!

That was the less frustrating part of the adventure.

Stella's new plan, arranged by phone, was to burn a CD of the docs and take them to Kinko's to be printed. But a little later, she phoned a colleague and arranged to email them to the colleague, to be printed in the morning because everyone was exhausted last night. This morning, our internet connection was kaput. This rarely happens... our local AT&T is one of the more reliable services I've experienced anywhere... but Murphy prevailed again. Here's the frustrating part: the phone line associated with the DSL was working fine. All the cabling appeared properly plugged across our little network. All modem lights were green across the board. The router lights appeared normal; besides, bypassing the router did not fix the problem. Restarting computer and router had no effect.

The nature of the problem seemed to be domain name service. Eventually it occurred to me to power-cycle the modem itself, despite its solid-green appearance. Within seconds, I had Google on my browser and Stella's document in my out-box to her colleague. Apparently AT&T had lost its DNS overnight and later restored it, but my truly ancient equipment does not always detect and recover the service on my end.

And so at last, we were successful. As a result, today's departmental Easter Egg Hunt can go forward just as planned!


  1. I'm constantly re-booting my modem, and I suspect the problem is when they re-allocate IP addresses periodically. I've seen it happen too consistently, i.e. one IP address when I comment early, and a different IP later in the day.

    Most of the time it just works, but every so often something in the process hangs, and the tech guys have all said re-boot the modem.

    One of guessed that it happens when they start the reassignment cycle, but they can't actually tell your modem about it because it is busy downloading. I have noticed that it frequently occurs when MS is sending updates.

  2. Bryan, that sounds about right. They tell you when you subscribe that your IP address will change from time to time on the order of hours, which means a modem that does IP mapping or any device that does network address translation must promptly notice and adapt. Most of the time, my truly ancient modem does so without problem. Once in a while, though...

    I like your idea that it may be a result of a huge download, because M$Word 2003 SP3 was pretty big. Besides, anything I can blame on M$... :-)

  3. Jeeze Steve, I got a headache just trying to follow all that. But, perked up when you mentioned Easter Eggs. :)



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