They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me

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Houston, We Have Liftoff!

In November 2002, I bought an 802.11b wireless router, print server and gateway for a DSL or cable modem. But... the phone jack I wanted to use in the downstairs office didn't work right. I'd installed it myself when we bought the house before the builder finished the basement for us. Unfortunately, in my haste I used a staple gun to secure the phone wire and I am assuming I broke or damaged a wire, because the line has always been noisy. Not exactly suitable for high-speed DSL access. (grin)

Be Prepared

I had laid in a spool of good quality phone wire, proper phone line staples and an AT&T switchblock -- and had "great intentions" of completely redoing that section of wiring. Of course this involved crawling behind the furnace and under the stairs, and I just never got around to doing it. This summer we decided we should just get DSL and be done with it.

(We Really Have Been Insane)

Ever since we moved into this house, doing e-mail and PPP to the Internet has been through the excellent state-wide academic dial-up network run by Merit/MichNet -- free for us. But there is no phone jack in the living room where we tend to work (there is a jack but it is downstream of the bad jack in the office downstairs and it has never worked), so we've spent ten years unplugging the one phone from the answering machine and dragging this 25-foot phone cord across the living room to computer or laptop. The computer I'm typing on right now has an excellent Motorola external modem -- purchased when 28.8 kbps was an exciting speed. At least our newer laptops have had 56K V.90 modems... So we're really due.

More Good Intentions

I tried to arrange for the local phone guy to come out and fix our bad jack, but we never got it together. I had the DSL set up and gotten the bag of filters, only to find out that they couldn't fit on our kitchen wall phone. Swung by Radio Shack the other week and found a DSL filter wall plate. And bought a DSL modem.

FINALLY on Sunday I had all the parts ready to go. The DSL modem and the 802.11b router will live in the bedroom temporarily, but I set up everything in the kitchen first, where I could do the installs from a laptop.

First Step

Install the new wall plate. Which worked fine up until I tried to fit the new wall plate in the box -- and they used a narrow box. It doesn't fit. Grrr. I made it fit. It works, sortof... I don't think the DSL filter works, because in the middle of the hardware installs everything had to pause twice for two big phone calls.

It All Worked Beautifully...

Until we tried to set up my wife's laptop. It turns out that Windows XP doesn't support the same encryption levels that the wireless router does. Will have to do it manually or else switch to a different encryption or get another router. Please don't try to be helpful and make suggestions -- I have it all "figured out". Really.

Now I Need a New Computer

I'm using a 1996 vintage Micro Millennia 166MHz Pentium under Windows 98SE to type this -- and while it is a great writing machine, it is increasing long in the tooth for net access, Turbo Tax and even mundane things as Norton Anti-Virus updating.

I'm looking at a 3.20 GHz Pentium 4 HT machine with 512MB to 1GB of memory, Windows XP Pro SP2, a 250GB HDD and gobs of other things. Half the cost of my November 1996 purchase.

The Don Beck Factor of Two

Don Beck, one of my physics grad school mentors up at Michigan Tech, used to say that he was never impressed with latest-and-greatest new models of computers that only promised a 10-20% increase in speed. "Give me a factor of two better," he always said.

166 MHz Pentium versus 3.20 GHz Pentium 4 HT -- I think I get better than a factor of two here... (double-grin)

Dr. Phil

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