Sunday, February 27, 2005

Back Online

It had been building. For several days our cable modem had been dropping lights --you know, the four green lights on the modem -- suddenly two of them would go out, and another would just blink. No connection to the outside world. It happened enough so that I was finally able to convince my family that it was different from the usual loss of wireless signal from our 11b router, which is caused by microwaves, wireless landline phones, and interference from neighbors' wireless setups. But, eventually the Internet would always come back.

Until Friday night. Then, while we were watching the start of an epic Stargate arc, the modem went down. And wouldn't come up.

I did all the usual things. I turned the bloody thing off, on, off, on, ... Nothing. I stomped around. Nothing. I tightened every connection to the cable system in and out of the house -- TVs included. Still nothing. Finally, I removed all splitters from the line and had only the modem connected directly to the wire from the ground. Still nothing.

OK, sigh, call a neighbor. No outages in the neighborhood. sigh Call Comcast on Saturday morning. It only took about 20 key presses to speak to a human, who told me I had done everything she could see to from the phone and they'd send someone out on Sunday between 8am and 5pm. SIGH.

He got here about 3pm. Actually pretty nice. He was impressed that we have a Linux box, runs Mandrake himself. Knew how to query the modem from an xterm. (I suspect that this is unusual, but it was appreciated.)

But nothing worked -- until we connected the modem directly to the computer, without the router. This accidentally turned the modem over 180 degrees, i.e. upside down, at which point all four green lights came solidly on.

We then eventually realized that we hadn't tightened one connection -- the one inside the wall. Yes, it was loose, so he tightened in. Now I get a better signal than we've ever gotten before. Before he left, he even tightened the connection inside the plate to the upstairs TV, which had been giving us problems.

Of course, it may be that the modem was just reacting as all appliances do to the presence of repairmen -- start to work. In which case we have to get a new cable modem. But it's been running for several hours, and the power levels are still in the proper range, so we probably (knock wood) have things fixed.

Everyone at Comcast was friendly and helpful, except for the 8-5 thing. I know that friendly and helpful isn't the universal perception of a cable company, but they were good this time.