NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, February 2006
Computer In A Smart House
by Linda Soloski, Greater Tampa Bay PC User Group

I got this from a friend who just moved to North Car­o­­lina. Her husband is being deployed to Iraq.

Hello, everyone! It is so good to return to the land of the living.

We’ve had quite an adjustment getting ourselves here to North Carolina, electronically speaking.

The saga began in Brandon [Florida], when — for some un­known reason — Veri­zon decided to disconnect our service four days early. Repeated attempts to get back online failed, as did numerous attempts to retrieve all my lost email correspondences (which I had not yet saved) and all of my email contacts.

Charlotte, my DAR friend, actually located your address on a scrap slip of paper stuck between the kid’s medical record and the telephone book!

So, please, if you have a mass email from me with numerous addresses, forward it to this new address, as I am trying to compile a list from scratch. Did I mention that no one at Verizon seemed to know that one could actually store email addresses in their “Address” box? Interesting.

Finally, with much ado and nothing to show for it, we get to North Carolina. We bought our house in a nice little rural neighborhood with quiet streets, so quiet in fact, that apparently the cable company had no idea we existed.

For three weeks, I called back and forth trying to get someone to acknowledge that we are here and we do indeed exist. On the third week without inter­net access, I have completed my 12-step compulsive-computer-user-withdrawal program and the pangs have started to subside when the cable guy stops by to say we do, indeed, exist and our lines, as I’ve repeatedly shouted, are running all through the house.

Did I mention we purchased a “smart” house? Yep. It’s so sophisticated that you can turn electronics on from any phone or inter­net extension anywhere in the world. (Too bad we can’t get internet, huh?) The entire house is hard-wired with wireless inter­net, surround sound, security systems, the works!

Then we move to step two.

The “other” cable (not the one that says you exist, a different one) has to come by and actually stick the cables together and connect them to their box.

Another nine days go by and the drool and shaky hands are back. It’s so hard to be addicted to technology. I’m telling you, the guy seemed to have a glow all around when he approached the door and I thought I heard the faint sound of harps playing.

Now I wish I could say I’m exaggerating, but seven hours, yeah, SEVEN HOURS later, he still can’t get the lines hooked up. Apparently our “smart” house is smarter than our cable guy.

He leaves, then returns, then calls the home office, then another cable guy. At 7 p.m., my husband comes home and dis­mis­ses the guy in lieu of going to dinner and asks him to come back the next day.

“Sure” the guy says. Of course, the next day, no one shows. After several calls we’re told only the home office can schedule and the next available slot is five days from now. A familiar pang hits my gut like an alcoholic at a night club.

We press on and five days later, not one, not two, but THREE cable guys show up. In 15 minutes, we’re up and running. Internet, email, the works! HALLELUJAH!

So you think now we are up and running? Nah. Once again, our “Smart” house has outsmarted us. Our 21st century top-of-the-line elec­tronic package left us without a connection in the dog-gone office! (‘Cause no one wants a computer in the office, right?)

I’m off to Best Buy for a wireless rou­ter to network with our smart house. Installation, as is always the case, was a blast! I never realized I had a drinking problem.

That night, before I’ve had a chance to surf even the first Web­site, we have a terrible electrical storm. No pro­blem, we’ve got the monster surge protector, we’ll be fine.

You guessed it! No power.

The next day, no computer, either. I wish I could say I am joking. Two trips to Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” and I’m told I have no — let me repeat that — NO HARD DRIVE. They try rescuing it, but, as is par for this course, there is just no saving it. I take a week off to lick my wounds and try to heal then run out and buy a new laptop.

Now I have a nice new computer that is completely useless until I fill it up with all of the software I lost. Did I mention I HATE electronics? I’ve lost all my family tree stuff, all my World War II information, all the stuff on book publishers for the family history, the Daugh­ters of the American Revolution stuff, everything. I would ap­pre­ciate anything that any of you may have that could help me rebuild. And yes, I’m putting it all on CD this time so as not to lose it.

As for my internet days, I’d like to say I’m cured. But like a bad addition, I find myself inexplicably drawn to the blue-gray glow of the computer screen and the hum of a hard drive kicking in is like the melodic sirens off the coast of tiny is­lands, drawing unsuspecting sailors toward their doom.

At least for that brief period, when everything works according to plan, I may be able to reach that euphoric nirvana of a captain sinking with his ship, knowing he’s going down doing what he loves.

There is no restriction against any non-profit group using this article as long as it is kept in context with proper credit given the author. The Editorial Committee of the Association of Personal Computer User Groups (APCUG), an international organization of which this group is a member, brings this article to you.

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