Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Welcome to Gremlin Central

Good grief. What a Gremlin-filled day.

The problem actually started last night, when a major thunderstorm rolled through. I had a bad feeling about that particular weather event, but when we got past it without any damage or incident, I figured that the only problem was just me worrying too much.

No such luck. At about 11 PM, JFM called me to say that he thought his computer had fried in the storm. And, unfortunately, his description of the situation bore out that diagnosis, because the machine was completely dead.

Today, he discovered that not only his computer, but also his landline phones were hosed, as well as his mom's landline phones. His mom lives on the next block, so I suspect that lightning hit a phone line somewhere and caused a lot of toasted phones in the immediate neighborhood.

The good news: he was able to procure a surplus computer this afternoon from a school that's upgrading its equipment this summer. Hooray. He asked for me to help set the new machine up, so I went over there this afternoon. At which point, I found that he'd just come back from picking up a surplus *keyboard* to replace his old one, which was also tostada.

I sat down, booted up the machine, and immediately discovered that I couldn't get on the internet. The Verizon tech had been to the house already and had pronounced the DSL modem to be "working properly", and indeed, the DSL and Power lights were both a steady green. But the computer was steadfastly refusing to recognize that it had a modem plugged into its ethernet port. Nor could the modem tell that it was attached to a computer; the Ethernet light on the modem should also have been illuminated in green, but it wasn't lit at all.

I tried a few basic things that might have gotten the computer to notice the modem, but nothing I did worked. At which point, it was time to bring in a few more techies. Multiple troubleshooting phone calls ensued to JFM's nephew and to his cousin. Their ideas didn't work, either. Next, we thought maybe the ethernet cable was damaged by the power surge. Conveniently, the Verizon tech was still in the neighborhood, and he had a spare ethernet cable in his truck. To our disappointment, the new cable didn't work any better than the original one did, so that wasn't the source of the problem.

Unfortunately, that's where I had to leave the situation. But I've had a few hours to process the issue, and now I'm wondering if the ethernet port on the modem is borked. Just because the modem is getting the DSL signal properly doesn't mean the entire modem is happy and healthy. So I just texted JFM to get hold of Verizon's tech support and have them walk him through the steps to get his machine online. If they determine that the modem is kaput, they can start the process of shipping out a replacement device.

After today, I'm considering reviving my old habit of unplugging my electronic equipment when there's a thunderstorm. Mark used to laugh about it, and I eventually fell away from doing it as time passed. But when I see the mess one unwanted power surge can make, I start thinking I was right all along to start unplugging those power cords.

ARGH. Gremlins are a royal pain in the caboose. And today they were running freakin' RAMPANT.

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