austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

No machine can give the kind of stimulation

This is an incident that doesn't take much background to appreciate, but I have the background so I'm going to apply it. After my sister's wedding and our return back home my mother wanted to check her e-mail, and was a little put out that the wireless network at home wasn't working. She was particularly annoyed by this because my Mac was running just fine, and even more obnoxiously my father's Dell laptop had no problems either. The usual approaches accomplished nothing except for getting the wireless modem rebooted more than usual and getting her computer rebooted more than usual.

My mother gave her laptop to me to fix, since while I don't know anything about usefully fixing Windows problems my brother refuses to look at her computer anymore until she's had me try it. As best as I could tell the wireless routing options were all turned on and everything was ready to receive bits from out of the ether, it just wasn't. What it looked like to me was that whatever Windows for ``Turn AirPort Off'' had been selected, but of course there wasn't anything that looked like ``Turn AirPort On'' to be found. After a day or so of this I gave up and admitted this.

So when my mother talked to my brother on the phone I heard a lot of her going to menus that she and I had gone to and confirming that settings looked ready to receive signals but just weren't. Finally he got tired of my mother not seeing the problem and got me on the phone, where I was able to confirm that settings looked ready to receive signals but just weren't. What we ultimately resorted to was a web service that seems equivalent to Remote Desktop, and we were able to watch as he repeated all the menus he told us to look at and saw no difference from what we saw. Eventually he got to running a full hardware diagnostic, which we hadn't done before, and he found something.

To everyone's surprise there's a little switch on the side of my mother's laptop which governs whether it will look for wireless signals. She'd never known about it. I'd never known about it. None of the help files besides wireless settings bothered to mention it. But, yes, it had been turned off, and once the physical switch was turned 'on' all was back to normal, and we were left wondering what is with this stupid switch, anyway.

Trivia: In 1922 United States manufacturers produced a bit more than 100,000 radios. Source: Anxious Decades: America in Prosperity and Depression, 1920-1941, Michael E Parrish.

Currently Reading: Final Cut: Art, Money, and Ego in the Making of Heaven's Gate, the Film That Sank United Artists, Stephen Bach.


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