Saturday, September 23, 2006

Fried modem

I was checking my email a little before 7 am yesterday when the power went out. I found out later that most of the people on my street lost power. The first indication I had that it wasn't just my apartment that had a problem (well, second. The first was that I didn't hear the breaker box click) was when my upstairs neighbor started scurrying around. Lighting candles, I suppose. That's what I was doing, anyway.

Candlelight is very pretty and romantic and all that, but it sure is difficult to get dressed by. The cat (very intelligently I thought) decided that the safest place to be was in her little bed, well out of the way of the frantic human fumbling around in the semidark.

According to my neighbors, the power was out until around noon. It was on when I got home at six. There were workmen digging in the front yard, though, so I figured it hadn't been truly fixed yet. They're still out there today, doing who knows what. Whatever they were doing yesterday has resulted in a very large hole, a big pile of dirt, and very thick cable with an extremely frayed and frazzled end to it. I wonder if one of the groundhogs I've been seeing all summer mistook that cable for a chew toy.

The upshot of all this for me personally is internet connection problems. Apparently there was a power surge right before eveything went *poof* that was too much for my power strip, and my modem has died.

I'm trying to decide whether to just get a new modem or to replace the whole CPU. It's an older machine. The service plan I bought for it has most definitely expired. It's probably time to get a new one. And the power goes out often enough (symptom of a town that's growing too fast and an electric company that needs to update their grid) that it's probably one surge away from following the modem into the Great Beyond.

I've been shopping around online (in a computer lab on campus, in case anyone is wondering) and I looked briefly (very briefly) at laptops. They want over $1000 for most of those. Oy. No thanks. Portability isn't that high on my list of priorities. Actually, there isn't really much on my list of priorities. Don't care much for all the bells and whistles. Whatever comes standard suits my purpose. I don't need tons of storage, either, which frustrates store employees.

Most of the machines on the site where I was looking have at least 100 gigs of storage. Mine has 60, and I thought that was a lot when I bought it. I've only used about half. When I was buying this machine, the fellow at the store tried to talk me into getting one with 80 gigs. He couldn't believe I'd be happy with "just 60."

"Look," I said, "the machine I have now has .6 gigs. Asking me whether I want a 60 or 80 gig hard drive is like asking someone living in an efficiency apartment whether they want a 60 room mansion or an 80 room one. It isn't going to matter, because everything they own is going to fit in the foyer."

I expect a similar conversation regarding the 100 or 120 gig hard drive now, if I decide to buy a new machine.

I'm going shopping a little later today. Not buying anything, of that I am sure. There's no way I'd be able to wrestle a purchase onto and off of a bus all by myself. I'm going to have to ask a friend with a car to help me with transport, when (if) I decide to buy something.

I wonder how difficult it is to replace a modem myself? I wonder how much the people at Circuit City would charge to do it for me? Something to ask while I'm there.


G said...

You can replace a modem yourself, sure you can. You can buy an external one, which plugs in, or an internal one, which is a card that fits in a slot on the motherboard. That's trickier, because you have to get the cover off first, and those covers are fiendish, requiring escapology skills and three thumbs, not to mention a cross-point screwdriver.

Cheaper than replacing the whole machine, but there again, when you do, the new one will come with a modem.

Storage - RAM is more important, unless you're going to be into downloading DVDs, which the industry is steering us all towards, hence the huge hard drives. Get lots of RAM.

--V said...

I went to Circuit City yesterday and found out that: a) Even though it feels like forever, I've only had this computer since February 2003; b) they can't fix it in-store without me having to pay for parts and labor; but c) that doesn't matter, because my service plan is still good until March 2007. The service plan is independent of the store, though. Someone will come visit me at home to fix the machine. When I call it in. After I straighten up a bit.

I had toyed with replacing the modem myself. I'd rather have it done by someone who knows what they're doing.