Tackling technophobia

Let’s see … in the last week or so I have continued beating my new computer into submission, with a fair amount of success. But that seems like the easiest thing I’ve done. I also tried for the umpteenth time or two to make my video doorbell fully functional again. I don’t know if it’s working now or not. It’s only been semi-working for a number of weeks, not recording actual video like it’s supposed to, probably due to my constant efforts to fix it (several reboots and, in desperation, resets). The problem was either in the doorbell itself or in the app on my phone. But I’m crossing my fingers that it’s happy again.

Then there’s my adventure with cutting the cable cord. I know, I know, I’m the last person in the world to do it, but better late than never. I forget now if there was something specific that finally pushed me over the edge. Probably a couple of months of looking at obscenely high bills from Xfinity. But they’ve had their revenge as I continue to struggle with the totally new, unfamiliar, unintuitive onscreen interface using an Xbox controller. At least it’s midsummer and the writers are on strike, so I haven’t been missing a lot of favorite shows (except Colbert; I love Colbert).

Grandma moves a modem
A Google mesh router and smartphone run a lot of stuff in my house

In my more energetic moments, I played with several living room lamps and some outdoor lights front and back. All now have nifty Wi-Fi controls for on/off and brightness levels. Plus schedules for them to come on automatically or in response to voice commands. Hugely convenient, once I finally got them set up properly (again, working with apps on the phone).

All of this is dependent, of course, on Wi-Fi throughout the house. And it’s years past time to move the modem and router out of the study, where I no longer do anything other than feed the cat, to a more central location that doesn’t have a million walls between the source and most of the dependent devices. Yep, it finally dawned on me what that coax outlet in the kitchen is for, the one up near the ceiling. (All these years I assumed it was just so the homeowner could have a little tv in the kitchen.)

However, after disconnecting and dragging the router and modem and all their respective cords into the kitchen (and climbing a ladder to get them up on top of the kitchen cabinets), it turned out (after going back down the ladder) that the closest electrical outlet, down near the floor, was about a foot too far away. Damn!

There it is, a coax outlet way up there near the ceiling.

So, up the ladder again to retrieve the aforementioned devices, return them to the study, and get them set up again so that everything in the house would work. Again. And then order a power strip/surge protector with a cord long enough to span the newly discovered gap.

(Are you laughing yet? I definitely was not.)

Fast forward a day or two and try it again, after carefully positioning and sticking the new power strip to the wall with Command strips. Unplug the modem and router, haul them to the kitchen, climb the ladder, set them up, climb back down the ladder, plug everything in. And …


No bright light on the power strip, no lights on the modem or router. $#^%&)(^*$!! Unplug everything, haul it all back to the study, reinstall everything in the study. Again.

Subsequent testing with another device (in this case, a hair dryer) confirmed the wall outlet is functioning normally. As is the power strip; it just happens to be a model that doesn’t have an “on” light on it (who does that!?).

But, not content to play with ladders, modems, routers, and short cords, I also managed, apparently, to mess up my phone (the “smart” one that controls all the Wi-Fi in the house). For some reason I’ll probably never figure out, it decided it wasn’t going to send texts. That was important because I rarely call; I text. And while poking around in some sub- sub- submenus on the phone, messing with settings I probably shouldn’t have messed with, I also managed to disconnect/disable my smartwatch — that rather important device with the fall detector for the old woman who lives alone (and spends her time climbing ladders in the kitchen). It took me one entire day to get the watch and phone functioning properly again.

Anyway, as I type, the router and modem remain in the study where they were to begin with. The ladder is still in the kitchen next to the cabinets. And the power strip is lying powerless on a nearby table. One of these days I’m going to try again. Maybe. In the meantime I’m contemplating the wisdom of “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

17 thoughts on “Tackling technophobia

  1. Personally I detest the all-important phone. I loathe the idea of everything’s hanging off the horrid little thing. I hate apps. There now, I’ve confessed.

    1. Oh, I get it. I love my phone when everything works exactly as I expect. I hate it when it doesn’t work exactly as I expect, because trying to fix it is likely to introduce more problems. However, if I ever lose it, I’ll need a new one almost immediately because it controls so much in my house (which, of course, is my fault in the first place). I suspect those who sell new phones know this.

    1. Well, it’s either try to do it myself or impose on my son, who has no spare time, and try to explain to him how I managed to create the problem.

  2. For the first time in my life I hired a computer guy when I cut the cable cord over the winter. As he worked his way through one problem after another, I felt it was well worth the money.

    As much as I hated xfinity, though, I now realize that they did offer a good viewing experience. I installed a Roku, highly recommended to me by lots of people, and it is just awful. It literally interrupts an actor mid -WORD to install a commercial. And Roku has assembled an ad of its own offerings, which it runs ceaselessly, sometimes three times in a row. Wouldn’t be so bad, except it is just an abomination of an ad. On a positive note, I am reading more than ever.

    1. I had a pretty easy job of it … watching my grandson, a Marine communications specialist, unplug all the right stuff, neatly coil all the cables, and put it all in a bag for me ready to go back to Xfinity. My son was there too, noted my utterly perplexed expression, and arbitrarily picked YouTube TV for me. Once my head cleared a few days later, I compared the channel lineups and switched to Hulu, which has the History Channel. Their user interface, however, is horrible. I may still go back to YouTube at some point. Baby steps … but I’m getting there.

  3. You are not alone, that’s for sure. The GFCI breaker in the kitchen failed about a week ago. I replaced it, only to find that the wires were so @$#! stiff, I couldn’t get them back in their cavity without them coming loose from the outlet! Part of the problem was bifocals and a bad back. Called an electrician who had strong hands and he did his magic, somehow. Two days ago, the GFCI in the garage popped and would not reset, leaving a refrigerator and freezer unpowered. Am I hexed? Another faulty breaker, or a short? The breaker seemed OK, so I unplugged everything (I thought) and it still wouldn’t reset. Next morning I remembered the garage door openers were on that circuit too, so I disconnected them. The breaker then reset. AHa! Called the garage-door guy. He plugged the doors back in, and they worked! It wasn’t the doors. Service call, $132. Moral: even low-tech can fool you. Does E still equal IR? I’m wondering.

    1. Sounds a lot like the games I play. But instead of rewiring a GFCI (which I’d never attempt) it’s usually unplug/replug the modem and router or tinker with the app that controls something. Which is good, actually, since I’m afraid to mess with wiring. I’ll flip a switch in the breaker box, but that’s as close as I get to live wires. (Odd, since I remember years ago changing out light switches without a second thought.) What worries me with all this is that I’m obviously getting slower and stiffer, both mentally and physically. At some point I won’t be able to even consider tackling such stuff. As it is, my inner voices scream at me when I even look at a ladder, even though I’m very, very careful and never go above the second step. But I’ll be damned if I’m going to pay an electrician to come change a light bulb!

  4. Amazon Fire Stick, an outdoor antenna and an Amazon Recast DVR to record the over the air programs you don’t want to miss.  That’s my setup.  Of course my antenna is 30′ high and delivers 133 channels.  Many in foreign languages however.

    1. That’s way beyond me, in more ways than one. Over my head, so to speak.

      Eventually I realized that when Xfinity cut off my cable, they also drastically reduced my download speed (that allowed them to quote a really juicy low price when I asked what the internet-only charge would be). So I called and upped my speed (and monthly charge) to the next tier. That helped. But to regain the speed I once had will require new equipment and another trip to their store … and a higher monthly charge, of course. God what a racket.

  5. The Fire Stick experience is incredibly easy. You’d have no trouble. Cause I didn’t. AT&T recently brought fiber to my area and installed it with no charge. I’m told the reason is that they want to abandon copper wires because of maintenance. (?) Regardless my speed is now gazillions (or some other speed related term)

    1. All I know about my service is it comes via an underground cable from some box in the back of the backyard (I watched them lay it, and deliberately cut some preexisting cable without asking me–from the dish receiver on the roof, I think), and comes into the house as a coax cable. The house was pre-wired with several coax outlets. I could get over-the-air broadcasts for free if I bothered to set up an antenna, but they are included in my streaming service. If all of that makes no sense … don’t ask me to explain. This was the best I could do.

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