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Genesis of a Historical Novel

Thursday, June 28, 2007

due to technical difficulties beyond our control...

No blog-post yesterday, because I was unable to go online. After trying the usual tricks of unplugging my modem and plugging it in again, and restarting the PC a couple of times, I phoned the customer-support line of my Internet-access provider, Shaw Cable. Like all quasi-monopolies, they have an overly long telephone menu to step through before you can actually get to a person. But I made it.

In the course of the next hour I was helped by two men, who took me through all the tricks in the book that they knew of. Still no dice for me. At the end of it, Kevin, the technician I was talking to, said that under the circumstances I would probably have to reinstall my operating system (Windows 98 Second Edition), "although we can't recommend that." When I asked him what other options I might have, he confessed that there probably weren't any--just reinstalling Windows, "although we can't recommend that."

I had only one option--and that one they couldn't recommend.

"You mean I'm on my own?" I said.

"Unfortunately we've done all that we can do from here," said Kevin. "Is there anything else we can do for you?" I chuckled at this, and Kevin moved on quickly to: "Thanks for calling--and thank you for choosing Shaw."

With that he was gone. But I did find it funny, because he clearly wasn't comfortable with cutting me loose, problem unsolved.

Nothing for it: I put in an old backup disk of Windows 98 SE that a neighbor had made for us five years ago, and proceeded to reinstall my operating system. It took about half an hour. And when the moment of truth arrived (well, one of the moments of truth), and my Web browser and e-mail client launched, seeking connection, I was a bit surprised that they actually did get onto the Internet--I was online again!
My desktop settings were all preserved, all my shortcuts were still there--all my data files seem to have survived. I was delighted. I figured that I had finally reached the point where I'd have to get myself a new computer, after all.

A suspicion floated up in my mind. Checking my planetary ephemeris, I discovered that Mercury is retrograde, and has been since 15 June: communication mix-ups, commuting delays, office-equipment malfunction. Prepare for more of the same till 10 July.

For the few hours that I was offline, I realized how much I have come to rely on being online, how much more powerful and useful a computer is when it is part of a worldwide network. I felt a bit isolated and lonely, no doubt as people used to feel when staying at a cabin without a telephone.

So yesterday's interruption of service really was due to technical problems. Will there be more of them? Stay tuned.

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