If you plug in everything at once, none of it will work.
I have a lot of computers at the apt, most of which do different things. One of them, for eg, runs my Vonage phone so it’s not really a computer, but you take my meaning I’ll assume. Since I’m always thinking of adding more, I decided to buy a 16 port switch that Office Depot had on their “please adopt me” table. It looked so forlorn and lonely, and it was really cheap, so I said “Why not” and gave the nice man my nice money.
I brought it home and showed it where the litter box was and made sure my cats smelled it, so they wouldn’t consider it The Enemy and kill it when I wasn’t looking. I also set it in a remote corner so they wouldn’t be tempted to sleep on it.
Then I unplugged all the cables from my eight-port hub and, naturally, most of them fell behind the printer where I had to scrabble to gather them all back. And I plugged them into the new switch. I actually had more things to plug in but this didn’t bother me since (I reasoned) the iMac had been unplugged for a while. I then reset the cable modem, the wireless router, the Vonage box and so forth…
…and nothing worked. Nothing! “Nothing” in this case also included my Vonage phone, so I couldn’t even call tech support! (Puns about “Bon Vonage” are acceptable here, but only just so don’t push them.)
I tried putting the old stuff back in place, just to eliminate the idea that the new equipment had disturbed the sandbox, but still, nothing worked.
I tried a different router, one which I had issues with in the past…it actually sat up and gave its best, though. But still nothing worked. I could get IP addresses, but no outside access.
That seemed to point to the cable modem–the one thing of which I had no duplicate at hand–as the problem. What to do? On July 4th, around 6PM? There was only one thing I could do on this day, at this hour.
Super Wal-Mart. So I drove to the closest one and, yes, they had one left.
What the hell? Did I not pay my bill? Did I not do the proper sacrifices before the Web Gods? They’re…not into goats anymore? How could I have missed that? (Of course, I had no web access. No way to determine reality!)
Well, the rest of the evening was spent swapping cables and doing Start Run “cmd” and trying to regenerate IP addresses from good old DOS. Pulling out the old “Start Here!” CDs and seeing if that would make things Start Here.
Finally, I removed all the new technology. I unplugged and replugged. And I noticed that the “wireless” LED on the router went into what looked like “madness” mode, flickering and blinking like it had downed about five or six Dr. Peppers. (It would have been ahead of me at this point.)
So I unplugged, one at a time, until the “wireless” LED began behaving normally (steady-state light). Plugged the rest back in (to the new adopted switch). And suddenly, everything worked. Even the phone. I was starting to think that goats really were okay. There was only one cable, to some aberrant device, that caused all the problems. When I unplugged its cable, all worked. Plugged back in, none worked. Naturally, I unplugged it for good.
And started tracing it back. Was it the new PC, the new XP box? Was it the Vonage phone? Was it some stupid net-storage thingy I had entrusted with access? What was it?
I pulled the cable through the other various cables with which it was entangled and found…that the other end was still plugged into the switch.
Yes: I’d plugged the two ends of one cable into two ports on the same switch. As Robert Frost once said, two roads diverged in a wood and I, I took the one that meant a lot of trouble-shooting and extra work, and that has made all the difference.
Know your cables, and where they go. Sorry this story was kind of boring and all, but it was that kind of an evening.
Maybe next time I say interesting things! Well, it could happen. Thanks for popping by.