Friday, March 29, 2024

Insight: Indistinguishable from magic

By Ed Pierce
Managing Editor

Last week was not my best experience when having to overcome technical issues in work and at home.

It all started on a Sunday morning when I tried to log-in to my work website from home using my remote connection. No matter how many times that I tried to do so, the remote connection would not let me connect and an unusual box requesting a password popped up each time.

I texted my boss and asked her if she was aware of any issues or problems and she replied that she wasn’t aware of anything wrong and she was able to log-in remotely. She said she was in Italy with her husband and that she would have her husband investigate the problem and he would be in touch in a little while. About 10 minutes later he texted me and I explained to him my issue.

He spent 15 minutes or so trying to explore solutions, but those suggestions didn’t work. He said he had an appointment and would be in touch later.

In the meantime, I was able to use my home computer to save some documents and I arranged with a co-worker to have them set up a file on the work server and save them there when I emailed them to her. That way I wasn’t losing a lot of productivity from not being able to connect to my office computer remotely.

Later that evening, I received a text that we were going to try again to resolve the remote connection technical problem. After working on it by communicating by text messages back and forth for more than a half hour, I began to realize what he wanted me to do was beyond the scope of my limited technical capabilities. Changing user authentication, removing configurations, changing the shared secret and privacy coding and the like exceeded my knowledge. And both of us were tired, in fact, as he tried to walk me through the steps to fix the issue, he mentioned that it was 2:30 a.m. in Italy. We agreed to call it a night and work on the problem the next day.

On Monday morning, I reconnected with my boss and her husband by text, and they wanted to Zoom with me. After resolving a few issues on my machine to establish a Zoom call with them, we started to work on setting up a new remote connection for me. That was filled with having to overcome an array of technical issues and permissions which they were able to walk me through.

Finally, after about three-quarters of an hour of going back and forth, everything was set up for them to take control of my screen from Italy and install a new remote connection, allowing me to connect with my office computer. It has worked tremendously since then and I was in awe of what they were able to do working on a laptop from Italy to fix my issue and grateful for their assistance.

Two days later, I woke up, sat down at my machine, and discovered that our 10-year-old router no longer worked, and I couldn’t connect to the internet. On my way to the office at 7:45 a.m., I pulled over and using my iPhone, I asked Siri if Staples was open. Within 10 minutes, I had purchased a new router.

When I got home from work that night, I followed the instructions and downloaded the router company’s app onto my iPhone and used the simple step-by-step directions to install the router. The final step was creating a 10-character password using up and down letters, and at least two numerals. When I attempted to log-in, I couldn’t connect the router to my computer. I called the 1-800 number for router technical support and was on hold for more than an hour when I gave up frustrated and said I would try in the morning.

The next day, I tried router technical support again and spent an hour listening to some awful elevator-type of music waiting to have my call answered. When a technician took my call at last, I was overjoyed and answered all her questions about the router’s make, model and serial number. She had me try to connect again and it failed again. When she asked if a blue light was shining on the router we were suddenly disconnected, and I had to go through calling the 1-800 number once again.

This time though I spoke to a different technician and had all the serial number info at hand. She put me on hold for a moment and then asked me what password was showing on my router iPhone app. I thought I entered 10 characters with the last one being an exclamation point, but it showed nine characters with no exclamation point. She suggested I enter that, and it worked and lo and behold, I was connected.

Therefore, hooking my wife’s wireless printer up to the router using the correct password was not an issue just a day later when that technical issue arose.

It turned out to be a week of technical obstacles that I would certainly like to relegate permanently to the memory bank.

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