Computer troubles |

Computer troubles

One of my major concerns about going to visit my mother for three weeks was being able to hook up my computer in Boonton, N.J.At The Aspen Times, I have a modified laptop with a keyboard I can actually type on and a monitor that enlarges the type enough for me to read it. For the trip, it was just going to be the laptop, so already it was unfamiliar territory with an unfamiliar keyboard and tiny screen.Brian Martin, our computer guru, gave me a crash course and told me to take the laptop home and practice, on the theory that it was easier to troubleshoot locally than when I was in New Jersey. No problem.When I got it to New Jersey I ran into trouble right off the bat when, in attempting to dial the number that would connect me to The Aspen Times system, I got an * instead of an 0, so the area code came out 97* which the computer did not recognize. I frantically called Brian, who directed me to hit two keys that I never would have thought of. The magic keys are Fn and ScrLk in case you ever get into this pickle.So. Onward. I enter the number and lo, I connect! But zut alors, after deleting 10 of the 200 junk mail messages on my home e-mail, I am disconnected! “Line failure,” “disconnect,” “this page cannot be displayed.” I unplug the computer from the phone jack and have a little lie down.There is a consensus that the problem is that my mother’s phone has call waiting and it is incoming calls (though they can’t get through) that disconnect me. I tend to doubt this as she gets few calls but I spend a few futile hours in the phone book and finally call Verizon, my mother’s phone company where, after hours drowning in voice mail and unspeakable music, am told that the secret code to disable call waiting is *70.I try dialing this into the phone but that doesn’t work, so I call Brian, who tells me to enter it in the laptop in front of the access number, followed by a comma. But, he warns me, all three lines are in use so if I try to log in I’ll get a busy signal. Indeed I did get a busy signal, all that evening, that night and the next morning. I wonder if I will have a stroke and leave a desperate message on Brian’s voice mail. I then notice among my scribbles of notes and numbers the number *72. Assuming I had gotten the secret code wrong, I erased *70 from the computer and inserted *72.Well! Suddenly I was cooking. Almost a week had passed and I had hundreds of junk mails to delete (very laboriously with this hook-up) plus mail to answer. Alas, my roll came to an abrupt end the next day when someone called my mother’s caretaker’s cell phone to report that she was getting a fax tone when she called my mother’s line.It seems that *72 has to do with call forwarding, and all my mother’s incoming calls were being rerouted to Glenwood Springs.A couple of days later I couldn’t connect at all, couldn’t reach Brian and was in a froth of frustration by the time Brian called to say the whole system had been off the air all day but was now fixed.Then there were two days when I could reach The Aspen Times but not the Internet to get to my server, and was firing off impassioned e-mails to everyone in the office begging for help lest I get stuck in a mental institution in New Jersey. It turned out I had sent Brian’s message to a different Brian in the company.Brian sweetly fixed that, but I still get disconnected on a regular basis and have built up a terrific speed, making the most of the moments.I am writing this column in the word processing program which needs no hook-up. Now let’s see if I can send it!Su Lum is a longtime local whose mother, though she too often disconnects in midsentence, is doing better than expected and says hi. This column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times.

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