Jan. 2007  After 18 months of deliberation, I bought a stereo for the truck. It has a removable face, and my place of residence has changed, so probably it won't be quickly stolen.  I have the tools to remove the whole thing overnight in case I should be in a hotel parking lot.  But I still think my idea is the wave of the future: the amplifer is hidden away in the dash somewhere with nothing but a volume and balance and fader control, and you plug in your device, whatever it is, and control it from the device, which you take with you when you leave the vehicle.  The cell phone is the obvious candidate for the device, or the MP3 player.  Right now I have a $15 dollar MP3 player that can do the job.  My Treo would do it except that the audio plug is 2.5 mm and also damaged.   I waited until a stereo with a front auxiliary input came into my price range, and I ended up with a Sony that I like very much.  But of course I have the CD player (which makes the unit theft-worthy), and when I found out that it and other newer players would play ALL the albums I stored on one CD-R as a backup to my computer's music library, and that it would read the names of the folders and the files (albums and songs), well, I was so happy that it didn't hurt too much to abandon my plan.  So I can plug two things into my unit, and I have a radio, too.  The latest now is that you can get a USB port in the face of the car stereo, and that means you can plug in your flash drive, just the data, the songs, and the stereo will be the player for them.  My MP3 player, the $15 model, is a flash drive with a player built in, so instead of plugging in its output line I could plug the unit into the USB port, and the stereo would play those same files.  I don't know if you can do that with your 5 terabyte I-Pod or not, but probably, since I think your computer works like that, playing the data files that are on the I-pod through its own programming, but then for $250 you never know what you are going to get.  I, of course, did not buy that USB unit because I'm a cheapskate and might still want to plug in tape player, for those who remember what those things are.  If I could clean up my garage I could put the truck in it,

I might not have to dribble away into nothingness if I were willing to admit that I had the cable guy out last month because the limited basic cable that we get along with our cable internet did not seem to have the expected channels, and it seemed to me that the cable was just acting as an antenna.  But the shopping channel was there on 3, so I knew there was some connection.  The broadcast channels had poor reception in most cases, and the others were not there at all.  He showed me I needed to push the button on my remote that says "cable". 

...................Utter humiliation, and he wasn't among the people-skills masters of the cable guys that might have come, tending to show faint disgust while being very polite.  Faint disgust was my feeling, too.  It was the channel 3 that fooled me.  I guess it does not need the "cable" button.  And the fact that at the girls house that choice is not part of the equation. But I had 3 month to try everything but that button. I still think there is a better explanation lurking out there for me to track down someday, after I get my garage cleaned up.  Also, I lost the dish signal the night of our first snow storm and we have dish guy coming next week because I cannot get it back.  Humility comes  before honor, I guess.

Well, not utter humiliation.  The dish guy came and got it going by aiming it way over to the South from where I had it, but he aimed it at the wrong satellite.  Sylvia didn't see anything she cared to watch. He came back and tried again, and now it points way to the East as I thought, but I guess I had the elevation wrong, because it is really low, almost looks level.  It worked one night and then stopped letting us on, but the signal was there, so Sylvia called the provider (not the dish guy) and jumped through a few more hoops, and we are back to normal.  Trouble is Fox News has nothing on but Anna Nicole Smith, and I can't figure out who she is or why her story is supposed to matter to me. 


Hyper-choice syndrome report report


Not a typo, this is a report on my report on hyper-choice syndrome electronica.  The report is that my report can begin, because the exacerbation of HCS is ending, because I made one of the choices and a purchase, covering four of the areas I was forced to painfully cogitate so long.  


It began with my truck, when the stereo was stolen.  It was not especially valuable, so as a good consumer I would easily know to get a better one, with a CD player instead of a tape player, or with both.  But I knew the truck was easily broken into; the wing window on the extended cab can be opened with little fuss or damage.  My thief even borrowed my tools to remove the stereo carefully, with little damage.  He left my Snap-on wrenches in the truck, though they were worth more than the stereo.  But this could happen again, even if I didn't provide tools.  So I decided I should get a cheap, uninviting stereo, perhaps just a radio, and then broadcast to it with an FM transmitter connected to an audio device such as a personal CD player or I-Pod. I saw a stereo, a marine unit, online for under $30, and it even had a line-in connection on the face, so I could  connect my music source with a patch cord.  However, I looked away, and that unit swam away in the chimerical currents of internet shopping.  So the process of deliberation   begins. 


There are three problems, really.  What to play the music on, how to amplify the music, and how to get the music from the unit and amplifier to one’s ears. 


The second and third part I am still working on.  My report begins with the question of the player, which branches quickly into whole host of choices.


Since I dropped my cheapie camera on the street and drove away, last Mothers' Day, and since my phone was a prepaid unit--no monthly plan but about $75 per month to talk to my Sweetheart--and they said I had to buy a new one to get a plan, and since I wanted to get a PDA and become a paperless person, which is one of the great illusions and ironies of history, AND since my relaxed fit pleatless slacks (another choice foisted upon us:  "to pleat or not to pleat," he bleats) can hold only a finite number of shiny electronic idols. well, nothing remains  but to buy a smartphone, a "handheld" with phone and camera.  


It is a fact universally acknowledged among Americans that a busy man with any discretionary income is in need of a cell phone, a digital camera, an MP3 player, and a Personal Data Assistant.  After all, without  electronica how could one be connected?  And how could one ever heed the classic admonito ad nauseum to Get Organized?


Now everything  is in place, in the 2.25 by 4.0 inches of shiny metal and bright screen

of the Palm Treo 650, which is my Verizon phone. (America's Choice 450 minutes with unlimited calls and text to and from the one Verizon customer to whom I really need to be connected. When I marry her we'll call from the left and right sides of the bed.)


Since the PDA is a handheld computer, I now have in my pocket most of what a man needs: phone, music player, camera with viewer, calendar (1904 - 2031...I can die by then) appointment book with alarms and bells and whistles,  a clock of the whole world with sunset times and moon phases, timers & stop watches, a contacts list and phone dialer, memos, and calculators of 9 types , including logic & specialized conversions, e.g.,   .89     ft²  =  0.002043158861341 acre (in case you didn't know).  The calculators keep a history & I can paste it into a file.  My brother beamed me a conversion program that does 23 other kinds of conversion, including shoe sizes. It even converts apples to oranges.


I also have in my pocket a text reader and two novels (in case I end up in the bathroom without a book), 8 Bibles with 3 Bible dictionaries, a dictionary, a Shakespeare glossary, an almanac, and an encyclopedia.  Most times, this will be enough. 


Should this info freak want more, he could go on the internet, for only about $15 per megabyte transferred or $45 per month.  (The only thing I don't have in my pocket now is money.)


If I need more data and don't want to pay I can make it up, because I have a word processor, too, with a keyboard, on-screen keyboard, "graffiti" handwriting recognition, and, optionally, a portable keyboard.   This report is written mostly while lying in bed with my cats & drinking coffee. 


In bed with the cats and information and my tiny keyboard and bright screen., there is music, too. A long patch cord carries the music to an amplifier, a miniature tuner-amp duo from the good old days, and to my 1975 vintage Jensen speakers across the room. But this gets us into the other issues.


In the truck, the amplifier is a powered speaker set I got for the classroom.  It's portable but hefty enough for classroom listening and for highway vehicle conditions.  It's powered by an AC inverter, which means going from 12 volts DC to 110 volts AC and then, in the power adaptor of the speakers, to 15 volts DC.  Might be a simpler way. The good news is that the phone-player goes with me and the speakers and any CD player or other audio device I might choose to plug into the speakers can go with me or be hidden away.  And there are no batteries in use.  The bad news is that this is all rather awkward. One begins to hear the distant strains of "Got Them Skinny Black Wire Blues," punctiated with the snaps and pops of connectors coming loose. We now get into the subtleties of how to be connected smoothly and reliably in a vehicle.


In the best of world's I'm driving my 71 Dodge pickup that I got from my father-in-law, with its six cylinders and automatic and its FM only radio, on the soft dirt roads of the valley on a Saturday morning with Circle K coffee and opera.  But there's a line-in jack on the old radio and my treo phone is plugged in with a not-too-thin 12 in. cord.  Or we're in the Suburban on the open road, with one little girl strapped into each rear seat, and "Lonesome Dove" is playing on the mp3 player through the stereo and through the speakers and headphones plugged into the jacks between the 2nd and 3rd seats. Sigh!  Somehow the Good Old Days and Leading Edge Technologica have to be brought together.


What I need I would have to build myself, a small 12 v. amplifier hidden away in the dash with a fader, balance, and volume control and one or two lines in and lines out.  The whole unit plugs in, and I could carry it with me along with my player device.  But an external unit like a micro stereo might work, too, and plugging it into a  power inverter is not a bad idea, since I need power for a laptop computer and coffee pot, too.  Being more of a house person than a vehicle person, I can picture a nice ivory colored duplex receptacle in the dashboard.


If I had a custom amplifier built, I might have two lines in and several out, for headphones, and then the question becomes whether to have separate channels or not, such that I could be listening to one source while my  daughters listen to (a)different source(s).  But then we might as well just grab our mp3 and CD players and headphones and drive away in intergenerational isolation, as is already the case, most of the time.  But there is nothing like good music on car speakers.  I think back to when I put the speaker for the am radio of my 55 chevy into the rear deck and had it reverberating from the depth of the trunk cavity.  The first of the boom-boom cars.  Boom-boom is not what we get with ear buds, and if we want the whole neighborhood to hear we don’t want to have two or three music sources at one time.  Still, we might want that option, and hence we have choices, choices, choices, and it is the job of technology to give us choices, and it is our job to make the choices about technology. I have, by the way, switched two paragraphs ago from writing on my phone to writing on the desktop, and now words are almost as free-flowing and far flung as the choices we are pondering.


We have stepped perhaps into the third area of deliberation, which is getting the sound from the unit to one’s ears, and yet questions about getting it from the player to the amplifier, if there is to be one, are with us still.  Once I have an installed or plugged-in amp unit, I could use an FM transmitter.  Which is more hassle, trying to get a good signal through the air waves or fumbling with tangled cords?  Well, since the FM transmitter has to get its signal from something it needs a line-in cord from the audio unit (MP3 player, etc.), so you might as well just plug that into the installed amplifier.  There are players with FM transmitters built in (and receivers, too, for that matter! They're called radios-- Don’t forget Garrison Keiler on Saturday afternoons on Public Radio!)   But if we have FM transmitters, maybe they should just send to the headphone(s) directly.  Maybe we should all just have our own portable radios and hold them to our ears.  (I find myself walking into the store with my unplugged phone still playing Dylan or Jonathan Settel through its tiny speaker, and I hold it to my ear like the good old days.  How high-tech is that!)


Regarding FM transmitters, these raise the question of whether or not to use Bluetooth, the amazing little radio system that lets units of various kinds who have been properly introduced communicate with each other whenever their paths cross.  Little electronic people, sort of.   Bluetooth headphones and headsets are an item, these days.  By the way, FYI, headsets are mono units with a microphone and are used for phones, while headphones are stereo units for music.  I can get a hybrid set that does both, but it is not wireless. And, by the way, phones have 2.5 mm. jacks, while other audio jacks are 3.5 mm. (1/8"), and the adaptors are a little hard to find and increase the awkwardness and the chance of bad connections, making wirelessness more attractive. My phone has bluetooth for a headset but does not employ it for stereo music.  (A unit that did could send to a bluetooth headphone or an adaptor that produced an audio signal for the amplifier, whatever that might be, and then it could play through what are known as speakers, which produce an amazing pressure variation in the air that a human ear can translate into meaningful and beautiful music.


Maybe the only way to end this nervous technophilo-phobic diatribe is to pause while meditating on the wonders of God’s own natural means of blessing us with beautiful sounds.


On the other hand, the nervous technoxious guy writing this wants to return once more to the matter of how his phone could be connected to unlimited data on the internet, whether through phone signals supplied at a price by Verizon or by a bulky attachment that gives his phone wi-fi capability—and those of you in the market probably won’t want to go without wi-fi, if   airports and hotel rooms and coffee shops are your cup of tea, that is, your preferred work environment.  With the wi-fi adaptor he could use the home network and others, but he could also buy a bluetooth adaptor for his PC and then send the internet through the wall to the SmartPhone in the bedroom.  All of this is, of course, is predicated upon the proposition that the supreme objective of life is CONNECTEDNESS.  And with that there is a story that I share often with my imaginary techie friends.  


We were all working hard at why a computer named Shalom, owned by my sweetheart, was shutting off randomly.  This laptop, six years old (like my desktop), has a wonderful reputation for serendipity, as recounted in the work-in-progress companion essay, “The Hiccup Theory.”  (linked here when both are finished.)  It was Shalom that effortlessly broke through the home network fog and got my computers talking to each other and to her.  But Shalom has fainting spells, and they had crept up to a frequency that was alarming.  One morning as I frantically tried to complete a task and head for work, as I gave up and turned the laptop off, I saw that the power cord had just become detached from the power adaptor in the line.  I didn’t know there was even a joint there, and I found that when fully attached it is not a loose connection, so probably it had been gradually getting looser until that day.  I ended up thinking that 90% of the problem was nothing but a loosely connected cord. 


This came to me as I drove nervously to the campus, when I thought I should skip forward through the songs to the worship music, to ease my soul. But I stopped instead at Dylan's little-known masterpiece, "Tight Connection to My Heart."  He sings, "Has anybody seen my love?" but angelic female background vocals assure him, "You've Got a Tight Connection to My Heart."  


Yes, Connectedness is the bottom line of life. The good news is that in the most fully significant sense of the word there is only one way.


The hiccup theory


Confessions of a Power User


A techie at my ISP said on the phone, "Let's let it hiccup a few times, and see if it works.  Call me back if it still doesn’t work."


So I did.  It worked.  I never called him back.


The hiccuper was our infamous Windows (98, that is, but XP does this too), trying to make my dial-up connection work on my daughter's new computer.  It was not that we needed to shut it down once to implement a new program; everyone knows about doing that.  I’m talking about the fact that it will not work, probably, for a while, and then it will, and you will never know why.  It is part of the plan, I think, a deliberately programmed attempt to make it look like we have no power but must just follow directions and hope.  I saw someone just the other day praying to the Copier god, which I think is how a technocrat measures success. (add note: more seriously, I don't think people know much about any "plan," and the programming is not deliberate, but it is a devious intelligence emerging from the collective efforts of the technocrats, an unacknowledged groupthink effect.)


It is good news that Windows often fixes itself.  Windows 98 did that, and XP is smoother about it, not moaning and groaning so much about what I did wrong or what it cannot do, and yet, still, holding the whole operation in abeyance for a time.  As a result, one seldom gets immediate feedback from his guesses at how to change something, so one never develops a transferrable algorithm.  The techies may think they do hold those algorithmic keys, but I have watched them, and they work mostly by trial and error (so fast you can't tell).  And they have to wait for the hiccup, too.


So, who am I to comment on these things? 


I go back to when surfing the hard drive was a thrill.  My bent was never toward games but toward information, accessible, manipulable, and searchable.  My biggest pleasure was entering all the transactions for home improvements into dBase III and being able to compile them fourteen ways.  Then there was having 120 million bytes or 20 million words or 1200 works of literature in a textbase available to my word processor to scramble and reassemble as I pleased.  This is all before we even begin to think of email, attached files, the web, broadband access or home networks.  But of course I had taken the bait and would soon go all the way.


I was called a “power user” recently, and since the one who used the term was an ex-spook from Langley, I thought I should wear it with honor.  But it really means one is a user of power, like a user of drugs, and in particular a compulsive seeker of the pathetic, perceived power of having three computers in the home wirelessly online and able to talk to each other and share files and the printer.  This I now enjoy.  But it took a long time to get to that point, and that is the story I have been trying for months to avoid telling, which effort falls, of course, before the force of my compulsion.


Four months ago, when the cable guy came to give me Comcast broadband access, he was grim about the fact that my computer was 6 years old and running 98se.  I didn't have a network card, but he thought we could use the USB connection to the cable modem, with a driver, and then we found that my 1998 DVD drive was not reading CD-R's; we went to my daughter Brie's computer to get it, but the little driver was within a HUGE "cab" file.  I had my flashdrive hanging around my neck, but Brie's computer was bogged down with adware and barely running.  I was not looking my coolest at that moment.  He gave up on the USB connection, and we quickly dragged Brie's computer to my desk and got the cable modem connected to it, on its network card.  He showed me how good the connection was and ran off to his next job, fully expecting, I suppose, to be called back many times to help this jerk.  He also said it was too hard to climb the pole to remove my basic plus cable and change it to limited basic, which  was how I was paying for the cable internet, so he said I would have the same cable TV for a long time, without  paying for it, which is the case so far.


Thus began my 4 month odyssey to get my old computer switched over to XP and rebuild the hard drive from the ground up, to get the internet on mine and then on both, and to finally have the two computers--three when I get a laptop--connected to each other so that Brie would not have to injure herself carrying diskettes down the hall to the printer.   There have been many hiccups, and a few raspberries and choking sounds, too.


For about two weeks the two computers sat side by side on my desk, mine opened up and hers connected to the internet and able to get files I might need.  I had Windows XP professional on CD, luckily not CD-R, from the college for $10.  But I was told my 450 mz PIII might  be too sluggish for XP, so I decided I should keep open the option of returning to 98.  It was not to be.  It was bad advice, too, because  the Pentium III starts up and shuts down in half the time and with one tenth the squacking and blue-screen blaming that it had with Windows 98.  The only blue screen I have seen since then was a really terrible one advising of total hardware failure, with complex emergency procedures spelled out.  But I think it was caused by the two kittens we got, who probably yanked on some cables while I was gone.   Still, it took me some time to get to XP.


I installed a 20 gb used hard drive from my dad's old computer along with my 40 gb drive, and with both set to cable-select I could make either one the master or slave, by switching the cable.  With the 20 as master, I thought I would put 98se on it, but then I realized my old DVD drive would not read the copied 98se disk.  (The college license  legitimately applied to me, but I had returned the original disk.)  I decided to leave that disk as it was and put XP on the 40 gb, so I made it the master and prepared to do that but was told my partitions (and all my files) would have to be removed.  I also found that the 20 gb disk could not see the 40 gb, even though it was on "My Computer," so I could not save the important files from the 40.  That problem went away a little later, a manifestation of the hiccup theory.  But I still could not apply XP to the 40 gb while keeping the programs and data I had.  I learned that the Western Digital Hard Drive partitioning program, with which I had split the drive into C, D, and E, had a proprietary format that squeezed a little more space out of it while making the partitions unusable by Windows XP.  How nice!


Now I was facing total committment: build the drive up from scratch, which would be good because it would remove a few thousand files that some programs had left behind and force me to decided what data and what programs were really of value.  So I made the 20 gb drive the master and started fresh with an XP install.  I copied a few files from the 40 to the new 20, but most of what went there was newly installed, and the 40 gb drive sat there with old stuff on it for most of the summer, while I occupied myself with Internet stuff.


When my computer was running on XP I put a network adaptor in it and connected the cable modem to it.  There were no glitches or  screeches with that; cable internet is easy to use.  At first I was barraged with deceptive messages claiming to be from Windows, and I found I could not shut off  Windows Messenger.  But that ended, perhaps because I got the firewall program going, or maybe just  after some quiet hiccuping.   I mean, even though the messenger program would not shut off, it quietly gave up after further thought, because I never see it anymore.


I do little with Comcast's site or my email there, except to  use it for required addresses with companies I don't trust.  Navigator gets email for me from 2 sites and Internet Explorer gets email from the web-based email at work.  Downloading fat pictures from friends is a joy, and major downloads don't have to happen overnight.  But  the question became how to get it on both computers.


When I bought the network card I also bought a wireless router and a wireless network adaptor that connects with USB  These things sat in their boxes for a few weeks, along with Partition Magic and Norton Firewall.  Then Drew, my young semi-techie friend (Shannon's boyfriend), decided we could do it in 15 minutes.  He was right; it took only an hour. Brie's computer was still at my desk.  The modem was connected to the router, and the router was connected to my computer by cable to the network card.  We installed the software for the  wireless adaptor, and Drew did a few things too fast to tell what they were or if he knew what he was doing.  The adaptor found the wireless signal and pretty soon Brie's computer was online, too.  We sent it to its room.


That process worked but had a certain fuzziness to it.  Exactly what  steps do you take, and in what order?  You can read instructions, but in general they never quite produce the results.  Then you have to try a few things, going to widely varied locations in the control structure of the computer, running any "wizard" that pops up and offers to do  something for you,  and you keep doing this until you give up, and then the next day it starts working.  That is an exaggeration with respect to  getting the wireless adaptor working, but totally true with what happens next.  We did not yet have a home network, only shared internet.  The remaining process can be described in broad terms, but it cannot be reduced to a definite sequence.  I never knew quite what to do, so I spent a lot of time waiting.


Through midsummer I enjoyed the broadband connection and went back to the redo of my computer, finally re-partitioning the 40 gb drive and leaving it clean to take some of the weightier data and programming, including a few games, most of the pictures, and all of the music and literature databases.  The plan is to copy my C: drive, the 20 gb drive, to one  partition of the 40, so that in a breakdown I could switch the cables and boot from the C: partition of the 40 gb drive.  I made the first partition a ________ partition instead of a logical partition, hoping that was appropriate.  But the feasibility  of  this plan is a great unknown in my future.


As for the home network, I let it ride mostly, since carrying  diskettes or a flash drive down the hall is not too great a hardship.  I would take a stab now and then, run the network wizards again, encounter some bizarre instructions that did not make sense (like connecting a flashdrive with the network identifying information to both computers and the "access point" itself.  But how does one install any programming on a router?)  At one point I found that Windows XP does not accept the networking procedure of XP Professional, which I had on my computer, so I thought maybe I should let Brie's computer take the lead and do the networking from there.  Mostly, I learned that getting the home network set up is challenging and many people don't know how to do it.  I also learned some promising theories, none of which turned out to be true.


One theory, which I gleaned while shopping and considering what to buy, is that a wireless broadband router is not a networking device and will only "route" the internet to those computers that are listening; it will not share the resources of the attached computers.  This is not true.  If anything can be learned by others from my long sortee into networking, at least this is a fact: the Linksys Wireless-G Broadband Router does all the networking things we hope.  The fine print on the box says so, but I didn't read it carefully until after I had it working. 


Another theory,  suggested by a friend with pretty good credentials, is that the cable modem must go to the host computer, and then that computer must employ a networking device that wirelessly gathers other devices into its fellowship.  That is not true, either, and this is good news because my computer need not be turned on for any other computer to get the broadband signal or to converse with other computers.  (I've only mentioned two computers, mine and my daughter's, so who is this hypothetical "other computer"?  Well, that's the good news, which I will tell you when the time is right.)


A third theory, which I took very seriously, is that I erred in attaching my computer to the router with an ethernet cable from my pci adaptor while connecting the other computer through its Wireless-B USB Network Adaptor.  This theory carried a lot of weight.  The networking wizard for Windows wanted to create a wireless network.  A different networking wizard was ready to do a wired local area network (LAN).  I seemed to have created two networks, both with the same name ("Home"), which did not know of each other's existence. 


Yet there were little hints of hiccuping having happened.  I once did see a "Home" network that included my Pentium3 and Brie's Duron.  (The computers have these names, and yet their actual names on the network are "Jerry" and "Brie."  Who decided these things?  Well, I obviously wrote the names, but what part of what program required that I give these names, and why are "brie" and "jerry" the actual names of the computers, while the rest is, apparently, just description?  I can say only that I had no real knowledge of how this came about.)  I found I had a workgroup called Home, but also that I had no access to it.  (Right now, by the way, with everything working, I have a workgroup with only me in it, and I seldom--, but, excuse me: why should such a word as "seldom" occur in an algorithmic world like this one is supposed to be??  Anyway, I usually can't find the "home" network, and the last time I did see it, only my computer was in it.)  So the actual result of having run those wizards was to cause a great deal of confusion, but there was one moment when "Brie"  appeared for me, and I was able to slide a file into it! I transferred a file wirelessly and diskettelessly from my computer in the living room to Brie's in the bedroom! 


Weeks went by without further progress, and I could not transfer any other files.  Drew suggested we need to delete all the networks the wizards made and shut off the firewalls and reinstall a network.  I considered this, and with the firewalls off I did get glimpes of the other computer, but mostly messages about not having access (I had already designated my printer and my shared files folder as shareable.)  But I needed to configure the firewalls to "exclude" (that is, to exclude excluding, to include) just each other's computer.  Not knowing exactly what my computer was actually called (Pentium3? Jerry?  192.168.001?) I made no progress. 


Because of my third theory, about the LAN and Wireless networks being strangers to each other, I had bought a Netgear Wireless USB Adaptor and installed it on my computer.  It picked up the signal, and I then had two ways to connect,  I could be wired at 100 mbps or wireless at 11 mbps, both of which seem to be fast enough.  I could be connected by both at the same time, which makes me wonder what the computer did when it got the information twice.  There were no squawks.   Usually, though, only the wireless connection was live, and I tried all the same wizard experimentation, in fitful stops and starts, during these weeks of delay. 


Enter the third party, the computer who broke through with an effortless laugh.  Her name is "Shalom."  Her description is "Sylvia's Personal Computer."  She is my girlfriend's laptop, about as old as my Pentium III, but with good specs.  A Toshiba.  She runs on XP, and her only problem is fainting spells.  On a weekend I had set aside to a totally different  task, a major writing effort, I brought home Sylvia's laptop, even though I knew I should not. The weekend was totally redirected, even though I only wanted to find out if Shalom could use my broadband router and enjoy the internet in my home, whether I could sit in my bedroom with her in my lap and surf the internet.  


Well, Yes. That was easy.  Shalom found the broadband connection and used it effortlessly.  I had to fight off AOL, which wants to run everything more slowly and with Much Overdoing About Nothing (MOAN).  Later I was able to give AOL a new location (my house) in which it would access the site through the broadband connection, and it handled that well.


Then, while looking around at My Computer (on Shalom) and My Network Places I saw, Lo and Behold, my Pentium 3 and Brie's Duron! I clicked on my Pentium and found my printer!  I slid a file into the icon for the printer and it printed in the living room! I had a network! 


I had not run any wizard, created any network places, or anything.  I just turned on the laptop and it found the other computers!  I consider this to be partly supernatural, in a sense that would need to be explained in a different sort of paper.  Others might call it Serendipity, and I would not argue.  If an event is supernatural or serendipitous, then algorithmic procedural delineations are not likely to be forthcoming.  On the other hand, if my girlfriend's laptop could do what all my Windowic wizardry could not do, then perhaps it was easier than I thought, and I could find my way to getting the whole network working.


Well, I spent a long afternoon on it, and it was the kind of afternoon that would leave a Power User despondent and full of regret, if it did not come to fruition.  But it did.


Shalom had printed through my computer, but when the friendly new kid on the block knocked on Brie's icon, she did not want to play. And Brie had never trusted Jerry much, either, although Jerry did put one file in Brie's folder.  So I set out to track down these recalcitrances, on the theory, now, that the network existed and that very little of what had been done through the various wizards and other experiments had had any effect at all.  If I could tell you what I did in these hours, we might have a procedural manual in the works, but I cannot, both for lack of memory and also because it is in the nature of the beast that one must wade in and reach into the murky depths and find things, fighting off alligators as needed. This, of course, is a Techie's romanticized and self-described job description.  What really happens is known only by the dumb beast that is slogging through the jungle under the power of technocratic groupthink.  Perhaps in the future he will begin to speak clearly.


(to be continued . . .
                 .......in your dreams)