Morton Fox (mortonfox) wrote,
Morton Fox

Journey through the land of Cable Internet Outage

There was a snowstorm on Sunday. A lot of dire forecasts got tossed around but in the end, it appeared that my area didn't get that much snow. After the snow stopped, I could still see patches of exposed grass. That was misleading, however, because the wind blew the snow around so on one side of my yard, there was almost no snow while on the other side of my yard, the snow was six inches deep. So let's say the true snowfall was somewhere in between the two numbers.

On Monday morning, there was a lot of strong wind. Some time in the morning, cable broadband went out. It could be one of two things. I figured if it was a neighborhood outage, service would soon be back after Comcast got calls from dozens of people. If it was a problem on my side, I would know by that evening. So I stepped outside to shovel snow. My driveway was the part that got six inches of snow but aside from that, I didn't need to do much. The sidewalk was pretty easy to clear. Also, the front yard has Southern exposure so the snow was already melting in the sun by the time I got to it. Once I freed my car, I went out for 6 new geocaches.

I brought the snow shovel so I could've dug myself a parking space at each cache site if the need arose, but there was no need to. Also, the snow didn't hinder geocaching. In fact, it was easier than usual because all I needed to do was follow the tracks of other geocachers who went out after the snowstorm. Those tracks brought me right to the cache sites. After that little caching spree, I went to Cici's Pizza for dinner since I had a $3.99 coupon. The restaurant was nearly empty that evening, which is good because I like that place better when it is quiet.

When I returned home, cable internet was still out so I called Comcast. The service tech checked my line remotely and figured it could be one of two things: the cable modem or the line. He suggested I swap the cable modem first to confirm or rule out that as the problem. The next morning, I went to the Comcast service center. It's in the Penn Mart Shopping Center near Big Lots, so it's odd that I never noticed it before. They must deal with equipment exchanges a lot because I didn't need to explain anything. The counter service lady took my cable modem and handed me a fresh one in plastic wrapper with a minimum of fuss.

After that, I did a bunch of errands, including a side-trip to Wal-Mart for after-Christmas discount candy. (I haven't tried the chocolate Santa yet but the thin mints are pretty good.) I also stopped at McDonald's to do a few things on my netbook with their wi-fi internet. Of the 3 McDonald's in my town (yes, this area has too many McDonald's and Burger Kings; more than one on the same road!), this one actually has above-average service. Shame it's usually not on the convenient corner of the intersection for me. When I got home, I tried the new cable modem and still couldn't connect, so it was a problem with the outside line. (I could see that on the cable modem diagnostics screen too.)

Seeing as how I didn't have anything else to do that afternoon and seeing as how there were a lot of fallen tree branches in the backyard from the strong winds the day before, I went out to the back to clean up the yard. Then I noticed a huge tree branch on the roof! I have a ladder and I was about to climb up onto the roof but I figured there was an easier way. Here's where years of experience retrieving geocaches deep in holes or bramble come into play. I cut one of the fallen tree branches until it was hook-shaped. Then I went up the ladder to the edge of the roof and used the hook branch to gently roll the big tree branch until I could reach it and pull it off the roof. After that, it took two hours to cut the tree branches into car-sized sections and to bag all the smaller branches and twigs. In the evening, I went to Arby's since I had a coupon for a regular roast beef. I was served by none other than Elvis! Or rather, someone named Elvis.

The Comcast service tech came by this morning to do the work order. He tested my line and determined that the problem was up on the pole. Because of the way the trees were, he had to access the pole from the house on the other road. So he went up his ladder, clipped some tree branches, and replaced a short piece of cable. That did the trick! I wasn't going to stay in and use the internet all day though, as I had things to do.

First, I went out to find the Powerlines Trail Needs Batteries geocache. That was very easy; so easy that I tried to find it using the Nuvi 295W, which isn't suitable for geocaching for a number of reasons. (small screen, doesn't zoom in far enough, GPS receiver is not as good as the 205W) Then, of course, I went to the yard waste center in Bear to drop off the tree branches. After that, I had a late lunch at Hardee's in Middletown to try their new chicken tender wraps. Then I had mint ice cream at Coldstone Creamery in Glasgow to use a mailing list coupon. It wasn't actually a bad day for ice cream. At 43°F, it was a little warmer than usual for a winter's day.

I mentioned above that the Nuvi 295W isn't good for geocaching. Here's one thing it does well: finding wi-fi networks. Put it in the cradle and leave it on the wi-fi setup screen. Then drive around slowly. It refreshes every few seconds showing any networks it detects. When you find a good one, you can add the spot on the map to the GPS favorites so you can return to it later. Whether by intention or not, Garmin has created a wardriving tool!
Tags: arby's, cici's pizza, comcast, geocaching, hardee's, mcdonald's, nuvi 295w, snowstorm, walmart, yard waste, yardwork

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