Monday, 11 April 2011

It's not just me, is it?

Last week, frustrated with the constant resetting of what's become an elderly wireless router and threatening to leave our current ISP to join a new supplier who'd give us a new router as part of a package, I was provided with the funds by our current ISP to buy a new router, the brand of which they recommended. So far, so good. The ISP credited our account and I ordered the brand of router they advised.

I should have known it was all going to go wrong when I saw the 'Quick Installation Guide', which comprised a manual showing three pictures depicting basically how to plug the thing in and put a disk in a drive, which it did in 12 languages. It then said a 'Set up Wizard' would basically guide me through the rest.

Well, it did, of course, no such thing, merely introducing me to more acronyms and abbreviations than I thought existed in the world, let alone in one place. I couldn't work out how set it up from this 'Wizard', so consulted the manual. All 77 pages of it. Yep, you read that correctly. a 77-page manual for a wireless router. It contained, quite literally, hundreds more sets of letters, most of which meant absolutely nothing to me. Here's just one example, from one page, which is supposed to help people set the thing up:

"ATM PVC Configuration: This screen allows you to configure an ATM PVC identifier (VPI and VCI) and select a service category. Otherwise, choose an existing interface by selecting the checkbox to enable it."

Then two boxes. Marked "VPI: [0-255)]" and "VCI: [32-65535]"

Then a last box, with a scroll-y menu thing. "Service Category: UBR without PCR" and others.

That's six sets of three letters, the meaning of none of which I have the faintest clue, on one page alone, of a 77-page document. And it's entirely typical of the thing. It is utterly, utterly bewildering and people who know computers, and routers specifically, much better than I do, cannot get it to work.

No matter - I'll ring their helpline, they can take me through it. It says in the paperwork which comes with the thing that they're open 'til 10pm on weeknights and day times at weekends. Nope - they've entirely failed to answer so far, putting me though instead to a recorded message informing me that the 'mailbox is full and cannot accept any messages'. It turns out, from further research on the internet, that they are in fact not open until 10pm at all, so the constant phone calls I made to them after 8pm, when I get home from work, were utterly pointless.

OK then. I'll try my own internet provider. After all, they recommended the router and may have somebody available who could help me set it up. So I call them, get put through by a series of electronically-offered menu options to a machine which offers me five choices of hold music (but no choice of not having it) and then I hold on for 10 minutes. When I gave up after waiting that long, it turns out they're not open beyond 7pm either, so I'm wasting my time there, not that the entirely mechanised super-duper all-star, singing, dancing system of multiple-choice hold music would tell me that.

If this makes boring reading, I'm very sorry - I can assure you it's not as boring as the process of constantly wasting my evenings in a fruitless search for non ├╝ber-geek advice on setting the bastard up. I'll be choosing option 53 from the menu next time I find myself waiting pointlessly on the bloody phone - set fire to the box, throw it out the window, and post broken glass and ashes to the useless, lying, unhelpful bastards who made the thing in the mistaken belief that everybody who wants to use the internet at home is basically Commander Data from Star Trek and need only interface with it by plugging some part of their anatomy into it to set it up.

1 comment:

  1. Violent defenestration is the answer to most things technical, I have discovered.

    Your little episode reminds me of a chapter in the Mark Leigh / Mike Lepine book "How To Be A Superhero". Garbled electronics handbooks of Japanese origin are often the modern Ninja's modus operandi of assassinating their prey by inducing fits of apoplexy. Have you annoyed a ninja recently? Be careful!