Friday, June 19, 2009

'Sam' and the Electrifying Case of the Modem and the Surge Protector

A fellow I know, I'll call him Sam, lives over a hundred miles north and west of here, on an old farmstead near a smallish town. He's a very smart man, but not particularly tech-savvy. But, he'd read about home computers, and all the information that's available on the Internet.

So, he bought a computer, printer, surge protector: the whole works.

Sam decided to pay someone to get the system running.

The fellow from town who ‘knew about computers' got cables plugged into boxes, power, and telephone outlets: and when he was through, Sam's computer started up.

Sam was delighted. He started learning how to use Google, and was developing a small set of favorite websites.

Sam was climbing a rather steep learning curve, when the first big thunderstorm of the season hit. When it was over, his computer worked, but he couldn't find anything on the Internet.

In that part of the country, rural telephone lines are all above ground. The network of poles and wires act as a giant lightning attractor. The relatively low-tech telephones don't seem to be affected that much, but a modem is something else.

The fellow who "knew about computers" had bypassed the telephone sockets in the surge protector, and plugged a telephone cord directly into the modem. Which, after the storm, was a bit of high tech pop sculpture.

Sam got a new modem, and he's surfing the Web again. But this time, without the help of the fellow who "knew about computers."

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