MacBaby’s Tales from the Crib 1: Router Riot and Techno Overload


As an Apple baby and a hopeless demi-techie, when I need help setting up a new piece of equipment, I NEED HELP. Most of the time I can read through instructions a couple of hundred times, and with the luminance of a 25 watt bulb I finally get the idea and I can successfully have my stuff working. But every once in a while instructions are either written by illegal aliens from Planet X, or folks who don’t seem to understand that most of us out there who want to take advantage of the new technologies are cluelessly wired in analog. Yeah, yeah, I know. Learn the language and maybe you won’t have so much trouble, buddy. I’m trying, folks. I really am. But I’ve only got so much time and talent to devote to technology. With help from my friends, I’ll get better. 

I bought my MacBook in San Francisco on vacation, and had it shipped to my house in Tennessee. While in SF I had my friend, John Nemo, help me with everything from the selection of the right computer to getting a $22 router through CompUSA over the Internet. What a deal.

The router got to my home sooner than the computer by two weeks. By the time I got my MacBook I was chomping at the bit to learn the ropes, and especially get it hooked up to my cable modem. This was going to be sweet. I could actually write letters and do all my Internetting from my living room without having to walk downstairs to my photo studio and PC desktop. Lazy is as lazy does.

I took the router out of its box and opened the instruction book. Luckily, I had a magnifying glass in my drawer. Without it I would have needed laser surgery to correct my squinting eyes. I know these companies want to keep costs down and often cheap out on instruction booklets, but this one had type the size of a Nikon pixel.

I hooked the wires the way it said and showed in the drawing, and waited for the “box” to appear on the screen. No box. I tried it another way. Still no box. This went on for a while before I realized I had no idea what I was doing, and I needed help. I thought that I was doing something wrong through Comcast so I called them for assistance. I actually got to speak to a very nice guy, Justin. Unfortunately he said he was unfamiliar with Macs and that I needed to call the router people. So I called CompUSA toll-free for tech help. Again it took almost no time for me to talk with someone. He asked me a few questions and decided that I need to talk with Comcast. Are you getting the idea? Has this ever happened to you?

By that time I was bleary-eyed and had to get ready to go to work. I was glad to be away from all that non-support. This kind of stuff causes my eyes to glaze over and makes me want to go back to paper and pencil. I called John Nemo on my way to work. He and his wife were on their way up the California coast on a sightseeing tour which I ‘m sure will be a subject of one of his great MyMac columns. He told me to just sit tight and he’d help me with it in just a short time.

John called back next day with his friend Kurt VanderSluis on the line. I thought briefly that if tech support from Comcast and CompUSA couldn’t help, how in the world could these guys?

Kurt and Nemo are so patient and helpful, not at all like me. Kurt walked me through some connection Preferences from my PC. John guided me the rest of the way. I’m not going to go into the process. What I’m about is the outcome, which was in less than ten minutes we had the router up and routing, and my new MacBook was surfing and turfing. THANKS A MILLION, KURT AND JOHN.

What I want to know is this. How can two Tech Help centers pass me off to each other like I’m a ping pong ball? Isn’t their job to HELP? And these guys who do in-person troubleshooting for a living step up to the plate and I’m up and running in no time, over the phone. This does not instill a lot of my confidence in the people who do work for help centers.

Maybe that’s part of the problem. Too many callers. Too many anxious attitudes. And too much technology. We’ve all been duped into thinking this STUFF will make our life simpler. It does not.  It will complicate and aggravate. Most users of these devices are like me. We just want things to work.  I got into all this so I could do digital photography. I thought my wet darkroom was complicated back in the 70’s. Ha! That was a tiptoe through the tulips compared with all the devices and numbers I now have to be familiar with in order to express myself through my digital camera.

Don’t get me wrong. I love Photoshop. I enjoy being able to tinker with images for hours on end. I love digital. I don’t love devices that break down, freeze up. And while I have learned a lot in my few years using computers I have so much more to understand, and like I said, I’m impatient and not prone to high technology.

The one thing I learned a long time ago about most things in life, the universally applied law, the KISS principle, has been replaced by a new law. The law that now says, “In order to keep things simple one must have the most advanced technology.” So that’s why, when I’m playing in my band at night I see guitar players with pedal boards stuffed to the gills with compressors, slap backs, echos, reverb, tube screamers, and any other of the number of technical devices out there manufactured so that, WITH THE PRESS OF A BUTTON OR THREE YOU TOO CAN SOUND JUST LIKE THE GUYS BACK IN THE 50’S WHO JUST HAD – A GUITAR AND AMP.

Sometimes I think I need to step away from all the devices for a while to get back to the essence of what it is I’m trying to do. Then, when I’ve got my feet firmly planted, I can continue, and learn some new techniques that allow me to be a better photographer, and yeah, a better technician.

Artie Alinikoff

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