Last Wednesday, I had an email from my ISP telling me that the fibre-optic system they were installing a few months ago was now up and running, and would I like to upgrade from my ADSL package, which was nominally 24 mbps but in fact at best achieved 13 mbps download speed and 0.8 mbps upload.
As a valued customer of many years standing, they were offering me the VDSL package (which includes a bunch of free calls to both landline and mobile) of 30 mbps for just a couple of Euros more per month than I pay at the moment. So I clicked on the relevant links and ordered the upgrade. The following day, I had a call from the company to verify that I actually wanted to upgrade, along with the mandatory security question (in this case, my Greek tax number) to ascertain that I was actually the person who paid the bill, and she told me that I should be connected sometime within the next two weeks. Fine, no problem. I wasn’t desperate.
The next day, Friday, about mid-morning, the internet cut off. Not unusual, and it’s rarely for more than ten minutes or so, so I went out on the balcony to enjoy the warmth of the sun for a few minutes. We’ve had a fair bit of rain recently, so it was a welcome bit of fine weather, and I like to take advantage. As I was leaning on the railings enjoying a ciggy, I saw a phone company van appear from round the corner where the connection box is, and drive off. Now, having lived in Greece for 15 years, prior to my moving to Patras I would have thought nothing about it. However, Patras has surprised me on a couple of occasions before, most notably when I first bought the place and got the water and electricity connected. I managed, in a single morning, not only to do all the change of ownership etc paperwork in the two respective offices, but I also was connected to both by lunchtime the same day, which really is something unheard of in Greece. However, it happened, as I explained in an earlier post.
I knew that the phone company van would only be coming out of that road if he’d been doing some work in our connection box, and when I came in, I said to my wife that that was probably the reason we’d lost the internet. Before Patras, that’s probably as far as my train of thought would have gone, but now it progressed to “I wonder if they upgraded the line already?” So I sat down at my computer and did a speed test.
Fuck me, 27.9 down and 2.71 up! I’m getting close to 21st century internet speeds! And connected the day after I’d confirmed the order! Patras is truly amazing! Anyway, just to double check, I downloaded a couple of movies. Just as an academic exercise, you understand. Blimey, they were downloaded in no time. I spent the rest of the afternoon playing with my new high(er) speed connection, until, for some unknown reason, the mouse stopped working. So I changed the batteries. Still no joy. Next, I moved the USB receiver to another port. Nada. Bugger. Luckily, I had a spare mouse stashed somewhere, and after much digging through boxes, I found it. Batteries in, USB receiver plugged in and off it went, working fine. I went off to do a couple of things, and when I returned to the computer, the monitor screen had lost all the red, and was a monochromatic blue-green colour. Bugger, bugger, bugger. As I described in a recent post, I just bought a new monitor because the old one had done exactly the same thing, and because it was old, I figured it had just come to the end of its useful life. But the monitor I now have is barely a month old, and the likelihood of it developing the exact same problem as the old one so early on seemed pretty remote. What had made me think that the old monitor was at fault was the fact that I also have a 42″ TV connected for when we watch movies or stream stuff, and the colours on that were fine. And the TV colour was still fine now, so It was unlikely to be a problem with the graphics card.
So I got onto Google to see what the problem could possibly be. After some investigation, it was starting to look like it was the cable that was at fault. The computer has two DVI sockets in the back, one of which has a DVI to HDMI adapter connected, with an HDMI cable running to the TV, and the other has a DVI to VGA adapter (the old monitor only had a VGA socket), with a VGA cable running to the monitor. The new monitor has both VGA and HDMI sockets in the back, so when I installed it, I just used the same VGA connection I’d used for the old monitor, and it worked fine. Until now. So I dug out another HDMI cable, connected it to the TV outlet on the computer, plugged it in to the back of the monitor, and after a bit of faffing around with the monitor settings, voila! Full colour! I gave myself a pat on the back for being so clever.
And then the replacement mouse froze. Bloody hell. Ok, a re-start very often sorts out problems like that, but with a frozen mouse, I couldn’t do anything onscreen, so I hit the re-boot button on the tower unit. Not ideal, I know, but I didn’t really have any other option (or not as far as I know, not being particularly computer minded). So the computer shut down, and started up again, displaying the first splash screen with ‘American Megatrends’ or whatever it is, and then – nothing. It just stayed on that page. At the bottom there was a ‘Press DEL for setup’ and something else, but the computer didn’t respond to ‘DEL’, or any other key for that matter. Damn. So back to Google (on my wife’s laptop this time), which mostly had stuff by computer geeks suggesting things which may as well have been written in Swahili for all the sense it made to me. But one thing I came across which I did understand was the suggestion that the small battery on the motherboard may need replacing. Well the tower unit was due for its biannual clean, so I dragged it out, removed the side and gave it a good hoovering, and then looked for the battery. It was quite hard to find, as it was right down near the bottom and was obscured by a bunch of cabling. It was one of those button batteries, and as chance would have it, it was the same size as the battery in the kitchen scales, which I happened to have a couple of spares for. It was a real bugger to get out, because it was very inaccessible and was quite tightly housed in a plastic case. However, I finally got it out, and bunged in the new one. I then put it all back together, reconnected all the cables at the back, and turned it on.
This time, the splash screen is for ASUS (the MB), citing ‘Stability, Reliability, Performance’, with ‘Press DEL to run setup’ and ‘Press TAB to display BIOS POST message’. Problem is, it doesn’t respond to either of those keys, or any others on the keyboard. And it doesn’t load any further than that first screen. And it doesn’t even respond to the on/off button on the front of the tower unit. The only way I can shut it down is by turning off the power supply. So I’m stuffed. I’m going to have to take it to a computer repair shop and hope they can fix it for me, because I’ve gone as far as my limited knowledge permits. I can’t think of anything else I can do.
And of course, it happened at the beginning of the weekend. And Monday is a holiday. So it won’t be until Tuesday that I can even think about getting it sorted.
And it all started out so well…