Monday, June 30, 2008

Fixing A Hole

At a job interview recently, I was asked, "How are you with tech skills?" I'm not a computer programmer, and I've never programmed a server, so I asked for a little clarification before I answered.

"Well, can you set up a printer?" the woman asked. I inwardly sighed. "Yes, I can definitely set up a printer, I'm very good at that."

I have always been interested in how things work and solving puzzles, and one thing I secretly really like to do is assemble desktop hardware: computers, printers, scanners, etc. There's a deep sense of satisfaction in knowing which jack is a phone line and which one is for an ethernet cable. I have found, strangely enough, that this isn't a common skill in the offices I've worked in. It isn't something difficult to master, particularly now that a lot of plugs and holes are color coded or have guiding icons nearby.

This morning, the phone had stopped working. And so, I had to shuffle over to the shelf that contains my printer, scanner, modem and wireless router and figure it out. In our whole apartment, there is only one phone jack, and accordingly, we have a triple jack splitter to allow for two landline phones and the internet connection. Well, the condensation from the non-stop humidity and thunderstorms over the past week had corroded the splitter (the sole phone jack is conveniently located below a window). Taking everything apart was a mess, particularly since I had just woken up and wasn't at my sharpest. But eventually I pulled it all apart and located the splitter.

My first attempt to fix it involved paper towels and a hairdryer. But the corrosion was beyond the scraping of a paper towel. I moved on to a toothbrush, and when that failed, I looked for sandpaper. When I couldn't find any sandpaper, I gave up and walked down the street to the corner hardware store and just bought a new splitter.

The point of pride is that this was a problem I could fix, for $2.99 no less. For Verizon to have come out to the house to look at this would have cost at least $100 for the service call, plus a markup for any splitter they would have sold me. It's nice to know I can rely on my own skills to put together and take apart a phone line.

1 responses:

mice said...

Step 1 - Check the cables.
Step 2 - Check the cables.
Step 3 - Try with a different cable.
Repeat steps 1-3.

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