Prattle: Wireless Blondie

Mom’s House

I went down to check on my Mom this morning.  She lives in her own house on the property my wife and I own and live on.  It’s a whole lot more convenient to look in on her and help her out when she’s living a couple hundred feet away than when she was in Nebraska.  Normally I drop in on her mid-day with the mail, today I needed to follow up on yesterday’s excitement, so I went down first thing this morning.

Yesterday afternoon I planted a garden box with yellow onion sets and beet seeds.  This box had been one that I covered with straw and allowed to lay fallow over the winter.  When I pulled the straw off I was greeted by the most beautiful, black, rich-looking soil.  I went ahead and mixed in a little chicken poo compost, but I’m thinking this ought to be really good soil this year.  When that was done I cut Mom some greens (tops from garlic, onions, carrots, beets) and Spinach.  When I took them in to her she asked if I could look at her computer.

She has a Vista based laptop.  It reported that either the driver for her wireless network interface was corrupted/missing or the device was not working/present and suggested plugging a cable into the adaptor.  Yeah.  I tried everything I knew to do to try to fix it and nothing helped.  It would not be any more specific about whether it was hardware or software and since my only computer diagnostic tool is a hammer, I decided to dust off an old Compaq laptop and take it down to her.  I booted it up and plugged the Magic Jack into a USB port so she would at least have telephone service.

We both use Magic Jack for our basic telephone because it’s reasonably reliable and super cheap.  We don’t do a lot of telephoning and MJ charges us about the same for a year’s worth of service as AT&T did for a month.  Of course, it only works when your local network and internet connections do.

That old Compaq laptop computer runs really, really slowly despite having uninstalled nearly all of the software, and Magic Jack needed to download major updates (since that computer had never had an MJ connected to it).  That was going to take a while.


While waiting I caught a flash of yellow out the corner of my eye as something resembling a lion cub ran past Mom’s kitchen window.  Lion cubs are pretty rare here, but Blondie could fit that description too.  I went outside to check on the situation and found Blondie standing in the garden — apparently looking for me — panting heavily, tongue hanging out.  She offered no resistance as I took her by the collar and led her back to the workshop, closing both she and Cochise in the shop while I went back to Mom’s to finish up with the computer troubles.

This is the third time Blondie has gotten away from us.  The first time I was putting her in the Guest Quarters and forgot to close the door in the main fence before taking her off the leash in the pen (Guest Quarters).  She immediately shoved past me and shot through the two open doors and across the yard.  She led me on a long, not-so-merry foot chase that ended up at Judge Bell’s house.  By the time I got her back here I thought I was going to die.  The second time, it was Marie who got too trusting and Blondie shoved out the front door of the house and took off.  We took the truck and went after her – again, up Judge Bell’s driveway (it is a LONG driveway twisting through a forest and over a ridge).  When Blondie saw the truck she came trotting over, I opened the door and she hopped right in for a ride; she loves riding in the truck.  Today she and Cochise were in the fenced-in shop yard while I went to the garden (and an unplanned stay in Moms house for computer diagnosis).

Guest Quarters (left) Main Fence (right)

Upon returning my escapee, I checked the fences to see if I could figure out how she got out of the yard.  Nothing crushed down, nothing pulled up, nothing torn that I could see.  I really don’t have a clue.  It’s possible she climbed over the wooden gates where I sometimes back the truck in to the loading dock, they’re only about 3 feet high, but I don’t know for sure.  Blondie has now earned the privilege of being confined to the pen, not the side yard, any time I have to leave the shop yard.  The pen (Guest Quarters) is six feet high, chain link and steel tubing.  I don’t know if she escaped to come looking for me (she is my little shadow) or if it was her wander-lust kicking in and taking advantage of not being closely watched.  But this ongoing trend to run off is seriously hurting her chances of being adopted here.  There are bears in the woods and cars on the road who can’t see very far ahead because of twists through the trees and lots of hills – but they drive fast anyway.  Running loose is dangerous.

This morning I went back and tried to set up e-mail for Mom using her GMail account and Outlook 2003 running on the XP powered Compaq.  I encountered the same problem I have on my desktop (also running XP and using Outlook 2003) where it can read incoming mail from Google’s server but cannot send e-mail; the SMTP server refuses to answer.  The software finds the server but the server won’t talk to the software.  I tried the high number SSL ports and the low number unsecured ports, I tried log-in user name with and without the appendage, I double and triple checked password, yadda, yadda, yadda.

I have read that XP is being sunset at the end of this year,  I’m wondering if they have done something to booger up old versions of Outlook to encourage cheapskates like me to buy new software and operating systems?

We shut Mom’s Vista machine down, unplugged it and moved it aside yesterday afternoon.  This morning, just for grins & giggles (and perhaps Internet withdrawal) she booted the thing up — it connected to our LAN and let her download all her e-mail.  The adapter seems to be working again.  I guess it needed a vacation.  I dunno.  Computers: what can you do…

4 thoughts on “Prattle: Wireless Blondie”

  1. A not so merry chase, in so many ways. Sometimes my computer just wants to mess with me: guess it’s a good thing that my son and my best friend are both IT guys.

    1. I’m just glad I don’t have to include drive-by shootings and high speed police chases to the mix! Them things don’t hardly never happen out here…

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