I need to rant about how the small things can cause HUGE problems. Note that HUGE is in all caps because a very small and simple problem essentially derailed an entire workday. As a self-employed, home-based worker the Internet is my connection to the outside world. That world came crashing down last Friday.
First, again as mentioned (and previously written about) I work from home. Second, and more importantly I recently moved to a new apartment. Everything is set up, everything is up and running. But last week when I had my broadband installed I ran into trouble.
While I won’t name the company, I will say that basically I am using a new fiber optic connection (so the company might be a little more obvious to some readers). The problem was that every time the phone rang or I picked up the phone to make a call the connection would momentary break my Internet connection. This was sometimes not even noticeable, but other times it would affect my blogging by breaking the connection with the server, causing momentary e-mail delays and of course knock me out of any online game. The latter might not sound that important, but I’m also a game reviewer so it was a not-so-small disaster for me.
Basically the problem was because the fiber optic broadband and phone shared a single phone jack. There was unfortunately no simple solution, such as trying another jack because my apartment had a single phone jack. Thank you to the notion of cordless phones!
I called tech support, and to temporary solve the problem I had my office line calls forwarded to my mobile phone until the problem could be properly addressed. On Friday just after noon – the Friday before a three-day holiday weekend I might add – the repair people came out. The first thing I asked – after having asked it numerous times on the phone – was whether a filter was needed on the phone lines. Tech support on the phone said, “we’ll let the technicians in the field decide.”
The technicians who arrived said, “We use filters with DSL but not fiber.” Instead they checked the lines, switched wires, and replaced various components in the system including the phone risers. For four hours they were in and out of the apartment, gaining access to the phone closet in my building’s basement and basically trying everything.
At the half point I said, “are you sure it isn’t a filter problem?” They asked if I had a filter, which I did not. The irony is that I had some from the old apartment where I actually used business grade DSL, and either packed those or threw them away. Well, if I had/have the filters they’re in a box that has yet to be organized. My tech closet is neatly organized… if you call stacked boxes out of sight until a rainy day organized. Who knew I might need these filters?
But since I couldn’t come up with a filter, the troubleshooting continued. Finally at 6:00pm the technicians decided to try what they believed – what they honestly believed – they did not need. A filter was retrieved from their van, and placed on the phone cord leading to my phone handset. Once the small dongle was added suddenly I could make calls, receive calls and it did not drop the Internet connection. I could play games, update blogs and not worry about losing my Internet connection.
Because of the move and Internet problems I have a lot of work piling up. OK, it was a slow Friday before a holiday weekend and I might have called it a day early anyway. The problem is that I didn’t get an extra day in the sun. Instead, I did troubleshooting when I wanted to relax. I even thought of the solution before the repair technicians.
In truth part of the problem was because this troubleshooting took place on a Friday before a holiday weekend. The guys who came out were very nice and they worked hard. But they were installers most times, not repair technicians. The thing is that I still think they should have tried the filter first. And they admitted that a repair tech might have tired it first. It would have taken five minutes and saved hours.
So the moral of the story is try the small things early on when you have tech problems. It might be grasping at straws but sometimes it does the trick.