Mysteries of the Internet revealed

Random Errors

By Jeremy Smith
Sun Star Columnist

I’ve been seeking tech questions to integrate some Web 2.0 interactivity into this column, and I have the first batch of answers today. Since I tend to do a bit more than just throw out a website and some advice, I’ve been corresponding with the questioners and have some beefier answers below. This week, we happen to have a bit of an Internet theme going on.

A reader named Sara told me about an issue she was having with her DSL modem. For a little over a week, she was completely unable to connect to the Internet or her wireless router. After spending hours on the phone with tech support, it was deemed that they were not the problem. My advice in these situations is to do what Roy on the BBC show The IT Crowd recommends, “Have you tried turning it off and on?” Honestly, 9 times out of 10 that can fix your problem. In Sara’s case it didn’t.

The second key to troubleshooting network issues is to check and/or replace your devices and cables. Sara picked up a new DSL modem and reconnected it to her computer and still no Internet action. Tech support can see the modem, her computer can see that there is an Internet connection, but that’s it. This is when I asked if she replaced all of the cables, in particular, the Ethernet cable between the computer and the modem. She had not, even though she had a brand new one that came with the replaced DSL modem. She was still using the Ethernet cable that came with the first modem.

After replacing the cable, Sara’s system was checking email and streaming Art Bell’s Coast-to-Coast with the best of them. I’ve heard from some technology gurus that Ethernet cables can go bad over time, but rarely does one less than a month old stop working. However, just like the door handle that breaks or shirt that rips, things happen. Whenever I am called in to do some network troubleshooting, I bring an extra Ethernet cable just to make sure that’s not the culprit.

Thanks for the questions and I am looking forward to answering more in future columns. Send your questions to and we can shine the light of tech-knowledge upon the darker corners of computing.

Jeremy talks and takes on technology at

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1 Response

  1. andrew holland says:

    So I live in Wickersham and this year since I have been at school I have been getting kicked off the internet a lot. I’m connected to Wick’s Wireless internet. The Tx is about 50 feet away outside my door so I have a good signal. I notice it the most between 9pm and 1am when I am at my desk doing homework it gets really really slow and disconnects and reconnects about every 20 minutes. I’m assuming it’s because the bandwidth is getting overloaded when everyone is in their rooms in the afternoons. Anyways it’s very annoying. Does UAF have any intentions of increasing the bandwidth available?

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