Thursday, August 26, 2004

NOT A GREAT WEEK or so on the computer front.

On Wednesday the 18th I noticed that I wasn't getting any e-mail. On Thursday I called my Web host, Sitehosting.net, and the guy said he'd run some sort of reset script and everything would be fine.

It wasn't fine. I called again. They "opened a ticket."

On Thursday, e-mail started coming through. Nothing from the lost Wednesday, but new stuff.

That didn't last. I called again, and again, and again. Every time I was told there was an open ticket but the administrators hadn't gotten a chance to look at it yet.

The weekend came, and still no e-mail.

I called a couple of times Monday. "Open ticket" seems to be a magic phrase to these people. Somehow the utterance of these words precludes any further questions or concerns. I decided I didn't want to live the rest of my online life with people so cavalier about major outages, and so I started looking around. My friends at the Big Empire and Cheapo Vegas use Lunarpages and like it. The storage space and bandwidth on the $8 plan were many times as much as I was paying $15 for, and so I signed up. Like an idiot, though, I provided my regular e-mail address as the contact address. Lunarpages' confirmation message did slip through in a very brief burp of up-ness.

On Tuesday (the one-week anniversary of the end of e-mail as I know it), in perhaps my half-dozenth call to Sitehosting, I was told that the provider was having a systemwide problem. Somehow that was comforting in that it wasn't a problem specific to me. Still, I was glad I had made the switch. I was pretty sure I missed the official welcome-and-setup message from Lunarpages, though, and so I sent an e-mail to the support address asking that it be re-sent to my Yahoo address. That didn't work, and so I made a phone call. Got it.

Wednesday brought another burp during which new e-mail was coming through for several hours. Still no catch-up from all that down time, though, and again it didn't last. I got home late but stayed up to upload my Web files to Lunarpages and go through the process of changing the DNS settings.

Here I ran into another weirdness: My computer does not like Network Solutions. If I try to go beyond the home page -- to, say, log on -- Internet Explorer just hangs. It does this only with Network Solutions and the America West Airlines frequent-flier program. Every other Web site in the world works just fine, and there's nothing funky or restrictive in my security settings.

I finally got the hint and walked upstairs to use Jacqueline's computer. No problem getting to the log-in screen there, but what's my password? I tried every combination of user names and passwords I've ever used, and nothing.

So I got on the phone. After an ordeal of Social Security numbers and mothers' maiden names and callbacks to confirm I am who I say I am, the lady told me my user name (6034213951345623490591249034123949034039232494 -- why didn't I remember that?) and offered to reset my password. Oh, and I figured out that theslot.com and lapsingintoacomma.com were under separate accounts. We agreed to consolidate them under 6034213951345623490591249034123949034039232494, after a bunch of weird non-sequitur questions (only when I brought up the other domain did she suddenly announce that in order to continue talking with her I had to pick a new security question).

Meanwhile, elephantsofstyle.com is at Register.com. I love Register.com's interface, and my computer actually allows me to use Register.com! So, just for the heck of it, I decided to get Register.com on the phone and ask about the possibility of moving all my domains there, as the company's ads invite me to do. The thing is, I'm paid up at Network Solutions for another year or so. I asked how that works -- do the other registration companies refund your money or what?

"SIR, I CANNOT comment on OTHER companies' financial policies."

"No, no, of course not, but this must come up a lot."

"SIR, I CANNOT comment on OTHER companies' financial policies."

We went back and forth for five minutes or so. You don't get the top people manning the phones at 5 a.m. I finally got an answer that may or may not make sense.

I went back and tried to log in at Network Solutions on Jacqueline's computer with 6034213951345623490591249034123949034039232494 and my new password, it didn't work. I figured that maybe it takes a little while for such a change to take effect, and the sun was starting to come up anyway, so I went to bed.

I got up after four hours of sleep to find that I still wasn't getting e-mail. I decided to download a different browser -- Mozilla Firefox -- and try the Network Solutions site again. Firefox crashed when I was foolish enough to try to import my bookmarks, but when I finally got it up and running, I could indeed get to the Network Solutions log-in screen. But I still couldn't log in.

I called Network Solutions, and it turns out the woman had consolidated the two domains under the other 246-digit numeric user name. So I kept the guy on the phone and tried that user ID. Nope. He insisted that I change the password online and offered to send me an e-mail with the required link. Only I'm not getting e-mail, so I asked him to send it to my Yahoo address.

Yahoo considered it spam, but eventually I found it. And now I can log on, providing I don't use my own computer or my regular browser! The nice NetSol man also offered me a great deal on a five-year renewal. But why would I want to renew with a company whose site is dead to me? The nice NetSol man suggested that I take that up with Microsoft.

"Have you ever tried to talk to Microsoft?" I asked.

"Good point."

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