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Surfin': Addicted to the Internet


By Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU
Contributing Editor

Monday, I began a four-day road trip for the company.

Half of my daylight hours were spent on the road. During the last two hours of the trip, the sky looked threatening; this time of year, the threat means snow. I was lucky and the snow held off until I checked into my home away from home for the next three nights: the Astor Paradise Suites (I changed the name to protect the innocent).

I had high hopes for Astor Paradise Suites. The building looked new, it was very clean, and my room was "deluxe." After I settled in, I wanted to check my e-mail, so I powered up the laptop, pointed it at the hotel's WiFi and clicked on the "Connect" button.

The computer tried hard to make a connection, but it eventually gave up and informed me that there was a problem. I tried again and again with no success and finally called the front desk to ask about the problem. The woman at the front desk informed me that their WiFi was not working, but that I could connect to the Internet using the Ethernet cable that was curled up in a dispenser on the wall behind the desk in my room.

I connected the cable to my laptop and to the Ethernet socket on the wall and commanded my computer to go for it. It tried and failed. I tried again and again with no success and finally called the front desk to inquire about the problem. The woman at the front desk suggested that I call their Internet provider's technical support.

I called and the technical support man informed me that mine was the third call of the afternoon from Astor Paradise Suite complaining of the same problem. He offered no solution.

I took a break, surveyed the weather, and since it was still snowing steadily, I decided to dine in the hotel's restaurant.

A co-worker was in the dining room already, so I joined him for dinner. During our meal, I mentioned the Internet problem and he said he had no Internet problem using the Ethernet cable in his room. I mulled over the problem and concluded that perhaps the Ethernet cable in my room was faulty, so after dinner, I asked the woman at the front desk if the hotel had any spare cables. She said she would send one up to my room.

Ten minutes later, I plugged the replacement cable into my computer and the Ethernet socket. As I did so, the socket fell out of its hole in the wall to reveal two broken wires not connected to the socket.

Voila! I found the problem!

The only tool I had at my disposal was a nail clipper, but I managed to use it to reconnect the broken wires, but I still could not make a connection. Very frustrated, I visited the front desk again, explained my predicament, and the woman at the front desk offered to let me change rooms (just as I hoped she would).

It took about 20 minutes to move my belongings from Room 328 to Room 228, but it was all for naught: I still could not make a connection in my new room.

It was 10 PM and I gave up.

Tuesday morning, I had breakfast in the hotel restaurant and ran into my co-worker with whom I had dined with the night before. After interrogating him about the Internet situation, he admitted that his Ethernet cable success story occurred on Sunday, not on Monday, my day of frustration.

After breakfast, I stopped by the front desk to kvetch and the woman at the front desk admitted that the whole hotel was without Internet (WiFi, Ethernet or otherwise) all day on Monday!

I was not happy and despite all the other nice things attributes of the Astor Paradise Suites, I don't know if I would stay there again. On the other hand, if I return to the hotel after work on Tuesday and the Internet is accessible, I will probably forget and forgive.

What concerns me is the question: Have I become an Internet addict? I invested hours of effort (all for nothing) yesterday in my quest for Internet access. Do I need to sign up for Internet Anonymous? Do I need to seek out a 12-step program?

Maybe not.

Through my friend Google, I discovered the Internet Addiction Test on the Netaddiction Web site. I took the test, scored 37, and was relieved. Scores in the 20 to 49 range mean that "You are an average on-line user. You may surf the Web a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage."

If Google is your only friend and you feel you are spending way too much time on the Internet, I urge you to take the test.

Until next time, keep on surfin'!

Editor's note: Stan Horzepa, WA1LOU, may not be addicted to the Internet, but Jelly Bellies are another matter. To contact Stan, send him e-mail or add comments to his blog.



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