Technology Can Just Drive You Nuts at Times

On Friday after I finished writing my weekly headlines suddenly my Internet access went down. I did all the root cause checks. Did I accidentally unplug the phone jack (it’s been a little loose and sometimes comes out)? I looked at the modem lights. The power light was flashing. Sometimes the wireless light was green but the DSL light wasn’t. I reset the modem and waited a few minutes and powered up again. Nothing!

Now you have to understand just how “anal” I am about connectivity. When I had my service provider install my Internet connection I bought over 100 feet of PVC pipe and buried the line from the telephone box in my backyard to the junction box on my house wall. I had seen enough hedge trimmers and hole diggers cause others to lose their connectivity and it wasn’t going to happen to me…no sir! That PVC pipe wasn’t just buried a few inches down. It was a foot down and under a gravel base and interlocking patio stone. Talk about assuring 99.999% uptime. I had it made.

But a month ago my Internet went down because my service provider didn’t warn me that in reducing my landlines from two to one because I was no longer in need of my business line, that my line might go down when the number I was using got reassigned. And it did and sure enough wham, no Internet. Then this Friday happened and once more I was without Internet access. Fortunately I have a WiFi stick from my mobile phone provider and have been able to stay connected but not at blindingly fast DSL speeds.

But that’s not the whole story. On Friday after doing all my checks I picked up the phone and called my service provider. I described the problem. Told the customer service rep what I was seeing on the light panel on the modem and he promptly told me that the likely culprit was the AC power adapter (that clunky black thing that plugs into my power bar) but it would take two business days to replace. Being a Friday afternoon I asked if that would mean I would be without Internet service all weekend and into the first two days of the following work week. He said, probably not, that the new adapter would arrive on Monday. I told him I’m a blogger and I need my Internet access. He suggested I go out and buy an adapter from a local electronics store and just make sure I matched the voltage and amperage requirements. That seemed pretty easy to do. So I went to my local The Source and found out that my modem’s adapter was non-standard. They suggested I go to an electronics wholesaler which was my next stop. They could match the voltage and amperage but not the plug which again was non-standard. The suggestion was I buy one of their adapters and strip the wires and connect them to the plug from my failed adapter.

Which brings me to my beef. Monday is about over and I remain without a replacement adapter that requires 5.1 volts and 2.2 amps. I’ve gone through all of the adapters in my desk drawer, from every device I have ever owned but never thrown out or recycled (reminiscent of so many of the adapters you see in the images below). None match the voltage, the amps or the plug. You think that someone would come up with a universal adapter and make it standard. Or create an adapter in which you could adjust the amps and volts and that comes with different types of end plugs. But no such luck. Every universal adapter I’ve googled doesn’t fit my modem. They’ve got them for laptops. They’ve got them for game consoles. But not for my modem. If I could have invented the device this weekend I would have.

So, if one of my readers is in a creative and inventive mood, here is a challenge. Solve the lunacy and come up with a standard AC adapter that can be used with any electronic device. I’m betting that if you do customers will beat a path to your door. I know I will be a knocking.

AC adapters


Len Rosen lives in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He is a researcher and writer who has a fascination with science and technology. He is married with a daughter who works in radio, and a miniature red poodle who is his daily companion on walks of discovery. More...


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