Posts Tagged ‘Internet’

It’s not always bad news…

Reason #32- Online Repair Instruction

The first time I used the Internet to learn how to do a household repair was for a broken 37-inch LCD TV.  It would have cost over $400 to repair in a shop, at the time more than half of the purchase of a new TV, which was usually at the top of my pain threshold.  Since it was either repair it myself or throw it away, I really had nothing to lose.  The problem had been that the TV would turn on and run for about a minute, then power off, no matter the video or power source.  I went to YouTube and searched for the issue along with the TV’s make and model and viola! There it was!

I watched the 15-minute video three times and became confident that they had accurately described the issue and the resolution.  I opened up the back of the TV, which was difficult with 14 screws in odd places, and documented where the screws had come from.  I located the board that was supposedly the problem and disconnected it.  I then called a few TV repair shops that advertised that they sold parts and got quotes for the board as well as some confirmation that this was the issue.  The new board only cost $59 and I picked it up from the shop when they called to say it was in, just about two weeks later.  I installed the new circuit board and reassembled the TV (all but one screw, for which I couldn’t find the spot), plugged it in and stood back.  I pressed the power button on the remote and the TV’s picture slowly appeared.  About 10 anxious minutes later it was still on and running properly and I felt pretty good about myself.  That TV went on for another two years before we gave it away when downsizing to move into our fifth wheel.

Many of us take the Internet for granted.  I come from the BI era (Before Internet).  I once owned a computer sales and repair shop and had five four-drawer file cabinets just to collect and store manuals and tech data for everything we sold or worked on.  With each model update, we had to a) know about it, b) request info for it, and c) file the paper manuals and tech data we received, assuming we did.  If we had an odd repair on something for which we didn’t store specs or schematics, we would have to call the manufacturer, which could mean hours on hold before talking to someone who may or may not speak English well, and wait for the manual and repair instructions to come in the mail, or later, via email.  If you were the unfortunate customer waiting for your essential equipment, it might have been quite a wait.

I remember when Seagate, one of the largest hard drive manufacturers in the country, placed all of their tech manuals online, right on their site, causing many a tech to have tears of joy in their eyes.  Western Digital soon followed, then Hewlett Packard, IBM and everyone else.  Eventually consumer manufacturers caught up and put their manuals online, realizing that their own support volume would be reduced, which happened.

That is the technical specifications side of repairs, but you were still dependent upon technicians to diagnose and repair your equipment, and that wasn’t always cost or time effective.  Enter YouTube and the mighty geeks who decided to show off their skills.  Repair videos became so popular that more and more types of content were created, including how-to, when-to and why-to videos for the RV and travel industry and for the millions of homeowners wanting to DIY.

When I wanted to install my fifth wheel flooring, I watched videos on the various choices, selected one, and then several more videos on how to purchase and install it.  It was a two-day job, but it turned out well and was a fraction of the cost of having a pro install it.  When my awning switch went out, or my refrigerator stopped cooling, or my generator refused to start, the Internet came to my rescue, though I did decide to let a tech do some of those repairs.  Each was an informed choice.

Other uses of this valuable resource include automotive and engine repair, hobbies (e.g., RC planes and drones), plumbing, gardening, birding, and on and on and on.  I don’t recommend doing electrical repairs yourself — obviously an electrician should be hired whenever possible — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t become an informed consumer beforehand.


I take this quote by Apple CEO Tim Cook to heart.  When speaking about online information, he said, “We shouldn’t all be fixated just on what’s not available. We should take a step back and look at the total that’s available, because there’s a mountain of information about us.

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It’s not always bad news…

Reason #21- The Internet

Hardly any waking moment goes by when I’m not using the Internet in some way.  That got me to thinking about it, my 30+ years in IT notwithstanding.  Life as we know it would not be possible without the Internet.  First, a short history might be in order.

[Some of the following was paraphrased from Wikipedia.]  Early packet switching networks [a “packet” of data is what computers use to communicate with each other and around a network] such as the NPL network, ARPANET, Merit Network and CYCLADES in the early 1970s researched and provided data networking. The ARPANET project and international working groups led to the development of protocols for inter-networking, in which multiple separate networks could be joined into a network of networks, which produced various standards. Research was published in 1973 that evolved into the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP), the two protocols of the Internet protocol suite. [You’ve probably seen “TCP/IP.”]

In the early 1980s the National Science Foundation funded national supercomputing centers at several universities in the United States and provided interconnectivity in 1986 with the NSFNET project, which created network access to these supercomputer sites for research and academic organizations in the United States. International connections to NSFNET, the emergence of architecture such as the Domain Name System, and the adoption of TCP/IP internationally, marked the beginnings of the Internet.

Commercial Internet service providers (ISPs) began to emerge in the very late 1980s. The ARPANET was decommissioned in 1990 and the NSFNET was decommissioned in 1995, removing the last restrictions on the use of the Internet to carry commercial traffic. Commercial entities began marketing Internet access, content design, telephone and communications platforms, search engines and sales platforms.  Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube, and all the other hugely successful web companies all owe that success to the National Science Foundation and ARPANET.

Today, the uses of the Internet are as numerous as the number of people on the planet.  The top dozen most common uses, according to several reporting sites, are:  email, research, downloading files, discussion groups, interactive games, education and self-improvement, movie/music/video streaming, friendship and dating, electronic newspapers and magazines, politicking, job hunting and shopping. 

Specific uses can be inferred from this list, such as virtual health appointments, maps and navigation, virtual meetings and teleconferencing, social media and long-distance family interactions.

Like most people, there are times when I think the Internet is a pain, allowing anyone with a brain and access to spout any ideology they see fit, and the brain part may seem lacking.  However, just maintaining long-distance family relationships can make all the difference in someone’s life.  The COVID-19 pandemic and the latest social injustice are two examples of events that bring us together utilizing the one communications service that seems to have been developed for just such occasions.

Would I be a published author without the Internet?  Chances are slim.  How easily could I share my 30,000 photos [now over 50,000] with the public?  I’ve often referred to the Internet as my virtual memory, with nearly everything I would ever want to know at my fingertips.  My blog would likely never have happened either, nor supplementing our income while living in an RV on the road.  Like I said, life like we know it would simply not be possible.


My closing quote for this subject is from Tom Wolfe, an American journalist, who said, “Once you have speech, you don’t have to wait for natural selection! If you want more strength, you build a stealth bomber; if you don’t like bacteria, you invent penicillin; if you want to communicate faster, you invent the Internet. Once speech evolved, all of human life changed.

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