When technology fails

Yesterday I had a terrible technology morning when a piece of my mobile tech failed and left me high and dry.  I had begun like many mornings by heading in to Big Oil Co. just after 6 am and setting up the Fujitsu P1620 in the office like usual.  This consists of plugging the little beast in to the adapter, turning on the Bluetooth mouse for wireless pointing, and popping the v740 modem into the Fuji for constant connectivity.  This setup works perfectly for me as it keeps me online and connected while sitting at my desk, ready to unplug and head out to any meetings I may need to attend. 

All started as predicted and I quickly got set up and ready for work and all was good.  It didn’t stay that way for long though, and that’s when my troubles began. 

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I fired up the Verizon Access Manager to get the Fuji connected via EV-DO and nothing happened.  The indication from the program was that the modem, a v740 ExpressCard modem plugged in using a Novatel ExpressCard to PCMCIA adapter, was not inserted.  Obviously the modem was indeed plugged in so something was wrong that has never happened before.  I removed and reinserted the modem several times but not only would the Fuji not initialize the modem but every time I inserted it Windows would tell me that "an unknown USB device was detected".  It seems the Fuji uses this modem as a USB device and it couldn’t tell what it was so it couldn’t fire it up with the correct installed driver for it.  Bad news indeed.

The next half hour I spent trying to remedy this, I deleted the unknown device from the device manager and reinserted the card but each time Windows failed to identify it and reinstall the drivers for it.  Nothing worked, I even uninstalled the VZ Access Manager and reinstalled it to get the drivers to reinstall but that wouldn’t work either.  The system just couldn’t identify the modem hardware which means that nothing I did could fire up the correct drivers for it.  I was effectively offline and unable to connect at all.  That’s my own fault because I had neglected to bring the HTC Advantage with me so I couldn’t tether it using Internet Sharing in Windows Mobile 6.  Shame on me for not bringing my backup connectivity.

I limped on the rest of the morning totally offline, I can appreciate Warner Crocker’s situation when he finds himself cut off from his communications.  When I headed back to my home office after lunch I proceeded to continue my troubleshooting efforts to get this working.  I figured that worst-case scenario I could go back to my older AC595 modem which I still have.  It’s the same as the v740 that wasn’t working just in the older PC Card format.  That would be better than nothing for getting the Fuji online though and I was willing to do that if need be.  The only problem with that is the AC595 wouldn’t work in my other mobile PCs but if that’s the price I would live with that.  I was totally stuck you see, I kept inserting the v740 and the Fuji kept failing to identify what it was.  Do not pass go, do not collect $200.

The first thing I did when I got home was to plug the v740 without the adapter into the HP 2710p to see if the modem itself worked.  Imagine my surprise when VZ Access Manager told me the device was not inserted in the HP when in fact it was.  Ah ha!  Maybe the modem itself was bad and that’s my problem.  The HP told me to try removing and reinserting the card so I did that and voila!  The HP detected it and I was able to get online the second time.  It seems that the v740 was locked up somehow and removing and reinserting it on the HP must have reset it because I then plugged it into the adapter and shoved it into the Fuji.  It’s been working ever since with no problems, just like it always has.  I am happy that the problem was resolved but this failure of mobile tech has me less sure of my setup than I was before.  Hopefully this won’t happen again but you know how this stuff works, very seldom are there single failures.  I’ll keep an eye on it and see what happens as life progresses.  I did prove to myself that if you are fortunate enough to be in the situation of having redundancy for connectivity and leave that redundancy at home you get what you deserve.