When the power goes out, nobody asks me how to make it work again. But if the Internet goes down for three seconds, everyone in the house is yelling at me, telling me I need to MAKE IT WORK! NOW! Most Internet problems are due to issues that have nothing to do with me. I don't have any magical Internet-fixing powers. I just calmly go through a few steps until everything works. Most often, the steps I take don't really fix anything. The Internet generally fixes itself, without any help from me, but family members yell at me less if it looks like I'm taking action. (My grouchy "leave me alone; I'm working" demeanor helps too.)
I have a dream: I would like to watch an entire episode of Lost uninterrupted. I'm going to try to empower my family to "fix" these problems themselves, and I encourage others in my shoes to do the same.
In the spirit of the xkcd Tech Support Cheat Sheet, here is the checklist that I plan to post next to each computer in the house. It's very simple; I don't expect anyone to check network settings, enter wi-fi passwords, or interpret blinking lights. It's really just a matter of turning things off and back on. Fill in the blanks as needed.
Internet Emergency Checklist
In the event that the Internet stops working, please take the following steps:
- Remain calm. It may seem like the end of the world, but remember that this has already happened 83 times this year, and somehow we survived.
- Slowly count to 100, then try whatever you were doing again.
- Close all the web browser windows you have open (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, Mozilla). Also close any other programs you know are using the Internet (e-mail, online games, Twitter clients, etc.). Wait 30 seconds, then open your web browser to see if your home page appears.
- Reboot your computer, and try again.
- Check other computers in the house. If the Internet is working for them, but not on your computer, then turn off your computer, wait five minutes, turn it back on, wait five more minutes, and then try again.
- Turn off the cable modem, the router, and your computer. The cable modem is the box that says __ on it. The router is the box that says __ on it. (If you can't find an on/off switch, just unplug the power cord.) Wait 60 seconds, then turn the cable modem back on. Wait 60 seconds, then turn the router back on. Wait 60 more seconds, then turn on your computer and try to do whatever you want to do.
- If things still don't work, you can ask for help from the resident tech support expert. If help isn't available, call the Internet service provider's tech support at __. When they ask for your phone number, don't give them your mobile phone number; give them the number associated with our account, which is __.