This is the connector that plugs into the back of my computer tower and links it to the router downstairs. We have not “gone wireless”… this set-up has served us well. Until Friday, when my internet and email went down without warning or apparent cause. I checked all the things I knew … nothing worked. Perhaps the cable company was having problems… no the other computer worked fine. I was stumped.
My son, who looks after technical challenges for me, was out of town. When he got home he repeated everything… without success, and then checked the hardware and connections. You see that tiny, tiny, almost invisible finger of plastic at the top of the plug, like a tiny spring? It had snapped off. It is not helpful to discover this on a Saturday evening. Either removing the cable and taking it in to have a new plug installed or replacing the cable completely would mean snaking it back through walls and ceilings from one end of the house to the other. So eventually he tried Crazy Glue. Yes, Crazy Glue! Second try held, and I have my computer up and running again.
Not being able to use my email, the internet, or my blog for that long reminded me how much I depend on it. When I am away, it doesn’t seem so important, but there it was on the desk in my studio, calling to me, mocking me.
I am reminded of how important tiny almost invisible components can be in large and complex systems. These plugs sell online for $19.95 for a hundred. Twenty cents apiece! But you need both tools and know-how to replace them! A twenty-cent part knocked out my computer for two days.
The conveniences… and “necessities”… we take for granted are mysterious and fragile. There is probably a larger message in this about our vulnerability as a society to the weaknesses and complexities of the technology we depend on and take for granted. Probably. But I am not going to go there. Worrying about the larger implications can wait. I am just glad to have my computer back.