Weather, Tires, and Technology

A cold, rainy, Saturday morning. Perfect for being inside, playing with photos taken and not printed or catalogued. However, I am sitting at the local Discount Tire waiting for my tire to be repaired.

Not my favorite activity.

When I left the house after changing to the spare in the freezing rain, I planned to at least get some work done using my new 3G Sierra Wireless AirCard 860 cellular modem from Cingular. However, this device has been nothing but trouble. It’s a great technology, but just not there yet for real use. If you want to spend a frustrating morning messing with your computer I completely recommend it as a way to increase your stress level and heart rate.

The normal response from the software is “No Wireless Device Detected.” Currently, it is reporting that after working for about five minutes.

It seems that the people who write drivers for Cingular and / or Sierra have not actually ever used a computer. Or that they expect all users to be intimately familiar with troubleshooting driver conflicts, reloading modem shims, and reading cryptic log files.

Since (at the company I work for at least) these are “executive” tools, they are effectively useless. All they provide so far are an opportunity for my operations group to look like a bunch of morons when we spend a morning telling an executive “I don’t know why it does not work”…”yes we did test your laptop before you left”…”yes we understand that you expect this to work right now.” Plus – they give a false sense of security when traveling – as the user assumes that they can get connected to the Internet anytime anywhere.

As I type this “off-line” I have continued to play with this wonderful piece of technology. Removing and reinstalling the driver – which of course requires a reboot. Each loop through the process takes fifteen minutes or so (thank you Windows!). It at least makes the time at the tire shop go faster.

I hoped that the bad weather in the Dallas area would keep people inside this morning – allowing me to take care of this in a quick and easy fashion. No such luck, as it’s a full waiting room and a 2 hour minimum wait.

I would gladly patronize a tire shop that provided WiFi access to customers in their waiting room. Talk about a “customer service” benefit. Places that you know that you will have to wait should advertise their customer comforts! I think that it would be a differentiator.


The drivers are reinstalled, and it appears that it is working now. So I am going to post this entry and see what else I can get done.

So much for that. I got as far as the WordPress admin page, got the text posted in, and bang it’s dead again. Thanks Cingular! So this post will have to be made later, when I have a reliable way to connect.

More “good” news – my tire is unfixable, having a long gash in the sidewall. At least I purchased the “insurance” so a replacement will not set me back too far.

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