Copyright © 1998 Henrietta W. Hay
No e-mail!? Aaiigghh!
December 11, 1998
Some wit on the Web wrote that you know you're an e-mail junkie when
you wake up at 3:00 am to go to the bathroom and check your e-mail on
the way back to bed. I am not quite that bad, but I do check between
my first and second cups of coffee in the morning. And one day last
week -- Trauma! Major trauma! No e-mail! It had been down the
previous afternoon, but I thought the quiet darkness of night would rest
it and make it ready to spring to attention in the morning. No such
There was Word waiting for me to write something creative. Quicken was
available to reconcile my check book. My favorite solitaire game was
waiting to embarrass me again. But no e-mail. Without my e-mail, how
could I know what part of the world Dave was in that morning, or whether
Terry could have coffee at 10, or whether Erin had finished editing my
next column or how many people were yelling at me about what I wrote in
my last column?
No e-mail? My day was ruined. Of course I had friends at the end of
the telephone line, close neighbors, a car. But one would have thought
I was stranded alone in an Arctic wilderness.
I make no claim to understanding exactly how e-mail works. I have
always suspected that something that huge and complicated must be
handled by little green men from outer space running around carrying
messages. I do know that somebody can send me a message from anywhere
in the world any time of day or night, and almost instantly it is
sitting out there in Cyberspace waiting for me to say, "Get mail."
I spent a lot of time that morning with my ear glued to the telephone
while a technician with my ISP guided me through the process of getting
me back on line. For those of you who have not entered the World Wide
Web the Internet Service Provider is the entryway into the Web. Mine
is a local office with more modems than I can count and enough wire to
stretch from here to Durango -- well, somewhere.
At one point while we were waiting for my computer to reboot we had a
nice inter-generational chat about computer development. He sounded
like a gen-x guy, and although he probably suspected that I was a
little old lady, he has no idea he was talking to an 80+ . I asked him
how he knew so much about the system. He said he had been working with
computers for a long time. I said that so had I, that my first
computer was a TRS 80. He sounded a bit surprised and said he had one
of the early ones too. Computer nuts can always talk to each other on
some level or other.
He finally decided that I needed to change the DNS number in my
internet settings. I had no idea what a DNS number was, and even less
where to find it. I love my Mac, and my new friend on the other end of
the phone line was a PC expert. Actually Macs and PC's hardly speak to
each other. But after a lot more experimenting, and telephoning and
consulting a friend of a friend, I found the number's not so secret
location and changed it. Eureka! There was my little signal flashing
a welcome, "You have 18 messages waiting."
I wonder what one of those intrepid men who carried the Pony Express
mail across the plains and mountains would have thought had he been able
to look into the future and see e-mail. He was really alone out there
in the wilderness. He would probably have said, Giddyap, and figured
somebody was nuts. He was probably right.
So I'm back to normal and the messages are flowing back and forth. I
think e-mail is the greatest thing since sliced bread, but I haven't
reached the point where I tell the cab driver that I live at: