This week I saw an ad on craigslist asking for a computer geek. Thursday I called the number and found that a home for adults with learning disabilities had a bunch of donated equipment that they wanted a small network put together. We talked about our availability and decided I’d be there Saturday morning about 10 AM and could give 4-5 hours (it’s in West Humboldt Park and I only wanted to be there during daylight).
This morning I took the CTA over and was greeted by Larry who showed me a room full of computer equipment, mostly printers and about 1/2 dozen CPUs and monitors. He said that they had two PCs up and running and a router for Internet acces, but it had stopped working and only one PC could actually connect to the Internet. Larry said he’d like at least one more functioning PC and all three connecting to the Internet. He then left me alone so he could coordinate some remodeling at another site.
At this point I should mention that one of the residents had 2 cats and a dog, and the room where the equipment was stored was also the cat’s litter and play room. The dog was friendly at first, but every time I walked out towards the lobby or bathroom he started barking and growling. Of course, being allergic to cats, they circled me like a pair of buzzards. One actually was jumping all over the printers and other equipment.
First I tackled the router (linksys 10/100) and saw that it wasn’t connected to anything. I plugged it in the cable modem and got it working for a hot second, but then it failed. After about 20 minutes I couldn’t make it connect again and decided to move on to the PC’s.
Luckily the monitors were mostly flat panels and in fairly good condition. The CPU’s were at least 10 years old, but I managed to find 2 that booted. Sharing the one Internet connection I was able to update the OS, MS-OFFICE and the Firefox browser.
While I was updating the OS and software on the second machine Larry returned and said he had a brand new wireless router in his car and I told him to bring it in. It turned out to have 4 10/100 ports, and connected right out of the box, but I disabled the wireless function as he had no need for it.
As I was getting everything updated one of the original pair of PC’s locked up. I tried to boot it and it was completely dead so I wound up swapping it out for one of the “new” setups I had made. At the end of the day I had three machines and two of them connected to the Internet. The third is going on another floor and we did not have a cable long enough.
I was on my way back home about 2:15 and brought the “broken” linksys router back to play with as I told Larry I’d be back in a week or two. If anyone has a 50′ or 100′ CAT5 LAN cable they can donate please let me know.
So one down forty-nine to go!