As much as I love geeking out over gadgets, there are days when I long for pencil, tin can and string. Days like today.

I’ve had Verizon FiOS, their high-speed fiberoptic network, for 14 months now. I know this because last night it died (or rather, the wireless router they supplied me with died) and Verizon said it was out of warranty. They said this after leading me through two hours of voicemail hell, so by the time someone actually answered the phone I was NOT in a good mood.

“It’s your router now–it became yours after 12 months–and the warranty’s expired,” shrugged the tech (well, his voice shrugged, since he was on the phone), “You need to go buy a new one. We don’t support it.”

Uhm…so you’re saying ‘too bad, so sad, not our problem, go away?’

“Ma’am, you never heard those words come out of my mouth. We gave you a router for free, which is more than Comcast does. You still have Internet access–it’s up to you to get it to more than one computer.”

Hmmmm. This may make me rethink getting FiOS TV. Also FiOS landline. And maybe my mobile phone. But for now, I needed the whole network online, so I stopped off tonight and bought a wireless router.

Linksys has always done a good job for me, so I chose their WRT350N router. It supports all major wireless protocols that I might need, and adds a USB port for an external hard drive, which I figured would come in handy for cross-network backups that for some reason I didn’t want to put on one of the servers. (OK, I’m a gadget freak)

Installation started slow–they’ve idiot-proofed their setup, so the little status lines crawl across the page, giving you absolutely no idea of what’s actually going on. After a couple of hiccups, in which I discovered that their routines were having trouble releasing and renewing my IP address, I got the thing installed and talking easily to my primary desktop and my FiOS connection.

So far, that’s about the last thing that’s worked. I have a wireless print server (from Linksys), a wireless notebook (Freddie Mac), the external wireless connectors on the older computers plus a couple other devices. I also attached my primary backup drive to the USB port, just for a test.

They might be melted in my kiln for all the notice they’re getting from this router. After trying every security setting in the known universe, Freddie still can’t see the network.

Nothing in the documentation saying “if you can’t recognize this stuff, do this,” so I hit up the Linksys website. They don’t mention MacBook Pros–do a search on Apple and you’ll get three pages of notes about the Cisco-Apple lawsuit over the iPhone.

Called Linksys, and a very nice man named Depesh suggested I download their connect tool. Uhm, didn’t that come with the router? “Oh, no, ma’am, this is a new tool that will find your problem and solve it.”

I ran the connect tool. It’s the same one I’ve already got.

Checked the forums, and the consensus appears to be “yeah, sometimes that happens with Linksys routers,” along with a very diverse list of fixes (by which I conclude they’re saying “just try a bunch of stuff until you find some settings that work and then don’t touch it.”).

So…it’s late, I’m tired, Freddie works just fine with an Ethernet cable (for now) and there’s always tomorrow. I think I’ll head over tomorrow and see if the Geniuses at the Apple store have any ideas. After all…I’ve typed so much on this keyboard that I’ve literally worn the E, S, A, C, N, and L keys off, and they’ve promised me a new keyboard. “and, Cynthia, you might think about getting one of our cool wireless keyboards; we’ve never seen anyone actually wear out the keys before….”