Two months almost to the day from when the trouble started, it appears to have been fixed. Short form: it was the DSL modem…plus.
To summarize (the deets may be found via the Only Connect tag). In mid-December, our connection started acting wonky, and our mail clients could only receive, not send. CenturyLink came and did their best — whole house filter, dedicated DSL line, lots of activity at the back end. Some problems were fixed, others (email), not. After a week of work, including having techs spend hours in the house, they went away, beaten and confused. They said they tought it might be an ethernet port configuration issue…which, for various reasons, was just silly.
We limped along with workarounds (get mail via the mailer, reply via gMail…). I kept poking at the problem as time allowed, building logic trees of things I’d tried — it’s not a LAN wiring problem because my wife’s macbook works fine through the same switch/cable that her PC does. Her PC talks to the network printer fine, so her cable to the switch is OK…etc.
Finally, I borrowed a DSL modem from the university. It didn’t totally fix things, but it fixed enough for me to go back to CenLink and ask for a new one. They sent it via UPS and it was here within 24hrs. How’s that for service? Half an hour on the phone with their internet folks getting things set up (it was being cranky about passwords), and everything seems to work. I’ve been able to sign into my sites, MJ has been able to do our online banking, and email works all ’round.
The repair guy had tried a modem off the truck earlier, and it hadn’t helped, so we swapped back. I’m thinking there were multiple problems, like with the house wiring and maybe a config at the Central Office, and we fixed those after we tried the modem. The old modem hadn’t failed, it was just flaky, and however the Win and Mac boxen talk to things, they must be a lot more forgiving than Linux. So that accounts for the OS issues.
One remaining problem is that my wireless AP doesn’t seem to recognize the new modem. I can log on to the wireless, but if I type in a webpage, I get an immediate ‘can’t find server’. It’s prbably a simple configuration issue, and in any event it’s not a real problem, because the new router has a wireless capability, it’s just not positioned optimally for the house. It just barely works in the bedroom, for example, and not at all in the back yard. Since I don’t plan to sit in the back yard with my Nexus and a glass of Piesporter Goldtröpfchen until, you know, the snow melts enough to find the deck chairs, I’m going to give up on that until Spring Break.