You’ve got a lot of explaining to do, NetGear.

I recently bought a new wireless router, and I had my evening all planned. I would unwrap my new wireless router and start the arduous journey to restore wireless Internet at my house. This process, I presumed, would include plugging and unplugging of wires and cables, a call to tech support, hanging up on tech support, calling tech support back, plugging and unplugging again, apologizing to my children as I was unaware they were in ear shot during the last tech support call and so on until around midnight, when I would have this conversation with my wife:

HER: When are you coming to bed?


HER: You know, there’s a couch in that room. Just sleep there.

The next day, I would call a friend with actual computer experience, who would be able to come over, but probably not for a few days, and would then reprogram my entire computer system, venturing into nooks and crannies of my operating system I did not know existed and eventually get my wireless set up, but with a password that would have to be entered each time and was something like 9%7@FRIb8leD33!@#$^u.

So I took a deep breath, plugged in some wires and looked at the computer screen. We had this conversation:

COMPUTER: Hey, man, I see you got a new router. Want me to set it up and slap an easily remembered password that you can easily change later if you want?

ME: Sure, buddy!

COMPUTER: And done. Now go watch Netflix, you crazy kid!

OK, so perhaps it was a little more technical. But it was about two minutes. And for that, NetGear, I need an explanation as to what I am supposed to do with all of this anticipated technorage. And also: Is this a trap? Do you have something planned for me that is maniacal, and this was a ruse to make me let my guard down? Or are you a good witch?

Whatever NetGear’s motivation, the new router appears to be a rocking step up. Our previous router was made in 1873. Coincidentally, that’s also the same number of times it crashed every day. It was a constant refrain in my house: “Can you reset the modem?” I am fairly certain that everyone in the house tried to avoid being near the room with the router, because if the other three people in the house knew you were there, chances are you’d be called on to reset the modem. On a side note, it was during one of these reset moments where my daughter and I had a conversation I assure you I never had with my parents, not just because it was done via text message:


Me: Don’t yell. And you could ask.

ALLIE: Yes, sir! Will you please reset the modem? How was that?

We kept on resetting the modem and resetting the modem until I finally decided I would do one last-ditch effort and update the firmware. I have no idea what that means, but someone who does know computers said I should do that. And, sure enough, on the company’s website was a link to “update firmware.” I followed the directions and quickly found that my modem, which used to work sporadically between resets, now did not work at all. I called the company’s tech support line and was informed that my model of router has been classified as a “classic model,” which is a nice way of saying that it belongs in the Smithsonian.

When I went to the store to buy a new one, I picked out a choice model and stood there staring at the package, as if some big bell would start ringing if I picked the right one. As I stood there, a woman was talking to a sales clerk asking about routers. She had a lot of the same questions I had. We quickly became a buying tandem, peppering the sales clerk with questions about passwords and range and brick walls interfering with the signal. In the end, we both bought the same model, and I hope she had the same success I did setting hers up. She was ahead of me in line. After she checked out, I said to the clerk, “I’ll have what she’s having.” I don’t think the clerk has ever seen “When Harry Met Sally.” Otherwise, I’d have gotten at least a cursory laugh.

But the upside of it all is that I now have wireless throughout my house. And to that I have NetGear to thank. Unless this is a trap …

Mike Gibbons was born and raised in Aiken and is a graduate of the University of Alabama. Email him at