Good Advice, and Powerline Networking

The most difficult part of life is figuring out how to live. That is why old adages are so popular. Wise sayings of the past can provide waystones for our own future. Listening to old sayings is sort of like hiring a tour guide. The guide can make navigating strange places much easier. The guide can provide you with powerful insights. And sometimes, every so often, the guide is proven wrong. What are we supposed to do then?

burn the witch

“Burn the guide!”

I have always heard, “If something sounds too good to be true, then if probably is.” This is surely an ancient saying, and is usually good advice. Avoiding things that sound too good to be true is a great way to stay out of bad situations. Someone could be offering you the greatest deal ever, but actually be luring you into a scam. Someone might tell you everything you want to hear, and reaffirm all of your emotions, only so they can take advantage of them. Life is strange and wonderful. For every hundred scams and thousand manipulations, there may be one unbelievable offer that will actually change your life.

For the past several weeks I have been proselytizing about a device called a Powerline Network Adapter (PNA) Have you ever heard of powerline networking? If not, then I have Good News for you!


Prepare for the Connectivity Gospel!

I am no expert in networking technology, but I am no novice either. I have set up my share of LAN networks and internet connections in my day. I have strung long, precarious cords that make my entire house a giant tripping hazard. All in the name of getting decent internet speeds in back offices and basement bedrooms. So, when I moved to a new house I spent a lot of time thinking about how I was going to connect the devices in my room to the router in another.

At first, because I am lazy, I figured just using WiFi would be good enough. I am getting older, and maybe more tolerant of not-the-best-but-acceptable connections. WiFi means no cables. No cables means no headache. WiFi should have been fast enough for any reasonable person. I could play games and stream videos. But sometimes my games were laggy, and my videos were pixelated. Despite my newfound maturity, WiFi was just not fast enough. I needed a wired connection. For reasons.

Old Lady Gaming

“I can’t believe I keep getting pwned by these nwbs!”

Now, if I was in my own house I would just drill a hole in the wall to pass a cable through. Easy peasy. Alas, I am a mere renter, and this option was not available as my lord would not approve. Where I lived before we had cords running along the floor under rugs, and along the ceiling over doorways, but it was a huge hassle. And we used a lot of thumbtacks. But what else could I do? “If only,” I lamented as I watched the loading wheel spin on Netflix, “If only I could use the wires that were already in the walls to send internet signals…”

Enter the Powerline Networking Adapter. A PNA is a device, or more commonly a set of devices, that can take internet signal from a router, send it through the wiring in the walls, and back out to a computer, Xbox, smart fridge, or what have you. I can’t believe I had never heard of such a device before. It was like a gift from the gods. Or a trick of some demon.

“Keep me away from your rituals, foul Beast!”

So I bought a set of PNAs on a whim. It seemed a little sketchy at first. If these devices are so convenient, why didn’t I know anyone who used them? All electrical signals are essentially the same, so there is no reason a wire that carries power couldn’t also carry internet signals. At the same time, I am not an electricity expert, and still had reservations that playing Destiny over the wires in my wall might burn the house down. Setting up a network with the wiring that already existed in the house sounded too good to be true. Naturally, I was suspicious.

But the PNAs worked like a charm. At first, I was giddy at my “new discovery.” (Powerline networking has been around for a long time.) I told everyone I knew about the benefits of powerline networking over using wireless or setting up a cat’s cradle of Ethernet cords.

It has been working great. And now I am a little worried. Not about fire, or anything like that. I am worried about what the success of the powerline network means for my conception of the world. Here I have at least one example of something that sounds too good to be true, but is actually true! How many other impossibly good things are out there? When a shifty salesman offers me the deal of a lifetime, should I listen? When someone offers me eternal happiness for one low-low cost, should I consider it?

The powerline network adapter was like a mundane miracle. When you have seen a miracle, even a small one, how can you not become captivated by soothsayers and prophets? When unbelievably good things turn out to be true, how can you know who to listen to, and who to ignore?

man with fingers in ears

Maybe I should just ignore everyone…