days of naze
|what is that big sucking sound?
A little audio gift (85 kb .wav)
for my Faithful readers on
the first anniversary (7/14/99) of
the site. Hand cranked to help
you on the long march.
An obnoxiously large
(101k .wav) audio greeting
from the Author.
|June 28, 2000
Adventures in DSL
Ever had a Slurpee™?
You get a special straw. It flares out at the bottom like a spoon. That's so you can suck that icy flavored treat into your mouth in greater volumes.
The problem is that even with that fancy straw you end up hitting pockets where the ice is dryer and doesn't have enough of the flavor juice. So you suck on that thing with both lungs until you hyperventilate. You root around the cup trying to stir it up until it liquifies just enough to get more flavor into your face.
My new DSL is kind of like that straw. I know it's not the straw's fault, it's the damn Slurpee Internet that's juicy goodness in a few spots but mostly dry ice pockets that have to be stirred all the time, but you can't help but be a little pissed at the straw with all it's promise of mo' better.
So what led you to this, Mr. Naze? You were connecting just fine on your 56k modem, right?
Well, yeah. I was regularly getting a 49k connection and with a decent modem that's about the best you can expect on a regular phone line. In wasn't all that long ago that I was running an extension cord out my bedroom window, down the side of the house, into the kitchen window to reach our only phone jack in the house.
Like the installation of the upstairs phone jack, the bandwidth jump began in pursuit of the modern deity, convenience. "Chrriiiiiiiiiisss! Are you on the Internet?!", and it's variants yelled up the stairs. You'd disconnect and wait for the voice call to complete, usually not long in actual time but still somehow stretching and lengthening under the scrutiny and impatience.
But worse, much worse, would be the voice messaging signal that fooled the modem into believing that the line, in fact, was busy not free. The walk down the stairs, around and through to the kitchen, pick up the phone, dial the codes, pressing the buttons, retrieving the messages (which were never ever for me), writing down the important ones, and then the walk back upstairs (grr), reconnect.
Man, I hated that.
The solicitations from both US West and my ISP, InternetCDS, fell on receptive ears. The equation? Appealling. US West was offering a part time DSL (i.e. automatic disconnect at set intervals of time and inactivity timeout) for about a third less than the full time service. InternetCDS, knowing that US West wanted to be your ISP too, wisely cut it's rate to US West DSL customers. The solid state answering machine still worked fine -- goodbye home voice mail. Add it all up, net it all out and I'm getting DSL for $7 per month more than I had been paying for total phone services and ISP.
(Uh, I should mention here that they jam you pretty hard on the start-up costs -- about $200. Ouch.)
US West, our Baby Bell, is certainly one of the favorite punching bags in these parts. I guess they suck pretty bad for their business customers and when you want phone service initiated at a new home. I've never had a problem with them. In fact, the Intel PRO/DSL 2100 modem arrived UPS two days later.
I am one of those guys who takes an inordinate amount of pride from installing hardware. Lord knows I don't repair the car and work on the plumbing is very rare. So when I unscrew the case and slide that puppy up and off, I'm like Scotty in the jeffries tube. I keep myself grounded at all times, I've got my can of electronics dusting compressed gas. And when I deliver that modem from it's sterile protective bag that should be straight from the Intel clean room just 45 minutes west of here in Hillsboro, Oregon, but is in fact at the end of a very long trip from Malaysia, it is with reverence that I line it up in it's very own PCI slot. I press gently but firmly. Not...quite...in... I pull it out. Try again. Gently. Firmly. Pressing...I really don't want to break this...I really don't...(15 minutes of pressing later) pressing -- SNAP! -- into the slot (not the snap of destruction).
I won't take you through all the gyrations I went through with my ISP. Overall they provide good performance and very responsive service, but they weren't buttoned down in their DSL info at all. I had to make 3 separate calls to get all of the IP addresses and the other 10 fields of data required to complete the connection. I tend to be very loyal to companies that 1) provide good service, and 2) are local, and will permit them fair latitude in screw-ups so long as they aren't frequent and the effort to fix things is sincere.
For all of you high bandwidth virgins, I don't want to spoil the party. It is definitely faster. And it is much more convenient than things were before. But it's still a Slurpee Internet. There are a lot of slow servers and servers with slow connections and god knows what kind of unholy traffic thrashing about on the public Internet.
The very first place I went was to the Quicktime movie trailer site where I promptly downloaded the next to largest screen size of the Lord of the Rings preview. Five minutes for the large screen download compared to about 20 for the small screen download on a 49k connection. Downstream 512k? Definitely nice. It excels in large downloads. (And an exceptional movie preview. Too bad we have to wait a year and a half for Christmas 2001.)
But for web pages, with packet collisions and all the other problems, it varies from feeling no faster to about twice as fast. So if it's any comfort to you out there, in the bandwidth caste system the Brahmins aren't living all that much better than you. (Back, Untouchable! ...sorry, got carried away...)
Another nice thing with higher bandwidth. Remember that Saturday Night Live sketch where Harry Shearer was doing a really bad Mike Wallace grilling Martin Short in a 60 Minutes spoof? Short is a sleazy business executive dragging on a cig and sweating buckets under the Wallace onslaught when he turns to the camera. "Is it me or is it him?", twitching and stuttering. With DSL, the "is it me?" question is mostly put to rest.
I was foolish enough to bring up my newfound bandwidth with the engineers at work. Our server software engineer practically cackled with glee. Rubbing his hands together he said he'd give me a little lesson on network security by getting into my system in five minutes or less. We had talked about this earlier and he had patiently explained that all I needed to do to really protect myself was to acquire a cast off 386 or 486 and load it up with a free Linux firewall. I made it pretty clear that I wasn't going to those lengths for piece of mind.
Now, however, I brought him up short with my revelation that it was not a full-time connection. Security on a budget. Crestfallen, he went back to his red text on black 20 inch monitor.
(Please don't consider this an invitation to a hack. I realize full well that someone could camp out, watch my connection and ambush my system. But puh-leaze. There's nothing on this machine that's worth the effort.)
Maybe it's just me, but DSL doesn't change the way I way I use the Internet. It doesn't change the way I think about the Web. And it certainly doesn't magically create more time in a day to conjure my little essays.
But it works, and sometimes that's enough.
p.s. It has entangled Julie, Bob, Scott, Av, Kirk & Jill, and even The Liz in it's twisted skein of deceit and treachery -- you can't escape it's clutches for long... new days notification: when it hits, you feel no pain.
p.p.s. I got a few hits from this French links page and I haven't pushed aside more urgent tasks to translate it. Any French readers out there who can tell me what it says and what his site is all about?
p.p.p.s. Farewell to Lola Bushatz, my grandmother-in-law. Lola lived a long and feisty life. She loved men and wasn't real fond of women in general, which probably made her life more turbulent than most. At family gatherings, Lola could really talk your ear off. She'd catch me sometimes and tell me about her life in 1930's Detroit, in 1940's California as one of the first women to serve as a Sears buyer, and as the proprietor of a little diner in the hills outside of 1970's Ashland, Oregon. About twenty years ago, she wrote about her life and gave it to Cathy. She lived her life. She told her story.
|previously on days of naze :
a new life
|May you never be more active
when you are doing nothing.
They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
-Carl W. Buehner
|in the feedag:
book: The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History. One of my all-time favorite books. Five of the top fifty are from Scotland even though Scotland only accounts for 1/8th of one percent of the world's population. Twenty-five were childless, nineteen never married, ten had gout.
Elizabeth's nicknames & honorifics: My Little Birdy, A Portion, Wurlitzer, Her Pants Are A Trumpet Unto the Heavens, Italian Renaissance Princess, Chickpea, Concerned Citizen (e.g. "To the proprietors: In my short stay at your residence, it has come to my attention that service standards have slipped considerably...)
Jack's Tough Monday: Being seven is not easy. Walking backwards and pulling a garden hose across the lawn, Jack - fully dressed - fell flat on his back into the wading pool. Later that night during bedtime story (a Captain Marvel comic book), he forgot that he had been chewing a little Lego hat and much to his dismay, swallowed it.
film: Titan AE (A) - this movie kicks ass. A really fun show with fresh treatment of space themes and a good date movie to boot.
sensation: Driving home on sweltering summer days like today takes me east on the Sunset Highway towards town. As you approach Portland, the freeway descends and cuts right through Forest Park. The dense green gully walls rise and rise on each side like a cathedral and it feels as if you're gliding down into cool water richly scented with Douglas Fir and swordfern. Shooting through the tunnel into the sunlight you emerge dry and refreshed.
listening: radio days of naze - oddly satisfying
© christopher naze