Coincidence … or conspiracy?

As I may have mentioned recently on this blog thing, I recently moved into a new house. New to Sara and I, not new to the world. But it may have well been. It was completely remodeled by the previous-previous owner, and never occupied by the guy from whom we bought it.

Anyway, we’re not here to talk Better Homes & Gardens stuff. And I’m sure I’ll bitch later about pests, plumbing, pools and other homeowner annoyances starting with the letter “P.” We’re here to talk about something much more pertinent, something that’s close to my heart, something upon which I rely for my very subsistence:

The internet. Specifically, my lack of connection to it.

The last two weeks have tested my patience. I mean, really tested it. Like a giant final exam for which I didn’t have any time to study. Because I know this will turn into a disorganized ramble, allow me to jump to bullet points here:

Twitter: OK, if you’re a Twitter user, a Facebook user who reads Twitter-fed status updates or someone who reads tech news on a regular basis, then you probably know Twitter has been having some serious issues the last week. The site suffered what’s known as a denial-of-service attack last week, which basically means hackers flooded the site with so many requests it overloaded the servers, shutting Twitter down for about two hours. That’s fine. It happens. But after the site came back up, and I saw everyone else’s tweets streaming through the public timeline, I could not update my feed. Not from the web. Not via text. Not through my Twitter app on my Blackjack II. Nothing. It was a very strange feeling, akin to digital paralysis, where I could see and hear everything going on but not speak, move or otherwise respond or take action. Twitter is a free service, though, so I cannot fully complain, but my frustration was compounded by …

Cox Communications: Honestly, even Cox I can only be superficially mad at. We had high-speed internet via Cox at our previous house, so logically, we decided to transfer the account over to the new house. Easy, right? Sure … except that I spent half the day two Saturdays ago waiting for the installation guy to come out, he went and ran coaxial cable across a room to get everything in the right place, went to test the signal and … then realized our house was not connected to Cox’s lines. At all. And never had been. Oh, sure, the house itself was wired for four cable outlets. But they were connected to nothing. And neither have been the five surrounding houses on our street, which is a grouping of custom lots outside of any development or homeowners association. Cox was supposed to send out a team to survey the area and see what they could do, but after a week I said “f*ck it,” told Sara to cancel that nonsense, and I called up the local telecom company, through which I’d enjoyed high-speed internet access for a few years prior …

Embarq: Man. I thought this would solve at least one of my problems. I called Embarq last Thursday, my fifth day with no web access at home and the same day Twitter went kablooey. I called hoping for a quick solution, but the fastest they could activate our service was Monday. Monday. Mind you, I had two article deadlines that weekend plus Friday’s Utopian comic to post. But I was fine with waiting, as I figured I could just do the free WiFi thing at a coffee shop to get done what needed to be done, and turn in my stories on Monday when everything was back up and running. In the interim, I had wireless internet access on my smartphone, right? Um …

AT&T: I have a web-enabled, fancy-ass smartphone for specific reasons: Mobile access to the internet. To my e-mails. To Twitter. I pay a good chunk of change each month for unlimited data. I’ve been with AT&T for years, mainly because I was with Cingular for years when AT&T took over the company. I’ve had no problems whatsoever in the interim. Until last week. Until I couldn’t get network access, not even 50 percent of the time, maybe more like 25 percent. That’s unacceptable. At one point on Friday, I was ready to pull my hair out (chest hair, I guess): I couldn’t update Twitter. I couldn’t access the internet via my phone or at home. And then I went to ReJAVAnate, a groovy little indie coffee shop around the corner from my new house with free WiFi, and … my laptop would not connect to their network. It took me about an hour (and an iced decaf mocha) to figure out what the hell was wrong with my connection settings. But I finally did get online, updated the webcomic, did what research needed to be done, and went home, satisfied that something was happening. All I had to do was wait until Monday, and everything would be all right …

Except that Embarq blew it. On Monday, I plugged in my DSL modem, plugged in my wireless router, and … got reintroduced to internet speeds I haven’t experienced since I was on Netcom dial-up back in 1998. I am (allegedly) paying for the 3.0 Mbps DSL plan. I can’t get downloads faster than about .5 Mbps. Uploads, about a quarter of that. Youtube videos won’t load; Hulu just laughs at me. Even loading ONE basic jpg image either takes 10 minutes or doesn’t open at all. What. The. Hell.

That is where I’m at.  This morning, AT&T — after one customer service call and a long chat session yesterday explaining that at least 10 of my friends on Twitter were complaining about outages in the Vegas area all week as well — allegedly pinpointed and resolved what they finally found was a network issue on their end. Twitter has been — despite the usual burps — back up and allowing me to tweet to my heart’s content. Cox has been given its marching papers. Dish is coming out to install its equipment on Friday instead, and let’s pray that doesn’t get borked as well. And I have an e-mail into Embarq, which will be followed by a phone call here pretty soon. After I finish typing this rant.

Seriously. I can’t win.


  1. Mama Kay August 14, 2009 7:43 am 

    Dearest PJ, I have a vial of these little yellow pills, they do remarkable things for my nerves, shall I overnight some? I am shocked at the similarity between you and Terry when it comes to technical malfunctions ( yes I have slipped him a yellow pill on occasion )again doing wonders for my nerves when he loses techno touch with the outside world.
    Let me know if you need better living through chemistry.
    Love, Momma K