Friday, November 25, 2005

My home Internet access is down

Just in case some of you are wondering why I'm not answering e-mails and offline on ICQ, my entire cable service, including my cable modem, went out around 7 yesterday evening. It was still out when I left for work this morning at 8:15. For the nonce, all I have is limited Internet access at work. Like all other companies in the securities industry, the firm wisely blocks us from web-based e-mail and forbids instant messenger programs, so here I'm unable to access my principal Internet communications. Public libraries are not an option to me, because I will not trust my login information to computers I must deem unsecure.

I was in the middle of downloading the latest Breezy Badger (Ubuntu 5.10, which a friend recommended I try as an alternative to Knoppix) and then jinxed myself by telling someone on ICQ how great my cable modem was. Not 20 seconds later, my cable signal went poof. Cablevision support told me last night, and again this morning when I called to yell at a new person, that it's an outage for my entire neighborhood. I suspect that, with the holiday, they're having trouble just finding anyone to work on it; they probably didn't even start until this morning. But holiday or none, they have no excuse for the service being out this long.

In the four years I've had Cablevision service, I've had recurring problems with signal outages. They were of infuriatingly great frequency during the first two years, but fairly rare in the last two. The signal would always come back in three or four hours, so calling to schedule a service call just meant having to call back and cancel it. A few "technicians" (and I use that term loosely because they made me wonder if they even could tell a physical difference between coax and cat-5) did come out to examine my wiring. None could ever find a reason why my signal would just go out and basically restore itself a few hours later. Eventually I stopped bothering to call altogether, hence my records with Cablevision don't accurately reflect the total outages.

I would sign up with a dial-up service like NetZero so I can at least have e-mail, ICQ and blogging for the time being, however, I cancelled my land line a couple of years ago. My cell phone became more than sufficient for my telephone needs, and one day I realized I was paying $40 a month to make two calls a month on my land line. While I still won't get a land line, perhaps now it's time to look at Verizon DSL. It's slower (768K download versus my current 10-megabit) and more expensive, but last night could be the straw that broke the camel's back. I wonder if anything could be less reliable than Cablevision.

Hope you all are having a better holiday weekend. From what I'm hearing, the subway system all over New York City has had breakdowns and delays all over, a wonderful way to start the shopping season. The shuttle from Grand Central to Times Square was fine, but the N/Q/R/W line had some delay up the line. Normally I get off at 57th Street (actually I use the 55th Street exit) and 7th Avenue. When we made the normal stop at 49th and 7th and then stayed there for several minutes, I got off and walked the rest of the way.

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