Semi-back online

by Michael Alderete on 2/10/2004

About five minutes after I posted that UPS was going to deliver my new DSL equipment, the doorbell rang. Three minutes later I had the box open on the floor in the office. 15 minutes later I the DSL filters installed on all three phone lines in the house, and the DSL cable plugged in. Five minutes after that, I had Rochelle and I online on the new DSL connection.

And locked out of our e-mail, and this weblog.

This is because I didn’t move our server right away, and it regarded our attempts to access our mail and the weblog database as external attacks by crackers, which was almost true, given that we were now connecting from “outside” the server’s network, instead of being network “roommates.” I got e-mail working again quickly by converting the e-mail clients to a better authentication scheme, but there was no way for me to safely post to this blog while my systems were on two different networks.

Last night I finally finished reconfiguring the server and the firewall DMZ for the new network, and moved the server (which actually only involved connecting the server’s Ethernet cable to a different jack 3” away from the old one). So, now I can post.

Of course, the DNS changes are still percolating through the internet, and for the moment you are effectively blocked from sending me e-mail, or viewing this blog. Hopefully that’ll be fixed in another day or so.

Oh, yeah, the new DSLspeed is heaven compared to the old connection. Almost as big a difference as when I upgraded from a modem to DSL in the first place. Woohoo!

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New ADSL coming later today

by Michael Alderete on 2/2/2004

Last week I signed up for a new ADSL account with Speakeasy, a top-rated ISP providing service in the Bay Area. Over the last five days, just about everything that needed to happen has happened, except for receiving the new DSL hardware, which is “out for delivery” according to UPS’s package tracker.

The reason for the change is simple: we signed up for DSL after I moved in with Rochelle, at the end of 1998, when it became clear that our needs for internet access could not be met by a single phone line. “When are you going to be done with the internet?”

Back then, only one provider covered our neighborhood, and even then, only with their more expensive business-class SDSL service. With no other options, we signed up for it. We’ve had the 192/192Kbps service for about five years now, and neither the price nor the speed has changed.

Even once other DSL options came to our neighborhood, they initially weren’t much better, or cheaper, than what we had, and were a whole lot less reliable. I can count the number of times our DSL service went out on one hand — in five years! And of those, two occurred when the service was sold and transferred from one ISP to another, two outages that could have been planned for and minimized if the new ISP had been communicating better.

Today Moore’s Law and other developments have improved reliability tremendously, and left our 192Kbps service in the dust. We can get way more speed for half the price, and with reliability and quality of service that’s certainly good enough.

It took a little searching to find a DSL provider who explicitly allows running servers, who doesn’t block ports, and generally meets our slightly different needs (since we run our own network at home, including servers and custom domains, etc.). And then I needed to set up a more powerful firewall, that would make the migration smoother, etc.

That’s all mostly done, so I’m sure as soon as the new hardware gets here I will be tearing into the box, setting it up, and switching over — even though I should be doing other things. The concept of surfing 800% faster is intoxicating!

Our servers will migrate a little more slowly, since I’ll need to do things like update the DNS records, and other tricky technical stuff. There will be some disruption when I start those, probably this coming weekend, but using the new connection for our desktop systems should be a piece of cake.

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Good experience with SBC Yahoo! technical support

by Michael Alderete on 12/23/2003

Helping a friend set up his new 20” iMac at his house yesterday, we had occasion to call SBC Yahoo!, his internet service provider (ISP), to collect some technical details and verify the correct settings for accessing the e-mail account that goes with the service.

I resisted calling them until I couldn’t think of anything else to do, because my experience with large ISP’s technical support is that it is universally abysmal. But now I have to retract that, because we got through to a tech almost immediately (less than 2 minutes from dialing), and Gail was friendly, helpful, and extremely competent.

My usual experience is you wade through the phone tree and then hold for 20 minutes, only to have someone reading a script tell you to power cycle your Xmas tree lights. In this case, Gail answered all of our questions quickly, specifically, and correctly, before my usual hold time was up.

PacBell’s DSL experience used to be terrible, so something more than just changing their name (to SBC) has happened to improve the service — probably the influence of Yahoo!. If you’re thinking about getting broadband internet service, the SBC Yahoo! pricing is excellent, and I can definitely endorse their tech support.

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