Friday, September 9, 2011

Phone Line Funnies

Confession time...I've been dragging my feet all week. I'm so not enthused by putting a new distributor in my pickup. My summer cold was good cover...while "laid up" I avoided the guilt of procrastination.

Today was to be the day...until I found yet another DSL started acting up about noon. All weekend, I thought it was the local broadband infrastructure bending under the weight of holiday visitors and the Burning Man Festival north of Reno. This afternoon, I decided it was my antique modem failing. Fortunately, I had a new Wireless-N modem/router on hand just waiting for me to find the time to install it.

I hooked everything up, ran the install wizard, and in under 30 minutes I was burning up the broadband. I did a speed test online...1017 eightfold improvement from my ancient setup!

My old gear dates to eternity in tech. When I ditched my landline telephone last summer and ordered "naked" DSL in November, It took an hour with AT&T Tech Support to get it all sorted out...getting the billing to catch up with me took another three months!

I had long suspected that the ASDL/phone line filters from the original setup were the real bottleneck. I looked all over for a non-filtered adapter to run the RJ11 phone line into the Cat5 ethernet cable to no avail.

The new system is filter-free and performed like a Ferarri for 3-4 hours before I saw the old drop out replete with blinking LEDs. I waited 'till all was A-OK, and surfed to AT&T's High Speed Internet Support Site to find a telephone number to speak to a human tech...After several pages, I gave up and clicked to start a support chat. The drop down page said I was third in the queue...until the DSL dropped out. I refreshed when all the LEDs were back in a row, and found myself fifth in the queue.

Twenty minutes of tech chat with the lovely Emily (hb638e), and I ended up with some email links to the pay to play AT&T ConnecTech, and the modem/router manufacturer...the DSL was steady as she goes all through our chat. It's hell when you know what's wrong, but it's an intermittent problem that refuses to show when the Man is on the line!

I learned that the ConnecTech was 24/7, and decided to give them a call when I wasn't using wireless minutes. Everything ran fine except for a flurry of outages between 4:55 and 6:14. Everything firmed up and ran like that Italian sports car until another dropout storm around 7:30-8:15. I powered off and back on, rebooted the laptop, and after 10 minutes of genuflecting tech gear, the LEDs lined up again. It's just after midnight, I just did a speed test (1230kbps!), and the thing is as solid as a pre-bailout GM pickup.

About 8:30, my Sainted Mother phoned to warn me to stay away for another day or two...she's got a summer cold now! Believe me, this is high comedy! I asked if she had enough vanilla ice cream to tide her over, and suggested that she might think about upping the chicken soup portion of her diet at the expense of the confections. She assured me that everything would turn out OK, I told her I'd phone tomorrow LEDs, but our ducks are all in a row now!

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