January 25, 2007
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Verizon finally sent a service tech to check our DSL line.

He tried to tell me that our wireless network can't handle the full capacity of our DSL line. In reality, I believe the wireless has roughly 32 times the capacity — 25,000Kbs vs 768Kbs.

I've spent hours and hours, trying to get our intermittent DSL failures fixed. It would help a lot if (a) I could reach support people quickly, (b) the support people were reasonably knowledgeable, (c) the support people did not so consistently tend to assert that the problem must necessarily be in our equipment, or imaginary, or fixed.

This is a business account. We pay a substantial premium for it, because we require businesslike service. Taking the business offline and working through a single PC until we can replicate the problem is not a reasonable option.

But the time-wasting drudgery is what really annoys me. The phone trees, followed by long and tedious scripts, followed by impractical (but mandatory) diagnostic procedures. The long spells of music on hold. The remarkable badness of the music they play.

After the tech left, everything was fine for a few hours, and then the speed went through the floor again. A new tech is supposed to come today.

My hunch is that the problem is at the other end of the wire. The pattern of the problem feels a lot like the bad old days of dialup, when the ISP had a faulty modem in the rack.

Tech support is hard. I discovered an Interesting Thing yesterday from a support call. The caller was a student on deadline, and there are few animals in nature more urgent. The reporter on deadline is nothing to it.

Anyway, the caller was getting a message from Windows when he tried to install his hypertext.

16-bit MS-DOS Subsystem...The system file is not suitable for running MS-DOS and Microsoft Windows applications

We'd heard this one a few times before, we’d never been able to replicate it, and we regarded it as a real head-scratcher. It turns out the explanation is simple — you’ve got malware! Fortunately, it's easy to fix, the student was happy, and we learned something.