Things I learned this month:

  • The lowliest telco employee has more power and less accountability than Bill Gates.
  • A T1 connection to the Internet does not improve your typing.
  • DSL is not nearly as attractive when it is over-subscribed and 1/5 the speed of a modem.
  • Red tape knows no bounderies.

Now, the story. My DSL connection slowed to 1/5 the speed of my modem during the day, and stayed that way for two weeks. The problem was that the upstream provider had "over-subscribed" a major link. This is jargon for "lets sell the same stuff to lots of people, and let them fight over it." Because I work on the Internet and need a reliable and fast connection, I decided to upgrade to a T1. After two months of waiting for what should have been a two week delay to install my end, I began contacting everyone at the upstream provider on a daily basis to try and get things moving. The local telco finally came out and installed my end of the loop on a Thursday. It wasn't until they left that I discovered they had broken my phone line in the process.

When I called repair, they admitted it didn't work, and offered to schedule a service call for the next day. When I expressed some displeasure at being without telephone service for a full day due to their mistake, I was told that she had generously given me a very fast appointment, and that the usual wait time was 5 business days. Friday came and went, and still no sign of the repair technician. Called back Saturday from another phone, and was told that there was no entry in the computer for me. They generously offered to schedule an appointment for Sunday. About mid-day Sunday, I called to check status, and was told that someone had changed my appointment on the computer that morning to Tuesday. They re-scheduled me for early Monday, and the repairman arrived before someone could cancel the order again.

This left the other end of my T1 to worry about. Scheduling someone to finish the install at the NOC requires the combined effort of dozens of people in two states and several cities. After talking to most of them, they assigned my case to someone who was on vacation for two weeks. Finally, due to the intervention of one of the few good telco employees (who was not even responsible for my area), the installation was completed.

I fought the Bells, and the Bells one. What ever happened to the notion that service industries should provide a service, and that customers should be valued? I can tell you that assertively requesting service is a sure way to be ignored. Perhaps Lilly Tomlin on Laugh-In (one ringie-dingie) was a true prophet.


This Month's Players


Muses is graced with a serial gallery of the wonderful fractal art of BZ Leonard. In the words of a friend, "BZ is a supremely talented photog, website designer and fractal witch." Her art is a welcome addition here.


Debbie Farmer's family related column " Family Daze" also appears weekly in over a dozen U.S. newspapers and regional parenting magazines. It provides a humorous and poignant look at parenting in the '90's. She has a BA degree in English/Creative Writing from the University of CA, Santa Cruz and is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. To learn more about her, visit her homepage

The Toady, who now graces us with "Toady" can also be found at The morning Mail. Read all about Toady the Personna, and the author - Riley Smith on his web site. Sometimes tender and insightful, sometimes sarcastic and merciless, he is always entertaining.

B. Elwin Sherman writes humor because he "once jumped from an airplane over Iowa, and managed to land in what a local farmer called 'the only tree between here and Hellingone.'"

He refuses to treat his bald spot as a pharmaceutical compost, and is unrepentent about everything except that one incident at the Loveless Motel somewhere outside Kentucky. He still plays a mean blues air guitar, and has traded-in his parachute for a ball & claw bathtub and a lawn tractor.

He thanks you in advance for taking his side.

He is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and is widely published in such showcases as B. ELWIN SHERMAN, THE NET WITS, and A SITE FOR CYBER EYES.

Ken Fermoyle is author of Ken's Korner. His career as a writer, journalist and editor alone is 40-plus, never mind his age! He started as a part-timer on weekly papers while still in college and went on to a daily. An admitted car nut, he eventually became Detroit editor for Petersen's Motor Life Magazine (later combined with Motor Trend) and Auto Editor of Popular Science. After a side trip into advertising (BBDO, Kenyon & Eckhardt) during the '60s, he became a "professional camper," as editor of Wheels Afield, a camping/RV magazine, for 10 years.

His freelance credits range from Playboy to PC Laptop, McCalls & Mexhanix Illustrated to MacWeek & Microtimes. He has written some 2,500 published articles over the years.

Ken began using computers in 1980, bought his first micro (an Epson QX-10) in 1983, and began writing for computer magazines in 1984. During the 80s he was also a partner in a desktop publishing service bureau, co-host and producer of a computer talk show on an L.A. radio station, and produced several software user manuals. He currently writes the syndicated Ken's Korner computer column and is editor & publisher of Fermoyle Publications, which specializes in newsletters, editorial services & consulting and graphics design.

ChrisTuna, Managing Editor, is a former Aerospace Engineer who now works as assistant admin, customer support and webmaster for an ISP. In his copious free time, he does Web Page design, and spends time with his lovely wife, Helen.

Twiceshy, Contributing Editor, is one of the original staff of Messages from the 40s. With a degree in Horticulture and a career working with a bunch of nuts (Pecans, that is) she is also kept busy being a single mother of two. She sings soprano with the local Choral society and calls it "scream therapy." Her Tech Talk is hugely popular for its simple approach to technical topics, and she is our resident recipe collector.

Fleep, Copy Editor, is one of the principal chat hosts for Talk City's CityPub, a tavern on the green of your mind in downtown Talk City, located on LOL Way, on the ground floor of the Talk City Plaza. Off duty, he's known as Fleep, and in both cases, he's a digital dolphin. Pleased to meet ya.

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