Tuesday, 13 May 2008

The L is for Lentitude

Have you ever stopped to wonder what the initials DSL or ADSL (as we have in Spain), mean? Nope, nor had I, but it dawned on me yesterday, when after years of it sorta working (not without problems), my connection first slowed to a pace that would make a snail impatient, before disappearing up its own orifice.

Ha, I really didn't know that the "A" stood for Asymmetric either and, there being something "unbalanced" or "odd" about that is no surprise at all. :)

Anyway, so there I was cut off from my (cough) "always on" connection (again) and, as it usually does, it tries to reconnect itself. After several false starts, where it said there was no dial tone, the computer at the other end wasn't answering, etc., ad nauseum, it finally connects, v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y.

When it connected, the little balloon pops up saying at what speed.

Usually, it lies, claiming to be 1.0 Mbps, but they warned me I'd only get half (far from the exchange). So I just treat it as a starting point, halve it, take away my European shoe size and arrive at an approximation of the true speed - that has never before exceeded 400 odd.

This time, the stupid balloon said, proudly 64k.

As broadband speeds go, I don't think it gets any slower than 64 kbit/s. But this did not behave anything like any sort of broadband I know. It didn't even resemble the performance of a 64k modem. Maybe it was a Commodore 64?

Now, yes, I've been through all this before and you can not get help from Telefonica's help line until you've run the diagnostics, disconnected, restarted your computer, reconnected ... only for them to tell you what you knew all along: that the exchange / ADSL in this area is fu... well, has a problem.

No, really, if you ring them up, after you get past the 20 minute wait and all the "Press 1 to be verbally abused by machine" nonsense, if you dare to admit that you haven't done all this unnecessary stuff, they tell you, like you're a naughty child, to do as you're told and call back. And they just hang up on you.

So, like a dutiful lemming, I hit the ADSL monitor thingy to run the diagnostics. They're bloody smart, you know, these monitor thingies, 'coz something came up marked in red saying I didn't have access to the internet. No, really? Then it asks me if I want to recuperate the last working connection and, naturally, I tell it yes. Then it says it cant to that (so why ask me?), but proceeds to remove the connection settings from the computer.

This was last night. At that point I gave up, switched off, went to bed.

This morning I checked my email via a free modem dialup connection that chunters along at 36k. If the ADSL is slow, you just can't imagine how painful that is. Gmail will not even load on it, except in barebones plain HTML. It's like going so slowly, you go backwards, through time, to another century! :)

So, next we had to drag out the installation disk, the manual, the record I had sensibly made of all the settings when I did this the first time and reinstall all the software for the ADSL all over again ... grovelling around on the floor unplugging and plugging, waiting, restarting, testing things that didn't need testing. And, at the end of the day, actually, I can't really complain:

It was the first time it had ever broken the 500 kb "sound barrier"! :)

It'll never last. (And it didn't, 'coz later it was taking forever to load pages.)

Can we do without broadband? I still tend to think we're all a bunch of spoiled brats for having such "modern conveniences" as internet at all, but it's hard to do anything these days without an intenet connection. People expect you to go online to their website, to book things online, to send them stuff by email.

And with web pages three times as large and "heavy" with images, codes, etc., since 2003 and 22 times bigger than they were back in 1995, it's not luxury, it's necessity to have had one's speed and capacity increase along with it.

But then, at least I don't have Telefonica's latest "advance" in broadband, that Microsiervos report in their WTF? section. (Click here to see the evidence.)

Yes, it really does say negative -2492.62 kbps as in backwards.

Alvy says, "You can interpret this as, instead of downloading pages, you have to go up and get them!" And, surprise, surprise, "This happened to Medra on making a speed test to find out why their ADSL was going so slowly."

And there's the Telefonica Net logo on it. Priceless! :)

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