New York Times Sneeze-Fest

I’m definitely allergic to the New York Times. Anytime I read it (and some magazines) I sneeze at least once per page. The ink? Dust from the paper? Is it some sort of over-saturation allergy from spending my early years at a couple daily newspapers? Like doctors and nurses getting allergic to latex gloves?

Apparently, according to this discussion between allergy sufferers, it could be both combined in one.

The flakiest utility

For the past few months the household’s Internet connection has been very undependable, dropping for hours at time and necessitating a trip upstairs to the Westell DSL modem, which gets unplugged, recycled, and then spazzes for the rest of the day, gaining and losing its connection every few minutes.

The hysterics this engenders is amazing. The gamers upstairs can’t play Xbox Live and shoot virtual foes in Halo or Call of Duty. My wife can’t check her email from her downstairs desk, and me, I just use my EVDO connection to bypass the whole mess and ignore the howls for a better internet connection.

Being the household’s IT manager is the fact of my weekends and sorting out a bad Internet connection is always a predictable hell of Control Panel, Network Settings, 192.168.1.1 trips to the Westell’s admin console, and eventually, a long phone call with Verizon support.

If any other utility was as freaky — say if the electricity browned out a few hours every evening, or the satellite TV went snowy — there would be hell to pay, and last night, the household finally mutinied on me and demanded a “Better Internet.”

So I got on the phone with Verizon and spent 90 minutes as they ran diagnostics and I read back screens and did what they told me too. I stated, right from the beginning, that I suspected the modem was due to be replaced or upgraded, but of course they had to walk me through the scripts: “Are you sure it is plugged in? Are you using the Verizon supplied cable? Are there any other devices connection to the wall jack? Is there a 2.4 ghz wireless phone in the house. Are you running Windows XP? Is there a firewall active?”

The upshot was the modem is grabbing “too high of an internet address” — something in the 150 range — and I indeed need to buy a new modem.

All in all, it wasn’t a bad phone experience — they were able to run remote diagnostics on my line and device and spare me the usual hell of trying to play human modem between what was on my screen and their ears, and I never had to crawl under the desk, phone wedged between shoulder and ear, feeling blindly for ports and reset buttons.

Now, if only FIOS would come to town …. Or, if I could get Lenovo to foot the tab for a T1 to the house. Connectivity on Cape Cod is getting better. Ten years ago I had the first ISDN line installed on the Cape and drove the AT&T technicians insane.  That went away when Comcast offered cable modem connectivity, and then Comcast went away when the news that the new switch up the street by the Ropes Field had brought DSL within installation distance.

I want more. I want more speed, more stability, and a happy household of fully wired spouse and offspring so I can regain my precious downtime and not worry about viruses, low ink cartridges, and printers that won’t network.