When DSL and your ISP go bad…

Why has this site been unavailable for over six days? Read on for details.

Friday, May 21, 11:30PM

While on the phone with Wayne, friend and collaborator, working on improvements to my online baseball game, CSFBL (Computer Simulated Fantasy Baseball League), we noticed that the DSL line went out. Resetting the router didn’t bring things back. Since this is not very uncommon with my ISP, Intercom, we finished up our work (which was a nice improvement to the statistical normalization in the game, but I digress), expecting the line to come up shortly.

Friday, May 21, 1:30PM

I leave the house to drive up to Kingston, NY for another friend’s weekend wedding. The DSL line is still out so I ask a friend to call in a ticket to the ISP.

Sunday, May 23, 2:00PM

I get back home and the line is still out, so I try calling the ISP again. I leave a message with the answering service, who gives me a new ticket number.

Sunday, May 23, 4:30PM

Some support rep from my ISP calls and tells me they are looking into the problem. Yeah, right, and I’m an international man of intrigue.

Monday, May 24, 10:00AM

Getting more and more angry by the hour, I speak to another person at my ISP, who insists that I need to disconnect all LAN cables from the router so they can run a line test. It’s among the most ridiculous and pointless things that someone can test. Unfortunately, the only one home during the day is my dog, who lacks opposable thumbs and doesn’t know what a LAN cable is if it’s not drenched in beef gravy.

Monday, May 24, 8:00PM

After doing the pointless tests recommended and testing the cables to make sure it’s not something simple (it wasn’t), I decide to self-diagnose the problem. The first thing I notice is that the router is no longer responding to internal IP traffic. I connect to the router over a serial cable and notice a screen that says “Power-On Self Test Halted: CONFIGURE UNIT.” I’ve seen this before; it happened to me in December 2003. The router is fried; it needs to be replaced. I e-mail my ISP the info, which includes a copy of the message I sent them the last time the exact same problem occurred.

Tuesday, May 25, 10:00AM to 12:00PM

Two hours of successively aggravating phone calls to my ISP ensue. It’s clear that the problem is a fried router. Unfortunately, the ISP insists that they still must do testing to make sure the line is good. To do that they need someone to disconnect the WAN from the router. Again no one is home to fix this because unlike unemployed people, my family works (the dog is retired). They don’t understand that a bad router still needs to be replaced whether or not the line is bad. I demand someone comes to my house on Wednesday to fix the problem. They insist on running their pointless test.

Tuesday, May 25, 5:00PM

I call the ISP and tell them to run their pointless test and to get someone at my house the next day. They call back in 15 minutes and tell me that someone will be at my house between 10AM and 2PM the next day.

Wednesday, May 26, 12:00PM

A very friendly DSL tech gets to my house with two new routers. (He was the same guy who fixed the identical problem at my house six months prior.) Unfortunately, he can’t configure the new router because the ISP never sent him the configuration information and they can not give it to him over the phone because their systems are down (whatever systems they are). We finish off hoping their systems come back online in which case he will come back to try and finish the job.

Wednesday, May 26, 5:30PM

I get a call from my ISP stating that a tech will be out again on Thursday morning at 9:00AM. Their systems are back online. One vacation day wasted for nothing.

Thursday, May 27, 9:30AM

No tech yet, so I call my ISP, leaving a message saying that if the tech doesn’t show up in 15 minutes I’m leaving and from this point on they can send someone before 8AM or after 7PM because I’m not losing any more work. (Actual words used have been edited by the censors.)

Thursday, May 27, 9:45AM

Incredibly the tech shows up right before I walk out the door. Within 15 minutes the new router is configured, the line is back up. A very helpful person at DSL.Net (not my ISP, but they provision the line for my ISP, so I’m not their customer but they support me with direct indirection) even configures the router and makes sure it is operational.

Thursday, May 27, 10:30AM

We’re back online, and I start changing DNS settings to move services back to production.

The lesson? When shopping, make sure service comes before price. The best part of the story is signing up with a new provider, Transbeam, who will provision a new DSL line in the next 30-60 days. They gave me more service at the same price and with better service guarantees. They even monitor the line every 15 seconds. Had I only found them in the first place…

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