Archive for the ‘ISPs’ Category

Internet Speed Test | Speed Matters

And we have to pay as much or more than Cox and Charter Cable’s biggest pipe, and WAY more than Verizon ADSL (no matter what speed you get — except FiOS which will not be here till h*ll freezes over) to get that speed on Cellular Wireless and be limited monthly to a 5GB per month Cap. 😦

But at least it’s better than Dialup at 3.6kbps-4.4kbps, eh?

Which, until recently, was all there was until the Cell tower was upgraded/added around here.

Speed Test

How fast are you? Take the speed test to see how your connection measures up.

Our 2007 Speed Matters report was a great success. We received front page coverage in USA Today and in publications across the country. We helped launch statewide broadband projects in Ohio, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia. And the test results helped convice the Federal Communications Commission to change its definition of broadband so that they can collect data that is more meaningful – one of the major goals of our campaign.

Take the test today so that you are included in our 2008 report.

Learn more about the speed test.

High speed Internet brings entertainment home

High speed Internet brings entertainment home (

With the likes of NetFlix, Apple and others making movies available for download for rent and/or purchase, the digital divide seems to just be widening. I hope SpeedMatters is right … I hope this does expand what is considered true broadband … but more than that, I hope it wakes up telecoms and other broadband providers because as someone who doesn’t have a true broadband option, it’s really sad to see those of us who are still stuck in dialup and/or limited broadband abilities will not be able to take advantage of these new broadband to the computer or the TV offers.

In order to truly take advantage of these online entertainment options, consumers must be able to connect to truly high speed Internet. For many Americans, though, that’s is still not an option — yet another consequence of the digital divide.

One side benefit of this new flood of downloadable movie services is that it reemphasizes what true high speed Internet really is. As these movie services gain popularity, they may increase demand for high speed Internet and spur more extensive buildout. That way, entertainment uses of high speed Internet may mean that other important services — such as telemedicine, distance learning programs, and emergency communications — become available to more Americans.

One can only hope. I can’t even think about this option at home! I still have trouble bringing in many webpages!

Speed DOES MATTER on the Internet!

If you spend time on dialup versus broadband (even at the entry level for throughput and bandwidth limitations that many providers in this country pass off for broadband), you realize very quickly that you forgot how slow it was and you are not going back there!

Well, for many of us in this once great nation, we have no choice but to daily use dialup, or have to spend hundreds of dollars per month on fractional T1s, or full T1s if fractional isn’t available, or two phone lines to the tune of believe it or not with only extended calling (and you really need extended calling to get an ISP that has even a semblance of reasonable rates) which runs about $45-$46/mo PER LINE (because there are no breaks on a second line), just to get a MAXIMUM of 3.6-4.4K+3.6-4.4K or 11.2K analog, not digital.

But wait there’s more. Then you have to pay an ISP for dual line dialup! In our area, it would put us at about $100 a month for 11.2K of analog dialup bandwidth.

This is downright idiotic. Every day you hear about another area that’s already bursting with broadband, getting even more bandwidth down the pike!!! And here we sit on dialup! Still getting the same stupid rhetoric from Verizon, “Maybe in a year or two.” At that rate, after 8-9 yrs of asking, we should be on FiOS by now, right! NOPE!

Still on dialup.

And we are trying to run a home-based business this way believe it or not!

I have talked to, and after a very nice lady said she would have someone come out for a look see and then they would get back to me, I am still waiting to hear back … it’s been at least 2 months since she said they would call back. I guess I will have to call them back. is only 5-6 miles down the road, Verizon about 4 miles down the road, and from what I understand brought fiber to within 3 miles of here and turned the corner to to the schools.

Broadband is so close you can almost taste it … but they won’t come into our small town.

According to Sen. Joe Biden, although we’ve led the world in educational standards historically, in the last 20 years, the rest of the world has caught up with the U.S. with “warp speed. Some of them have gone beyond us.”

That’s why Sen. Joe Biden’s talk that I found on SpeedMatters really struck a chord with me. I am so tired of not having broadband at our home. Here’s a link to the Youtube video of Sen. Biden’s talk.

EDIT: Of course you’d need broadband to take advantage of seeing the YouTube video … unfortunately!

After 8 years, still no Verizon DSL

Well, we just paid our Verizon phone bill, and as usual, I decided to check yet again to see if there is any change in DSL Broadband availability….you guessed it, NOPE! Still nothing after 8 years of checking and calling.

I posted our experience in this posting called “Rural America roadkill on the information superhighway” since we moved to this little town of Dendron in Virginia previously. Just letting everyone know that nothing has changed.

It’s as bad as the Ferry situation here. I called the free ferry number for VDOT’s Jamestown/Scotland Ferry, and left a message a few weeks ago, and they called back which was greatly appreciated. They said that even talks of a bridge to replace the ferry system between Jamestown and Scotland Wharf (which connects Surry County and the Williamsburg VA area where many Surry County residents work, BTW), are not even taking place any longer. It could be 25 years he said before there will be a bridge.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Dendron! But there is technology all around us … CLOSE! Yet no joy still for broadband access in Dendron! Sigh… This really sucks!

Rural America roadkill on the information superhighway

Dendron, Virginia appears to be one of the unsung parts of Verizon’s Rural America roadkill on the information superhighway.

For the last eight years, I have been calling and/or checking frequently to see when Dendron, Virginia will be welcomed by Verizon into their current broadband world — to no avail.

In the last few months, we tried to work up a deal with ATT/Alliance Data Com to maybe get some form of broadband in Dendron, Virginia. Jim Mathis was great and really tried to help. He was able to get a very good deal on a T1 to bring into Dendron, Virginia, but JimmyLee and I just could not afford to pay for it alone. He also checked DSL availability, but Verizon has not updated the CO (Central Office) in our area.

Years ago, Verizon took over GTE Land (my name for our dead zone area that used to be owned by GTE Phone service), but kept the old GTE Land customers separate from the rest of their Verizon service, presumably so they wouldn’t have to count our area as being left in the dirt with only dialup being available.

One day a couple years ago, I stopped to talk to the Verizon technician that was at the CO in our area and asked when we would be getting DSL/broadband in our area. He said dialup isn’t so bad. Right! Let him live with it day in and day out! Butthead! Sure it’s better than nothing, but so are alot of distasteful things in life.

Verizon also has a very bad policy in this area, even if you want to get two phone lines and aggregate them for dialup data to get 128kpbs, it’s not doable. You pay the same price or more for that second line! I called and that’s what they told me! Plus, you still have to pay for your dual-line ISP (Internet Service Provider) as well! That would put us at over $100/mo for less than ISDN since it would be analog and not digital.

ISDN is also out of sight due to the various ongoing charges that would make it even more expensive than the dual phone lines plus Internet access charges!

I have talked about this before, but Dendron is in a very unique dead zone!

Rt 31 that goes through the heart of Dendron also goes between Rt 10 in Surry and Rt 460 in Wakefield. Cox Cable a few years back brought Cable broadband to the Surry Schools, which turns the corner on Rt 31 just about 3 miles shy of Dendron.

In Wakefield/Sussex County, Charter Cable has been there for several years, just 6 miles away, and more recently Verizon brought DSL to Wakefield and backed it down Rt 31 to just about 3-4 miles down Rt 31 away from Dendron.

This effectively creates a dead zone out of Dendron. Dendron is the last town in Surry County off Rt 31 just before it hits Sussex County with three broadband carriers coming within 3-6 miles of Dendron and no closer! They are so close you can almost taste it! But no joy!

AlterNet‘s Steve Early has an article that Tweeny/Kurt sent me entitied Rural America Is Being Left off the Information Superhighway, which shows another side of Verizon’s geed — where they are trying to sell off small (unprofitable? or maintenance intensive?) areas to — not other large broadband carriers who might be able to help — but to small companies (in New England’s case noted in the article, FairPoint Communications) that has even less money due to their small size to upgrade/maintain the areas than Verizon has. All for a tax break!

At the end of the article, AlterNet reports,

CWA has launched a website,, which publicizes telecom reform initiatives around the country and invites users to take a “speed test” — so they can check their own connections against world standards for high-speed access.

Using creative online networking, aggressive legal intervention in state regulatory proceedings, alliances with nonlabor groups and a legislative push for a broadband build-out that would benefit all Americans, telephone unionists hope to thwart the Verizon strategy, which amounts to “dump the lines, dump the customers,” according to CWA president Larry Cohen.

In Virginia, Cohen notes, Verizon just lost a bid to eliminate all state regulatory oversight over the sale of local telephone lines — thanks to union lobbying and a gubernatorial veto. In northern New England, where the tradition of pro-consumer regulation is much stronger, state governments need to go even further — and veto any sale.

Very interesting, huh?

I thought it was pretty funny when I went to website noted above as the page takes forever to load on dialup! Guess they just want to show that speed does in fact matter — as those of us on dialup certainly know.

It’s pretty sad when other countries will go the extra mile to get some sort of broadband – in some cases the fastest broadband available – for their countries’ citizens, and the US sits on its ‘collective’ hands while Rural America becomes roadkill on the information superhighway.

Verizon it appears is giving Capitalism a bad name!

But it seems that all this does nothing to help further our cause for broadband here in Dendron which is just a tiny little town of less than 400 souls at the edge of the world, errr, Surry County, Virginia. Where, even Surry County’s initiative to help bring Wireless to Surry County (government funded) will not be available for some time as they are only in the discovery/planning stages from what I understand.

And the ONLY other alternative is Satellite! Which for those of us who do real time streaming and chatting — ON DIALUP mind you — and FTP for websites we work on, would not be a real option due to the well-known lag at the tune of $70/mo. for that half baked option.

So we sit here with only dialup at home and wait and wait for pages and email to come in — in frustration (and is still loading!!) … sigh…


Want an iPhone? Beware the iHandcuffs

OK, I love the look, technology and appeal of the iPhone and other Mac products quite a little bit! Especially since I now have a Mac Mini to play with.

I also think that Steve Jobs is a great showman and walking advertisement for all things Apple. He even had me wanting an iPhone even though I knew darn well I didn’t want Cingular nor will I ever deal with DRM!

Even on my Mac Mini, my library is from CDs and eMusic in MP3 format and not held within the iTunes Library itself but ‘linked’ to the iTunes Player from another location on the Mac Mini. And I do not intend to buy songs from iTunes. So why would I even want an iPhone!?!

Well, it’s the coolest thing since sliced bread when it comes to innovation on a cellphone.

Even so, Randall Stross at the New York Times makes a compelling argument about the iHandcuffs.

I buy my digital downloads from eMusic in unemcumbered MP3 format. As the article points out, eMusic is the Number 2 online music retailer at 1 Million downloads, pretty impressive even though iTunes Music store just celebrated it’s 2 Billionth download recently which is extremely impressive for locked up DRM’d music that won’t play on ANY player but the iPod in its DRM’d state. If you want to use it anywhere else, you have to burn it to a CD then rip and re-encode it in MP3 format (at a loss in quality btw, albeit small by some standards).

The article also notes that artists represented by the Nettwerk Music Group such as Barenaked Ladies, Sarah McLachlan and Avril Lavigne, sell their music at eMusic unemcumbered by DRM, but iTunes Music Store still encumbers them with their DRM (copy protection) and see no need to change the way they do things. And why not, it keeps folks buying from them for their music needs – for both hardware and software. Duh?!

And as both Randall Stross and Jack Schofield at the Guardian Unlimited (UK) so aptly point out, it comes chock full of DRM! From Jack Schofield’s article:

The Boing Boing blog also has a plug, which says: “Randall Stross has a great op-ed in today’s New York Times about how Apple’s iPhone comes chock-full of DRM that will restrict your freedom and your consumer choice.”

It’s ironic that a company whose name is synonymous with “Switch” has built its entire product strategy around lock-in. The iTunes/iPhone/iPod combo is a roach-motel: customers check in, but they can’t check out.

It’s not clear why this is ironic since it has been a standard part of Apple’s Orwellian strategy since at least the 1984 Superbowl advert. But Boing Boing’s Cory Doctorow has only recently seen the light….

Now I already have Ubuntu and I love it! But I also have a Mac Mini that I love as well. But just like in Windows, I don’t really make use of any DRM’d music to hamper my enjoyment of, or limit use of my music either. I can play my music on any device or computer I own.

Well, I almost got sucked in … thank you Randall Stross, Jack Schofield and as always Cory Doctorow! Much appreciated. I am over it now. 😉

Ted Kennedy talks about the importance of Network Neutrality

Sen. Ted Kennedy has posted a very good video on Network Neutrality on and you can find the video here:

Sen. Ted Kennedy supports Net Neutrality

He may be using this as a forum for re-election, but it’s a good piece and well worth viewing.

Network Neutrality is a very important thing to ensure our freedoms. Without Network Neutrality corporations who hold the purse strings would have control of what you see, hear or say. This would be totally unacceptable in any society based on freedom and liberty, particularly the United States where these freedoms and liberties are spelled out specifically in the documents of freedom for our country, The Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

On the left side of this blog, in the navigation area, there is an image that links to SaveTheInternet to get more information on what’s needed to keep the Internet free.

Even dead people can’t escape AOL

AOL … some people swear by it and some people swear at it.

With all the new PR articles being posted about AOL now giving their software with communications tools, etc. away to broadband users, and cutting workforce, etc, you really have to think long and hard about whether you would want to deal with AOL. You might want to look at some of the history and whether folks have had trouble with it in the past.

Granted they have a huge base of users, but it is amazing. There have been so many people who have had major trouble simply trying to cancel their AOL account! There is no call for this. This is just bad business practice.

St. Louis Post Online reports Even dead people can’t escape AOL and you really have to read it and watch the video at uTube to really appreciate the difficulty that many users have had. Or if you think it’s just these few people who have had trouble, check out a Google search on help cancel AOL — 3,420,000 results (as of today)!

AOL claims it’s just some ‘bad apples’ who are like that. Really? After all these years, they still have these bad apples working there? This has been basically going on since the early ’90s when they first started AOL. That’s how far back it’s been that folks have been talking about the difficulty in canceling an AOL account.

Maybe they should rethink who they hire? Maybe they should better train their minions to do a better job at ‘customer service?’

Maybe they need to wake up and smell what they are shoveling and apply a little bit of the “Golden Rule” — the REAL “Golden Rule:”

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”


“Do unto others before they can do it to you.” or “Them with the gold make the rules.”

If you are in AOHell and trying to get out, I would suggest that you just FAX them! Why bother with ‘bad apples’ by calling them? Just check out the number of references at Google on how to cancel AOL … places listed on the web to point people in the right direction on how to FAX them to cancel, or provide all possible means of canceling … because many people have just plain had enough!

And if you have tried in the past to cancel by phone, just remember, you are not alone! MANY others have gone before you and were confronted with this same type of bad ‘customer service.’

Don’t give yourself a migraine over it, just FAX them (see bold area below for how to cancel by FAX):

America Online (AOL)

You may cancel your AOL account using any one of the following methods. Your cancellation request will be effective within 72 hours of receipt. AOL will send you written confirmation. You will not be liable for any additional membership fees after cancellation (although you will be responsible for any other charges you may incur should you access the account prior to account deactivation.) If you cancel near the end of your billing period, you may be inadvertently charged for the next month’s fee. In that event, contact AOL Billing at 1-888-265-8003 to have the charges reversed. No other refunds will be provided, and AOL reserves the right to collect fees, surcharges or costs incurred before your cancellation takes effect. There are three ways you can cancel your AOL account:

To cancel by phone, just call their Member Services Representatives at 1-800-827-6364 or 1-888-265-8008.
To cancel by mail, send your request to:

America Online
P.O. Box 1600
Ogden, UT 84401

To cancel by fax, fax your request to 1-801-622-7969.

Be sure to include with your cancellation request, your full name, address, phone number, and America Online master screen name (the primary user name on your account). If you choose to write or fax us, please include the nature of your request and your full name, phone number and address. Additionally, for account security purposes, please provide ONE of the following:

the primary Billing Contact’s AOL screen name or
the last four digits of the current payment method used for this account (for your security, only the last four digits please) or the answer to your Privacy Question (if you have already established a Privacy Question and Answer).

Don’t forget that if you cancel near the end of your billing period, you will likely get one more month’s bill even though it is actually already canceled. That’s the experience I have seen. It’s not an overnight procedure no matter how you do it. But if you continue to see your credit card getting nailed after another month’s time, send them your cancellation request with the above information as a Certified Letter — with Return Receipt. That way you will know when they got it and how long it takes to process your request.

Only a few bad apples do this according to AOL in the article listed at the STLtoday at the top of this post. LOL! Well, all I can say is, it is very unfortunate that the ‘bad apples’ seem to have ruined the whole bushel.

And don’t even get me started on AOL and GoodMail!

But since you asked. 😉 Isn’t it funny that is totally gone now. Blank pages for all the pages including the blog.

I am not kidding.

Check out, oops! Actually there is nothing there now! but it’s still in Google’s cache (at least today!). Very interesting … every single page that was on DearAOL is now a blank page, however, a search on Google still shows all the links to pages that used to be there — just click on the cache pages for the links (at least as of today). Even the DearAOL blog is gone now. was still there on July 8, 2006 when Larry Seltzer posted that DearAOL needs GoodMail LOL!

More on that controversey here.

And here’s some info from Larry Seltzer at eWeek on maybe why is gone. And on the AOL/GoodMail controversy.

And another absolutely obnoxious thing that AOL does is ‘offer’ to install Pure Network – Port Magic. Like any new user would even know the pitfalls of installing that crap! The number of times where this piece of crapware screwed over the TCP/IP stack and messed with the router software, and prevented access to the Internet UNLESS you were logged into AOL’s bohemoth software. When an AOL user gets offered this green supposedly ‘lucky’ shamrock, just say NO! 😉 If you accidentally installed it, and wish you never did:

First download a program to repair your Winsock Connection (just in case — don’t use it unless you lose Internet connectivity after uninstalling Port Magic and rebooting):

Repairs Winsock 2 settings:
WinsockFix.exe (by: Option^Explicit) [site1] [site2]
How to Reset Internet Protocol (TCP/IP) in Windows XP or better yet, just get WinsockXPFix.exe*

* works really well for XP in most cases

After downloading your winsock fix program:

Then use Add and Remove Programs (Start, Control Panel, Add and Remove Programs), to get rid of (uninstall) PureNetworks Port Magic.

NOTE: you may even have to uninstall and reinstall your software firewall

Be sure to reboot after uninstalling.

And I am sure I don’t even have to mention the nightmare of uninstalling AOL software, particularly if it’s gone bad along the way due to Port Magic and/or malware, or just ‘cuz. If you have trouble uninstalling some of the AOL software and tools, you might try using MR Tech AOL Cleaner 1.1.

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