regional Verizon DSL outage
Friday, February 17 2012
Today we had an internet outage that lasted from 10:30am until well into the afternoon. I could immediately tell that the outage had a regional scope, as the internet was also down for all of the neighbors I checked. But just try explaining this stuff to the guy Bangalore who only knows how to read his way through a script. Trying to jump to a different part of the script, the one where terms such as "192.168.1.1" are used, is a lost cause. I tried to explain that the problem wasn't my DSL connection and that instead it was something further upstream in the plumbing of Verizon, but the guy from Bangalore wouldn't hear of it. He kept wanting me to reboot my computer and do other useless things from his flow chart. Complicating matters was the fact that I was only simulating responses to the things he was asking me to do. I wasn't rebooting my computer and I wasn't rebooting my DSL modem. In fact, I wasn't even using the DSL modem he thought I was using, and so, when he got to a part of his script asking about web pages on the modem I'd not yet seen, I couldn't simulate my responses any more. I had to hang up, set up the correct DSL modem, and then get walked through it again my some other person in Bangalore. It was only after all these steps had been gone through that it was determined that yes, I was just a small part of a regional Verizon outage.
This experience got me thinking more about the importance of an alternative connection to the internet, one that doesn't involve Verizon at all. So I started scanning for WiFi routers down in the Esopus Valley using my long-range 24dB parabolic dish, which I have mounted on an antenna rotator. Though the nearest houses in that direction are about two miles away (and mostly access the internet using Time Warner cable), at this time of year it's possible to pick up hot spots down there. These days they're usually protected by WEP encryption, and while that's not much of a barrier, I would never ever resort to aircrack-ng (and you shouldn't either!!!).
Another possible backup internet connection would be Gretchen's Android smartphone. It uses the Verizon 3G cellular network, which was unaffected by Verizon's regional DSL outage today. To get that working, though, I'm going to have to root her phone and then run a WiFi tether. That's more legal than running aircrack on some hapless router down in the valley, though Ray, who has done this, says rooting an Android voids its warranty (not that the danger of a voided warranty has ever stopped me before).
By the way, today as I waded through Verizon technical support, an idea occurred to me. Verizon should implement an algorithm in its phone-based menu system that takes into account the speed with which a customer hits phone buttons in response to computer-generated questions. Such an algorithm would take fast responses to mean that the customer is technically savvy and would route him to a higher-level of technical support, one where the customer could immediately converse about things seen at 192.168.1.1 and avoid having to reboot his computer (or saying that he had rebooted his computer).
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