The Former and the Dell

The Trusty

Assuming no slip between UPS and lip, the new computer arrives today (we need to name it, if anyone has inspirations). My plan was to pop the hard drive out of Old Guard, slave it to the new box, and have at it, with a few tinker installations for software that needs to see and be seen in the registry. Simple and easy, in and out. Right?

It’s been a while since I dealt with the phone company. I forgot about the phone company.

Currently I run an ISDN line, which is to residential telephone service what 8-track tapes are to high fidelity recordings. About a year ago I decided to get DSL service, and was quickly shot down by the very people at Verizon who sold me my ISDN years and years ago. I don’t recall the feature “TOTALLY INCOMPATIBLE with ALL OTHER TECHNOLOGIES designed or to be designed by humans, EVER!” being part of the advertising package, but this aspect of the system, along with “NOT VERY FAST AT ALL, compared to other modern TOTALLY INCOMPATIBLE TECHNOLOGIES!” has been central to my ISDN experience.

Last time I tried to get DSL the good people at Verizon told me that to qualify for my free installation I would have to put a new line into the house, which is the kind of huckstering (FREE installation!!! Only $250 in fees!!!) that oughta get a company shut down. Let’s remember that my ISDN is a premium service that I actually pay for, every single month. Pay to get in and pay to get out.

This is kind of like a record company threatening to send you a Mariah Carey CD, asking for a down payment to ensure that you don’t receive this or any future Mariah Carey CD’s, and then assessing a “tray removal service charge” to make sure that a random Mariah Carey CD will not stay stuck in your CD player, which hardly ever happens but, you know, sometimes you just want to be certain. And to really be sure, it’d just be best to buy a new CD player that has never been anywhere near a Mariah Carey CD, that’s the safest solution. And we just happen to have one right here which you can buy to replace your current one which, if you’ve been following carefully, hasn’t ever actually had a Mariah Carey CD in it. Probably.

At least, mine hasn’t. I don’t know about yours. But mine is broken anyway, so I suppose the point is all moo.

I ordered DSL from the Verizon site last week — there isn’t much else you can do on that web site, the minute you enter your area code it starts bouncing around crowing “You’re approved! You’re approved! Yay! You can get DSL at home! (small print: unless you can’t, in which case buzz off)” — and figured maybe no one would notice and they’d just turn it on regardless. No such luck. By email a few days later:

We’re sorry! DSL is not available.

Dear Sir or Madam:

Thank you for requesting DSL service from Verizon Online. We’re
sorry, but after completing a test of your phone line we found that
we were unable to provide DSL service at your location. However, the
availability of DSL service is increasing all the time and we may be
able to provide you service at some point in the future.

DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) service runs on analog phone lines, also known as What You Already Have In Your House. ISDN, which stands for Incompatible Slower Dated Not-Very-Fast service, uses fiberoptic cable, also known as Stuff We Might Someday Use For All Wiring But Not Yet. So when they test my line for an analog signature, of course they get the digital response, since it’s pretending to be on fiberoptic cable. Which it isn’t. Fiberoptic cable is digital and made of plastic and transmits pulses of light; copper cable is analog and metal and runs with electrics. I say, if you’re going to insist that I’ve got a fiberoptic line running into my house when we both know I don’t, then send someone down here to lick it.

Told you it was copper.

Coffee in hand, I settled in for a long haul with the phone. I tried the number that came in the No DSL For You! email and slung around some light tech terms, which pissed the first guy off and got me transferred someplace useless. The jargon totally hit home with the woman who got me on my second call; she knew what I was talking about in the exact same kinda-sorta way that I knew what I was talking about. I said “line-of-sight to the PBX box” and she said “copper wire” and we were friends for life.

This one knew a techie in the DSL department and sent me through to her, and then the techie knew just the right guy in the ISDN department, and then things got really good. He said “POTS line” and we all went “Ooooo,” and then the three of us got down to business, the upshot of which, if I understood it correctly, is that they will cancel my ISDN service on June 3rd and then in all likelihood I will never have another working telephone as long as I live. When the new Dell arrives, which it has not yet done, I’ll set it up next to the old Dell. And hope that someday it will dance along the high-speed wires. I’m told it’s very pretty. It has a colored light on the front. I’ll be able to look at it, at least.

Plus it’s cold and rainy, did I mention that?

About Linus

The man behind the curtain. But couldn't we get a nicer curtain?
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