Verizon DSL has finally fixed its slowdown issue

We have working Internet. Finally. On Friday, someone from Verizon must have finally fixed the issue at the central office. When we got home from work Friday evening, I did a speed test, and it was in the high 6 Mbps range, an acceptable rate for a DSL connection. I streamed a movie on the living room TV, and there was no buffering. We watched programs on Hulu Plus for a good amount of time yesterday and the episodes loaded fast and once they began, there was no buffering.

Exactly like it should be.

I don’t understand why Verizon kept jerking us around. First they said our modem was bad. I went out and bought a Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600, and swapped it out with my old one. Same thing. They then said the problem was with their central office, where the copper phone line from our house connects to the Internet. They said they would have a tech go out last Monday to fix it.

Monday rolled around and instead of the tech going to the central office, they came to our house when we were not home and said everything checked out OK.

Everything was not OK. We got home Monday, and it was just as bad as it was before.

We contacted Verizon tech support again. The tech support person in India said the reason our Internet was so slow was because we were using a third-party modem, one not from Verizon. I explained I purchased the Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600 because they said our original modem was bad. I specifically asked if I could use a third-party modem. The person from Verizon said I could.

I offered to reconnect the original modem if the new modem was the problem. The guy in India told me that the original modem was probably bad, but the current slow down issue was caused by a modem that didn’t come from them.

It was kind of funny that the symptoms were exactly the same.

The Verizon agent said he was sending out a new modem free of charge, and he promised, guaranteed even, that it would fix our problem. Who does that? I do telephone tech support for a living, and I would never promise or guarantee something is going to solve an issue. There are just too many variables in place.

You never know something is going to fix a problem until you do it, and the problem is gone.

Sometimes one problem is masking another problem. You can fix one problem, only to discover two other problems that you could not detect because of the original problem.

The new modem arrived, and surprise, surprise, the problem was still there.

I connected the Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600 back up. Since I paid $100 for it, I wanted to actually use it. Instead of contacting Verizon tech support in India again, we made plans for going to Antietam Cable on Saturday to sign up for cable Internet. I didn’t want to, but I felt like we had no choice.

Then, on Friday, our Internet began working. Our trip to Antietam Cable had been averted, at least temporarily.

The reason I don’t want to go with Antietam Cable is because it would mean disconnecting Dish Network from the cable drop in the computer room and using it for the internet. I’d rather not do that. We have a TV mounted on the wall above the treadmill that we can watch while getting our steps in.

Not being able to watch TV while you exercise sounds like a living hell.

If I were starting from scratch, if I didn’t have the Internet and had to choose between Verizon DSL and something else, I would go with something else. The only thing worse than having to talk to someone in India when something you’re paying for isn’t working correctly is when the person in India doesn’t know what they’re talking about. Actually, there are worse things than having to deal with incompetent tech support in the land of spices and gods with many arms, having full-blown AIDS or being forced to go to a Jimmy Buffet concert readily come to mind, but why subject yourself to unpleasant things if you don’t have to?

Life is a series of choices. Choose smartly, don’t choose Verizon DSL.

Verizon DSL: Life in the slow lane

About a week ago, my wife Sheri and I noticed a problem streaming to the living room TV. For some reason, we couldn’t watch Amazon, Hulu, HBO Go, or even YouTube using our Roku device without constant buffering. We have the Roku connected to the Internet via a wireless connection to our router. To help rule out the wi-fi as the problem, I tried watching a movie on my computer on the living room TV with Plex. It didn’t buffer one single time. If it were the wi-fi connection, I would expect to see buffering.

I then connected a CAT-5 cable from the router to the Roku in the living room and tried watching something on Hulu. It continually buffered, just like it did with the wi-fi.

That made me think the problem was with the Internet connection. We have DSL through Verizon. It’s supposed to have download speeds of anywhere from 3.1 to 7 Mbps. At least that’s what we’re paying for. To be honest, I don’t know what it was when everything was working. I never had a reason to go test it. When I went to Ookl Speed Test, it showed I was getting less than 1.5 Mbps. In fact, the later in the day, the slower the connection. In the evening, it was showing less than 1 Mbps.

I needed to contact Verison. I was dreading it. I’ve talked to them before, and I remember spending hours and hours on the phone talking to a guy in India named “Bob” who was obviously working from a script. It was not only frustrating, I never got the issue resolved.

When I went to the Verizon website to get their phone number, I noticed they now have the option of speaking to support through chat. I jumped on that, thinking it would be better than actually talking to someone.

I was right, it was better than talking to someone. At the end of the chat, after answering questions and the person from Verizon running tests, I was told my router was bad. They said it was old and had “lived out its usefulness.” I was still using the freebie Westell 7500 that I was given when I first signed up for Verizon DSL over three years ago, so this sounded more or less legit. The person told me they could sell me a new router for $29.99. I asked if I could get my own and use it with Verizon. They said I could, but they would not be able to provide expert support on 3rd party routers.

I had a good laugh over that.

I checked out Best Buy’s website and saw that they had DSL routers in stock at the Hagerstown store. I focused on a Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600 DSL Router for $99.99. I looked at Amazon for the same model, and it was $15 more than Best Buy. I would have paid the higher price for the pleasure of not having to deal with Best Buy, but I didn’t want to wait two days to get it.

Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600
Netgear Dual Band Wireless N600
I paid for it online and got an email telling me it was ready to be picked up. We went to Best Buy, got it, and took it home. Then, when I began opening it, I noticed it wasn’t the router I needed. It was the same router, but this one was for cable, not DSL. I looked at my paperwork thinking I ordered the wrong one. No, I ordered the right one, they just gave me the wrong model.

We had to go back to Best Buy to exchange it. When we went to the return desk and explained we were given the wrong one, the Best Buy employee began looking on his computer to try to find the one I paid for. Sheri went to the back of the store where the routers are kept and grabbed the right one. The employee was trying to tell me that they didn’t have the actual model I paid for while Sheri was standing there holding the right model in her hand. I guess the Best Buy inventory computer showed they were out of stock because it thought I had already bought their last one.

We exchanged the routers and left Best Buy. It wasn’t until we were in the parking lot that I realized that the employee never apologized for the mix-up. Worse, I even said, “Thank you” at the end of our exchange and he never even reciprocated. I think he mumbled “OK” or something.

Why did I thank him? He didn’t thank me. He didn’t express even the slightest bit of sympathy for having to come back in and get what I paid for. I wish I could resind my thank you.

We got home from our second trip to Best Buy, and I installed the new router. Same thing. Our Internet connection was still slow. I had just spent $100 on a new fancy router and the download speed was hovering at around 1.3 Mbps.

What’s worse than having to go to Best Buy twice in the same day? Contacting Verizon support twice in the same day. This time, Sheri contacted them on chat. The person she got was a lot more knowledgeable then the person I had. The Verizon support rep she got even went into her computer remotely to look at the router settings. The person I chatted with didn’t even offer to do that.

The Verizon support rep decided the problem was at the Verizon central office. They opened a ticket with their tier-two support, and we are supposed to have a resolution by tomorrow night.

I checked our Internet speed this morning, and it shows we are downloading at 5.6 Mbps. That’s around where it was at yesterday at this time, with the old router. If the problem continues in its normal pattern, the download speed will drop as the day goes on.

Ahmed Mohamed, builder of a bad clock

Ahmed Mohamed, a 14-year-old Texas high school student, caused a lot of unnecessary drama this week when he brought an improvised clock to school. He wanted to show his engineering teacher what he built. It wasn’t an assigned project for school. It was just something the young Mr. Mohamed whipped up at home for the fun of it.

It’s a clock built into a metal briefcase. It looks more like an improvised explosive device than it does an improvised clock. It just does.

From the New York Times:

He said he took it to school on Monday to show an engineering teacher, who said it was nice but then told him he should not show the invention to other teachers. Later, Ahmed’s clock beeped during an English class, and after he had revealed the device to the teacher, school officials notified the police, and Ahmed was interrogated by officers.

Ahmed Mohamed
Ahmed Mohamed

The invention? it’s a crudely built digital alarm clock put together with off-the-shelf parts. In retrospect, the engineering teacher should have kept the device and arranged to return it to the kid after school. At the very least, he should have removed the power source so it wouldn’t be able to start beeping in English class. Maybe the engineering teacher didn’t know how to do that. He did tell the kid the clock was nice.

Really? What’s so nice about it?

As far as clocks go, it looks awful. It’s big, bulky, and looks to have a lot of wasted space. Plus, unless the kid wanted it to begin beeping in English class, it doesn’t even work correctly. Telling the kid that this contraption was nice is equivalent to awarding every child a participation trophy.

On social media, people are tripping all over themselves in support of Ahmed Mohamed and his special clock. They’re posting #IStandWithAhmed on Twitter. I have to wonder, how many of them who are standing with Ahmed would feel the same way if the first time they saw this device was on an airplane at 35,000 feet? I’m guessing not many.

My question is purely rhetorical. There’s no way this “clock” would be allowed on an airplane.

The most annoying thing I’ve seen on Twitter has got to be the following:

It’s annoying because it’s so dishonest. The clocks they’re holding in the photo look nothing at all like the improvised clock Ahmed Mohamed brought to school. Also, would it have killed them to synchronize the clocks before posing for the picture?

I don’t think it would.