Rage, rage against the dying of the bandwidth

It's been a bad week. The Check Engine light went on in my car. I'm scheduled for painful dentistry tomorrow. But the capper was when my Windows laptop contracted a virus. This set off a cascading chain of events that had me tearing my hair out. 

The virus cropped up on Friday. Symantec could see it, but not erase it. A full scan of the machine tied it up for a whole day, but accomplished nothing. And I had things that needed to get done at work. What to do?

Luckily (I thought), I had just acquired a Sun Ray for home use. Excellent! I could use that for my Sun tasks. Hah!

I pay a fortune each month for cable Internet service, and lately it's gone to hell. Every time some kid up the block decides to download the latest X-rated epic, there's no bandwidth left for me. The 1.5 megabits per second I'm supposed to get drop to near zero. I've lived with this for a while, but the Sun Ray was the straw that broke this camel's back. A PC can tolerate intervals of low bandwidth, because it can process data on its own, and wait to transmit it across the wire. Being dependent on a server for processing, when a Sun Ray is faced with low bandwidth it just freezes. Shutting it off and trying to log in again makes it worse, because you have to wait for the cursor to start blinking again to type the next character. Works for your login ID, but not for your password, because you can't tell how many characters went through. I know this, because I tried it several hundred times before the psychotic break that left me in a dissociative state.

Fortunately, the cable company has 24/7 customer service, so there was someone there to take my screamed order to send someone to rip out the cable modem. I had to wait until Monday morning to get hold of AT&T to sign up for DSL. I'm going to pay $10 a month less for four times the nominal bandwidth. Why didn't I do this years ago? My new DSL modem arrived by UPS in one day, and the technician was in my backyard today checking the signal strength. So long, monopolistic cable company! Ain't capitalism grand?

Things are looking up on other fronts, too. I took my laptop over to the Monrovia office, along with a dozen bagels from Panera Bread as a bribe, and my buddies in the MIS department put me at the head of the queue. At last report, the virus had been cleaned out, though there was still a problem with erratic browser behavior. Sun Ray was still deadlined for most of today, but I hauled out my experimental Solaris laptop, booted Thunderbird, and found that the combination of Solaris and T-bird was very comfortable with low bandwidth. Sun has been benefiting from my services all day.

I'm resigned to my dental work in the morning, BW has been helpful in restoring my shattered equilibrium, and the DSL is supposed to be operational tomorrow. Now all I need to do is get the Check Engine light looked at.


 

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