…by Anura Guruge
TDS, on 4:58 pm (Eastern) on Tuesday, redeemed themselves, albeit after my 3rd call to them that day wanting to know why I was still waiting for a technician when I was promised one, the night before, by noon. Tim Barker, their local Internet guru, who I had met a year ago when he came to change my static IP-address, made an after hours call (at zero cost to me) at 6:30 pm. Tim is good. Time trouble shot the whole problem all the way from the external, on the garage wall, Fiber router all the way to my PC. Looks like it is my 5-year old, D-Link DIR-655 router. Usually I am beyond skeptical when people tell me that it is a router problem. This time it looked pretty conclusive though I am still not 100% convinced, especially after a little bird told me that TDS had had some major issues with their Fiber Internet service (but that I should have experienced those prior to last week).
Tim likes Linksys, though I have used D-Link wireless routers since 2002. I acquiesced to him, but made sure I got one of their higher end products (especially as I had a $20 off coupon) because I do know folks have had issues with the lower end Linksys products. Time was waxing lyrical about Cisco until I showed him my old Cisco employee badge from 1996! I know Cisco. Cisco’s irrepressible Executive VP of Marketing, in the mid-1990s, the man that put Cisco on the map (so to speak), Don Listwin wrote the Foreword for my third book. [I met Don, in a bar in D.C. during one of those gala, mid-1990s networking shows. I dropped a full glass of beer on his lap even before I shook his hand. He liked me ever since and jumped at the chance of writing the Forword when everybody said “Don’s too busy and important to waste time writing a blurb for you“!)
I have a habit of being able to think while I am asleep. I had trained myself to do that over 30 years. When I woke up the next day, my brain told me: ‘hey, look at getting a 2nd line so that YOU don’t have to EVER contend with router problems again’. Wow. I am a confirmed bandwidth junkie — really my only addiction. You know that old adage: ‘you can never be too rich or too thin‘. Well never having been even marginally rich I can’t attest to the first part, but I do know that you can be too thin — because I was, in 1983, when I, through dieting and exercise, reduced my weight from 210 to 135 pounds. I was skin and bones and looked like a skeleton with a translucent skin. But, I definitely stand by this adage: ‘I can never have enough bandwidth‘. This is not the first time I have opted to get two lines to the house. Many of you are probably too young to even have heard of ISDN, the broadband solution of the 1990s. It was incredibly, for the time, fast at 64Kbps. Yes, that was a ‘K’, for Kilo (meaning thousand), as opposed to today’s ‘M’, for Mega (meaning million). To get that in rural NH, Meredith to be precise, was brilliant. I knew I wanted more. I was, of course, in the networking field. Looked around and found what was called an ‘aggregating router’ — you could plug in 2 ISDN lines to it and get 128Kbps to the house. That is what I did.
I had thought about getting another aggregating router. But, opted for a different route. My main PC is getting plugged in directly into the wall, sans a router. So now I should get ALL of the download and upload bandwidth that TDS says I am getting. Yes, I will monitor it.
Putting the Linksys router on the other TDS broadband line. That will be mainly for Wi-Fi. I don’t use Wi-Fi. So that line and its bandwidth will be Deanna and the kids — and very occasionally for one of my backup machines and for Teischan’s Linux machine (which she now rarely uses after getting a Google Nexus 7 pad).
I will keep you posted on my TDS Internet bandwidth saga. Installation of the 2nd line and the switch-over is next week. Since I use a static-IP address they will have to configure that on my PC. I have a feeling we will end up getting a static IP on the second line too.
All these changes got me thinking about cables. Ethernet LAN cables can get damaged. I have run into that. Though I don’t totally buy into the need of gold, jumbo cables for each and every application, after 30 years in networking I do know that there is a breakeven point in terms of a cable’s quality and its capacity (errors being the biggest culprit, slowing you down rather than crippling you). So I looked around for some new cables. I am not a cable junkie. Cables don’t excite me — other than the OLD, giant, 64 pin, bus-and-tag cables. That was my specialty; bus-and-tag cables. One of my longest standing clients was BusTech — where the ‘Bus’ referred to those bus-and-tag cables (from the 1960s)!
Wow, we now have Category 6 (Cat 6) cables for 100Gbps applications. Cat 5 is the standard for 10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet. They have a Cat 5e for 1G. Cat 6, which is backward compatible with 5, is not expensive ONLINE. Plus they come in cool, bright colors like orange, red, green, violet etc. 7′ cable is $4.25 plus shipping.
Since I knew I was going to going past a BestBuy over the next few days, I thought that I would just swing by and get some cables. Just for the heck of it, I checked the BB prices. Wow. I knew BB tries to make some margins on cables. I did a few months at BB a few years ago as an Epson merchandiser. Great job. One of the best I had. Got to know BB, their procedures and quite a few of the staff (in Concord) quite well. I do not blame BB. They are working on thin margins. So they have to compensate somewhere and for that cables are perfect. If you just bought a printer you are going to want a cable, if you don’t already have one.
But, in this instance, with these Cat 6 cables I was amazed. I bought 3 cables, with shipping, for what I would have paid for 1 at BB! I went to Cables.com. I had used them a few years ago. They seem to be good. Plus, they accept PayPal. These days, unless I already have an account with the company, as I do with Amazon, eBay and TigerDirect, I will NOT buy online unless they accept PayPal. Two reasons: it is easier and safer. So that is my story. If you need cables try cables.com or Tiger(direct).com. Yes, TigerDirect is the old CircuitCity! They are good.