Rants & Essays
IDT's Upgrade: From Analog to Abacus
By Marcus Pan
For those of you following this recent epidemic of the
chronologically ill IDT, you might remember my past article called IDT's
Dynamic Policies. In it I discussed two things that, amazingly enough, IDT was
doing right! One was speed, and the other was a very good connection rate. I
would always achieve a 24Kbps connection when I called. Sure, sometimes I had
to redial once or twice, but that's expected. Still
24,000bps flying over
my phone line. I have a 33.6Kbps modem, but as IDT had 28.8K modems, 24K was
acceptable to me. On February 28, 1997, this all changed.
Upgrade to Digital
IDT claims they've upgraded to digital lines. And, might I
add, to 33.6Kbps modems. Really? Where? The phone number changed, too, but
that's not a big deal. I used to have a dozen numbers I can dial in to, but now
I only have one. No big deal. But how come I have to redial an average of a
half dozen times now to get a connection in excess of 20K? I've actually, for
the first time since my Commodore days, seen a connection of 11K! And then
you'll get 14.4K, 16.8K, 19.2K and a slew of numbers in between. I didn't buy a
33.6Kbps modem and a business connection to the Internet to transfer at
Commodore 64 rates, no sir. This hasn't changed in the two weeks or so since
the upgrade. Sometimes I have to dial as many as 12 times to get in at a
21.6Kbps connection, which is barely acceptable for the WWW (and the running of
four sites, might I add). Their analog lines seemed better equipped to handle
dial-ins than they're new, "digital" lines. There were even times when I'd have
to call on my voice line to tie up a bad modem. Then dial in with my system for
a connection. This didn't always work, either. I even tried dialing in with my
voice phone, then my cellular to tie up two of their modems. When I dialed in
with my system, I figured I'd get a decent connection. I connected at a rate of
Excuses, Excuses, Excuses
I've spoken to numerous people in #IDTSUPPORT (their IRC
support channel) about the problem. One told me the lines were noisy. Noisy?
This has gone way beyond simple noise. I've dealt with line noise on a
consistent basis. I still remember MA Bell and her over-sized conglomeration of
shitty wires all over the country. Now that was where you got real noise from.
Line taps also are a good source of line noise, but we won't go there. Who the
hell ever heard of noise on a digital line anyway? Therefore, this excuse
doesn't come clean.
Another told me that MCI hooked them up with bad T1s. Where
I come from, when a company can afford multiple T1 lines they're considered a
pretty big customer. It would be in MCI's best interest to go out there and fix
this supposed T1 problem as quickly as possible or face losing a large,
corporate account. Another interesting point is what the hell does the T1 line,
which connects IDT to the Internet, have to do with the phone lines and modems
that connect me to IDT? I've never dialed up a T1 before. Somehow, then, this
bad T1 theory doesn't wash either.
The next excuse I got, which was just last night, was that
upgrading the network and working out the glitches takes a while. Sure it does.
I can understand that. I asked why it took two weeks. He said because the
problems were intermittent. Intermittent my ass! There has yet to be a time
when I've dialed in to receive a good connection. Like I said, tries average
around 6 per session. The definition of intermittent does not mean it happens
every time I try to call in. I consider that constant, not intermittent.
Re-read Webster's, children. Again, somehow, another unwashable theory.
Oh, and with all this excuse trading I've done on IRC I
might as well mention that Beef still won't talk to me. I even tried to entice
him out of his background ornament stage by mentioning I included him in my
previous article about IDT. Didn't work. I guess infamy doesn't sit right with
IDT or AOL?
Is IDT becoming the latest America Online? At AOL, it's hard
to get through and you get a lot of busy signals. At IDT it's hard to get
through because you get a lot of "line noise." At AOL, they are spending a lot
of money to upgrade their network. At IDT, they are spending a lot of money to
upgrade to "digital" (I still want to know where they are) lines and multiple
T1 connections. Also at AOL, there is no support or customer service to speak
of. At IDT, the only support you get is on their IRC channel. That, obviously,
doesn't work if you can't dial in. And, if you don't agree with the exact views
of their network administrators (read: Beef), you are banned from that channel,
therefore receiving no support. IDT is definitely heading in the same direction
that Stephen Case drove America Online. Seems their moving at the same speed,
Where's the Upgrade?
So now the conclusion is that IDT has lost one out of two
things they did right. They still have a fast network and Internet hookup
there. The problem is that you can't enjoy this fast hookup without a fast
and that's not available any longer. I hope they clean up
their act. I really do. There's a ton of ISP's out there who could walk into
the Hackensack area and plow them into the ground. And you know what? As pissed
as I am right now, I'd be their first customer!
More Administrative Attitudes
I stopped in to #IRCSUPPORT today to ask if any headway was
made on all this as usual. Beef was there (of course) so I sent him a copy of
the picture I made at the top of this article. I thought he might enjoy it.
Unfortunately, his good friend (another network administrator) got upset and
then banned me from the support channel again. Interesting, eh? I asked him
why, of course (this guy, by the way, goes by Scotty), and received in answer
that I was performing "public bashing" and that if I have a problem with
someone I should "write a letter." So I asked him to who, as I've written quite
a few already that was "lost in transit." No answer. I then said I wanted to
send my letters somewhere where they won't get lost. I was asked if I had
"anything better to do." Huh? Ok, next I asked if he could answer my questions
regarding the recent upgrade. No answer. I asked again. No answer. The Hefty
song started playing again as I invited him to see the article which he is
referenced in as I put it up later tonight.