Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “Telkom Internet”

Telkom internet weirdness

Lost my Telkom internet connection yesterday morning.

When we got back from church Val wanted to get into cricinfo to find out what had happened in the Oz-NZ match, and it was still down, so I reported it to Telkom.

And after explaining the problem the Telkom support guy said that he couldn’t help me and that I must take it up with “the person in charge of your network”.

Since I am the person in charge of my network, that’s not exactly much use.

And the last time that happened — when the Telkom technical support people said the problem was on our side, and that the ADSL router must be faulty, I took his advice at face value, went to Telkom in Hatfield and bought a new router. Brought it home, and found it had exactly the same problem as the existing one. So I took it back to Telkom (along with the original packaging) and demanded, and got a refund. So their technical support guy had wasted their time and money as well as mine.

So this time I didn’t accept his advice at face value, but Val went into their web site when she got to work, and reported the problem again. This time Telkom did not get back to us, but in a couple of hours the problem was fixed.

Methinks that Telkom need an upgrade to their technical support.

Deathwatch: Usenet newsgroups

Usenet seems to be going into a terminal decline.

Several people on newgroups I read regularly have reported that their ISPs are dropping or severely curtailing newgroup service. Perhaps this should be called VSS – Value Subtracted Service. Maybe before it dies altogether someone could suggest an appropriate newsgroup for reporting on and rating ISPs and noting whether they are VSS or not.

Apparently the alt. newsgroups are particularly under threat, yet some of the ones I find most valuable are in the alt. hierarchy — alt.usage.english and alt.obituaries, for example.

While my ISP (Telkom SA) hasn’t made a definite announcement, Telkom’s news server SAIX has deteriorated lately, and error messages like the following are common:

2008-06-24 11:40:52 PM Error reported by winsock driver: No response from server (timeout) (Error 10060): Connecting to
2008-06-24 11:41:23 PM Error reported by winsock driver: No response from server (timeout) (Error 10060): Connecting to

Failed connects are more common than successful ones, and it sometimes takes me two days to download headers, another two days to collect the marked bodies, and another two to post replies, so the replies can sometimes take up to a week (and sometimes more) to be posted on the net. Some newgroups, like soc.culture.south-africa, remain inaccessible to me, and have been for more than a year. I can post there, but I cannot read any posts unless they are crossposted to other newsgroups (za.misc still works).

As a result of this I, like many others, have taken to blogging if I have something serious to say. Blogging seems to be faster and more reliable, but in many ways it is less satisfactory. Even more than News, blogging is an inherently one-to-many (and therefore self-centred) medium. People can comment, but comments are directred to the original post, and there is not the same interaction among commenters.

Sometimes I long for the good old days of Fidonet and other Fido Technology Networks (FTNs). FTN echo conferences were a true many-to-many medium, better even than newsgroups.

But it seems that we are about to lose even newsgroups, and for all our technology that should make communication easier, genuine conversation will be taken from us, and we will be reduced to soap-box oratory and heckling, which is basically what blog comments are.

Yes, I know it is possible to access newsgroups through the clunky web interface at Google Groups, but it really is clunky and more hassle than it’s worth. I’d rather switch to mailing lists if newsgroups are no longer available (even though mailing lists consume more bandwidth and net resources).

Written at 12:10 am on 25 June 2008, South African time, though when it will actually be posted on Usenet is anyone’s guess.

And I’ll post it on my blog too!

Posted in


Post Navigation