We Love Perfect Endings (7/27/01)
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Okay, this isn't strictly Apple-related, per se, but heck, it's Friday-- and we just have to fill you in on a simply marvelous update to the Great DSL Saga. "But AtAT," we hear you ask, "didn't the Great DSL Saga wind to a close nearly three weeks ago, when you physically shipped your server to Parsippany, New Jersey while temporarily broadcasting the show from a PowerBook until the real deal was up and functioning on its new, fast pipe?" (Note: if you did just ask that question, you may be obsessing just a little too much about AtAT's technical operation. Seek professional help.) Well, mostly, yeah; the massive amounts of bandwidth we currently enjoy do in fact translate into a far more pleasant viewing experience for those of you in the audience. But behind the scenes, the drama just keeps on rolling.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the basic plot points of the Great DSL Saga, allow us to fill you in. Nearly two years ago, we, your friendly neighborhood AtAT staff, decided it'd be a kick to move AtAT entirely in-house by broadcasting the site from a dedicated server on a dedicated DSL line. We bought a used Power Mac 7500, christened it "Bunter," loaded it up with server software, and commenced development on AtAT 2.0, which added all kinds of neat features (like our Reruns library and Preferences) which weren't possible in our original shared-server environment. At some point in there we signed up for a 384K SDSL line from HarvardNet. Other than 30% packet loss that took three months to fix (trust us, that was but a mere hiccup), eventually things were good, and AtAT 2.0 debuted during Macworld Expo New York one year ago.

Everything was fine until December, when HarvardNet (who had never credited us for those three months of pre-launch unusable service, by the way) sent us a letter by FedEx informing us that it was exiting the DSL business altogether, and we would be disconnected in thirty days' time. That meant we had a month in which to have a replacement line installed by another vendor, or AtAT would be off the air. Helpful reality tip: no one can get DSL installed in a month. In terms of improbability, it's right up there with cloning a live haddock using nothing but two paperclips and a rubber band. Not gonna happen.

We pressed on anyway, and almost signed up with one DSL vendor which literally went out of business the very day somebody was supposed to send us the contract. Then we were torn between two other providers, and wound up signing with Network Access Solutions simply because they got us a contract faster. (The other provider, Vitts, terminated all services to its customers this past May, so you can consider that another bullet we dodged.)

To its credit, NAS got our line installed in record time, and at a far more suitable 768K, no less. True, "record time" was still two weeks after our HarvardNet line bit the dust, so for a while AtAT was broadcasting out of a friend's apartment. Eventually, though, things settled back to normal, and all was well with the world-- for about three months. Then April hit, and we officially entered D-S-Hell; our line cratered on April 4th, and stayed dead for a full three weeks. NAS kept blaming Verizon, who owns the physical lines. Verizon kept claiming the lines were fine. After three weeks of utter pain and torment, we were officially notified that Verizon had "done something" to the lines which effectively extended our physical distance to the central office; therefore, our connection could be restored, but only at one-third of its original 768K bandwidth.

And so AtAT limped along at 256K for a couple of months as we cast about for a way out of this mess. (For the record, NAS has neither credited us for our three weeks of dead air, nor managed to adjust our monthly billing to reflect our slower connection. Then again, they were evidently never able to figure out how to switch our domain name over, either, so we shouldn't be surprised.) Then, on June 18th, another three-day outage gave us the push we needed to make a tough decision. With the Expo fast approaching, we really wanted a solution that would get our show the bandwidth it needs, and it was clear that we'd never be able to do that in-house. We bit the bullet, signed up for colocation with MacConnect, and shipped ol' Bunter off to Jersey. It's now three weeks later, and we're positively thrilled with the result-- all 10 Mbits of it.

So that brings us (finally!) to the present, and a terrific coda to the Great DSL Saga. First, it will come as no surprise to you all that getting NAS to acknowledge a Service Cancellation form has been Kafkaesque in the extreme. We've been calling and leaving messages in Accounts Receivable for ages, now, trying at least to get our bill cancelled for next month's service, seeing as we submitted the paperwork to cut our line two weeks ago. Needless to say, the DSL monkey hasn't been easy to shake off our back-- if you think it's hard getting DSL put in, just try getting it taken out.

Well, apart from losing all sorts of money that we shouldn't have lost, here's the Fairy Tale Ending that, to us, really just ties up the whole DSL experience with a pretty red bow. Last night we were going through our snail mail and noticed a letter from NAS. Allow us to quote from it, if we may:

"...This letter is to notify you that Network Access Solutions (NAS) will modify its network on August 24th, 2001 in a manner that will no longer allow us to satisfy your broadband needs through our DSL product... on or shortly after August 24th, 2001, your DSL service will terminate..."


 
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And Now For A Word From Our Sponsors
 

From the writer/creator of AtAT, a Pandemic Dad Joke taken WAYYYYYY too far


 

The above scene was taken from the 7/27/01 episode:

July 27, 2001: This is way the AtAT DSL Saga ends-- not with a bang, but a howl of laughter. Meanwhile, TechTV apparently tries to disprove Steve's G4-vs.-P4 bake-off from last week, but doesn't have much luck, and an article in the Mercury News claims that Mac OS X won't be the default Mac operating system until April of next year...

Other scenes from that episode:

  • 3204: It Is A Tale Told By An Idiot (7/27/01)   Those of you who caught last week's Stevenote as broadcast by TechTV already know that the network isn't exactly the most Mac-friendly group out there. We were fortunate enough (or unfortunate enough, depending on your opinion of the keynote itself) to be in the audience live and in person, so we missed the TechTV running commentary, but we're told it was delightfully entertaining-- to people who enjoy the sound of idiots yammering over Steve's entire spiel...

  • 3205: April Is The Cruellest Month (7/27/01)   When we think of Mac-hostile media outlets, the San Jose Mercury News doesn't usually spring immediately to mind-- but hey, everyone's capable of a little Mac-bashing now and again, right? So why not kick off the weekend with a heaping helping of FUD courtesy of an article jam-packed with 100% of your recommended daily allowance of Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt?...

Or view the entire episode as originally broadcast...

Vote Early, Vote Often!
Why did you tune in to this '90s relic of a soap opera?
Nostalgia is the next best thing to feeling alive
My name is Rip Van Winkle and I just woke up; what did I miss?
I'm trying to pretend the last 20 years never happened
I mean, if it worked for Friends, why not?
I came here looking for a receptacle in which to place the cremated remains of my deceased Java applets (think about it)

(493 votes)

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