What you pay for vs. what you get

Volume 3, Issue 4; 22 Feb 2019

In which we discover that at least ⅓ of the time, it’s user error.

[The internet is] the largest equivalence class in the reflexive transitive symmetric closure of the relationship ‘can be reached by an IP packet from’.

Seth Breidbart

A couple of months ago, I noticed that my internet speed had dropped to about ⅓ of what I expect. And pay for. I called the cable company, but they were unsympathetic. I got, roughly, “the levels are good, but you bought a modem instead of paying the usurous rent we charge for them, so call Netgear about it.”

The modem was roughly five years old and my experience with residential internet equipment is that it lasts about five years. I’ve been told it’s largely because they have inadequate cooling and the parts just give out, but I don’t know if that’s true or not.

The simplest thing to do was just replace it. I picked a modern one off the provider’s recommended list,…and it made absolutely no difference.

I put “must call the cable company back again” somewhere below “stick pins in my eyes” on my todo list. Then I went to the UK for Christmas. Then I went to XML Prague. And today I decided I was finally going to call the cable company back and just be “that guy” until I got some resolution. Or at the very least, change my service so that I’m only paying for ⅓ the speed!

Before I call, I figure I’ll get setup and be ready to test things. I pulled out my Linux laptop and plugged it directly into the cable modem. Sure enough, speed test says…wait, what? 3× what I get on my MacBook Pro!?

Long story only a little bit longer, back in December I got a stand up desk. (Love it, get one; I have nothing but good things to say about the folks at Uplift Desk.) To avoid having all of the power cables going up and down when I raise and lower the desk, I got a new power strip and mounted that on the underside of the desktop.

The power strip has one of those ethernet in/out arrangements that they advertise will stop power spikes from traveling down your internet cable. What the heck, I thought, and ran my cable through it.

Guess what component in my setup trashes ⅔’s of my internet bandwidth. Go on, guess.

Oh well, at least the internet is fast again. And I don’t have to call the cable company!