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How Much Does Your Work Depend on the Internet? 322

malord asks: "I work for a small company that has recently had problems finding a stable internet connection. It started when we moved our office in order to upgrade our connection speed. We decided to go with cable internet through Comcast, since they offered the best speed for the price and told us that it would be available before we moved. Unfortunately, Comcast did not provide any service for two months after we moved, so we piggy backed on an existing (slow and unreliable) wireless account with another company in the meantime. When Comcast finally came around, the service that was provided was far from adequate with a consistent 30% packet loss and multiple disconnects everyday, which was confirmed through Comcast's tech support. Throughout this process, we have realized that having a reliable internet connection is more important than having a phone line and almost as necessary as electricity. What would you do if your internet was suddenly like dial-up for weeks at a time? How much money would your workplace lose if it was out for an hour or an entire day?"
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How Much Does Your Work Depend on the Internet?

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  • Re:Lost forever? (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:38PM (#16027662)
    Exactly. Unless you've had the problem we had once where the drain bamaged secondary MX accepted email, but never forwarded the email on.

    I'm mildly sceptical of the need for secondary MXs, especially ones you don't manage yourself.
  • by inio ( 26835 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:39PM (#16027666) Homepage
    > We decided to go with cable internet

    Mistake #1.

    You're a business. There's no reason a business should be using anything less than SDSL. It costs more for a reason - it's reliable.

    quoth []

    > Symmetrical dedicated line DSL with throughput SLAs, rigorous uptime and repair time.

    That means they guarantee it'll be fast, it'll work, and if it doesn't, they'll fix it fast.

    If a couple hundred per month for internet is too much for your internet-dependent business it sounds like you've got bigger issues than packet loss.
  • Redundant feeds (Score:5, Informative)

    by mschuyler ( 197441 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:55PM (#16027751) Homepage Journal
    And THAT'S why redundant feeds from different providers is necessary for any peace of mind. By the time I left my last job I had two T-1's from different providers entirely (I checked to make sure the cables were physically different coming at us via different paths), plus a third fiber optic feed. I was close to adding cable as a fourth. If the Net went out at that place I would have literally hundreds of people pissed within ten seconds. So have redundant feeds, redundant routers, redundant servers, redundant backups. Did I mention that redundancy is important?
  • Speakeasy (Score:4, Informative)

    by beeblebrox ( 16781 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @07:59PM (#16027775)

    I can't recommend them highly enough. Pick-up-after-a-few-rings, by-a-person-who-can-talk-dBs-and-DNS grade service, 24/7.

    And that's on their residential product.

  • Re:Lost email. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Southpaw018 ( 793465 ) * on Friday September 01, 2006 @08:04PM (#16027803) Journal
    The way I have SA set up, scores up to 3 are green, 3-6 are held for my personal review, and 6+ are rejected outright. I settled on those scores after a month of testing...never saw a legit non-newsletter message score higher than 3.1, and I've never seen a legit newsletter score higher than 4.5.

    Thankfully, our server only handles ~5000 emails a day, and that leaves about 30 a day I review. I know that I'm in a special situation, where at a larger organization I wouldn't be able to do that. But it works.
  • by Colin Smith ( 2679 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @08:13PM (#16027837)
    Using two ISP's is a relatively untapped resource today,

    Um... It's pretty much been standard practice since day one. It's how the Internet provides robust routing. All businesses relying on their network should be doing it. Diverse home networks? Depends how important your porn supply is to you.

  • bah that's nothing (Score:4, Informative)

    by Danzigism ( 881294 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @08:18PM (#16027859)
    try working for an ebay powerseller that lists 500 items a week, where the office is located the bumfuck of delaware, and using a dialup connection shared with 3 employees for 4 years straight.. each person's job requires an internet connection, and the bosses aren't exactly willing to put forth much money for anything tech related.. there has been no broadband offered here, yet my boss's house which is 2 miles away, can get cable internet.. I've looked in to distributing their net connection from home, to the office, but no can do due to line of site and expensive equipment.. same goes with satellite.. the satellite providers charge way too much, for a crappy service.. some even have download limitations that decrease your service to dialup speeds if you overflow your quota bucket.. that's after you spend a couple hundred in equipment, and probably around $100 a month for a business connection..

    we're right on the border to where Medicom and Comcast seperate.. and verizon is simply a joke.. I've actually contacted the President of Verizon for Delaware's district, to no avail.. One of those typical, "I'll get back to you on that" phone calls.. For us to get DSL, would require them to spend a few thousand dollars in running new lines underground, as well as special hardware for the fucking FIBER FED PG BOX literally a hundred yards from our office.. Cable companies have also said, that they'll need to dig underground, costing thousands, just to lay some cable to our little warehouse..

    I've thought of every possible solution, and they are either too cost worthy, or they simply won't work.. we can't afford to have downtime, and dialup is better than nothing at all.. but I did do the math, and we lose a maximum of a 1000 hours every year in productivity due to waiting for pages to load, uploading high res images for products, and the bulk submission of hundreds of ebay items.. ahh well.. i've definitely gotten used to it, but it makes me wonder how much more money we could make, if we just had a faster internet connection.. I certainly understand that even a crappy satellite investment could help us out big time.. but my bosses are still struggling to pay the monthly bills, so its really out of the question until someone like Verizon, Mediacom, or Comcast can offer a decent $30-70 a month internet connection..

  • Re:Like this: (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @08:29PM (#16027904)
    Technically, gooks are Koreans (the word guk in Korean actually means country, and Koreans refer to themselves this way when distinguishing from waiguk, foreigners.) I believe the racist term used for Chinese is chink. Hey, you should set up a rule for Vietnamese, too? You could call them VC.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:15PM (#16028079)
  • Re:How timely! (Score:4, Informative)

    by peted20 ( 412418 ) <petedoyle&gmail,com> on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:30PM (#16028124)
    We are in the similar situation having Exchange in-house behind a (quite stable) DSL line. Thankfully the DSL has been out only about 30 minutes total in our first year, but unfortunately our Exchange server can't say the same. We've gotten an amazing value using a backup mx service, which silently queues mail for us until our server returns. It works amazingly well-- once our server is back up, the queued mail comes flowing in. Its a beautiful thing.

    We specifically use EasyDNS []'s DNS service which includes the backup MX service. We use their DNS Plus service which only costs about $40/year, and allows us to use their CLUSTER of backup MX servers (How cool is that!?)! Its also available on their DNS-only service (~$20/yr). I don't work for EasyDNS (just a happy customer). You can also get the same service from lots [] of other [] places [] as well.

    Realistically, I think you need to use an external DNS service to do this for network outages (since other mail servers will need access to your domain's MX records to find to the backup MX servers). For us, this meant we needed to use a different DNS server inside our local network. The external dns points people to our mail server's public IP. The internal dns points to our internal ips.

    Another note, we use PFSense [] as our firewall (great product!). Recently, I think I saw support for NAT Reflection was added (allowing internal machines to contact internal servers using a public IP address), which might negate the need for the "split" dns described above. Haven't tried that yet, though.
  • Re:Lost forever? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:32PM (#16028132)
    Not if he hosts DNS behind the T1. All SMTP servers I know of cause permanent failure when they can't look up the MX record. This is why you should always have redundant DNS. I can see letting a backup MX slide as it can be complicated to set up, but hosting all DNS behind one connection just shows you don't care.
  • by smash ( 1351 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:34PM (#16028135) Homepage Journal
    I suggest you get your own local test environment (IIS box, Apache box, etc) - regardless of the internet connection being up or down, you'll get far more work/testing done if it's hosted locally.
  • Re:Speakeasy (Score:2, Informative)

    by finkployd ( 12902 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:35PM (#16028141) Homepage
    And yet they are going forward with the same scum move that Verizon tried and failed. Namely, while the FCC drops that $3 fee, they coincidentally introduce a new $3 fee. Sorry, but speakeasy has been on a downward slide for a while, they are far from the hip, "do no evil" company they used to be. I would expect to see customer service drop off soon, that is another money loser for the "short term bottom line" folks.

  • by jafac ( 1449 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @09:54PM (#16028206) Homepage
    Enough dinging the guy for a stupid mistake. He learned the hard lesson. And I think he made the point relevant to this article: the internet is a crucially important element of many peoples' lives and livelihoods.

    Personally, I can't wait until congress finally legislates Net Neutrality out of existance, so everyone can truly find out how sweet we have things right now (or actually, how sweet we had things in the 1990's).
  • Re:Im loosing` (Score:2, Informative)

    by pswayze ( 893054 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @10:46PM (#16028340)
    If he didn't want to loose that much money maybe he should have bundled it tighter.
  • by Brian Stretch ( 5304 ) on Friday September 01, 2006 @11:02PM (#16028371)
    malord may need a Motorola 484095-001-00 Signal Booster []. Check your cable modem's internal webserver at [] and if you do have a weak signal problem like I suspect (see Comcast's support forum and/or the Comcast forum on for how to do the diagnosis) then buy the amp. Yes, you shouldn't have to, but it's your best chance to actually fix the problem. Install the amp at the earliest possible point, before any cable splitters (if you have any).

    If Comcast had any brains they'd keep a whole bunch of these in every Comcast service guy's truck and train their people to read the cable modem's signal status page. It'd be a helluva lot cheaper than repeated truck rolls to the same very annoyed customer. Better yet, they'd replace more of their aging copper with fiber before FiOS poaches all their best customers (alas, I'm in SBC/AT&T territory), but that's another rant entirely. Overall I'm reasonably happy with Comcast in my area but I'm still jealous of folks who can get FiOS.
  • Not an option. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 02, 2006 @01:18AM (#16028656)
    How much does work depend on an internet connection? How about 100%? No internet, no business. You cannot be a Massively Multiplayer ONLINE Role Playing Game if you are not online.

    Also, remember, some companies have special deals with their "ISP" and cannot have multiple connections from different ISP. Alternatively, management could have been stupid and located themselves where multiple ISPs wouldn't help because there is still one point of failure elsewhere.

    Not everyone has an option.
  • by The Tyro ( 247333 ) * on Saturday September 02, 2006 @05:36AM (#16028986)
    Working in Emergency Services, I use the internet pretty much every shift.

    I'm expected to know/do something about virtually anything that walks in the door, including industrial toxin exposures, any/all medication overdoses, even "my child ate this weird plant" complaints. I can access pill databases, get radiology reports and images, look up MSDS, and even have a few botany sites bookmarked for exactly that kind of weird stuff.

    Standard ER stuff I can do with my eyes closed, but reference materials online are absolutely essential for the bizarre ones, and it's why I have redundant internet connections (one of which I set up and maintain myself).

    I'd be far less effective without it.
  • by Eggplant62 ( 120514 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @07:13AM (#16029151)
    I recently switched from my computer tech position to a home-based medical and legal transcription gig. I ftp down audio files from my employer, transcribe the reports, and return the finished work via ftp. No download work, no get paid. This summer, I've worked out on the deck in my yard, from my ex-wife's house in TN, and from various motel rooms I've stayed in during vacations and trips to pick up my son for spring and summer visits. The freedom is awesome, but it makes booking a motel room a real bitch, especially if you want to stop and stay the night in the middle of KY, where internet access is a rarity, to sightsee.
  • Re:Lost forever? (Score:2, Informative)

    by mistralol ( 987952 ) on Saturday September 02, 2006 @09:14AM (#16029360)
    Thats not true there is a big difference between SERVFAIL and NXDOMAIN If dns times out its a timeout it will keep retrying. If you get an NXDOMAIN it will reject the mail saying domain does not exist. Either way the network is setup with a single point of failure. Its not that expensive to setup a 2nd dns / mail in a datacenter somewhere else.
  • Re:Lost forever? (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday September 02, 2006 @11:21AM (#16029674)
    Not if it's MS Exchange. With that one, if it's gone, it's gone.

"Never face facts; if you do, you'll never get up in the morning." -- Marlo Thomas