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FROM THE SHOP - DIARY 3/19/99

I have left the Internet bronze age: the age of the 56K MODEM.  To be more exact, I have really left half of it behind.  A few days ago New England Cablevision installed a cable drop from the telephone pole outside of my store to my desk next to my shop.  I installed  a General Instrument SURFboard 1000 Internal cable MODEM and started surfing in turbo via the New England Cablevision/Great Works Internet Speedway system.  (Speedway techs will normally install the MODEM on site for new Speedway customers).

By halfway I mean the cable MODEM receives from the Internet, but my dial-up, 56K MODEM is still required to send to the Internet.  The cable system here, like many, is still one-way.  There are plans to complete an upgrade to the cable TV infrastructure for two-way communications and digital TV in the near future.  For now, I'll say half way is long way--more like, SUPER!

Other than having to dial-up--which will be eliminated when the system goes duplex (two-way)--and a shortage of available interrupts in my computer, sending data uphill is no big deal, except when uploading files (e.g., uploading my web sites).   When you are sending to the Internet you are mainly sending a small amount of data at a low rate: keystrokes, etc.  The cable MODEM is where you need it the most: receiving large amounts of data.  Unless there is a choke point (e.g., an overloaded server) somewhere else on the Internet, Web pages appear to load almost as fast as browsing them locally from your hard disk.  Large graphics appear almost instantly.

Where Speedway really shows its stuff is in file downloads --something I do a lot of in my shop.  For example, I just downloaded a 3 MB file from download.com at 46 Kbytes/sec in 46 seconds!  Or, almost 10 times faster than my 56K MODEM, which usually connects at about 49Kbits/sec and downloads at about 4+ KBytes/sec. (one byte = 8+ bits) on a good day.  And a very long way from my first Internet (called the Arpanet in those days) connection--the Internet stone age--which was a 300 BUAD (~300 bits/sec; 0.3 KBits/sec.) lease line from  Stuttgart, Germany to the University College, London.

I would be more than happy to demo Speedway to anyone in my area who is interestedJust drop by my store in Sanford, Maine, U.S.A.

IE 5.0.  Yesterday, MicroSoft released version 5.0 of their popular Internet Explorer browser, etc. software. Release 5.0 is not a major release like 4.0, but it is certainly worth having.  I have been using the Beta release of 5.0 for a couple of months now and I like it.  It is faster than 4.0 and has some useful new features.  You can download a copy at:

http://www.microsoft.com/windows/ie/download/default.htm

But, wait awhile.   I wanted to download the upgrade as test of the cable MODEM... many MBytes of stuff.  I've tried to get it for last couple of days now and it's been impossible.  Yesterday, there were 75,000 users trying to download it from the Conxion server I tried and connection speeds were in the hundreds of bytes/sec.  A cable MODEM can't make a slow server fast. Back to work...

Larry

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