I feel like my life has been dominated by
Nyx's dialup issues for a month now.
For some years now, Nyx has been using a T1 line--initially a channelized T1, more recently
a PRI circuit--for its local dialup access. Over the years, the cost has steadily climbed while
analog dialup modem use has been dropping. Even having a contract that theoretically
guarantees a particular monthly fee for the line doesn't stop the price from continuing to
climb as the provider (in this case, ICG) keeps adding new fees and surcharges onto the
"fixed" fee in the contract.
With the contract with ICG finishing up at the end of January, I'd been getting things set
up to try outsourcing our dialup lines to a reseller, in this case, Skycomm.Com aka Riva.Net.
Supporting remote dialin over the internet was more complex, but it made it possible for
Nyx to pay for fewer lines and still retain 56K support. Nyx users donated some extra funds
to cover the switch, since the ICG bill was due after the period covered, while Skycomm had
to be paid in advance, so for the first month, Nyx would have to pay for dialup service twice.
To make it a little easier, the agreement with Skycomm included no setup fees and a week of
After some late nights and a lot more work than I expected, everything was ready to go in
time for the switchover...except that within two hours of the switch, Skycomm shut off Nyx's
service and then demanded immediate payment of a setup fee in excess of $700. Mysteriously,
they wouldn't return phone calls made to both their Houston and Maryland offices and they
didn't respond to email to their billing department trying to straighten this out. They did,
however, continue to advertise prominently on their website that they were waiving all
So the PRI line from ICG was off, Skycomm wasn't providing service either, and that left Nyx
without any dialup service at all. To tide things over, I ended up running my fax line downstairs
to the server room where I've set up a terminal server and a modem so there'd at least be
something while I scare up another way to handle dialup and the equipment to support it.
But while I'm working on setting up and testing all manner of hardware and dealing with
the weirdness that lurks in the telecommunications industry, I ran into some other forms
of weirdness lurking out there on the net:
In the "Books I Never Would Have Thought Of" category, Llumina Press presents
Swollen Colons Out and About
by Arlow Moreland. Quoting the publisher:
Swollen Colons Out and About takes a humorous look at incorporating a swollen colon in everyday life.
From everyday uses, to "impressing" your peers, to unique expressions, the swollen colon is sure to
find a place in your heart.
The dining commons at California State University inspired Arlow to create this book about swollen colons.
I must confess that never before had I spent so much as a moment thinking about swollen colons
(except, perhaps, as punctuation to be used in turgid prose), let alone taking a colon that has somehow left
the rest of the body behind out for a walk. If nothing else, the description of this book is enough
to convince me never to eat at the California State University dining commons.
They've done horror movies about disembodied brains and hands before; why not intestines?
Ummmm...now that I think about it, I can come up with quite a few reasons.
But speaking of eating, Sony has come up with what may be the most brilliant marketing
idea so far this year: now, if you happen to feel hungry while playing a game of Everquest II,
you can type in
get one delivered right to your door.
I think this is just the beginning of a new trend: give it a year or two, and you'll be able
to order all kinds of food, beverages, and computer upgrades right inside video games. It may be
longer, however, before the technology reaches the point where you'll be able to use the
restroom in the video game and have it work in real life...so if you keep ordering video game
pizza without ever leaving your chair to attend to other bodily functions, I suppose you
could run the risk of getting a swelled colon.
But at least you can order Arlow's book, too, so you'll be able to "impress" your peers with
your swollen colon.
(and...ummm...no, I don't want to know)