Reading the talk about Verizon Fiber Optic (FIOS) Internet/TV bundles brings two thoughts to mind:

1. When you get FIOS, you lose your copper.
2. If the power goes out, you are relying on a small backup battery in the premises equipment that they give you. It only lasts a few hours (a Verizon tech told a friend that it lasts 6-8 hours). Implications of #2 are obvious. Your normal phone line is powered by the central office which has lots of backup batteries which will last much longer.

So back to the story:

About two years ago, after suffering with ISDN for eight years, I was able to obtain a cable modem. It was great except that the cable modem went down sometimes; like yesterday when a contractor cut a cable a few houses away from me. Fortunately, about a year ago, Verizon finally brought DSL to me ($15/mo for 768Kbps). It's an embarrassment of riches. This brings me to this lifesaver and very cool tech product:

Xincom Twin-WAN Router XC-DPG502 ~ $175.00

Now, this is for wired networks, but it saved my tush yesterday. The router connects to both the cable modem and the DSL modem (the WANs or Wide Area Networks), and then you connect the home network to the router. You can have it set to aggregate the bandwidth, but the cable modem has more than enough and so I have it set up to use the cable modem and only to switch to the DSL modem as a backup. It also has a very nice web-based interface as well as a good firewall, etc.

So yesterday at about 10:00 AM, Tradestation (what I use daily) blinked out for a second and then reloaded the data. I didn't think much about it. At 11:00 I decided to turn on the TV and watch the news. No TV! I logged into the router's web interface and hey! The cable modem was down too, and the router had switched to using the DSL backup. The cable was out until 11:00 PM (we now have an orange wire snaking down the street). It's just luck I guess, that they didn't cut the phone line as well.

I can't tell you how hosed I would have been yesterday if I didn't have this gadget.

J.T. Holley comments: 

The other option, if you want to further embarrass your richness (I can't afford), is to get a wireless card from Verizon for $49.95 a month for a notebook as back-up. That'll run you 35 more bucks, but at least you'll be mobile while traveling to a hotel that has power and a router.

Last week was the first time in my neighborhood that I had to call 911. I purposefully chose my house due to the fact that it has a cul-de-sac. In this cul-de-sac there are only three homes where usually there are five to six. The reason is that from ten o'clock to one o'clock, there is a Tot Lot that is part of my community, and from one o'clock to four o'clock there are modified wetlands. I live at nine o'clock, which is the house closest to the Tot Lot. Due to this, it is dark at night with no major street lights other than those of my house and neighbors.

When we first built it four years ago, no one would drive in our cul-de-sac. However, two years ago, I'd look out randomly and notice a single car parked in the darkest curve outside my house. I usually wrote it off as teenagers doing what teenagers do, so I'd flick my lights and that would flush them out. Last week, I had a car pull up around 1:30 A.M. and I watched the young man get out and take a leak on the other side of his car. He got back in and left the car running with the lights on. I thought nothing of it and then went back to crunching numbers. I looked out at 2:00 A.M. and noticed that the car was still there. I turned on the light above the garage door and the one outside and he drove away and then immediately came back. I went to bed finally a little later with the car still running outside. My wife woke up at 4:00 A.M. to use the bathroom, and I asked her to look outside to see if the car was still there. It was and that's when I said enough is enough and I dialed 911. I didn't turn any lights on, barely moved, and my wife never hits the blinds or anything. To my amazement the guy left as soon as I hung up with the 911 call. It was like he knew I was talking and had a scanner in his car.

Back to the point, later I shared this with my neighbors in our close community and one lady spoke up and said that in the wee hours of the morning, this happened to her. She said that they pulled into her driveway at 3:00 A.M. and parked behind her car. She walked out to the car and the person had a laptop on, surfing the net. She said that the police told her that they have caught kids between the ages of 16-18 sitting in cars in neighborhoods after sneaking out at night, using "wireless routers" and surfing the internet more than likely for porn! Geez. I called the police department to verify and they said you'd be amazed at how many people haven't encrypted their routers and have upgraded to wireless networks that are giving them more range.

Now I make it a habit to peek out of my window at night before I go to bed and I've personally helped three neighbors in the past week encrypt their routers!


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