Tuesday, May 10, 2005


I haven't had this much fun since Don Ameche invented the telephone

The Vonage experience so far has been unremarkable, which is at it should be.

The first step was to set up the account with Vonage, and I chose retail activation. They asked for the router's MAC address and where I bought it, collected the usual contact info and a credit card number, asked for where I wanted my phone number to reside, and moments later I had an e-mail with my new phone number.

Step two had me clearing out the old router, access point and desktop phone and connecting everything to the Linksys router. Nice to have a couple of extra outlets back, even with a UPS with eight outlets and two power strips, I was running short of outlets. I fired up the Linky, then brought the High Altar back up, and got to configuring it. I have a static IP from my provider, so I got all of that good stuff keyed in, and saved the info (having put in many Linksys routers before, I knew to save the info on each page I changed on the admin interface). I then had an "oh shit" moment - Vonage makes it very clear to not turn off your router for five minutes after you get connectivity, as it autoprovisions. When I hit "Save", I got a dialog box that said the router needed to be rebooted, and without remembering Vonage and Linksys' injunction, I agreed to the reboot. I sat agonizing for a good 15 seconds, then checked the status page of the router, and lo and behold, my new number was there on the status page. I picked up the phone, and dial tone. A quick test phone call, and I was rocking.

A few more bits of administrivia (changing the admin password, SSID and encryption key), and the rest of the home network was back up and running. My somewhat problematic HP Deskjet 5850, which has a nasty habit of refusing to connect to the network upon occasion, instantly linked up the instant I got the crypto and SSID worked out (I'm wondering if it just didn't like my old WAP11 access point).

The voice quality on the calls has been in the same ballpark as a regular wired POTS line, perhaps a scratchy noise or two here or there, but nothing you wouldn't get with POTS. It's early in the game, and I haven't really done that much with it yet, but I'll keep you updated on it.

One thing that I noticed which I didn't particularly like was that I ran a throughput test on the router and I was down almost 10%. OK, I know, throughput tests are instantaneous, and of course, there might've been something going on in the background even though I thought I had everything quiesced, so I'll have to recheck that tonight.

My Dopey Software Of The Week Award goes to my buddies over at Zone Labs. My work laptop has ZoneAlarm installed (company policy), and for the most part it's been unremarkable (another good thing). A bit of a pain getting around the company policy for some local sharing issues, but I handled that. Apparently, the security policy got corrupted when I shut down on Friday, and it started asking me for permission to allow various programs (including little things like VPN clients) to do their thing. Nothing I didn't recognize so I said OK, but the damn thing totally hosed my VPN connectivity. I shut ZoneAlarm down, and everything works fine. Not wanting to get into trouble with the auditors, I called the First Ghurka Helpless Desk (dang you berry much vor galling tegnical subbort, have you dismembered your system?) and my cheerful interlocutor on the lobster shift in Mumbai earnestly suggestly that I dismember ZoneAlarm and reinstall. I'm very reluctant to do so, as the last time I uninstalled ZoneAlarm, it left me with a completely unusable IP stack (admittedly this was on another machine with another OS). I'll just disable the thing until I get around to fixing it (too much change in one week already....)


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