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Old Updates (Jan - Jun '00)

17-Jun-00 - Improved 56k? Soltel based in Germany has introduced Adaptive Level Control product that may provide improved 56k rates and throughput. Problem: This product must be installed in your phone company's network - and phone companies generally are very slow to adopt new technology. The Soltel datasheets give some of the best explanation I've seen of how 56k PCM works - and why most people see rates only in the 40-49k range. Soltel's product is based upon changing the voltage levels produced by the codec and require no change - other than linecard replacement - in the phone network or in the modems. But, it would seem to me that this technology could be used with an enhanced PCM modem spec to provide even higher rates.... 

12-Jun-00 - Scorpio - Lucent has a new modem chipset codenamed Scorpio. This is a soft modem (no controller, no DSP) to compete with Rockwell/Conexant Soft56, PCTel HSP, etc. The Lucent site currently has no information about this product which has already appeared in some Acer notebooks. The firmware/driver for this modem is different from the Lucent Win Modem and currently there is no 'generic' driver.

8-Jun-00 - V.92 - the next standard delayed - Technical issues have delayed determination of the new V.92 standard that may provide increased upstream rates, faster handshaking and call-waiting compatibility. See this Special V.92 Report.

8-Jun-00 - WorldSpy Trouble - On June 5, the ability to connect to Free ISP Worldspy via it's AT&T-supplied access numbers stopped. Worldspy placed a recorded message on its support line (1-877-779-3425 option 3) stating it was a "global" problem that will be corrected "quickly". If you wait for a support representative, they don't really know what's going on (it's a 3rd-party support center). One I spoke with laughed and said no when I asked if it was because Worldspy wasn't paying its bills. Now, the Worldspy access number list is bare as all the AT&T (old IBMNet) numbers have been removed and replaced with "Check back soon".... This outage applies to other free service providers using the Microportal access numbers.  

20-May-00 - Modem satisfaction - I've updated the 56k Modem Survey results - 3Com owners taking the survey report the highest satisfaction and best 56k connect success (68% get 56k, 62% rate the modem good or excellent). Lucent LT and Conexant HCF owners both report the same 56k connect success rate (52%) but only 30% rate the HCF good or excellent while 49% rate the LT good or excellent. 

20-May-00 - More than 1 a/d conversion & 56k - A patent was granted April 18 for a telco 'upgrade' that is supposed to allow 56k modem speeds over Universal SLC (aka UDLC). One of the inventors, Carol Ford, indicated in a recent comp.dcom.modems post that the commercial product is "close" to production, requires replacement of the line card at the CO, and will be marketed under the Raychem name. Bell South reportedly will be doing a field trial of the product soon. The question is: how many telcos will make the investment to provide "upgraded" service without being able to charge an "upgraded" price?

19-May-00 - 808hi.com server change - I'm changing the hosting service / server for 808hi.com to Intermedia (the same one I use for 808news.com). I've written some new pages on my host search, and how to monitor a NT/IIS virtual server for outages. Check it out. The change to the new server should be seamless unless you access the site with an IP address. 808hi.com from the Softcom server will go down on or before June 1. 20-May: New page showing real-time report of outages.

12-May-00 - Java Sucks - Ever wonder how some sites just can't bear to see you leave: you go somewhere else and a sort-of browser window pops up with their final brash sales pitch? That's Java at work. Or why that web page loads so slow as you are delivered a Java-based "applet"  banner ad (aka 'Rich Media')? The use of unnecessary Java is everywhere on the web now - making it hard for the 5% or so of users who don't have a Java browser or choose to disable Java. You can't imagine how annoying it is not to do basic navigation of a site (or, worse yet, get a totally blank page!) because the site you visited assumes you will run their Java code! Now, reports of a new Java on Internet Explorer security flaw (see 56k.com's 12-May update), some experts recommend disabling Java in your browser. Good luck: you will find that you'll have to put plenty of sites in your 'Trusted' category where you allow Java to run if you want to see or use them! [The sad thing is that (1) HTML allows the page to be written to provide Java and non-Java functionality; and (2) Much of what web designers are using Java for (processing done on your computer) is really unnecessary!] From Nasa.gov: "JAVA truly is the great equalizing software. It has reduced all computers to mediocrity and buggyness."

11-May-00 - 3db PADs - Bad for 56k - New page in the v.Unreliable section. Updated driver info for HCF and Soft56 modems.

25-Apr-00 - New Forum56 - FORUM56 - where you can ask & answer questions about modems, and now Free ISPs as well - is now running new software with improved functionality. After running into severe problems using the Microsoft FrontPage Discussion handler, A-Forum was used as a quick-fix. The new Forum software is from Asp-Dev.com. Check out the new Forum56!

8-Apr-00 - Nortel Networks = bad V.90 - The CVX1800 Access Switch from Nortel Networks is being deployed by some service providers - and causing new interoperability problems. In Hawaii, facilities-based CLEC and ISP GST has installed a CVX and is reselling access to other Hawaii ISPs. My Lucent Win Modem and 3Com Sportster cannot get a good 56k rate, and neither of them can maintain a connection to the CVX without retraining and eventually disconnecting within a few minutes. 

8-Apr-00 - Voice dialing modems - Digital Acoustics Corporation is working with modem manufacturers to provide voice recognition in V.90 modems. Also see: Voicedial.org.

21-Mar-00  - 3Com to get out of modem business - announcing plans to sell its Illinois factory to Singapore contract manufacturer NatSteel Electronics. 3Com will take a 20% stake in the new modem business with majority ownership in the hands of NatSteel and Taiwan-based Accton Technology. 3Com also announced it will exit the high-end networking business dominated by Cisco. 3Com's new focus will be in 3 main areas: high-speed consumer Internet access (cable & DSL modems), networking equipment for small-medium sized business, and ISP access equipment. 3Com is expected to lay off 800 - 1000 workers, and another 2000 will move to the new foreign-owned modem company. NatSteel is expected to take over the factory by May, and 3Com will take a charge of $200-$300million as a result of the restructuring.

17-Mar-00 - Interactive Troubleshooter added to the site. This page allows you to check problem(s) you are having and provides customized suggestions and links. Still to be improved, it is intended for the user that knows only the basics about a modem. I'd appreciate feedback on it from you experts too!

Security, Windows and more: Some strange happenings on a PC connected to the Internet. It crashes and won't reboot Windows NT. Protected by AntiVirus software, but open to the world complete with a functional guest account. I got the system back up and purchased BlackIce Defender for the owner. The bottom line: even on a dial-up connection, you're likely to get requests or scans from people that are looking to break in. It is extremely easy to set up even a stand-alone Windows95/98 system so that hackers can access your system (and many 'standard' installations of Windows & DUNs permit it), but it's much more difficult to set up a secure system - especially if the system is part of a local LAN.  

29-Feb-00 - Selective Reject - Selective reject is now supported on Lucent/Livingston Portmaster equipment with new ISP modem firmware in ComOS 3.9b27. This feature improves modem performance when there are data errors, and must be present on both client and server modems to work. Only 3Com/USR client modems support SREJ. In addition to Lucent PM3 and PM4, SREJ is supported by 3Com and Bay Networks server modems.

22-Feb-00 - New Server - The 808news.com domain has been moved to a new virtual server (it may take a few more days before all DNS lookups go to the new server). Among other things, this puts the 808hi and 808news domains in different physical locations with different backbone providers - meaning if you can't reach one, you're more likely able to reach the other. There is no anonymous FTP to the new 808news, but the files are still available via http at 808news.com/ftp/[filename]. The change will facilitate new BBS software for FORUM56 [coming]. Hopefully, there won't be too many glitches - but surely there will be some.... As always, Let Me Know!

16-Feb-00 - Lucent LT upgrade + - The newest release for the Lucent Win Modem is available here - 5.70. Rockwell/Conexant Soft56 page has more info & driver download sources. And, a new page attached to the Troubleshooting - Access Numbers section gives my take on why free access provider WorldSpy is soooo bad!

10-Feb-00 - Misc. updates - Recent site updates include - How Line Coding Errors can cause 56k troubles* V.90 Interoperability Status  Troubleshooting: HCF/HSF Modem pages revamped - updated today to include source for Windows-2000 HCF driver; DUNS Error Codes* - listing of all error codes with links to how to troubleshoot. (* - Additional info coming soon.) Netscape Printing Trouble - I think I've found the source of the problem - HTML at the top of each page is delivered incorrectly to Netscape browser by the Microsoft IIS server. I've found a way to change the source code so Netscape browsers can print pages from this site - but, I have to change the code on every page individually.....  

10 & 9-Feb-00 - Access denied - Some of the leading sites on the Internet - including Amazon, e.Bay, E*Trade, Buy.com and more have been hit with denial of service attacks - virtually shutting down the sites for hours. See C|Net Excite Yahoo news stories. Some attacks involve flooding servers with data - and can cause slowdowns in accessing sites that aren't under attack. Microsoft, MSN, and UUNet all had massive troubles on 8-Feb-00 continuing into 10-Feb-00 with scant reporting of Microsoft troubles. (My latest primary ISP - MSN using a UUNET node - has been virtually unusable for over 24 hours due to packets being dropped at UUNET routers in California - see Trouble Beyond the Modem - Part 3.) Some Microsoft troubles may be related to their use of the new Windows 2000 & IIS 5.0. Security problems with the as-yet unreleased Win2K have already been found, and Microsoft has already prepared patches. Also see CNN's "Microsoft's fortune rides on Windows 2000, analysts say".

5-Feb-00 - Intel to Acquire Ambient/Cirrus - In a move to acquire silicon to take us into the broadband (DSL) area, Intel is paying $150 million to acquire Cirrus spin-off Ambient Technologies. This will also make Intel "responsible" for the troublesome line of analog V.90 modems in the CL series. Also see: Intel Press Release.

1-Feb-00 - V.90: Still not ready for prime time - Almost 2 years since the first V.90 modems hit the streets, and 3 years since 3Com/USR shipped 56k x2 modems, and 56k connects are still elusive for 30-40% of modem owners in the US. Read more about it on the updated V.90 Interoperability Status page.

15-Jan-00 Windows2000 & Modems - Microsoft has a web-based Hardware Compatibility List (HCL) that can be used to determine whether a modem is [supposed to be] compatible with Windows2000, NT4, 95 and/or 98. I have updated Windows2000 information for the LT Winmodem on this page. For other modems requiring drivers, Microsoft's HCL suggests Win2K-compatibility (ie, Soft56, Rockwell/Conexant HCF) and says go to "contact" the vendor to get the driver. Right! Other modems, such as some 3Com/USR PCI modems are not listed as Win2k-compatible at all. The new operating system also makes it much more difficult to make your own choices about drivers to use - Win2K thinks it knows best, and will thwart attempts to replace a driver - "Intelligent Installer & Self-repair" built-in. It appears that the retail build of Win2K already in manufacturing will not allow updated unsigned drivers to be installed, contrary to the Microsoft document describing driver signatures. While the official release of Win2K is February 17, new computer systems with Win2k preinstalled will be available for purchase before the end of January.

3-Jan-00 - Netscape 4.7 & this site - Reports from users with the latest version of Netscape's browser 4.7: cannot print any of the 56k=v.Unreliable pages (Netscape says there is nothing to print!); also, some 'bad' HTML code (as generated by Microsoft web-bots and found on this and other sites) may cause memory, swap file, and system resources to 'go wild'. 

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