Date:         Fri, 29 Sep 2000 02:52:20 -0500
Sender:       The Internet TourBus - A virtual tour of cyberspace
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Comments:     Originally-From: Patrick Douglas Crispen

From:         Patrick Douglas Crispen 
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             TOURBUS Volume 6, Number 21 -- 28 Sept 2000
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      \___/  \___/  T h e   I n t e r n e t   T o u r B u s    \___/
      FIVE YEARS of Searchable Archives at !!
   Cable Modem / Speed Tests / DLL Archive
Howdy, y'all, and greetings once again from the beautiful city of
Tuscaloosa, Alabama, site of the famous Battle of Hastings (October
14th, 1066).  :P
TOURBUS is made possible by the kind support of our sponsors.  A big
thanks to Affordable Computer Supply Marketplace, Dell Computer (!),
and the Communicate2000 conference for keeping the Bus rolling.
Please visit and say thanks!
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On with the show ...
PC's Adventures in Cable Modem Land
     "Where's the kaboom?  There was supposed to be an earth-
     shattering kaboom." -- Marvin the Martian
Brace yourself, folks.  Your fearless bus driver has a cable modem!
After reading all of the cable modem horror stories both online and in
print -- installation wait lists of up to 8 months, connections that
work for a few days and then stop, hardware and software problems that
require half-a-dozen service calls over the course of several months
-- I was prepared for the worst.  I figured that if I started the
installation process in late September, my cable modem *might* be up
and working by January ... if I was lucky.
Nothing, however, prepared me for what REALLY happened this week.  I
called Comcast (the cable provider here in the beautiful city of
Tuscaloosa, Alabama) around noon on Tuesday.  At 9:00 a.m. on
Wednesday, Comcast's technicians showed up to install my modem.
That's Wednesday, folks, as in THE NEXT DAY!
Wait.  It gets better.  The whole installation process took, max, 20
minutes.  The technicians took the modem out of the box, connected it
to my cable line and to my PC's Ethernet card ... and it WORKED.  It
couldn't have been simpler.  Despite what I was led to expect, there
was no earth-shattering kaboom.  :)
Well, at least there wasn't a kaboom until a few minutes ago.  If you
are a fan of irony, you'll get a kick out of this: a few seconds after
I finished writing that last paragraph, my cable modem stopped
working.  No, really.  And since it is 1:25 in the morning, I doubt
there is anyone sitting by the phone at Comcast who can fix this right
away.  So I guess I am back to using my telephone modem and dialing in
at 24 Kbps.  Sigh.  :(
The saga begins.  I'll tell you how this turns out in my next post.
How Much Faster?
Let's pretend that my cable modem is working and I want to see how
fast my connection is.  Measuring the speed of your Internet
connection is part science, part voodoo.  I have found three really
good Web pages that kind of mix the two, giving you a pretty good idea
of how fast you are going at any given moment.
The first is MSN's Bandwidth Speed Test at .
Long-time riders will remember that we talked about this page earlier
this year.  Visit this page with any browser -- even Netscape! -- and
the page will (eventually) tell you your connection speed.  How?
Well, the Bandwith Speed Test is actually two web pages.  The first
page is kind of small, and the second is astoundingly large (537 Kb!).
Each page contains
      a hidden data file in the header area of the page.  When either
      of these pages loads, it notes the time just before and just
      after the data file loads, then uses this information and the
      size of the data file to calculate the rate at which the data
      arrived at your computer.
Besides telling you the real speed of your Internet connection, the
Bandwith Speed Test page also has a WONDERFUL questions and answers
section that every Internet user should be required to read.  The
questions and answers section contains the best explanations for slow
Net connections I have seen in a long time.  :)
The second speed tester is the Cable Modem Information Network's
Online Speed test at .
While MSN's Bandwith Speed Test loads automatically, to start the
Online Speed test you have to click on the "Test your download
speeds!" link.
While you're at this site, make sure to check out the "How Fast is a
Cable Modem" section.  Using a simple, time-compressed Macromedia
Flash animation, the folks at the Cable Modem Information Network show
you how long it would take to download a one megabyte file using a
cable modem, a 256k ADSL connection, and a 28.8 modem connection.
Notice that I said "time-compressed."  In real life, it would take a
28.8 modem at least four and a half minutes to download a 1 Mb file.
Oh, by the way, if you want to replay the animation, right-click or
(if you have a Mac) click and hold on the animation and choose "Play."
Our final speed tester is at .
Created by Leslie Long, the Modem Speed Test page lets you test your
connection speed by downloading either a small or large graphic.
Long's page measures how long it takes for your computer to load the
test page and display it on your browser.  Unlike MSN's Bandwidth
Speed Test, Long's Modem Speed Test is specifically designed for
ordinary modems and ISDN lines.  So, until I can figure out why my
cable modem stopped working, I think I'll be frequenting the Modem
Speed Test page.
Don't forget that, in the real world, speed equals distance over time.
On your computer, Internet speed equals filesize over time.  Both
measurements are averages and therefore are open to fluctuation.  One
moment you could be puttering along at a fairly nice clip, the next
you could be stuck in a massive traffic jam.  So take the results of
these speed tests with a HUGE grain of salt.
This does bring up an interesting question, though.  To measure
instantaneous speed in the real world you use calculus.  I wonder how
you would measure instantaneous speed online.  Hmmm ...
Our final stop of the day falls into the "here is a site I found while
I was wandering around the Web; this is really cool, but there isn't
much to say about it" category.
The DLL Archive
If you use Windows, chances are you have seen an error that says
something like "cannot find blahblah.DLL."  Frustrating, isn't it?
According to our friends at -- have you bookmarked yet?  You should! -- a DLL (or "Dynamic Link Library")
     is a collection of small programs, any of which can be called
     when needed by a larger program that is running in the computer.
     The small program that lets the larger program communicate with a
     specific device such as a printer or scanner is often packaged as
     a DLL program (usually referred to as a DLL file). DLL files that
     support specific device operation are known as device driver.
The bad news is that when a dll goes missing or gets corrupted, your
PC does all sorts of weird stuff.  Fortunately, all is not lost.
There are four ways you can deal with a missing or corrupted dll file:
     1. Ignore it and hope the problem will fix itself.  Oddly, this
        NEVER works (and I speak from experience here, folks).
     2. Go to a search engine like AltaVista or Google and search for
        your missing or corrupted dll.  If you're lucky, someone else
        will have had the same problem you are having and will have
        posted detailed instructions on how to fix or replace your
        naughty dll.
     3. Reinstall the software that uses the missing dll.  This seems
        to be a popular solution, but it is a little drastic.  Before
        you do that, try this:
     4. Visit the dll archive at
The DLL archive is just that: an archive of dll files.  If you are
missing a particular dll, see if you can find it in the archive.  If
you can, your problem is (hopefully) solved.  :)
That's it for this week.  Have a safe and happy weekend, and we'll
talk again next week.
   Cable Modem / Speed Tests / DLL Archive
GODZILLER (Noun).  Mothra's nemesis.
Usage (with deepest apologies to our friends "down under"):
   Waltzing Godziller, Waltzing Godziller
   You are a monster from under the sea
   And we sang as we walked through the burning streets of Tokyo,
   "Who'll come a-waltzing, Godziller, with me?"
[Special thanks go to Nick Zark for today's word]
You can find all of the old Southern Words of the day at 
The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2239
Copyright © Bob Rankin and Patrick Crispen - All rights reserved
=====================[ Tourbus Rider Information ]===================

   The Internet Tourbus - U.S. Library of Congress ISSN #1094-2238
     Copyright 1995-2000, Crispen & Rankin - All rights reserved
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 (\__/)  .'     )  ))       Patrick Douglas Crispen
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TOURBUS - 28 SEP 00 - CABLE MODEM  /  SPEED TESTS , viruses, hoaxes, urban legends, search engines, cookies, cool sites
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