Getting Back Online… Slowly

Cox LogoUpdate: I went home for lunch and learned that the Internet there is back on. Therefore, I’m hoping to return to a more normal routine either tomorrow or Thursday. There will, however, be a podcast tomorrow, as usually, at 5 PM ET.

I hate to make my first post back after this hiatus to be a personal and off-topic one. However, I make it a policy to be open and explain the reasons for my absence or any problems that I have with the site that affects my readers.

As most of you know from my previous post, I live in New Orleans, which was recently hit by Hurricane Isaac. The storm, despite being only a category 1, had a much stronger affect on the region than expected and resulted in extended power and communications outages.

Fortunately, I am fine, my family is fine and all of my friends are fine. I suffered only minor damage in the storm, losing just one piece of vinyl siding from my garage. I fared much better than many of my friends who took significant flood damage so I count myself as very lucky.

However, the return to normal has been slow, much slower than expected. I had initially planned on returning to work on Thursday or Friday, a few days after the storm, but Isaac rested on top of the city for an extra day slowed any recovery significantly. Power to my house and home office was not restored until Saturday and some of my friends were without until Monday.

But even though the lights are on and the damage has been mostly fixed in my area, I am unable to fully return to work. The reason is that I still do not have Internet access at my house. To make matters worse, despite repeated calls, I don’t have an ETA on when my connection will be fixed or when I can expect any progress can be made.

The problem is with Cox Communications, my local cable provider and, though I am not normally one to vent my frustrations on this forum, I have to admit to being upset about it.

Though I am sympathetic to the damage that the city has taken and the size of the task at hand, the simple truth is that every other provider in the city has managed the storm better, even the much maligned-Entergy, our power provider.

Power has been on for over three days and every AT&T Customer in my area and elsewhere I know of already have their access back (most got it back before they got electricity).

However, it seems that only one of the people I know with Cox have had their access restored and there has been little progress made in connecting others.

Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time I’ve had this issue with Cox. In 2005, the same thing happened after Hurricane Katrina, every other provider in the city had their customers connected well before Cox was even sending crews around.

Following that debacle, there were promises from Cox made to customers to improve. However, as Isaac has shown, nothing has changed and it appears things have actually gotten worse.

The response of Cox in the face of such a disaster has been devastating to me personally and professionally. I depend on it for my business (and my entertainment as well). Though much of my business is fairly mobile, a great deal of it involves additional equipment that can’t be ported around easily. Podcasting equipment, video tools, extra monitors, secondary CPUs that make my client work possible, etc. can’t be relocated to a coffee shop for a day.

However, resolving the issue is not as simple as switching to another provider, especially in the middle of a disaster like this. Like many regions, practical broadband competition isn’t a reality in New Orleans and AT&T is the only other home provider available to me (that I’m aware of) and their access is limited to less than a third of the speed of what I can get through Cox (when it works).

So my options, as they sit, are to either put up with unacceptably low service from Cox, deal with extremely slow “high speed” Internet or move outside of the city limits. That being said, I have put queries out to other companies that offer business Internet to see if they would be willing to provide access to a home office, perhaps at a higher cost.

The reason I tell all of this is simple: Until I get Cox Internet access restored to my home office, I cannot run this site or my client’s projects to my full ability. Though I have been graciously offered temporary office space by my significant other’s employer, I can’t bring the full of my equipment, I am limited to what I can do and the things I can do will take much longer.

Since I am going to be trying to get caught up on an extra large work load with only my laptop, I have to make sacrifices on what I do. As such, I will not be able to post Plagiarism Today until access is restored.

I plan to return to a normal posting habit once I get access, but until then, as long as I am without my setup, I have to focus on my clients first and I am very sorry for that.

I apologize for that, especially with all of the interesting things going on. But please bear with me during this time and know that, access willing, things will return to normal shortly…

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