New Story Available at Amazon.com

Hey, look, I’m using the blog for its original purpose!  Don’t worry, though, this is just a temporary digression before we return to the regularly scheduled adventures of Dennis the Menace.

I have a new fantasy story available at Amazon.com.  This one is called “Comfort” and it’s about the winter siege of a castle high in the mountains.  It’s not horror, but don’t worry, plenty of people still die.

OpenDNS To The Rescue

So last night in the midst of the usual connection slowdown, I decided to take matters into my own hands and switched the router over to use OpenDNS servers instead of Cox DNS servers. The time to establish connections to sites immediately improved and there were no further timeouts. We will see how it works tonight.

The reason I suspected a DNS issue was because (as Cox determined) the modem signal was fine, and all the speed tests — when they would run — reported normal or near-normal download speeds even while sites were completely failing to load. The main issue we were having was that it was really slow to start a session with a new site, often timing out or giving “address not found” errors on the first try but working on the second or third. Once on a site, things were generally reasonably quick. This suggested that the difficulty was in either resolving the host name (i.e., turning “yahoo.com” into Yahoo’s IP address) or in negotiating the initial TCP connection (i.e., getting “directions” from here to Yahoo). Reasoning that Cox’s DNS servers might be saturated by the kid next door downloading porn, I took them out of the equation. So far it seems to have worked.

So go ahead, kid. Download the entire Star Wars series and every episode of Family Guy. See if we care.

Peak Time

So lately our cable broadband has been getting really slow in the evenings, starting around 6pm. In the morning it flies (18mb download speeds according to DSL Reports speed test), but come prime time, pages won’t load, valid addresses are not found, form submits time out — we’re talking narrowband stuff here, like a 28.8 modem from 1994. We don’t have anything better to do in the evenings than surf the Internet (except when we’re at the Arthur Murray or Dance North County) so this is kind of annoying.

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How To Hand Out Halloween Candy

So Halloween came and went, and we didn’t get as many trick-or-treaters (hereafter known as TOTs) as I was expecting, given the numbers of kids that seem to be running around the neighborhood on any given day. There is a possibility that our dogs–who bark like lunatics every time someone comes to the door, let alone a group of six or seven someones dressed like axe-wielding maniacs, fairy princesses, and various forms of licensed merchandise–kept some of the TOTs away. I definitely heard some screaming and running off down the driveway when the dogs started up. (Dennis the rescue vizsla didn’t bark all that much, but he was watching the other two and taking notes.)

So anyway, here’s the proper way to hand out Halloween candy. First, buy extra bags. Then, hand out the candy in ascending order of how much you like it; this way you’re left with a bag of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups instead of a bag of Honey Bunches O’ Angry Ants or whatever.

Oh, and give extra candy to the TOTs who say “thank you”. Even goblins can learn to be polite.