“You Need a Fernco Cap” – the wisdom of buying local

So I was in the middle of one of my long-delayed projects, depressing two white plastic clean out pipes sticking up in the back yard. Seemed simple. Just dig around the pipes, cut them down and glue on new plastic caps.

Off to Herrington’s to buy the new plastic caps – I already have the glue from an earlier bathroom project.

On my return I discover that the pipe in the ground is not what I thought it to be. Back to Herringtons – I explain my error and the sales person, sorry I never got his name, said, “Oh, there is a simpler solution, you need a Fernco!”

What is a Fernco? – turns out that I had used them earlier, many years ago then forgotten this line of neoprene plumbing fittings.  I never would have thought of it. But, buy local and someone at Herringtons will remind you.Fernco 4" neoprene cap

 

Troubles with Verizon DSL Internet Service in Hudson

Are you a user of Verizon “High Speed Internet” DSL Service?

Verizon

borrowed w/o permission

We have been experiencing very annoying problems with our Verizon DSL internet service on lower Warren St. since early March 2013.1

Do you have troubles:

  • connecting to a TIVO box?
  • using Netflix on a Roku box?
  • uploading files using FTP whether embedded in a software package like Dreamweaver or an FTP utility like Fetch?
  • other strange service problems?

If you do or have other troubles with your Verizon DSL service I would like to hear from you. Contact me at: “mark at markorton.com”. Or use the form on the Contact page

 

  1. We have no complaints about speed or ping. We very reliably get 6.5 MB/S download and 0.6 MB/S upload with a ping of less than 100 milliseconds – we never said that about Mid-Hudson Cable []

Hudson and Its People: immigration in 19th & 20th centuries by Sally Naramore

Warren St Hudson NY at dusk looking up townThe Greenport Historical Society hosted a lecture by Sally Naramore on Wednesday evening 4/18/2013 at the Greenport Town Hall. Her presentation which included visuals not included here, focused on immigration to Hudson in the 19th and 20th centuries.

If you know Hudson, especially the churches, you should be able to follow her descriptions of where people settled within Hudson. Ms. Naramore is the Department Chair and Teach of Social Studies at Hudson High School. She was Executive Director of the Columbia County Historical Society from 1983-1990 (biographical information from the historical society’s flyer). Continue reading

Not to Be Missed – Sam Pratt on FOIL

The omnipresent and frequently useful Sam Pratt has a great introduction to our New York state Freedom of Information Law. Don’t miss it it on his eponymous blog

I am going to try it out to get the current contract between the city and Mid-Hudson Cable. Got to get a head start on rousing people to the barricades before the city gives away the store again when the contract comes up for renewal.

Internet Access and Service Levels in Hudson and Columbia County

The Register Star featured an article today about internet service in the county, “County dials up broadband efforts: Working with local providers and developing a map of who can’t get high-speed Internet access among officials’ goals” By Nathan Mayberg. 

Counting the Number without Access Is Not Enough

It is good that our government officials are concerned with improving Internet access across the county. It is painfully obvious that Internet access is more important in our time than even rural electrification and telephone service was to earlier generations. Without Internet access people are increasingly cut off from an array of opportunities. They cannot participate fully in our culture and economy.

I want to focus on the quality of Internet access. Even in Hudson, the most densely populated part of the county, we barely have broadband service. Mid-Hudson Cable provides download speeds that are only marginally broadband. Despite their advertising campaigns proclaiming “blazing speeds” up to 5 MB/s (or for $5 extra per month – 10 MB/s) the actual service I have experienced, tested with easily available test sites on the Web, has averaged 3.7 MB/s over the last 2 years. Worse, the quality of this service is so bad that it has frequently made it difficult for me to conduct my business conferences over the Web. And, because cable Internet service is provided through a party line, when lots of people are online at the same time, the service becomes even slower and less responsive.

Some have said, “You live in Hudson, Get Verizon DSL.” Recently I have done just this. Now I get 5.2 MB/s download speeds and the service quality consistently allows for good video-conferencing. But this is as good as this service will ever get. DSL has its technical limitations. To be competitive in broadband access we need to reach for 20 MB/s and higher.

Use Next Contract to Leverage Services from Mid-Hudson Cable

What to do in the short term?

The contract between the city and Mid-Hudson is coming up for renewal next year. Our local government officials need to get involved.

  • Any new contract with Mid-Hudson must contain service level standards that are enforced by monetary means. 
  • We should expect Mid-Hudson to come to the table with a plan for enhancing Internet service in the future and this plan should be made part of the enforceable language of the contract. 
  • And, the contract should address a real economic barrier to access in Hudson. We need a three tier system. It might look like this: basic Internet with 5MB/s service for $20 per month; better Internet access with 10MB/s service for $35 per month and world class service with 20MB/s service for $60 per month. In all cases the service level agreement would guarantee that Mid-Hudson actually deliver these speeds not just their current “blazing speeds”. 

Hudson Takes the Lead –  County Benefits

If Hudson takes the lead on this, everyone in the Mid-Hudson Cable service area will benefit. We have the density and economic power to get Mid-Hudson to improve Internet access and service. Once we set the standard other communities in the county with less economic power can tag along.

Ramp Fest Hudson NY – 05/05/2012

Ramp Fest Hudson NY may 5, 2012Karen, with friends Esther and Rose Hanig, went off to Ramp Fest Saturday. I stayed behind to mind the store.

They gave the food and the ambiance rave reviews. They ate enough so I barely had to make dinner.

 

Here are a few photos taken by Karen.

Ramp Fest Hudson NY Basilica

Ramp Fest Hudson NY - Jeff Loshinsky

Jeff Gimmel - one of the prime ramp movers

 

Ramp Fest Hudson NY - picture takingRamp Fest Hudson Ny - Truck Pizza - Sam Starr

Sam Starr's Truck Pizza got in on the action

Karen got carded - "Drinking Age Verified"

Hudson Sidewalks – more about Prospect Ave. and code enforcement

no curbs on new sidewalk on Prospect Ave. Hudson NYA couple of weeks ago I came on a new sidewalk on Prospect Ave. that seemed to be out of compliance with local ordinances. At the time I wrote a bit about this, “Sidewalks in Hudson – Dangerous for Lack of Code Enforcement and Common Sense“.

Yesterday, my walk took me up Prospect again.

Now we seem to be seeing the finished product. Not only is it not as wide by 16 inches as the ordinance calls for, there is no curb.

Perhaps our Code Enforcement Officer Mr.Wurster could shed some light on this state of affairs?  Or perhaps it is to the Superintendent of Public Works Mr. Perry that we should address a question. It is not clear in the city Code  about who is responsible for overseeing sidewalk construction. 

Goodbye Mid-Hudson Cable – Verizon DSL and a Surprise

We pulled the plug on Mid-Hudson Cable (MHC) for our internet service a couple of weeks ago in favor of Verizon DSL service. I have written about MHC’s terrible service and misrepresentations earlier. Most recently here.

Being fortunate enough to live less than 17,000 ft1 from the Verizon office next to the Post Office, DSL is available to me. Through acquaintances I learned of their good luck with DSL. 

After the installation I ran a number of tests using the same test site, Speedtest.net,  that I have used to measure the bad performance of Mid-Hudson. This showed that Verizon is very consistently delivering 5.2 MB/sec download and 750KB/sec uploads with a ping of 50 millisecond. And, my continuing tests using Speedtest.net show that the service is consistent throughout the day. No more of the slow downs so common to the party line affair of cable internet services.

Though this is hardly world beating service2 the real surprise came from the impact of the fast ping speed.3

I use Skype videoconferencing for both business and family purposes. With MHC the ping regularly measured in the hundreds of milliseconds. This caused jittery or frozen video and chronic echoes in the audio. My first Skype conference with clients revealed great audio without echoes. I even abandoned by headset. Just using the microphone on the desktop gave me great sound and the frozen video are now a memory.4

  1. the current maximum distance from a switch office for DSL []
  2. the US is 13th in the world with South Korea at the top with an average 13.8MB/s download speed of []
  3. Ping is the time between the click of a mouse and the return of a packet of information from the host server to your web browser []
  4. Verizon logo used without permission []

Sidewalks in Hudson – Dangerous for Lack of Code Enforcement and Common Sense

sidewalk under construction Prospect Ave Hudson NY

My earlier posting, “New Sidewalk, Short on Common Sense and Oversight, a Disaster for Pedestrians“, about the new sidewalk in front of Wunderbar brought a number of comments and some interesting dialogue about what is really going on with sidewalks in Hudson. As wunderbar commented about that posting, “Stay your gavel and break out your ruler”. In fact, this sidewalk was built to the city’s code requirements.

With Carole Osterink pointing me the way to the applicable city codes (Chapter A330. CURB, SIDEWALK AND STREET REQUIREMENTS and Chapter 266. STREETS AND SIDEWALKS) where the requirements are spelled out in considerable detail, I now see a bit deeper into this problem. 

BTW – Carole has a different take on sidewalks in a recent posting, “Where the Sidewalk Ends”. Her words speak one story, the photos seem uniformly to support the assertion that our sidewalks are a hazardous mess.

The city has ordinances that are not being enforced. And, based on the evidence of a new sidewalk just up the block from the Wunderbar sidewalk as you turn the corner onto Prospect Ave., not being administered with consistency. The code calls for the width of a sidewalk to be 5 feet. 44 inches is a bit shy.

It seems that perhaps the deeper issue revolves around a reluctance by the city to enforce its own codes to get property owners to rebuild sidewalks. In some places, like lower Allen St. near Front St., the sidewalk has simply disappeared. We need an injection of pride of place. Hudson is such a compact walkable place, with many charms. But, one hesitates to walk almost anywhere without gazing fixedly downward for fear of  treachery by sidewalk. 

Clearly this problem cannot be solved without some action by the elected officialsThis might include developing a multi-year city wide project and perhaps the city asking for bids from contractors for large volume sidewalk construction so that the cost of the construction can be driven down. This could also facilitate whole blocks being rebuilt at once so that the finished product is a flat, safe surface for pedestrians.

Another area of enforcement that would appear to be flagging is the attention to the details spelled out in the ordinances for the materials and tamping of subsoils before concrete is poured. Everywhere in the city there are examples of subsidence of the sidewalk relative to the curbing of one and more inches. This can only be the result of poor construction techniques.

sidewalk width Prospect Ave Hudson NY

Finally, wheelchair ramps. Laws, regulations, and general social consent that disabled people should have fair access to social spaces have been in place for decades. Somehow, our sidewalks are exempt. There are innumerable intersections where there are no curb ramps. As part of a rebuilding of sidewalks we should put these ramps into place.

I do still stand by my comments that the sidewalk constructed in front of Wunderbar defies common sense. Practical people solve problems in a way that is workable and durable. This abrupt transition between the two sidewalks is not workable nor safe. The city code enforcement and the contractor should have come up with a solution that resolved this. Lacking some vigorous action by city officials or the shame of the owner of the building adjacent, this sidewalk mess will be with us for years (decades?).