ISP questions

Bill Moran wmoran at
Thu Jun 4 17:10:19 UTC 2009

In response to Mark Hartkemeyer <hartkemd at>:

> I'm pretty new to FreeBSD and was reading part of Greg Lehey's The
> Complete FreeBSD 4th Edition.  I found the section on ISPs in chapter
> 18 really interesting.  I put some of his recommended questions to my
> ISP, Cincinnati Bell's Zoomtown.  I think I talked to three or four
> people before I even got some of them answered.
> Here are some of the questions and answers:
> 1. What speed connections do you offer?
>     5MBps upload/5MBps download (she said bytes, but should it be bits?)

If they're doing 5 megabyte per second, then sign me up!

> 3. How many hops are there to the backbone?
>     "It depends on the site you're trying to reach." (I think they
> misunderstood what I meant by "backbone"?)

I suspect you're correct, although it is possible to have multiple
backbones that are different hops away.

> 4. What kind of hardware and software are you running?
>     "Can't provide this, due to security reasons."

That's the stupidest answer I've heard today.

> 7. Do you give complete access to the Internet, or do you block some ports?
>     "Cannot provide this info, due to security reasons."  After
> asking, I was told that I would be able to run a mail server and http
> server on my connection.

That's the stupidest answer I've heard today (just trumped the previous

Reminds me of when I was trying to pay my student loan back, and the bank
refused to tell me what the monthly payment was until I started paying it
back.  No, I'm not making that up or exaggerating.

"How do I know what to write the check for?"
"We'll tell you."
"Well then tell me now."
"I can't divulge that information until you start making payments."

> 8. Do you have complete reverse DNS?
>     (They didn't know.)

Heh.  Can they find the bathroom in the dark?

> I assume this is a pretty typical response from ISPs.  Has anyone
> asked their ISP questions like these?  If so, what kind of response
> did you get?  Does anyone know of a really good ISP, or a good
> resource for finding a good ISP around Cincinnati, OH?

I recommend hooking up with your local user's group.  There's probably a
LUG in Cinci somewhere, and most LUGs I know are pretty friendly to BSD
folks, and there will be someone in the LUG who's already done this
research.  How 'bout this:

If you meet anyone there who recognizes my name, tell them I said "Hi."

Bill Moran

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