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Eddie Goldman is the host and producer of the No Holds Barred international podcast, the publisher of the No Holds Barred blog, and a senior contributing editor at the ADCC News.

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    Saturday, January 07, 2006

    Whatever Happened to American Efficiency? 

    This week I received a postcard -- you older folks might remember those -- from Verizon, my DSL provider, asking me to update something on my account. Since I don't use their awful e-mail, which uses Outlook Express, I guess this was the only way they figured they could contact me. Maybe the nerd in their wireless company's commercials was too busy getting his hair styled.

    Of course, when I got to their site and tried to make some of these changes, I got all sorts of messages that their servers were down, that the "tool" I wanted was unavailable, and so on.

    After the eight-day phone outage my neighborhood endured from Verizon in October, along with numerous similar outages throughout the City of New York affecting many thousands of Verizon landline customers, it is obvious that this once-Baby Bell is trying to rival Time Warner Cable as the worst provider of communications services in New York. And when Verizon comes knocking with its new FIOS fiber-optic television service, which it says is an alternative to both cable and satellite, remember their record of unreliability in delivering the services they already widely market. They do have time to get their act together, but not much as one day some new technology will send them to the same pasture where Western Union resides.

    But the problems do not stop with the usual suspects for making your online and electronic life an overpriced nightmare. I tried several times Thursday and Friday unsuccessfully to upload my audio interview with O'Neil Bell on my page at Ourmedia.org .

    This is an independent site associated with the Internet Archive which says it "is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form." Ourmedia.org is dedicated to helping average people post their text, audio, video, and photos online to bolster the grassroots media. And it is all free.

    Although I finally got the audio up late Friday night, this site did have some glitches in the past few days which were very frustrating for its users. Hopefully Ourmedia can straighten all this out, because unlike the sharks who run Verizon, the people behind it seem to be pursuing a worthy, socially conscious agenda.

    I have also been searching around for other free sites to serve as a host for the audio files I am preparing. After seeing a podcast on the wild and wacky mixed martial arts site Fightsport.com -- about the only one of these sites never in bed with the promoters of that eight-sided monster (lol) -- I came across two more sites which host audio for free, the similarly-named Shockpod and Switchpod.

    Apparently the people who run these two sites used to work together, but no more. In any case, I successfully posted the audio files on Shockpod, but they did not play on Switchpod.

    So what gives here? From the giant monopolist thieves to the independent social reformers to the entrepreneurial geeks, it's been Internet hell. Maybe that's what I get for putting time into these blogs instead of visiting some of my lovely bartenders.

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