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The (Wireless) Dead Zones

Maryland: MARC Camden line train between Union Station and Greenbelt, Bethesda, Potomac (Persimmon Tree Road outside the Beltway), Takoma Park (New Hampshire Avenue and Sligo Creek Parkway), Kensington, Accokeek.

Virginia: Clarendon, East Falls Church (Powhatan Street and Freedom Lane, Wilson Boulevard at Arlington County line), West Falls Church (George Mason High School), Belle View Boulevard, Fair City Mall, Merrifield south of Route 50, Annandale (Little River Turnpike and Braddock Road, Little River Turnpike and Pickett Road), Reston (20194 Zip code), Herndon (Worldgate Center), West Springfield/Burke Station area, I-66 at the Beltway, Dulles Toll Road (just west of I-66).

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The biggest surprise in all these reader reports was the number of people who expected their (non-Verizon) phones to work in the subway and were annoyed to find that they did not. Verizon has been the only carrier to offer service underground in Metro for years; some AT&T and Sprint phones can roam on Verizon's signal, but that's it. This isn't because other carriers are barred from offering service; it's just that it's hideously expensive and slow to string wires in tunnels that happen to be occupied by large, fast-moving trains for 20 to 22 hours a day.

If you want to share your tips on cell-phone dead zones, send me an e-mail or drop by today's Web chat.

Uncle Sam Says...

...Digital TV rocks! Last week, the Federal Communications Commission launched a strange site, DTV.gov. The idea is to offer advice on the ever-confusing topic of digital television, but in this case the site looks and feels much more like a straightforward ad.

I'm familiar with the government setting up consumer-friendly sites to offer its own advice (see, for instance, www.fueleconomy.gov), but I'm not used to seeing such an overtly boosterish presentation. "Get It: Tomorrow's TV Today!" its headline exults.

This is the kind of production I'd expect from a lobby like the Consumer Electronics Association. But if the Feds have decided to get into the business of promoting business, would it be too much to ask for a www.newspapersarecool.gov site?

Authenticate Me, Please

Lastly, one quick note to readers who use challenge-response authentication systems (such as the services offered by EarthLink or MailBlocks): While I applaud your steadfast defense against spam, I also want to be able to answer your e-mail without jumping through hoops. So please add me to your allowed-senders list if you want some sort of a response. That should happen automatically if you send me mail, but there are evidently some challenge-response systems out there that don't take that step.

-- Rob Pegoraro (rob@twp.com)


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