Thursday, December 20, 2007

high-speed (sort of) internets.

Well, we have satellite Internet now, after having to pay the installer $225 extra for a custom install (digging a hole by the tree line and putting a hundred pounds of concrete and a pole into it). 

The good thing is that the speed beats dial-up by a fair margin, and pulling web pages no longer feels like a masochistic exercise in patience. 

The bad things are:

  • Cost.  $60 a month, plus $300 for the standard install, plus the aforementioned $225 for the custom install because the line of sight to the satellite is poor from the side of the house.
  • Latency.  Because the signal has to travel up into low-earth orbit twice, there's a built in latency that makes it impossible to play, say, first-person shooters online.  Scratch anything that requires fast reaction times, in fact.  World of Warcraft is playable, but only just so--last night, I initially got 8000ms (!) latency, but it slowly improves after a few minutes to where your actions and spells only have a lag of a second or two.
  • Bandwidth restrictions.  This one's a biggie.  Hughesnet has a "Fair Access Policy" that limits the amount of data you can download within any given 24-hour period.  For our price plan, that's 200MB.  Exceed the quota, and they switch you to a speed that makes dial-up feel like broadband, and you stay there for 24 hours.  We maxed that out just testing stuff and downloading one lousy video card driver package from ATI yesterday afternoon.  I have no idea how much bandwidth World of Warcraft uses with two clients running, but we'll find out tonight.  I may have to upgrade our plan from Basic to "Pro Plus", which bumps the download threshold to 425MB, and the download speed to 1.5Mbps.  For big downloads, they have you use the 3-6AM timeslot, when the data moved doesn't count towards your quota.  The FAP is teh suck, but unfortunately, they're the only broadband game in town.  Being out in the sticks does carry some sacrifices with it, I suppose, but we do miss our old, fast, reliable DSL line.  Alas, it may have the unintended positive side effect of forcing me to use the Internet for essential stuff only, rather than waste a morning playing Wikipedia Safari.

The roof may not be as expensive as originally quoted.  I'm having a few more roofing companies come out to look at the repairs needed, to get some different opinions.  Asking a roofer whether you need a new roof is like asking a barber whether you need a haircut, so I want to follow some of the excellent advice you folks in Blogland have tossed out, and make sure I'm not being taken.  The good news is that keeping the roof clear of ice dams has stopped all the leaks save the one in Quinn's room, which is rather substantial.

The really good news: booze is cheaper in NH than in TN, and the NH state liquor stores are open on Sundays.

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