As I may have mentioned before, we’re on HughesNet satellite Internet at Castle Frostbite, due to the lack of DSL and cable Internet at our somewhat rural location. Satellite Internet is better than dial-up—you get always-on Internet, and it’s faster by a fair margin—but it’s a compromise solution that’s only tolerable because dial-up would suck so much more. (For those who are curious: our download speeds are usually in the ~300kb/s range, and uploads are half that.)
Part of the service package is a restriction on downloaded megabytes in any given 24-hour period. Their least expensive package comes with a 200MB/day cap. Our service plan allows for 475MB per 24 hours. Between the hours of 2 and 7 in the morning, any downloaded data doesn’t count toward your cap, so getting big patches and updates involves turning on the PC at two in the morning, to take advantage of the free-for-all window.
On Tuesday, Blizzard pushed out a 600+MB patch for our favorite Intertubes time-waster, World of Warcraft. I downloaded the patch Wednesday morning, applied it to our computers, and all was well.
We have a third computer set up in the living room, which is used mainly for the kids to play their learning and puzzle games. It also has a WoW client on it, for those times when we have gamer friends visiting, so we can quest in a group with guests. On Wednesday morning, one of the kids managed to start up the Blizzard Downloader application, and then start their game right after, so I wasn’t aware of the Blizzard app helpfully patching the un-updated copy of World of Warcraft on that machine, burning through our precious allotment of megabytes at the rate of one every three seconds. Shortly after lunch, I noticed my Intertubes slowing to a crawl, and when I set out to investigate, the satellite modem admin page told me that we had exceeded our download threshold, and would be in the digital pedestrian lane for a while. (When you go over your cap, they throttle your speed down to levels that make dial-up look like broadband.)
We just had to spend 24 hours sucking down bits and bytes from the Intertubes at something like 8kb/s, which is a bit of a nuisance when you do everydamnedthing online these days, from recreation to banking and bill-paying. We just now got switched back to regular speed, and I’m catching up on some online business.
And you better believe I’ve disabled the wireless network card in that third PC.
Someone have a spare ten miles of fiber-optic trunk line sitting around somewhere? I’m really getting tired of this satellite shit. It’s the price we pay for having a big house on a big slab of land out in the green, but man, do I ever wish Verizon would get off their duffs and bring us their sweet, sweet DSL crack.