twenty-four hours of 1995.

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.


24 thoughts on “twenty-four hours of 1995.

  1. Medicman says:

    I have Wildblue. I have a 17 Gb limit per month on mine. The owner of Wildblue, ViaSat, is planning on launching a new satellite in 2011 that they say will bring cable speed and lower prices. (fingers crossed, saying prayers) 🙂

  2. TXGunGeek says:

    A Not Satellite alternative is wireless broadband. Not sure if there is a provider in your area though. The trade name is Motorola Canopy. We have it some 30 miles outside of town where the directions to our house include “turn off the paved roadway. You’re now just 11 miles away.” We paid the price with dialup at our old place and have a friend with the Sat Link and don’t really like their service. Found Texas Communications offered the Canopy system in our area and jumped on it.
    It was up all through Hurricane Ike even with us running on the Generator.

  3. Kristopher says:

    Have you checked for cellular wireless in your area yet?

    Most of the cellphone networks are upgrading the snot out of their towers.

    • Marko Kloos says:

      Cell phone reception at the Castle is extremely spotty…which is probably a good thing, because otherwise I’d have an iPhone with unlimited data plan.


        In the last paragraph is instructions for the 1900 MHz cellular band. Then you need the proper type of “pigtail” for your phone or USB stick.

        Other options might be using two DSL modems back to back over a dry pair (if they will lease you one, that is) and a buddy into town closer that is willing to share cable/DSL (my old DSL modem would do this, but I never got above 333 Kbps)

  4. mpk19 says:

    I have similar issues, and was forced to use a verizon wireless aircard. Forgetting you have a 5g/mos limit and backing up all you files to an online server is a no no. I wish they just gigged me and slowed down my service. Instead they allowed me to go on my merry, foolish way. Forty Gigs and 400 dollars later I had some hellish explaining to do to my wife!

  5. Sevesteen says:

    Does your router have QoS (Quality of Service) capability? I’m using Tomato open-source firmware on a Linksys router. You can have different QoS rules at different times of the day, and you should be able to set a rule something like “big files get throttled to 8k/sec except during off peak”

  6. Kaerius(SWE) says:

    Posts like this make me glad I’m living in sweden…

    I’ve got a rather basic 10/1 mbit line, though if I truly wanted to I could get 30/30 easily, perhaps even 100/100(been a while since I checked, all I know is it’s planned at least).

    Even my mom who litterally lives in a house deep in the woods has a 6 mbit connection(I don’t know the upspeed, or exact details, except she has a modem with little antennas. Probably cellphone network).

    Heck I have a 7.2 mbit connection via cellphone modem on my laptop, $20 per month, no download limits.

  7. Antibubba says:

    Careful what you wish for Marko–I had DSL with the jackals at AT&T, and–well, since this is a family column, but I cancelled them a year ago and they’re still managing to send me the *love*, but through a third party now.


  8. Andrew says:

    Kaerius(SWE) — your government collects almost 50% of the GDP in taxes. At those prices, you ought to get 300 mbps, delivered in person by Vendela Kirsebom.

    • Kaerius(SWE) says:

      Only 50%? I thought it was more… 😉

      Mind you our income tax is only like 2% more than in the USA, most of the rest of the tax burden is from taxed goods and services. On the plus side, we didn’t get a sudden rush of homeless people as a result of the bubble bursting, and even the unemployed can at least feed and clothe themselves.

      Our standard of living is high, education free(except for the actual books at university level, say $500/semester, give or take a couple of hundred depending on course), healthcare either free or heavily subsidized, even grand-dads quadruple bypass was essentially free.

      Heck I’m on disability pension(government minimum), I get about ~$1500 a month, half goes to bills(rent for my 2 room 670 ft^2 apparentment, phone, electricity, broadband), and about a quarter goes to living expenses(food, clothes, etc9 and a little fun. The rest I save for more expensive fun stuff. Took me almost two years of saving up(actually 20 months), but I’m going on a three month vacation to thailand soon, with a budget just shy of 8 grand, all told.

      The only thing I’m actually jealous of the USA on is the 2nd amendment, and even that is worth piss-all in some states/cities. But at least we’re not as badly off as the UK. On the plus side, on the rare occasions when a goblin robs someone at gunpoint, it’s usually a soft air gun, and when a homeowner brings a gun to bear on a burglar, it’s a real one(albeit a shotgun/rifle for hunting).

  9. Kurt P says:

    Just to give you a sense of scale.
    The entire country of Sweden could probably fit into four west Texas counties very loosly.

    I have WildeBlue satellite for my *broadband* with the same restrictions as Marko, except they’re on a floating monthly thing (and slightly less expensive).

    I’d go with wireless DSL in a heartbeat -but the provider around here (Rock Solid out of Castroville, TX) doesn’t feel the need to return calls to someone who wants to give them money.

    MARKO- you need to search *wireless DSL* with your area code. You may be surprised.

    • Kaerius(SWE) says:

      I know about the scale(though you may be underestimating the size of our country, it’s about 9-10% larger than california, or 2/3rds of texas). And our population is only about a million more than NYC all by itself(9.3 vs 8.3).

      We were also early adopters of the internet, and the government actively sought to get it to most households in the 90s. Right now the phone companies are working on 30 mbit cellphone networks. And even rural parts up above the arctic circle have access to internet connections measured in mbit rather than kbit. There’s probably reindeer herders with 5+ mbit cellphone modems for their laptops(and I’m not even joking about that).

    • Kaerius(SWE) says:

      PS: Or put another way, we have roughly 60% of the population density of texas… (2/3rd the landmass, 40% the population). Trust me, if anything, covering it all is a bigger undertaking here, but one that’s been done. We’ve got almost complete cellphone coverage, as long as you’re not in a deep uninhabited valley out in the woods.

      • Kurt P says:

        Ok, I was probably thinking of somewhere else- sorry.
        In Texas the vast majority of population is within 30 miles of about four metroplexes and the farther out you go there are miles and miles (and miles) of nothingness.
        This nothingness makes it not worth even putting up cell towers except along well travelled roads or isolated towns.

        • Kaerius(SWE) says:

          We’ve got lots of nothingness as well, but forest rather than prairie/desert. However we might not be quite as focused on our largest cities… the three largest don’t even amount to 25% (2.1 milion out of 9.3). I live in a city where the official population is about 50,000; however that’s counting suburbs.

  10. guy says:

    “Someone have a spare ten miles of fiber-optic trunk line sitting around somewhere? ”

    Funny you should ask, actually I do. A few years ago they ran an enormous fiber backbone about 100 yards from my house. At the time I was stuck on dial-up. Imagine living next to the Alaskan pipeline and not being able to get a single drop of oil.

    Right now I’m on sort of wireless. It’s the Motorola Canopy system, so not your regular 802.11x type of hardware. The receiver sits on the roof and connects to a tower about two miles away. When it’s working right I get 1Mbps, but my ISP loves to screw with the setup and after a month of decent speeds, I’ll get 4 months of maybe 300Kbps and high latency.

  11. Steve says:

    Waitng on Verizon? I LOL’d. Verizon sold out the northern tier of New England two years to Fairpoint, which is now bankrupt. They’re trying to sell off lines and poles in something like 17 other states now.

    I’m in the same boat a further south. I have wildblue and a Verizon EvDO card from work. The EvDO has actually improved in the past year, most days I can get a burst of 800+Mb or so. I think our near future is VZW which is actually upgrading, as opposed to Fairpoint which is circling the drain strangled by what Verizon sold them. I’m surrounded by towns with DSL and cable type BB and until the technology gets past the 21000 foot limit, I can’t see Fairpoint bringing DSL to low population density towns or areas like yours and mine.

    FWIW, try an external antenna from the 3G store or some such place to see if your cell signal improves. I have a pretty solid EvDO BB signal through the Hanover/Lebanon area right through to Norwich.

  12. Desertrat says:

    Perspective, I guess. I’m happy enough with Wild Blue’s basic service. If more speed becomes available for the same money, fine by me. If not, well, I’m not in all that big a hurry, anyway. Gives me more time to do other things, like look out the window at critters. Or flowers. Or just the scenery in general.

    Lengthy download period? Plenty of little one- or two-minute household chores. Why sweat it?

    From my grandfather: “We’re all graveyard bound. Worrying just puts the whip to the horse.”


  13. Josh Hughes says:

    WildBlue SUCKS!!!!
    My wife is a DBA and works from home, that sucks every last bit of bandwidth, and capacity….
    we pay ~$80 a month for a 17gig rolling 30 day cap… and they wait till you’re down to 70% to then wait 24 hours to restore your speed…..
    so if Windows updates, or iTunes screws up and downloads alot overnight without you knowing it…. YOU ARE SCREWED… I wish we could just pay more money to get more speed, or somethin like that but they wont do it….. I will conclude with WILDBLUE SUCKS!!!!!

  14. Fred2 says:

    One of those threads where I must thank Comcast for sticking in fat optical cable all around greater NYC. ( and for the mis-fortune of having to live here)

    Sounds awful when you are away from a real optical service.

    You know, that’s one thing I could see the FEdGov do to usefully encourage…. Remember rural electrification back last depression? Fibre optic for all, I say!

    Though maybe that internet over power cables might be faster. Think we could get the local power and light guys to get interested?

    • Josh says:

      That would only lead to more people being able to access the internet and learn how badly the govt is managing things….. that would go against their agenda

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