Now the story can be told.. the last couple weeks have not been pretty around here, connectivity wise. Think of a duck.. paddling like the dickens underwater to keep things going while looking calm and serene from above.
Note that if I appeared calm and serene to you, it’s only because you’ve been too far away to hear my cursing.
ANYWAY.. step one was to try to get cable TV. No cable TV within at least half a mile of the house; they’ll be happy to run cable to us if we’re willing to pay them $18 a foot from wherever their current terminus is.
The next step was to research satellite alternatives. Every satellite Internet provider includes in their service a neat little codicil called the Fair Access Policy. What this basically means is that you get a monthly bandwidth allowance, and if you go over your allotment, the provider has the right to slow your connection down. This was quite a shock to the system given the absence of these limitations in our previous arrangements.
Since I’d been moving 14gB files the week before I left the office, a 5gB monthly maximum didn’t sound so good. One provider has the highest speeds (up to 3mB) but all of their fair access policies max out at 5gB/month. 5gB a month at 3mB speeds for $180/month didn’t strike me as a bargain. Another provider only goes up to 1.5mB, but that plan comes with a 17gB allowance and runs $70/month with my $10 discount from my satellite TV provider. Given that we have six web surfers in the family, that’s where we went.
However, access to the Microsoft Corporate network over a satellite connection is unsupported. I can establish a connection about half the time, but the latency renders the connection unusable.
The Help Desk recommended a broadband card, which resolves both the latency and speed issues. Assuming you can get signal.
BUT.. we’re in the boondocks, and we’re under a tin roof, which means no broadband-level signal in the house. So, I spent a week working in the car out back with the air conditioner running (maximum bars in the middle of my yard!) or in a coffee shop in town, where I could hold signal while staying comfortable. Then, last week I discovered I could hold signal out one of our kitchen windows.. so I spent last week and yesterday working in the corner of the kitchen. Far superior to my other arrangements!
TWO DAYS AGO arrived the final solution.. a highly directional Yagi antenna..
.. a thirteen foot pole ..
.. and a cable running to a three watt repeater in my office..
This combination lead to the sight I’ve been wanting to see in this room since we got here:
Between two and four bars of signal running at 1mB! When I take the time to tune the installation, performance should improve to somewhere between 1.2 and 1.6mB.
Better living through technology indeed!
And now.. the home office is actually in the home office. Pretty darned cool if I say so myself!