Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday Dose of Frustration and Cute: Slowing Way Down (and Not by Choice)

Daphne Doesn't Like to Share
Daphne Defending Her the Treat Barrow from Little Gnat

Out here in the middle of rural nowhere, high speed Internet service isn't an option. Instead we rely on satellite, which runs a lot slower and costs a whole lot more. For a full time blogger, this can be pretty annoying, but I make do with what I've got and try not to complain. Until now.

On Tuesday, we received a notice from our satellite service provider saying that we were close to exceeding the allowable bandwith usage in our 'pro' satellite service package. Since we never stream music, download movies, play games, or do any of the other things that typically use a lot of bandwith (because satellite is usually too slow to do them anyway), this came as a shocking surprise.

And then on Thursday, just as we were about to head off the farm for the day—and after Tuesday's long and unhelpful call to customer service failed to figure out the problem—we received a notice saying that we had now exceeded our allowable usage. As a punishment, our connection speed had been reduced. A lot. It's now slower than dial-up. Uploading one photo takes forever.

Apparently something—which nobody can identify—has been continuously downloading through our system for days. Yesterday's 6½ hour emergency trip to the computer repair center revealed, not a virus as the tech had suspected, but 'one of the cleanest computers I've ever worked on.'

Gus is Ready to Help
Gus is Ready to Help!

So the mystery, the exceeded bandwith usage, and the seriously mounting frustration continue. The repair tech said it may be the actual satellite equipment causing the problem, which is the next thing I'll attempt to investigate. Whatever happens, it'll be a while before we're back up to speed because they won't return you to normal service until you're below 70% bandwith usage for the past 30 days.

I just wanted to let you know why things will probably continue to be a little quiet around here, as I do my best to kick this problem in the ass donkey. Thanks for your patience.

Afternoon update: Apparently there's a '99.9% chance it's not the modem,' nor is the download actually continuous as I was previously told (a piece of information that could have saved yesterday's long and costly trip to the repair shop). Another hour on the phone with customer service has us no closer to solving the problem. I think I need another trip to Donkeyland.

Sunday evening update: Thanks so much for all your comments and e-mails full of suggestions. I really appreciate the help (and commiseration!). Unfortunately we still haven't figured out the problem, but I wanted to mention that we don't use a wireless router; we connect one computer at a time (the desktop and the new laptop—which hasn't been online in over a week) directly into the satellite modem. Keep the ideas coming—and cross your hooves we solve this aggravating situation soon!
© FarmgirlFare.com, the baffled foodie farm blog where I'm off to move a bunch of soggy sheep in the cold rain, which is actually going to be a lot more fun—or at least fulfilling—than dealing with this satellite stuff. I'll take real manure over technical crap any day.

18 comments:

  1. MelanieFromNWMO12/11/2010 2:22 PM

    Hi FarmGirl Susan!
    I am a recent fan. Just found you in September of this year and should probably be ashamed to admit that I have read all your archives in both blogs. Don't be alarmed...no need to get a restraining order...I was a little obsessed for awhile there, but I'm fine now! :-) Anyway, I absolutely love your blogs. I live with my own hunky farm guy on 25 acres in NW Missouri. Our house is way newer than The Shack but has needed a ton of work so the four years we've been here have all been dedicated to major renovation, all done ourselves. We just got the kitchen back together (after cooking on a hot plate in the living room for 14 months) so I'm working my way through all of your recipes and loving it! I feel your pain with satellite...that is what we have too. I work from home and my job requires internet access so sometimes I feel like frustration is my middle name. But then I watch triplet fawns walk across the slope on the other side of the pond, and I remember why I live here! Anyway, just wanted to say Hi and introduce myself and to let you know that you have really inspired me to get going with gardening and raising some animals and that you have reassured me that moving out here was the best thing ever. Thanks!
    Melanie

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  2. Been there, done that! We are also on satellite and it is sooo frustrating. When our kids come home from college (and the big city for our recent grad), they forget and continue downloading music, videos, movies, and we often wind up in the slowwwww lane after they leave. Once, though, I think it was our modem which was failing and downloading things multiple times and put us in the same position. And yes, paying more for less is a pain in the rear. We got excited recently when a rival telecom company claimed they had high speed dsl in our area but they never shipped us the modem. Probably they were mistaken about our distance from the nearest small town. (It's happened before.) Hope you find your problem soon.

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  3. Sorry you're having such issues.I know you're out in the middle of nowhere, but is there a chance anyone is pigging backing off of your network?? Has this only been happening since you got the new laptop?? Very interesting....

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  4. Oh yikes! Sorry to hear that you're having these issues. I promise I'll never again complain about what I have to pay for high-speed internet.

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  5. Hi, my Hubby and I have been reading your blog for a while now. He had a couple of thoughts for you to try. First, can you find out from the satellite company what your usage was the day that you had your computer unhooked to take it to the repair shop? That might give you a clue about if it is the computer or something else. Then even though you are so remote he said that there is still a chance that someone could be pirating your signal and amplifying it to another location (if you have wireless). If you do have wireless then you can unplug the wireless and plug directly into the modem. Hope you get it figured out! What a pain!

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  6. Hmmmm... we're also experiencing "high usage" though we have an air card... I am beginning to think it's uploading videos to my blog.... yours is wonderful and I hope your problems are solved soon because I'll miss reading about all your babies!

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  7. You are NOT alone!!! I have been using satellite for 10+ years due to our rural locations, but it hasn't been until the last 7 months that they have been throttling us to the S*L*O*W* speeds you mention...one customer service rep mentioned how web pages "refresh" more often now and that uses more bandwidth. It is painful and frustrating and we are held hostage to thier rate plans. I even upgraded last month (which increased cost 50%) yet am still throttled to dial-up speeds. ARGH!! There seems to be nothing we can do since no one else provides us data service coverage in the rural areas. Their bottom line is probably being affected by the migration of other customers who do have the option to switch.

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  8. I'm so sorry for the satellite craziness - that sounds SOOOO frustrating! I do appreciate the efforts you make to post about life on your wonderful farm and hope you can figure out the problem soon!

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  9. Wow. That really sucks. I hate these companies.

    But for what it's worth, we have cable internet. And ours got so painfully slow I wanted to kill my computer.

    And it was, indeed, the equipment that was getting old and needed an upgrade. And it's happened every few years for me and other friends.

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  10. Sorry to hear about your tech troubles. I hope you get your speed and efficiency back very soon. I love reading your blog.

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  11. If you are actually using a wireless connection (satellite and not phone line), the chance is that somebody else has tapped into your account and is using your account to upload/download material. This is easy to do if there is not sufficient protection in a wireless sytem. In fact, a person can use a particular scanner, drive by a house, identify the account and provider, and tap in. You may want to consider this possibility.

    pboylecharley AT hotmail DOT com

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  12. Susan--I call it 'being in purgatory'--and I have a very special name for HughesNet (which I can't use on this family-friendly site!!!).
    We're here in Missouri also--very rural, just like you, and they're the only 'game in town'!
    Exceeding the download limits--without us even touching the computer!--happens to us also--of course, Hughesnet denies any problems on their end! We're not wireless at all, and our closest neighbor is 3/4 mile away, so no one is stealing downloads from us!!!

    Thanks for all your great pictures and recipes--if you're ever on the south side of the Lake of the Ozarks (the poor end!) I'd love to get together!!!
    Merry Christmas!
    Janet
    (plus currently 8 rescued dogs and 9 rescued cats!)

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  13. Isn't technology wonderful? Yes & No is the answer to that question, but it can be sooooo frustrating!Sometimes I'm tempted to give it all up - but then I'd miss reading about the donkeys, sheep, dog, cats, farmlife, etc., etc., etc.

    We love your site so we're rooting for you. Good luck solving this crazy technology problem.

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  14. We here in the mountains above Yosemite also have no DSL. We were satellite until a wireless provider came into the area. Took a bunch of hunting to find them, wasn't real evident, but find them we did. We switched and will NEVER go back to satellite. It is also nearly as expensive, but faster, and if you exceed your bandwidth you just pay more - no knocking you back to dial up. I hated that. However, our next door neighbor does not have 'line of sight' to the tower (we are higher up the hill by 20 feet than they) and can't get wireless. Were DSL to show up we'd be gone in a flash, though. Perhaps you can check around with the tech people and see if there is a wireless provider? This isn't cell phone stuff, none of the companies (ATT, Verizon) provide it for us. This is an independent local firm.

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  15. I have a "gamer" in the house. Internet speed is critical to him, so I let him handle the phone company when there are problems. So far he's finagled a rate that's $30 a month cheaper, and talked the company into running a DSL line to our rural area (he went around knocking on doors to get people out our way to sign a petition). I have very fast internet service at work, but the tech department there spends all its time banning sites, so access is limited. I think it's scary sometimes that we're all concentrating our communications to a mode that is so easily controlled externally.

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  16. Well all that sounds like it stinks. I hate dealing with the satelite or telephone people.

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  17. Hey there Susan. So sorry to read about your "pokey" provider service. Do enjoy reading your blog & looking at all the pics. Hope it will not be too long before you find a solution to this quandry. Merry Christmas. Vickie

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  18. Hi Susan: I just found your site thru Saveur & came to get your lentil soup recipe. I love your site. I live in rural VA, less acreage than yours but similar interests. Looking forward to visiting here daily:) In the meantime, I also had high-speed problems & eventually went with wireless which also limits my bandwidth usage, so I disabled automatic software updates. Windows recently released their largest update ever - could software updates be eating up your bandwidth?

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January 2013 update: I know word verification is a big pain, but it's the only way I can stop the ridiculous number of anonymous spam comments I get every day. I don't want to require commenters to be registered Blogger or Open ID users because I know many of you aren't. Thanks so much for your understanding!

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