Chas' Compilation

A compilation of information and links regarding assorted subjects: politics, religion, science, computers, health, movies, music... essentially whatever I'm reading about, working on or experiencing in life.

Monday, March 06, 2006

What's New?
Wild Blue, a Focus and Swanky too.

I've been busy trying to configure our router to work with our new satellite internet service from Wild Blue (Yonder!).

The physical installation of the dish itself went smoothly. Two technicians from a local company came out to install it on the side of the house. The Wild Blue dish is slightly larger than our DishTV dish.

The install and equipment cost about $400 (normaly it's $500, but they are offering a $100 discount right now). There is a 30 day trial period, in which we can decide if we want to keep it or return it (if we return it, we only have to pay the $79.00 for the install). The monthy fee is $49.95 per month, for speeds up to 512k bandwidth.

We have spent the past two years living with dialup that never goes higher that 28k. And there are three of us who like to use the internet a lot, so it was frustrating, having to wait and take turns using the phone line, and then live with such slow speeds. So the Wild Blue change has been really a wonderful contrast. No waiting to take turns. No tying up the phone line. Fast bandwidth.

It's was easy to network the connection for the three of us too share. I was, at first, concerned about the test results I was getting with the router. I was using the test site at Shields Up, by Gibson Research (makers of Zone Alarm Firewall). It was saying that nearly all the ports were open - a very unsecure situation.

I couldn't understand it. I use a similar router in town at our business, and it is 100% stealthed and secure. It is a DSL connection there.

Our newest router at home has even more security features, and I checked and rechecked; everything was configured correctly.

I did a lot of web-searching, and eventually found out that the "Shields up" test is not compatible for reliable testing with two-way satellite connections like Wild Blue and DircWay. I found some helpful forum threads here and here, and a good alternate test site at www.dslreports.com/tools (I found the link to the port scan tool on the main page helpful).

We are using both the router firewall software (to protect against unwanted intrusions) and Zone Alarm software (to keep anything sending out info without permission). We are now very much enjoying Wild Blue.

The other new thing in our lives is our car. We traded in our "banana rocket", a sporty two door screaming-yellow Ford Focus 2003, for a more staid and practical four door Ford Focus 2006 station wagon:

And then there is Swanky the cat, who isn't really new, but almost seems new again, at least to me:

He had disappeared for a week, and I had given him up for dead, thinking something in the woods must have eaten him. Then one night I had a dream that he came back. The next morning, Pat told me that he also had a similar dream. That afternoon, Swanky returned... much thinner, and whining a lot. I can only guess that he may have got trapped somewhere in a neighbors storage shed or something.

Anyhow, we are glad the little beast is back, and since it's unusual to get a picture of him that isn't blurred, I'm including it here too.

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