So we got high-speed satellite access to the Internet today. A few observations:
* The dude arrived on time,was courteous and efficient, and got the job done well.
* DirecPC needs to work on their training regimen. This was the first time our installer, Walter, had dealt with a new version of the satellite receiver. In place of an easy-to-follow software installation wizard, he was given incomplete and incorrect configuration instructions, requiring him to call tech support (and get put on hold for 30 minutes). His training on the product was 4 weeks ago, and cursory at best.
* I figured out the problem, given that I teach about this stuff: when he started Stef's computer (where the sat box is), we got a message indicating an IP address conflict. After trying to guide the guy for a few minutes, I asked if I could drive. The conflict arose because his instructions told him to set the PC's Internet address manually to the same address that the receiver is supposed to have. I changed the config to "obtain address automatically" and everything worked after that.
* We theoretically were getting 699 kbps, or about 15 times faster than our typical dial-up speed. That's despite the snow (water attenuates the microwave signal used in this system).
* I still have some tweaking to do because, despite the reported speed, things still seem about the same as dial-up. I surmise that a combination of satellite delay (these puppies are high enough in the sky that the speed of light enters into the equation) and MTU (maximum transmission unit) size is hurting performance. Tuning to commence tomorrow.
* The box is pretty slick, with a web-based management interface. I think it's a LinkSys box, but I haven't gotten a chance to play with it yet.
* I like the pretty blue lights on the front of the receiver.
I've got a PDO tomorrow, and will be heading to Staples to get some wireless networking equipment so I can steal, er...share Stef's Internet connection. More to come...