09/10/2007

The last Hummingbird has left

Category Life in Cape Breton
We were inundated with Hummingbirds this year. They first showed up on May 10 and by the middle of August we were going through almost 2 bags of sugar a week making nectar for them. They are impossible to count, but I would estimate that we had over 50 birds on a regular basis. The males (who were the first to arrive this spring) left about 2 weeks ago. Slowly over the last two weeks the females departed, and today, I haven't seen any at the feeders. I guess this means that fall is close at hand.

09/04/2007

Back on-line again!

Category Technology
Finally, I no longer rely on satellite for internet connectivity. Actually, to be more accurate chronologically, I don't have to rely on dial-up for access to the internet. Earlier this year, the satellite system that I was using died suddenly. I was hesitant to get it repaired because I just didn't think that the service was worth even a fraction of what I was paying for it. Despite spending over $10,000 to get the dish installed and a monthly bill of $300, access was always marginal at best, upload speeds were horrendous and the service was often unavailable. In fact, the first thing I noticed when switching back to dial-up was that the speed in many ways wasn't all that much slower. Certainly downloads took much longer, or were impossible, but regular web-browsing was pretty much the same and in some ways actually faster. This is mainly due to the unavoidable latency of the satellite connection. Now, I will not claim that dial-up was pleasant or that it was possible to get any real work done, but by moving servers into a new office in town, I was able to limp along while I searched for some new alternatives. In reality, there was only one real option - wireless. The phone lines here are old and of poor enough quality that no one I know has ever managed to get a connection at a higher speed that 26.4K. I toyed with the idea of getting a T1 line installed, but the cost was prohibitive and my concern was that the phone company would be willing to take the order, but unable to install the service. I started researching wireless equipment and drawing up plans to become an ISP. Then one day in mid April, a neighbor called and told me that a guy had come knocking on their door looking for the person that owned a house up the side of the mountain where he wanted to put a tower for wireless internet. A flurry of email messages ensued, and after a few months of feverish activity service started being delivered in mid-August.

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