Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Communications

Dealing With Dialup 588

Posted by kdawson
from the life-through-a-soda-straw dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It looks like my parents may end up stuck having to use dialup to access the Internet from their cottage inside the Cape Cod National Seashore. Neither Comcast nor Verizon want to bother upgrading the hardware required to get them faster service. They could put a satellite dish on their roof, but it's a 300-year-old house and they feel a dish would be as prohibitively ugly as running dedicated lines would be prohibitively expensive. I've suggested they get familiar with a text-only email client; I also suggested they talk with their senators and local political reps. , Are there other ways they can increase the functionality despite the pitiful bandwidth? Any other good ideas? Any success stories you can share where people have finally got the bandwidth they crave?"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Dealing With Dialup

Comments Filter:
  • pda? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pvt. Cthulhu (990218) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:43AM (#23375684)
    if email is the biggest issue, a pda that gets wireless intarwebs from cell towers could be the solution. i hears talk that their making ones that are actually faster than wired broadband.
    • Re:pda? (Score:5, Informative)

      by zoney_ie (740061) on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:41AM (#23375966)
      I don't know what it is like in the US, but here in Ireland we have 3G services, that the government even include in statistics as "broadband" connections. However, they do not actually provide good speeds in practice for most, as the service does not handle increased users well - the cell bandwidth gets divided out between the users and so just 20 or so means worse than dial-up speed and useless QoS. At the worst times it can be faster to switch to GPRS (2.5G)

      Maybe Edge or whatever is used in the US is better, although I believe the top theoretical speeds are lower even if they do deliver better speed in practice.

      ----

      As regards the OP question of how to cope with dial-up, I highly recommend NoScript for Firefox. Greatly reduces the load time for webpages (at least in my experience of seeing it on a browser using dual-channel ISDN). It by default blocks the worst web content - flash and javascript (e.g. loading graphics and animations from 3rd party ad servers). Simpler and more useful than Adblock, also fairer for website owners as you are not blocking ads specifically - just not handling certain types of content. You can easily whitelist javascript for domains for which it is essential.

      For email, set up your email client (it doesn't need to be text only) to leave the emails on the email server - you can choose which ones to open up and download, and delete junk without downloading.

      For downloading, it is useful to use a download client that can pause and resume downloads, or handle interruptions.

      Two-way satellite works great except for the latency. You could always have the dish on the ground out in the garden if the house or shrubs etc. don't shadow the signal. Two-way sat has the advantage of being "always on" and you don't have the time-based billing of dial-up, also usable for downloading large amounts of data.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by bgat (123664)

        Two-way satellite works great except for the latency. You could always have the dish on the ground out in the garden if the house or shrubs etc. don't shadow the signal.

        Indeed, satellite is a great option here unless you're a user of interactive, gaming-type protocols. Shrubs, etc. *do* block the signal, but the allowable distance between the LNB (a.k.a. "antenna") and receiver/decoder (a.k.a. "box") can be pretty generous, so put the antenna behind a tree. Just be absolutely sure to use a very sturdy pole set in concrete, otherwise wind, etc. will move the dish enough to take down your link on environmentally-challenged days. A nearby shed that blocks the wind, snow,

        • Re:pda? (Score:4, Informative)

          by electrictroy (912290) on Monday May 12, 2008 @08:41AM (#23376636)
          (1) Get a satellite dish. "It's ugly" is an invalid excuse, especially since the dish could be mounted in the backyard where no one can see it. Maybe fill it with water to make an attractive birdbath (I'm joking). But seriously a dish in your yard looks better than some of the things I've seen sitting in people's lawns!

          (2) Get Netscape ISP. It uses text & image compression to increase effective speeds upto 1000 kbit/s. While traveling I can load pages almost as fast with Netscape Dialup as with my home DSL.

          (3) Another option is to select "don't load images" in Firefox or Internet Exploder.

          As you can see from my signature, using dialup is not a tragedy. All of us had dialup from circa 1980 to 2000 and we survived. Your parents can too.

          • Re:pda? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Sancho (17056) * on Monday May 12, 2008 @09:33AM (#23377178) Homepage

            All of us had dialup from circa 1980 to 2000 and we survived.
            This is like saying, "My grandpa earned $200 a month, and he got by ok!"

            Times changes. Bandwidth inflation is a serious problem. Web pages don't clock in at under 10k anymore.
            • Re:pda? (Score:5, Informative)

              by cayenne8 (626475) on Monday May 12, 2008 @09:48AM (#23377334) Homepage Journal
              "Times changes. Bandwidth inflation is a serious problem. Web pages don't clock in at under 10k anymore."

              I agree. In the article, it kind of joked about getting used to a 'text email' client. Why is this a joke? Email is SUPPOSED to be text only, and somehow along the way, we've bastardized it into all kinds of HTML, with images, fugly wallpaper, etc...

              Geez...it is now taking a couple of 'K' to send a simple 2 line email these days.

              I try to keep all my email clients set to text only...both for receiving and sending. Last time I was forced to use Outlook...I couldn't easily get it set to do text only both ways...

              Why isn't this set by default?

            • Re:pda? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by electrictroy (912290) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:29AM (#23377870)
              >>>"This is like saying, "My grandpa earned $200 a month, and he got by ok!"

              Alright. Well I'm using 56k right now in the year 2008, and I seem to be surviving just fine. (Read my sig now if you did not do it last time.) I also use S-VHS, audio cassette, listen to analog radio stations, and take notes with a pen and paper. They all work just fine for my needs.

              I used to think I needed the best, but after seeing minidisc fail, digital cassette fail, laserdisc fail, and so on, I've grown a little more cynical about the "need" for the latest technology. I'm starting to suspect these new formats are pushed by corporations just so they can suck money out of our wallets. Pretty soon (circa 2020) they'll probably be announcing a new format that handles 10,000i video, and why we need to throw-out our old video collection.

              BACK ON POINT: Dialup works just fine for surfing the net.

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by Sancho (17056) *
                I saw your sig, but it wasn't germane to the point. The point was that your "back in my day, we did X, so you can get by with X, too" is logically fallacious.

                To most people dial-up is just not acceptable. You seem to have made it a point to get by with decades-old technology--bully for you--but that isn't what most people want.
            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by jank1887 (815982)
              I find adblock to give the biggest boost in page-load speed compared to anything else. Just the mass reduction in server calls for 30 different webmetric and add servers and whatnot just for a single front page is insane. I spend more time waiting for servers to respond than for the page to download
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        A few notes:

        1. No Script won't always make things faster. Small, compressible AJAX scripts often save me loading a whole page. The most recent version of /. for example is way, way easier for dialup users with scripts enabled. So yeah- bug whitelist if you go with no scripts. Adblock is probably more appropriate (thought I don't use it)

        It's ridiculous to suggest text mode only unless it's less that say 24000kbps. 2. Email. Just use POP or IMAP in offline mode and have it ask before downloading big mes

      • by gravis777 (123605) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:07AM (#23377558)
        I use these for commuting, and even the Edge cards are faster than dialup (although there is a longer lag time, the actual speeds seem to be faster). We just upgraded to a 3G card through AT&T, and it is noticibly faster. It they have a desktop rather than a laptop, most of the major cellular providers do offer USB devices as well.

        I will point out that you are looking at spending around $50-$60 a month for unlimited access for speeds that hover around 200k-300k a second. Its fine for using HTML e-mail, and most websites. Even using VPN, having Outlook sync up with my RSS Feeds, Exchange Server, and GMail account, only takes about 45 seconds over 3G (I have a LOT of RSS Feeds), and that is only when you first launch the program, of course once launched, it constantly checks mail, so its not that big of an issue.

        I should point out that VPN over a cellular modem is flaky at best, and practically useless if you are moving in a vehicle.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Shakrai (717556) *

          I should point out that VPN over a cellular modem is flaky at best, and practically useless if you are moving in a vehicle.

          Are you sure about that? My boss has a Verizon Wireless EV-DO data card. He heads down to Myrtle Beach every few months (roughly 13 hours away) and works on his laptop pretty much the whole way. He's never complained about having issues with our VPN -- and he's using it to connect to a Citrix server, which is a pretty interactive application and would give him fits if the connection was flaky or spotty.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:55AM (#23376028)
      ...their time is almost up. Then dial up will be the least of their problems. And if I had a 300-yr-old cottage on Cape Cod, frankly, I wouldn't give a damn about the internet, e-mail, or whether my kid was in my will.
      • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:39AM (#23377988) Journal
        Seriously. I'm going to contact *My* senators and tell them that if they wast a second on catering to people with cottages on cape cod instead of the 5 billion other pressing problems in this country they can kiss their own ass goodbye.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by gfxguy (98788)
          I was looking for a whiny post asking the government for help, now you've preemptively shot down those who think it's the government's job to make sure everyone has high speed at some company's (and therefor their client's) expense.

          All I can say about your post is f-ing A-MEN. You wanna live a nice, cozy, secluded lifestyle, you have to deal with the drawbacks. Boo f-ing hoo.
          • by jafuser (112236) on Monday May 12, 2008 @12:20PM (#23379486)
            I agree, the government shouldn't force anyone to pay for it. But we already did pay for it:

            The $200 Billion Broadband Scandal [newnetworks.com]

            Here's a summary of the relevant points:

            The fiber optic infrastructure you paid for was never delivered.

            Starting in the early 1990's, with a push from the Clinton-Gore Administration's "Information Superhighway", every Bell company - SBC, Verizon, BellSouth and Qwest - made commitments to rewire America, state by state. Fiber optic wires would replace the 100-year old copper wiring. The push caused techno-frenzy of major proportions. By 2006, 86 million households should have had a service capable of 45 Mbps in both directions, (to and from the customer) could handle over 500 channels of high quality video and be deployed in rural, urban and suburban areas equally. And these networks were open to ALL competition.

            In order to pay for these upgrades, in state after state, the public service commissions and state legislatures acquiesced to the Bells' promises by removing the constraints on the Bells' profits as well as gave other financial perks. They were able to print money - billions of dollars per state - all collected in the form of higher phone rates and tax perks. (Note: each state is different.)

            * ADSL is not what was promised and paid for. It goes over the old copper wiring, can't achieve the speed, has problems in rural areas and is mostly one-way.

            * The public subsidies for infrastructure were pocketed. The phone companies collected over $200 billion in higher phone rates and tax perks, about $2000 per household.

            * The World is Laughing at US. Korea and Japan have 100 Mbps services as standard, and America could have been Number One had the phone companies actually delivered. Instead, we are 16th in broadband and falling in technology dominance.

            * Harm to the economy. Five trillion dollars was lost because new technologies and services that America would have developed, happened in Korea. Municipalities around America are waking up to the fact that the phone companies failed to deliver and are now doing Wifi and fiber-based work-arounds.

            * The promised networks couldn't be built in 1993 and state laws were changed based on "deceptive speech". The technology today still has problems delivering 500 channels.

            * The phone companies pulled a bait and switch. In order to offer DSL over copper, it was not necessary to have state regulation changed. Their plan was to get rid of regulations and enter long distance.

            * The Bell mergers resulted in the death of the state plans for fiber optic broadband. Over 26 states had fiber optic projects closed when the mergers of SBC and Verizon were completed. That affected almost 80% of all phone customers in the US.

            Wouldn't you like your $2000 back?
  • Get a USB Modem (Score:2, Informative)

    by The Mutant (167716)
    We've had problems with our broadband being capped down to dial up speeds from time to time (Virgin sux), and I purchased one of those USB Modem sticks [vodafone.co.uk].

    Speed isn't super fast, about 750MBS, but it does the job.

    We're Mac users and have one in each room. We put the USB modem on an iMac, configure it to share its internet connection via airport, and we're happy.
  • Wireless broadband (Score:4, Informative)

    by Peter Simpson (112887) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:45AM (#23375692)
    There are some companies offering (expensive) wireless broadband on 5 GHz. Maybe not on the tip of the Cape, though. When I checked, they were priced like T1s...prohibitively expensive.

    I'm guessing they're not able to get DSL.

    There's also the possibility of using WiFi access points and directional antennas to create a point-to-point link with someone who has broadband. I did this for my brother and it works well, just need that person willing to share their broadband connection.
    • by Bert64 (520050) <bert AT slashdot DOT firenzee DOT com> on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:28AM (#23375896) Homepage
      Or someone who doesn't have broadband but *can* get it...
      I used to live just out of range for ADSL, so i found someone down the street who could get it and offered to pay for it and give them use of it in exchange for wireless access to it.
    • by D.A. Zollinger (549301) on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:52AM (#23376022) Homepage Journal

      There is a solution no one has yet mentioned, ISDN. All POTS companies are required to offer it, and provide it at a decent rate. It won't compare to DSL or Cable, but it is a hell of a lot better than dial up. (Up to 128Kbps)


      Rates for a Basic Rate Interface (BRI) should be similar to a standard phone connection, and with modern dial-up modem banks, just about any company that offers dial-up should offer ISDN access. From there, you would have to purchase an ISDN modem for your parents - I personally like 3Com's Office Connect ISDN LAN Modem for the features it provides. The upshot to this solution is that like DSL your parents can use the internet and receive phone calls simultaneously.


  • by BadAnalogyGuy (945258) <BadAnalogyGuy@gmail.com> on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:45AM (#23375696)
    The first thing they should probably look into is shared wireless broadband multiplexing. By synchronizing and RSI-ing home wifi routers across whole neighborhoods, it should be possible to create a large enough mesh in which a communal network is created. By then expanding the reach of such a mesh network through the growth of the group itself (through more community members adding themselves to the network by physically adding newly-bought routers) and through the use of technologies like WiMax, it should be possible to reach an internet logon node. At that point, it's pretty much elementary, my dear Watson, to get a working link up.

    The benefit is that as the community grows and more benefits appear for each user, the cumulative benefits become attractive to those who were at first unwilling or wary of such a mesh. When they start joining, they provide their own routers which in turn makes the mesh stronger, more resilient to single-point failures, and simply more stable for everyone.

    There are plenty of companies providing this type of solution, but the best that I've found (and seen implemented in various small towns across the US) have been home-grown. Good luck to your parents!
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by weijiao (749614)
      Go with the flow :-) Use mobile websites where possible eg http://m.gmail.com./ [m.gmail.com] Many websites still have have text pages - use them.

      Ordinary email clients, such as Thunderbird work well at dialup speeds.
    • The first thing they should probably look into is shared wireless broadband multiplexing.

      There was a big effort to do something similar in Western Australia with wafreenet [wafreenet.org]. They've put together a massive wireless resource collection at E3 [e3.com.au]. It'd be worth having a good browse around there.

    • German "Freifunk" (literally: "Free Wireless") initiative has made a complete firmware package [1] that integrates mesh routing (they use OLSR [2]) into it's web interface and also allows for remote administration per SSH. Installation is cake.

      To see what's possible with that technology, just look at the maps of the Berlin [3] or Leipzig [4] networks; these cities had DSL white spots, just like parts of the US (or rural areas, for that matter).

      [1] http://wiki.freifunk.net/Freifunk_Firmware_(English)#Ov [freifunk.net]

  • by Shivetya (243324) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:46AM (#23375698) Homepage Journal
    Sorry, they don't want a dish because it might ruin the looks? Put it on a pole. This sounds the classic NIMBY crap we always get from this corner of the country. Then to top it off, since no company wants to spend the fortune it would cost to serve a few customers you want me (aka the guy who funds the government with the help of a bunch of other income earners) to pay for it?

    Look, there may be wireless solutions in the future. I also do just fine with my email over dial up when necessary (just don't let it download anything with attachments).

    DIAL UP IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD.

    Your parents have an open solution by a provider. (satellite) Obviously the looks of their house is more important than high speed internet.

    Whats next on /.? Being forced to live with old single core processors?
  • by Astatine210 (528456) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:47AM (#23375704)
    Get a satellite dish.
    Mount it on the ground.
    Cover it with a fibreglass imitation rock, or some other feature that's microwave-transparent but blends in with the local scenery.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Pvt. Cthulhu (990218)
      completely crazy suggestion. why hide a bee-you-tee-full dish under a rock? we use cable, but i still want a dish on my roof, even if i doesnt do anything.
    • by Brandano (1192819) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:50AM (#23375728)
      or just place it under the roof. They sell purpose-made fiberglass roof tiles that will match the existing ones after a little creative weathering, and are microwave transparent.
      • by Gromius (677157) on Monday May 12, 2008 @07:19AM (#23376138)
        this is almost exactly what my parents did in a similar situation. Couldnt have a dish on the outside (both planning and aesthetic reasons) but they could build a small shed outside without planning permission. Volia, dish goes in shed with the special roof (although they might be trying it without roof for a while to see if its worth the money for the tiles). Also has the added advantage that passing ner-do-wells dont start wondering why that old isolated cottage has a big dish outside it.
    • by Joebert (946227)
      That's about what I was thinking, I really don't know anything about "microwave-transparent" materials other than they don't get hot in my microwave though.

      Could there be any sort of fire risk with something like that ?
      • by ZorbaTHut (126196)
        The amount of energy transmitted by a standard house microwave dish is minimal, and the nature of microwave-transparent materials is that they'll absorb virtually none of that energy. No risk whatsoever, at least microwave-related.
    • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:13AM (#23375838)
      A 20 foot high fibreglass gnome in the back garden would do the trick. You could paint nerd clothes on him too as an ironic thingy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      -- OR --
      Get a satellite dish.

      Beat it up, hammer some areas
      Make it look weatherworn (paint, spray cobweb)
      to make it look 300 years old
  • you might be able to get GPRS or EDGE or whatever, that would be an only hope. IT would be a bit higher price, and it's not given that they put towers for that in such remote areas.

    Googling a bit gives the option of "hiding" the satellite dish, some exist in the UK at least, not sure how well it looks in reality: sqish [sqish.co.uk]

  • a 300-year-old house and they feel a dish would be as prohibitively ugly...
    If my other best connection was a ouija board, I'd explore the possibility of getting a camouflage painted satellite dish.
  • by Skal Tura (595728) on Monday May 12, 2008 @05:57AM (#23375754) Homepage
    Do not know the distance we are talking about, but sounds like there won't be anything prohibitive on line of sight.

    Closest neighbour who can have a fast connection, arrange with them to setup a WiFi, but not with regular uni-directional antennae, use directional, big one.

    More precise you can align the antennaes, the further you can reach with better bandwidth. To avoid the bad looks, you could hook it up in a tree too.

    If you are DIY type, there's lots of DIY tutorials to make one yourself on the cheap, which is just as good or better than some which costs insane high bucks. Just google "DIY WiFi Directional Antenna" :) Here's one: http://demi0urgos.livejournal.com/5924.html [livejournal.com]
    Picture: http://img237.imageshack.us/my.php?image=smalllabattstilt2nr.jpg [imageshack.us]
    Used: Beer can, some copper wiring, and some household items.

    You actually can get quite damn good distances with this kind of setup, alternatively, you guys might want to ask if you could use signal boosters to amplify the strength of signal, but beware, there's very good reasons why by default the output is weak, but that's mostly directed towards to areas where there is other users.

    Also, get the best hardware you can find on sane prices, using some cheap D-Link crap or something like that, is plain shooting yourself on the foot, they don't even work for 10 feets, nevermind 10miles no matter what kind of antenna you use.

    Also, by nature WiFi is not very reliable, but setup well, it should work fine most of the time.
    • by neokushan (932374)
      Wouldn't a big, directional antennae be just as bad as a big, directional dish?
      Not saying your suggestion is a bad idea, just saying I don't think they'd go for it.
      Personally, if internet was that important to me, I'd stick with the dish, or sell up and move somewhere else.
  • Look towards Siena (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dontknowdidley (802457) on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:04AM (#23375792)

    Dishes can be painted to match with the existing surrounds - making them blend in fairly easily.

    I was in Siena, Italy - a city that didn't develop during the Renaissance after losing a war to Florence - and there were dishes all over that were painted to match the stone and brick work of that city.

    If a city that old can have dishes without looking bad or distracting, I think a house in New York will be okay.

    Never give up on the easy solution - it's probably the best one.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Dmala (752610)
      If a city that old can have dishes without looking bad or distracting, I think a house in New York will be okay.

      Granted it's overrun with f'ing New Yorkers in the summer, but just for the record any cottage at the Cape Cod National Seashore is most definitely in Massachusetts.
  • by Briareos (21163) * on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:08AM (#23375806)
    Nuke dialup from orbit, it's the only way to be sure...

    np: Kettel - Afwezig (My Dogan)
  • Knowing nothing about the area or indeed what kind of people live there, the only thing that springs to mind is to find somebody nearby ask pay them to latch onto their connection, if possible. Or, if nobody has it and everybody want it, how about forming a cooperative? The cooperative would build a shared broadband connection in whichever way was feasible, and perticipants would pay a share of the costs; it wouldn't necessarily have to be very expensive, and a shared facility could be built in an out of th
  • Mirror (Score:3, Funny)

    by Fuzzums (250400) on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:11AM (#23375826) Homepage
    They should mirror the internet during the night, updating a local cache, and when they surf during the day, they actually surf the locally cached internet.

    They might even be able to use their browser cache for that, I would think. I have mine set at 50Mb and I never get complaints from my browser that it needs more, so I would say 50Mb is enough. Maybe set it to 100Mb of you also want a backup.

    I hope this helps. And if not, I still have a 14k4 modem somewhere of you want to speed up the caching process.
  • They could put a satellite dish on their roof, but it's a 300-year-old house and they feel a dish would be as prohibitively ugly as running dedicated lines would be prohibitively expensive

    The WildBlue [mybluedish.com] dish is 28x26 inches.

    Mounting this jet black dish inconspicuously would not seem to present any particular problem.

  • Authentic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by August_zero (654282) on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:19AM (#23375864)
    Unless they are driving up there in a horse and buggy, and use whale oil lamps to light the night, i would say the illusion is pretty well broken anyway. Why not mount the dish on something near the house, or even on a post or something? It isn't going to distract anymore than the SUV sitting in the driveway
  • Meet with neighbors; develop a cooperative approach w/ a major provider; get a higher speed line run to a central location further inland; use a wi-fi relay to distribute bandwidth.
  • lots of ideas (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Using a Unix account might not require as much user education or volition as you might think. Here are some of possibilities if you use a shell account on the user's ISP:
    - Faster Web browsing using Lynx
    - No, there's nothing (seriously) wrong with Lynx
    - You can also use W3M or Links or Elinks if you like
    - IRC chatting with EPIC4 or Irssi
    - I know IRC doesn't use a lot of bandwidth, but every little bit helps
    - Instant messaging with TTY clients
    - Centericq d
  • Foret the computer and get them an unlocked iPhone - much easier to use!

    I've had mine in Europe nearly 2 months now and find it great to keep in touch with photos, email, web etc. Lately, found I
    don't even need a SIM card as fring.com provides WIFI phone as well as easy to use Skype. Better yet perhaps they both would like one.
  • google "dry pair" (Score:2, Interesting)

    by CoffeeBreath (317384)
    There are several how-to docs on using bare wires from the telco (originally intended for alarm circuits) with special-purpose modems to get internet access in places the "usual" technologies won't reach.
    • If I hadn't looked it up myself just now, I would have been under the impression that "dry pair" refers to the phenomenon of wearing freshly laundered underwear.
  • Quitcherbitchen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Monday May 12, 2008 @06:30AM (#23375916)

    They could put a satellite dish on their roof, but it's a 300-year-old house and they feel a dish would be as prohibitively ugly as running dedicated lines would be prohibitively expensive. I've suggested they get familiar with a text-only email client; I also suggested they talk with their senators and local political reps.

    (translated) My rich parents can't get broadband in their summer home in Cape Cod because they're too pretentious to use a dish and the mean old phone company doesn't want to spend millions to run DSL out to bumblefuck. Mr. Senator, can you make the taxpayer foot the bill so my parents can have *broadband* in their *summer home*???

    Gimme a break. Talk about spoiled. You know, there are people who still use dial-up. Does it suck? A little. But talking about political action so rich people can get broadband in the middle of nowhere where they chose their vacation home? Get out of here.

    • by Trogre (513942)
      Wow. Bitter much?

      What makes you think they're rich, and that it's their summer home?

      A lot of properties in now prime areas were cheap before the housing boom, you know.

    • by daBass (56811) on Monday May 12, 2008 @07:29AM (#23376190)

      (translated) My rich parents can't get broadband in their summer home in Cape Cod because they're too pretentious to use a dish and the mean old phone company doesn't want to spend millions to run DSL out to bumblefuck. Mr. Senator, can you make the taxpayer foot the bill so my parents can have *broadband* in their *summer home*???
      Where does the OP indicate this is their summer home? I would not be surprised if some people actually live their all year round. I don't know about new England, but in Old England, many older folks still live in their little old cottages and have done so all their lives, even though rich folk have snapped up most around them for use as weekend retreats.

      Secondly, politicians can do more that spend money to pay for the infrastructure. Telcos require permission from the government to do all sorts of things and as a condition of putting in service to more profitable areas, they could be forced to service other areas as well. Everybody wins. Unless you think spending an extra 25c a month on your subscription to fund it is the slippery slope to socialism and before you know it we'll all be working for the state and need permission to visit a department store, of course.

      You may be right, I don't know, but you should not jump to conclusions until you know all the facts.
    • Re:Quitcherbitchen (Score:5, Insightful)

      by TrueJim (107565) on Monday May 12, 2008 @08:09AM (#23376396) Homepage
      Not only that, he wants political action to put broadband in his parent's summer home...WHICH IS LOCATED IN AN FEDERAL ECOLOGICALLY-PROTECTED SEASHORE!

      "Dear Senator, please destroy a wildlife habitat and sanctuary so that I can get broadband..."
  • oh the horror... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by gittela (248158)
    What about disconnecting? IsnÂt that the point of vacation?
    One of the things I love about our cottage is that there is no power, no running water and hardly any cellphone coverage.
    If it is dead important I can read mail on my phone down the road.
  • I've actually worked on a system like this in the north of Scotland. The thing is, the customer had pretty deep pockets, so you might want to think carefully before dropping this kind of cash on broadband.

    The customer had a site at the top of a hill, some sites at the bottom of the hill, and a location 10km away where they could get broadband *and* line-of-sight to the hill. So what they did was use a 5.8GHz fixed wireless point-to-point link (Orthogon Gemini Lite) to get a 10MBps link to the top of the h
  • If you have DSL or cable at home and you have a machine you use as a firewall (which is always running), maybe you could set it up as a terminal-server.

    Preferrable over a VPN.

    You might want to look into which protocols are the most bandwidth efficient.
  • They should find an ISP that supports v.92 [wikipedia.org] and made sure they're running a good ad filter (and probably something like Flashblock [mozilla.org]). Dial-up is survivable if you can kill the rich media ads.

    Some ISPs also offer a "web accelerator [iinet.net.au]" service that'll repack images and compress HTML for you.
  • ...it was mentioned in another post but I'm gonna add to it.

    I work for the federal gummint and am routinely required to provide connectivity in solutions like this. I issue the user with the requriement a cellular aircard and if necessary an aircard router. Several companies make them and right now I'm particularly happy with NexAira's hardware as most other aircard routers are carrier- and hardware-specific.

    You still have to check the manufacturer's compatibility list but NexAira's router can move with y
  • Why don't you host a VT52 terminal emulator for them and provide their text e-mail interface. They can surf mobile sites for their internet access.

    If it worked at 300 baud...
  • They may be able to get UMTS/HSDPA (high speed wireless through the cell phone).

    You can bond multiple telephone lines; 112kbps is a bit better than 56kbps.

    No matter what you do, you should probably set up servers, since modern interactive applications try to do too many things in real time: E-mail servers that retrieve and send stuff in the background, aggressive web caching, and RSS readers plus downloaders for the web.
  • by Karrde712 (125745) on Monday May 12, 2008 @07:16AM (#23376122)
    One service that's becoming popular with laptop users would be the EVDO/3G adapters. These allow laptop computers (or, with USB versions, any computer) access to the EVDO (Verizon) and 3G (AT&T, T-Mobile) high-speed networks in most regions. Living in Massachusetts myself, I happen to know that the signal is very strong for both of these services in most populated areas. Basically, you can get broadband access from the cell tower networks for about $60/month (citing Verizon's price for 5GB monthly allowance).

    Both services offer speeds that are roughly equivalent to consumer DSL lines. While it is more expensive than DSL in most locations, if they're not going to run DSL, FiOS or digital cable lines out to you, then you don't have a lot of choices.
  • An obvious first step is to disable things like automatic image loading in the browser options. Go to some sites that load very slow and troubleshoot them. Try to see what is being loaded that is bogging down the browser. Firefox may have some extensions that help this, and I think Opera is pretty good at listing what is loading and how long it takes. Use an ad blocker. Dialup is often killed by all those fancy ads. Disable flash, javascript, DHTML stuff (where possible) and anything else too fancy. A frien
  • stay with it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by javaperson (1145375) on Monday May 12, 2008 @07:31AM (#23376200)
    I've been using Dial-up since the internet started (I'm 80) and haven't bothered to migrate to faster techs even tho they're available to me. Tell them to use Firefox and make use of the tabs and all the available extensions which take out unnecessary content such as Noscript, Adblock, and Image like opera. When you have 6 or 7 tabs opens at the same time, it's easy to go to go from one to another. While one is loading you read a different one. I'm sure they have more than one site they're interested in. This way they can surf the internet without any problem. It's just a matter of learning to use the facilities available and adapting.
  • My Mom lives in Foulmouth, and my Sister lives in Mashpea - both of which have cable internet. I know my business wireless internet card (from Verizon) works up there .. There is internet and cable all over the place in both P-town and the Vinyard .. so if its just a matter of coverage in your area due to bad equipment, you can always fork over the $60 a month for a wireless broadband card.

    Otherwise, what about ISDN ? or possibly a wireless directional antenna ? (a can) if there is anything tourist related near them .. chances are it will have wireless internet now adays.

  • by Guppy06 (410832) on Monday May 12, 2008 @10:11AM (#23377614)
    "It looks like my parents may end up stuck having to use dialup to access the Internet from their cottage inside the Cape Cod National Seashore."

    My heart bleeds.

    "Neither Comcast nor Verizon want to bother upgrading the hardware required to get them faster service."

    Surprising, since I'm sure that Comcast and Verizon execs as well as major stockholders are among their neighbors.

    "They could put a satellite dish on their roof, but it's a 300-year-old house and they feel a dish would be as prohibitively ugly as running dedicated lines would be prohibitively expensive."

    Uh-huh. Guess what: they didn't have cable television, central air, electricity, gas or probably even running water 300 years ago either (let alone the telephone lines used for dial-up). But I'm going to guess that since you're asking about internet access, you've already got all these modern amenities duck taped into a structure that wasn't built to accept it. I'd bet the precious aesthetics were lost about the time that flush toilets were installed.

    "I've suggested they get familiar with a text-only email client"

    I'd suggest their pretentious rich asses get used to doing without for a while if they insist on deliberately spending their summers away from civilization.

    "I also suggested they talk with their senators and local political reps."

    i. e. their next door neighbors...

    "Are there other ways they can increase the functionality despite the pitiful bandwidth?"

    Yeah, get over yourselves. After having all the latest Nineteenth and Twentieth Century amenities stapled onto the outside and inside of your "summer cottage," a one-meter satellite dish isn't going to be the end of the world. It won't be as bad as, say, the windmills your parents refuse to allow to be built anywhere near their precious cottage for fear of ruining the view.

    "Any other good ideas? Any success stories you can share where people have finally got the bandwidth they crave?"

    Crave bandwidth? Summer in a modern condominium instead.

We want to create puppets that pull their own strings. - Ann Marion

Working...