08 January 2007

Product Endorsement!

OK - this is a weird one, and it doesn't involve any dog pictures, so you may want to skip it. Unless you're into the internet and live in the middle of nowhere.

There was a post over Christmas about a new type of connectivity up at Bad Dogs (North).

Abby's Mom and Dad live in the boondocks. Now, I don't mean the total, like charter-a-seaplane-to-get-in boondocks, but from the internet connection options, you'd almost think so.

Mom's been using dial-up (Dad does not use the internet) for years now. And, as most of you know, dial-up had just sucked in comparison to the other options out there for quite some time.

And Abby's Mom wanted Real Internet. She wanted to be able to view photos larger than 50k without a ten-minute wait. She'd heard something about these "internet videos" and thought they might be interesting. Mostly, being Abby's Mom, she wanted to be able to rapidly switch between travel sites to find the best deal on plane tickets OUT of the boondocks.

But she was thwarted at every turn. DSL from the phone company? "We're sorry, ma'am, but that's just not available in your area, and won't be anytime soon." Cable internet? Ha! Like there are cables out there?

How about the satellite TV provider? Umm..sorry, not in that location. She thought she had a good lead on a different satellite access system, but alas, the boondocks have oak trees, and they are such healthy oak trees that apparently they block out the line of sight to outer space. Or some such idiocy. It wouldn't work, the technician gently explained, before he drove away.

Abby's Mom was pissed. Highly. By the time Mr. Abby and I made it there for Christmas, she was eyeing Dad's chainsaws and thinking of solving oak tree problem. Dad was quietly pulling me aside and asking if there was anything that could be done "to get that damn internet or whatever in here," since he was starting to get vibes that she might burn the house down and insist on moving somewhere with FIOS.

So we scratched our heads. Then saw it on TV. Sprint/Nextel offered some sort of magic "card" that, when attached to a "computer" would enable the user to get to "the internet" through the magic of something related to cell phones.

So we called them. Well, they had card and some internets, but...(come on, say it with me)...it wouldn't work in the boondocks.

However...Mom has an Alltel phone...so we called Alltel...and then Mom and I went to the Alltel store...

And a week later, after Mr. Abby upgraded her RAM, installed Windows XP instead of Windows Boondocks and added a new graphics card...and after we found a magic adapter so you could plug a PCMCIA broadband card into a desktop expansion slot...we had VICTORY!!!

It's not quite FIOS fast, but it IS a huge step up from dial-up. And it's really not too expensive, when you compare it to a second, dedicated phone line and dial-up subscription. It's a WAY better deal than the satellite providers.

Props to Alltel. If YOU live in the boondocks and want to escape dial-up, it's worth a shot.