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11/06/2006 Archived Entry: "WildBlue and the gods' sense of humor"

THE GODS AND THEIR SENSE OF HUMOR. Gotta love 'em. Or not. But whatever you do, you can't stop 'em from laughing at us mere humans.

Last July, I reluctantly signed up for WildBlue satellite Internet. It seemed my only realistic choice after the local Internet cafe closed its doors. Once WildBlue was installed, it became convenient again to earn a living, do research, and keep in touch with my friends. But that big ugly dish clinging to the side of Cabin Sweet Cabin blasted the hell out of my year of silence. Suddenly instead of contemplation and creativity I was sucked back into the realm of always-on bad news and constant casual connections.

The Internet: can't live with it, can't earn a living without it. Depressing.

Ah, but remember those gods?

Last Thursday, somewhat belatedly, fall fell. It turns out that, at the tiniest sign of typical seasonal weather for these parts, WildBlue satellite Internet does not work. Period. You might get an hour of connectivity a day. Might get five minutes at a time without losing the link. Likely as not, hapless WildBlue customers get only hours and days of wasted time attempting to link to a satellite that just ain't listening. (I had dinner last night with friends whose comments on their own WildBlue service cannot be printed on a family-friendly blog)

And we're not talking about killer storms (though that, too). We're talking light rain. A 10 mph breeze. When the first snowflake falls, watch that satellite dish faint like a Victorian matron whose corsets are laced too tight.

Here, BTW, is what WildBlue's onsite FAQ says about weather and connectivity:

The WildBlue service is only minimally affected by weather, and only under extreme conditions. The WildBlue service will offer availability equal to that of satellite TV. Like satellite TV services, during a very heavy rainstorm, you may notice slower WildBlue speeds, but this should normally only last a few minutes.

I'm in my fifth day of crippled or non-existant connectivity. No end in sight. I'm posting this from the library's wireless network. If you get no response to your emails for weeks, it's not me being neglectful; it's that the library's network is programmed to block nearly every function except plain-vanilla (non-proxied, non-POP, non-SMTP, non-ftp) surfing.

And what does WildBlue tech support have to say about a service that flees like the Wicked Witch of the West at the threat of a single raindrop? "Wait until the weather clears, then call us again."

Uh, yeah. Thank you. That might be June. Maybe July.

Of course I'm ticked. And I'll lobby either for actual service or an honorable end to this farce. But with standard fall weather looming for the forecastable future, it seems the gods -- who last July tempted me to choose between peaceful days and the more "sensible" choice of always-on Internet -- are now slapping their godly thighs in amusement as they inform me I made the wrong choice.

You'll have peace and silence whether you're smart enough to choose it or not, Mere Human. But now you'll also pay a tithe of your income to the sky deity in atonement for your bad decision.

The earning-a-living bit is troublesome. And truly I don't like being had by a vendor who must have known its "service" wouldn't function under normal local conditions. But the gods are right; I do welcome the opportunity to sit serenely and watch the rain fall. Beats the hell out of watching jangling electrons as they convey the far less wholesome falls of George Bush's poll ratings, the careers of sexually sanctimonious churchmen and congressbeasts, and the poor old Bill of Rights.

Posted by Claire @ 12:49 PM CST

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