Aaron Sumner

3 picks for June 7, 2013

Rural WiMAX

Most people who've known me since I moved to the sticks know that my biggest complaint has been lousy Internet service. Up until Wednesday afternoon we were stuck with a 3G mobile hotspot, capped at five devices and 10 GB of downloads per month (shared with two iPhones). The hotspot itself is arguably the worst electronic device I've ever owned, but our only other options at the time were dialup and slow, unreliable satellite. (Earlier this year AT&T teased me by saying that 2 Mbps DSL had been rolled out in my area, only to discover that in fact it had not. Of course, they'd already shipped and billed me for the equipment.) Incredibly frustrating that I barely live seven miles outside of city limits, yet I could barely do basic web browsing at times. And, while satellite has gotten better thanks to WildBlue's new Exede service, it's still spotty at times and heavily capped.

So the bad news is the big telecoms don't care about providing rural customers with decent Internet. The good news is smaller, regional companies are picking up the slack and installing 4G WiMAX towers to help us yokels out. At least a couple of providers are now offering expanded service in and around Jefferson County; we went with Mercury Wireless based out of Topeka. Their tech came out last week for a free site survey, and came back this week with mounting hardware to position the receiver so that it could see their tower about five miles away. About an hour later I was online, getting about 6 Mbps down (I've clocked it up to 8.5 Mbps), and no caps.

I know it's not fiber, or even cable or LTE (which would've been capped, anyway), but this is a huge step forward. In some ways it's like I'm back in civilization. And after I drop the mobile hotspot from the shared data plan later today, I'm going Office Space on that piece of shit.

Apple Airport routers

A nice side benefit of our new Internet setup is that, for the first time in nearly two years, I have an actual home network again. After some research I wound up going with Apple hardware. I was always happy with my previous Apple routers from a reliability standpoint. I picked up the current Airport Extreme as a base, and an Airport Express for wireless printing and to extend the network's range a little further into the backyard. Everything was configured, up and running in under ten minutes.

Breaking Bad

Very late to the party, but I finally got around to this show a couple of weeks ago and couldn't stop watching. Really good stuff from what I've seen so far (season one) and worth the hype it received.

. Questions or comments? Let me know what you think.