Wandering Thoughts archives


I need more than one way to get on the Internet from home

I'm in an unusual situation in today's modern world: I have only a single way to get on the Internet from home (and from only a single machine). My DSL connection is so reliable and so comfortable (especially lately) that I usually don't even think about it; it's just there, quietly working away. Until the rare occasion when it isn't, and I get smacked with just how crippling a problem this is. It's not just that I spend a lot of my time fiddling around on the Internet (although I do) and no Internet kind of leaves a void there. It's also that the Internet has become my channel for getting crucial or at least important information, like weather forecasts and whether or not my bike club has had to cancel a planned ride for various reasons.

(Weather information is pretty important even just for commuting to work, since I don't carry rain gear all of the time and I'd really rather not have to bike home in the rain without it.)

It's become obvious to me that I need to finally give in and get a smartphone, which will help solve part of this problem; a smartphone is a second path to the Internet and a second device, so I can at least check weather forecasts and dash off a quick email to my regular ISP's support people. But it's not really enough by itself, not when what I actually want is for my main computer with its big screen and nice keyboard to get back on the Internet so I can return to doing my usual things.

There's a number of potentially plausible options for a backup home Internet connection. One is to make sure my future smartphone can be used as a hotspot, then figure out how to connect my (Linux) machine to it (probably with a USB wireless adapter of some sort). If I'm getting a smartphone anyways, this has the advantage of minimal operating expenses in the normal case (ie, when my regular DSL connection is up). Another is to go all the way and get a cable Internet connection to go with my DSL connection. For various yak-shaving reasons this is not ideal, but it's probably the gold standard for redundancy and if I worked from home it would likely be essential. Cable also appears to be the overall cheapest option if I get a low-bandwidth plan from a third party ISP. A number of ISPs around here also offer some form of mobile or wireless Internet, but that seems to be mostly more expensive and has much lower bandwidth limits.

I'm most likely going to postpone doing anything until I get a smartphone and then go with the theoretically very little work hotspot approach. The most nominally sensible thing is probably to do the work to get cable Internet, but I know that it would just annoy me to be paying some amount of money each month for something that I'm almost never going to use (and that I shouldn't need at all if everything was working the way it's supposed to).

(I sort of have a backup if my DSL goes out sufficiently severely, but 28.8kbps dialup Internet is no longer really good enough. I can check email and do other text things, and check weather forecasts with patience, but that's about it.)

(I call the hotspot approach only theoretically very little work because I suspect that in practice it will be kind of a pain to get my home Linux machine talking to the Internet via a hotspot and probably a USB wireless network adapter.)

tech/BackupHomeInternet written at 22:54:45; Add Comment

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