Sunday, December 18, 2005


Tonight we're at the Pinnacles. There are two things that occur here. There are no cell phone signals and there are no TV signals. There are great views and there aren't many places as nice to visit as the Pinnacles, but no signals.
We use Vonage for our IP phone and that fixes the first problem.
A couple of days before I left I went to Best Buy and bought a Slingbox. This is a device that connects to your home network and a TV antenna or cable box or other video source. You run a player on your computer and video and audio are streamed from you home to your computer, wherever it may be where there is a broadband connection. It works great from point to point on the network at home. Tonight we tried it out for the first time away from home. After a shakey start with the feed dropping and requiring a manual restart, every 5 sec to 5 minutes, suddenly it started working continuously with ocassional short dropout but returning automatically. It does work! That's great.
We enjoy our home broadcast stations. There are a lot of them and ocassionaally, something is worth watching. I'm too cheap to pay cable of DirecTV rates. The cost is just 2-3 times what it should be. I'd prefer it if they charged by the channel and you could select which channels you wanted. I'd pick a couple and pay my $2 month and be happier, but that's not this world. So, paying the $200 for the Slingbox seems to be a good alternative. It will pay for itself at that rate in 8 years. Actually, since DirecTV costs $41/month, minimum, as an alternative, it pays for itself in 5 months. I still have to learn what the impact of streaming video over the Datastorm system will be. If it gives us 4 hours before we reach our daily bandwidth allotment, that's OK.
Update on how it works:
Well, I've used the Slingbox several times now and can report it works with the Datastorm. I watched as much as 5 hours one evening and there was no impact to bandwidth of the internet connection over the satellite. I was even doing a lot of website updates at the same time. In the evening, there was some momentary dropout, not enough to bother me and, oddly, just as David Letteman came on it became perfect and stayed that way until I called it a night after another hour or so. The same effect on a subsequent night. Must be a lot less traffic that late. I did set down the bandwidth setting from 310k 30 frames to 220k and 20 frames. I think it will work out OK.

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