We recently moved from a rented house to our newly constructed St. Joseph the Worker Monastery in Englewood, Fla.
As I mentioned in a previous issue of the Register, we installed a hardwired network instead of going with a wireless one. And I had a cable connection put in, expecting that it would be hooked up to broadband Internet access.
As can be expected with new construction, not everything came together right on schedule. Bugs had to be worked out, for example, in the networking.
One Ethernet wall connection was no good. We had to replace it. The technician who came to test everything mentioned how, at times, workers from other construction trades can damage Ethernet cabling with nails, wire-cutters, etc.
Finally, everything checked out. Now it was time to get the Internet broadband hooked up.
Now, when we were still at our rented house, I called the cable company and asked if I could transfer our account to the new place. They said Yes. So I waited until we were living in our new place before calling to transfer the account.
Our new monastery is set a couple of hundred feet back from a six-lane state road. Across the street, tall electrical poles of concrete support high-voltage lines. And a low-voltage electrical pole sits about 20 feet from our building. Seeing all that, I thought a cable hookup would be a snap.
Wrong. When the technician showed up to connect the Internet cable, he could find no hookup for the building. So he left, telling me to call the cable company. I called and found, to my surprise, that cable was not available at our location. Apparently we were too far away from the nearest access point.
Out of curiosity, I tried to locate the cable on the electrical poles around us. I found it a block away. It then turned down the street behind us. The nearest cable access point was about a football field away. Not far by my standards — but apparently too far for the cable company.
Now I have for some time been receiving DSL (“digital subscriber line”) advertising from our local telephone company. I could get DSL for $19.95 for the first three months and then $29.95
thereafter. Taxes and hidden, if minor, fees could add another $10 per month. Taking all that into consideration, I decided this route was cheaper than the $56 I was paying for cable access.
Yet I hesitated to switch to DSL, as the speed you receive is dependent on the condition of your telephone lines and the distance between you and the telephone switching office. However, given the cost savings, I felt I had very little choice but to try it.
So I signed up. They sent me a DSL modem, filters and a setup CD. The installation was up to me. The video on the CD walked me through the setup process and configured my computer. DSL filters had to be plugged in to every telephone jack that might be used, including those on additional phone lines.
They provided five filters. The telephone company said using more than five could degrade the DSL service. Fortunately, I had exactly five jacks in use.
However, I ran into a little problem where our fire-alarm panel connected to our telephone line: The jacks were bigger than standard telephone jacks. I didn't bother with a filter. I went ahead with the installation and everything went well.
The modem told me I was connected at approximately 3MBps download speed and 800KBps upload speed. That sounded very fast to me. Almost too good to be true, in fact — and indeed it was when it came to uploading. I used the Speakeasy connection-speed test (speakeasy.net/speedtest). I came up with a real-world speed of 2.8MBps downloading and 512KBps uploading —comparable to cable downloading and faster than it was on the upload.
I was happy to see such good results, even with the slower uploading speed, as the advertising always says “up to” such and such a speed. I always take this to mean “don't count on it.”
A real problem started when I tried to get my network router to work with the DSL modem. I just couldn't get on the Internet. This didn't happen when I hooked up to the cable modem. I called the provider's tech-support line. The technician tried but failed. He said I needed to order a “stupider” DSL modem. Apparently the newer ones had much more in the way of features; they're not just a simple gateway to the Internet.
I was transferred to billing, where I asked to exchange my smart modem for a “stupider one.” They said the old ones were no longer available. Now I really felt stuck. So I tried tech support once again. Another dead end. At this point I became concerned. No network!
Fortunately, the DSL tech told me to try the router tech-support line. I did and, to my great relief, he knocked off the problem in no time.
Many people I talk to are not happy about cable prices. Usually the cable company in the area has a monopoly on your service. For now, DSL seems to be a cheaper and comparable alternative although this depends on your location and telephone wiring.
An upcoming Internet connection possibility may put an end to cable and DSL as well: fiber optics. The telephone company Verizon already offers this with the Fios Internet Service for home or business at verizon.com. For $39.95 you can get up to 5MBps downloading and 2MBps uploading. Add another $10 and you can get up to 15MBps downloading. Fios can deliver up to 30MBps downloading and 5MBps uploading, but you'll pay for that higher speed. All packages include a four-port wired home networking router.
With 60% of Americans now using broadband, companies see that a lot is at stake — perhaps total control of the media coming into your home!
Verizon customer Trish Landers of Keller, Texas, says that fiber optics is obviously the future for those who insist on fast Internet connections.
“I see everything in the future — television, radio, movies, telecommunications — going through fiber optics,” she says.
I think she's on to something.
Brother John Raymondis co-founder of the Community of the Monks of Adoration now based in Englewood, Florida.
Monthly Video Picks
For this month's web picks, let's concentrate one day of the week Americans have a problem keeping holy: Sunday.
Start with the Catechism of the Catholic Church at vatican.va/archive/catechism/ccc_toc.htm. Do a keyword search for “Sunday” and you'll find lots of enlightening passages.
Certainly you will want to read Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter Dies Domini (On Keeping the Lord's Day Holy) at vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_letters/index.htm.
Trouble with your kids at Mass? Look into the Catholic Mass worksheets, Gospel coloring activities, word-search puzzles and crosswords by Catholic Moms at catholicmom.com/mass_worksheets.htm.
The St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology has put together “Biblical Reflections on the Sunday Mass Readings” at salvationhistory.com/library/scripture/churchandbible/homilyhelps/homilyhelps.cm.
“Sunday Mass and Holy Day of Obligation,” by Colin B. Donovan, EWTN's vice president of theology, is worth a read. Located at ewtn.com/expert/answers/sunday_mass.htm, it looks at the Church's canon law regarding Sunday.
Have a holy and restful Lord's Day!