Internet connection solutions in the Taos area include
DSL and dial-up through phone lines, wireless access through
Taos Net, and
Kit Carson Electric, and high-speed satellite. The phone line
and wireless services
work for both Mac and PC
and in the case of wireless do not require special software to be installed. If you are located outside the domain of a wireless
access point, have phone lines that do not support DSL, and can't tolerate the slow-as-molasses speed of dial up, you may need to look
at the considerably more expensive satellite services. As of this writing,
Skycasters is the only native Macintosh solution, but at a startup
cost in the neighborhood of $1800 and a monthly service fee of $120, it is rather expensive proposition, and one I nearly bit
the bullet on.
The other satellite solution in the area is
Starband, which is incidentally in chapter 11, making
this a choice that could introduce service disruptions in the future in the event the ownership changes hands. At the time
of this writing, Starband is a PC-only solution, making it necessary to purchase a PC in order to network a Mac to use the
service. Adding the cost of a cheap PC to the mix would bring the Mac Startband startup costs up to the level of Skycasters.
Starband has announced it will be launching a Mac-friendly satellite solution by the end of this summer, the startup and
monthly service fees for which will be comparable, if not identical, to the PC offering. But of course, that is not an option for me
One of the biggest challenges I faced in securing an apartment rental down in Taos is that while many affordable offerings are listed
daily in the
Taos News, they are usually snatched up at a remarkable
pace. My job schedule made it very difficult for me
to drive down to Taos to investigate these offerings personally in a timely manner, so time running out, I rented an apartment
sight unseen. It was a gamble, yes, but it was a gamble that would save me an additional $400/month for the next several
months, and my past as an artist had prepared me to live under some fairly horrendous conditions :) , so I took a chance. The
landlady was quite pleasant over the phone, and the rapport we developed in our initial
conversation suggested to me that the choice would not be a disaster. I was right, for the most part :)
Having already determined that DSL was not an option for my soon to be address, and dial-up being an untenable means of continuing with
my internet job, I moved to plan B; wireless access.
The Taos Net wireless
representative I was working with seemed very confident at first that he could set me up. Weeks later, however, his field investigation
determined that although the apartment was literally blocks away from 2 wireless
access towers, there was no direct line of sight to either of them!
That's right! I just happened to select the one apartment on the street prevented by several groups of trees
from receiving direct internet access! This would not have been such a problem, if it weren't for the timing
of the discovery. In spite of the fact that I had begun my internet investigation over a month before, I now had only 10
days to find an alternative solution, and the thought of extending my credit card an additional $1800 for either Skycasters or
Starband left a queezy feeling in my stomach. I wanted to start my new digs in the black, and help envigorate my
sense of making progress. There HAD to be some other solution, somewhere, somehow.
Enter resourcefulness! Armed with only my brain and the internet, I looked up every computer-related business I could find
and asked about renting office space with an internet connection. Bingo! For less than the monthly cost of Skycasters,
and with no set up fee, I was able to find a small consulting business that was willing to accommodate my needs.
What a relief!
At the very least, this arrangement will buy me time until the Mac-friendly Star-Band solution is rolled out, which will still end up
saving me over $700 in setup fees (over Skycasters) and provide a solution I can take with me just about anywhere. Afterwards,
it will save me an additional $30/month over my current arrangement. I can't be sure, but I think I sense my hyper-frugal father
smiling proudly from behind the misty afterlife :D