Saturday was the big day. The Paragon Cable/ATT installers showed up around 10:30am and a few hours later we had a working cable modem. The cable modem is one of the newer RCA types (it’s the one at the bottom of the page next the 3Com Sharkfin). I also picked up a Linksys BEFSR81 Cable/DSL router to act as firewall, router, and 10/100 8-port hub. The Linksys router is pretty cool, allowing a one machine DMZ as well as port-forwarding, DHCP, NAT and several other features you wouldn’t normally expect on such an inexpensive little box.
The install went relatively smoothly. After reading some of the att@home horror stories (or here or here) from other Linux users, I’d moved our real boxes to another room and brought an old clunker from the office and put Windows 98 on it – in case they insisted they only supported Windows or had to install their mutant version of IE. As it turned out though, the installer was reasonably knowledgable about things. He knew what Linux was and had even used it himself. He said I could sign a waiver saying I declined installation support and could then use any OS I wanted. We went ahead and used the W98 box for testing but he provided all the info needed so we could configure the Linux boxes. Third-party routers like the Linksys are another thing att@home theoretically doesn’t support but the installer thought it was a cool box and had never used one before so he wanted to see how to set it up to work with the cable modem too.
I spent a while at a list of bandwidth testing sites trying to get some idea of how fast the new setup was. The slowest download speed I got was around 700Kbps but most tests showed 1.5 – 2.0 Mbps. Not bad for $39/month. Unfortunately, att@home throttles the upload speed to 128kbps to discourage users from running any type of servers but it’s still a lot better than dial-up. :-)
The only strange part of the whole thing is that our home dial-up connection was the last analog modem that I used and heard on a regular basis. I think I’ve listened to modem connect-tones nearly every day of my life for at least 20 years. It’s going to be strange getting used to not hearing them. Made me start thinking again that someone should try to preserve some of those wonderful sounds. Perhaps an archive with WAV/MP3 files of all the classic connect tones – those strange tones the high-end US Robotics models used to make only when they connected with another USR; the old 300 and 1200 Baud connect sounds; the first DSI V.32 and V.32bis connect sounds. Hmmmm… better stop before I get all nostalgic for the good ol’ days.