December 27, 2004 -- I've been at home for the past 10 days. Originally I was going to go back to work today, however over the weekend the furnace here in my house developed a problem where it sometimes fails to come on. As cold as it's been the past few days, that's not a good situation. If it were to fail to come on and it got bitterly cold, I'd likely end up with frozen and broken water lines and sewer plumbing.

I called a heating/air conditioning repairman and he's scheduled to come out to my house early tomorrow morning to see if he can fix the problem.

Over the past three days I've been to three large family gatherings. I enjoyed them, but going to them day after day after day does get a bit grueling.

Since I've been home, I've been downloading and uploading a lot of large files to and from the Internet. I was wanting more speed, so in a weak moment I once again subscribed to two-way satellite Internet service. Originally I had my service through Earthlink "powered by" Direcway to the tune of $80 dollars per month. This time, I'm getting it straight from Direcway for $59 dollars per month. That's still pricey, but it's the closest thing to broadband I can get out here where my house is at. I figure it's part of the price I have to pay to have a lot of space between me and my neighbors.

I had a bit of trouble getting the service to work and I ended up having to call Direcway's technical support. I got right through after a few attempts at navigating my way through their not-so-clear telephone prompt menus. Once I did get through, the people in India picked my call right up. That's right, their technical support is in India. I've heard all about technical support calls going to India but this is the first time I've experienced it for myself. If I hadn't known that all technical support has moved to India, I wouldn't have had any clue the people I was talking to were half-way around the world. The voice quality of the call was quite clear.

It was not an unpleasant experience. They were actually able to solve the problem after they directed me where to download the latest version of their software. Unfortunately, I've got the Direcway Model 4000 satellite modem that connects to the computer via USB -- that was all that was available at the time. They have since switched to a new Ethernet version in the form of the Model 6000 satellite modem. Ethernet makes much more sense, since no device drivers or other software are required to be installed on the computer. My experience with USB networking devices have always been that they are  problematic.

So, after my home furnace is fixed I'll likely be going back to work tomorrow.