Connectivity From Very Rural Places – Part 2

dscn0011In Part 1 of this little series of posts, I talked about my move from Anchorage to Tok, Alaska. I went from acceptable Internet speeds at a fairly reasonable price ($60-ish/month) to barely 512K up and down, a 10 Gig monthly limit and $180/month plus $30 per Gig over the limit. As a web worker (read: Bandwidth Hog). I’m still reeling from the adjustment and keeping a careful eye on my bandwidth usage daily.

So how have these connectivity challenges and unexpected expenses affected my web work? And how am I compensating for these…developments?

1. Images

There is no way around uploading and downloading images. With all of the blogging I do, images are key to my work, and although I could link to images using a URL instead of embedding them, it is less reliable so I’ll stick with uploading. Luckily, for the most part, the image sizes aren’t over a MB each, however, when they are, I find that it is too much effort to size them so upload them anyway.

When it comes to images, they are the lowest on the totem pole of bandwidth chompers, so I’m not changing much in this area. If I’m down to my last MBs of bandwidth allowance before the end of any month, I may suck it up and start sizing images although the benefits will be minimal.

Verdict? Not giving up the pics.

2. Audio

I’ve been podcasting professionally and have to upload or email an MP3 regularly to my producer. I also need to upload my own podcasts to LibSyn although I’ve been a bit remiss with that lately since it is usually about Second Life (see “Second Life” header below). The pro-podcasting show MP3 is between 5-6 MB per segment.

Was able to email the files the other day which is a plus. Must do this 1-2 times weekly. So that is 4-8 files or up to 48 MB per month.

Verdict? Got to do audio.

3. Video

The first week I arrived here, a DVD also arrived for me. It contained a 330 MB television commercial for a client. My charge was to use mDialog’s mLoader to compress it and upload it onto mDialog, then convert the compressed file using QuickTime into a .mov file and upload to YouTube.

mDialog’s uploading app is slick, and it was doing a great job compressing the video, but alas, the file was still too large for my connection. Maybe I could have waited a few hours, however, I was also worried about frittering away so much of my bandwidth allowance on a single file.

When it comes to my own blogs, video is something I don’t want to give up. I may have to suck it up and pay an extra $30 for a Gig overage just to keep my personal videos on my blogs. Yet I must be careful to limit myself to just a Gig over per month or my monthly Internet expenses will get out of control.

Verdict? Farm out heavy video uploads to my contractors in more bandwidth-rich places. Suck up any extra expense for uploading my own videos.

skype4. Video and Audio Skype

Besides video chatting with my folks who are in Florida, I am video chatting and audio Skype-ing with colleagues. And recently, I attended a Tweetup in Anchorage via video Skype.

At first, I wasn’t even sure if I would be able to get clear audio, much less video. But other than the very occasional buggy sound or picture, my overall Skype experience from rural places has been pretty impressive.

Verdict? Skype rules for rural connectivity!

5. Second Life

Ever since I heard I was moving to Tok, I began researching to see what Internet access solutions would be available to me, I’ve panicked about my Second Life activities. Would I have to give them up? I shuddered to think, especially when my Second Life Web-based machinima TV show – REAL BIZ in SL – was starting to take off. In fact, we had the entire month of January booked in advance with guests from around the world (companies and nonprofits using Second Life).

I finally had my show manager push back all the guests until February when I knew (or hoped) I’d be in Anchorage rather than risk getting to Tok and finding out my avatar wouldn’t budge.

The other day, I finally tried to log into Second Life, expecting it to be a futile effort. I got in. I was also able to get onto Skype audio at the same time.

I made a note before logging in of my bandwidth usage to see what I was in for. Turns out a little over half an hour on Second Life with Skype is almost comparable to several hours on video Skype. Each ate up about half a Gig. If I limit my video Skyping or Second Lifing to 2x a month, that means 1-2 Gigs of my 10 Gig allottment gone.

Verdict? Be strategic and frugal, definitely not bandwidth happy, but don’t totally give up Second Life.

internet-dsl-usage-516. Bandwidth Paranoia

Every time I get a particularly large file attached to an email now, I look at it with a sinking feeling. “How much is that going to cost me?” is the first thing that runs through my head. And “Do I really need that file?” follows shortly after. I have to admit I’ve stopped downloading funny photos and videos from friends already.

For business, I respond to anyone sending me something that seems large and ask them to send it my my assistant or a colleague for viewing, vetting, optimizing, sizing or distributing in any way. I’m preparing everyone on my team with their new role as “Large File Handler” as needed.

Verdict? Paranoia will save me money.

Once I get my next bill, I’ll know if I have to be even more stringent with my big file policies and processes. When I saw my first DSL bill at $258, I almost choked. That was the last month of December along with the entire month of January paid in advance.

I’m just a high-speed gal in a slow-speed world. You just do what you gotta do.

What are you paying for connectivity? And could you still do your job without it?