However, I recently found out about other such programs, sapping not performance of my computer, but bandwidth. Remember when I mentioned about my aborted efforts to move to DSL? Well, my nephew Jeremy read that post, and IM'ed me this:
Hey Josh...you know, Cnet's speed test is horribly inaccurate. Go retest with Speakeasy's. http://www.speakeasy.net/speedtest/ I get (on average) 5.7 megs a second....6.1 or so on good nights. I'd stay with Comcast, I've only had a problem maybe 4-5 times in the 3-4 years we've had it, and the reviews on Yahoo and Verizon in your area suck.
Well, I took his advice. While it was more accurate, it reported I had a connection not much better than a 56K modem. For $60 a month, that sucked. I called Comcast. First, they asked me to connect the cable modem directly to the PC: no gateway, no VOIP, no router. Ok, doubled the performance, but still not anywhere near the performance: about 900KBPS. Then they asked the question:
"Sir, do you have any other programs using your internet connection on right now? If so, can you close them?"
I shut them all down, and tried again. Suddenly, I was at 16MBPS! Holy...! I spent the rest of the evening adding each program back in, one by one, to determine the vampires. What did I find? FolderShare, which I blogged so effusively about, was sucking my connection dry. I immediately removed it. After reconnecting everything else, I was at a respectable 6MPBS. Still, I had a taste for the fast lane now, and there's no going back. The culprit seemed to be my gateway and AT&T's VOIP adaptor. Amazon got me a new wireless router/gateway for $50 (also allows me to finally upgrade to 802.11g instead of B, doubling my wireless speed), and a quick call to AT&T had them sending me a brand new Linksys VOIP adaptor to replace my aging Centillium one.
Occasionally, I can recover from my own errors. :-)
EPILOGUE: I called Comcast back, and mentioned that, 12 months ago, I got a great package deal from them. Now, my combined modem & cable bill had swelled to nearly $200. I said the magic words:
"I'm thinking of reducing my services."
The operator immediately asked me to hold. I waited, curious. About 90 seconds later, she came back with an offer: they would cut the cost of the cable modem by 50% for 12 months, and knock $30 off the cable TV service for 6 months. No commitment required, no hassle, no supervisor. Just with one call, of less than 5 minutes, I saved over $500 for the year.
A cable company that offers to reduce my price without hassle, and a phone company that sends me new upgraded equipment, just for asking. As a longtime hater of telcoms, I am floored. Perhaps there still is hope yet!