Configuring KeyWatcher TrueTouch Using RDS RemoteApps for a New User

Morse Watchmans KeyWatcher TrueTouch

Purpose

This document will delineate the steps necessary to enable a new RemoteApps user to access the KeyWatcher TrueTouch software via Remote Desktop Application Services.

Assumptions

This document assumes that your environment has a remote desktop services farm and that users are accessing applications via published RemoteApps, that KeyWatcher TrueTouch is installed on the RDS Session Host, is published, and that the user is a member of the “Domain Users” security group and that they have Modify permissions to the directory where the KW Configurator is located.

Step 1 – User Profile Generation

The KeyWatcher True Touch application is installed on the remote desktop session host. Because the software provisions its configuration based on Windows user profile, it is necessary for the new user to remotely log into the server at least once prior to attempt logon to the application.

From the user’s workstation, have them open Remote Desktop Connection by going to the Start menu located in the lower-left portion of the Taskbar.

In the Start menu, search “Remote Desktop” and select the first returned search result.

In the Remote Desktop window, input the hostname of the remote desktop session host.

Alternatively, you can strike Windows+R on the keyboard and input mstsc into the resulting Run prompt, then click OK or strike Enter/Return on the keyboard.

Connect and have the user provide their usual credentials to log in. Once the user profile is generated and the user is looking at either (a) the Windows desktop environtment or (b) the Windows Server manager, have the user log out of the server and close Remote Desktop Connection.

Step 2 – TrueTouch Configurator

Once the user profile has been generated, Log into the remote session host as an administrator and navigate to the location of the TrueTouch configurator application, then launch the configurator application in the directory.

In the resulting application window, fill the checkboxes of all users that you want to be able to use the TrueTouch software.

Note: You’ll need to check all users who need access every time. If you only check the new user’s username, then only the new user will have access. This process overwrites all prior configurations.

When the appropriate users are selected, click the Configure button at the left of the application window. When the completion message appears, you may close all windows and disconnect from the server.

Step 3 – Launching Keywatcher TrueTouch via RemoteApps

The user should now be able to go to their Start menu again, locate their RemoteApps folder and expand it to reveal the KeyWatcher TrueTouch application. Upon launch, it should result in a popup login window and the status bar at the bottom of the application window should show that it is connected to the correct KeyWatcher application server.


Additional information

See the Morse Watchman KeyWatcher TrueTouch documentation for additional information. This can be obtained from Genesis Resources.

Review: Amcrest AWC201-B HD Webcam

Disclaimer: This product was provided to me free of charge by Amcrest specifically for review. While the product was provided to me by the manufacturer for the purpose of review, I am not sponsored by Amcrest and my review is purely objective. I currently do not own any other Amcrest products.

Griff

Introduction

In 2020, who hasn’t had a Zoom meeting, Teams meeting, Facebook messenger video call, or some other form of video telecommunication? Relatively few people as compared to previous years. With COVID-19 wreaking havoc on families and organizations alike, video calls have become commonplace and a staple of daily life. As this change came about, many people found that they needed a webcam. Or if they already had one, that they wanted a better one. Within just a couple short months, the world’s supply of webcams got scarce. As someone who works in IT for a living and regularly orders hardware like webcams, it really was a bit of a problem. Several months into the shortage, Amcrest brought their AWC201-B HD webcam offering to the market. A little over a week ago, I received my unit from their product testing program and began to use it. In this review, I’ll explore the benefits and pitfalls of this web camera and hopefully provide you with the information you need to make a decision about purchasing the device or exploring Amcrest’s offerings.

Specifications

Technical Specifications for the AWC201-B from Amcrest’s website.

The AWC201-B (for lack of a better name) can provide HD resolution video at 30 frames per second. While the spec sheet on their website doesn’t seem to mention it, the AWC201-B is a 2 megapixel web camera, according to Amazon.com. It has a six (6) foot long USB 2.0 cable which is not detachable, and has the expected tripod mount and built-in microphone. I was pleased to see when looking at the box that the device includes a privacy cover that can be flipped open or closed. Cable length is fairly standard. While pretty much universally compatible, there doesn’t appear to be anything particularly attention-catching about the device apart from a pleasing design that sits nicely atop a monitor. But, let’s not fret about that. I’ll be filling out the rest of this review throughout the week.

Audio performance

Alright, it’s time to get rolling on this review. First up let’s have a listen to the audio quality of the built-in microphone.

First, I have a recording of a pre-determined script, using my Moano AU-PM421 studio microphone. This is obviously significantly better quality than we can expect from a webcam–especially at Amcrest’s price point–but it serves as a reference point to what I actually sound like, as realistically as possible.
Next up, here is the recording of the same pre-determined script, using the built-in microphone on the Amcrest AWC201-B HD webcam. We notice a significant difference here, which is okay in and of itself, as the quality of microphone is expected to vary widely when comparing a standalone, dedicated professional microphone against the built-in microphone of a budget web camera.
Lastly, I have a recording of the same pre-determined script, using the built-in microphone of my usual webcam in my home office–the Vitade 960A HD webcam. You’ll notice that the audio quality here is much closer to the type of audio you get from the Amcrest AWC201-B, but that it is still much clearer with significantly less background noise/hiss.

Still image performance

Below is a quick look at still image performance using my daily driver, the Vitade 960A, as a reference point for comparison to the Amcrest AWC201-B.

First, here is a reference image from the Vitade 960A HD webcam that I grabbed during a video call. This is my daily driver for home office use.
Second, here is the still image from the Amcrest AWC201-B HD webcam–from the same video call as the first image.

Notice the color temperature here. Neither image is white-balance corrected, so the coloring/hue/tint/saturation/white balance are directly native from the camera. Also note that the colors in the first image from the Vitade are actually accurate. The color interpretation here with the AWC201-B is interesting; it is much cooler and more analytical. While less accurate, in some ways it sort of makes the image a bit easier to view. I also noticed that despite both cameras being 1920×1080 in resolution, the Amcrest did not provide nearly as crisp and clean an image as the 960A. It is, by all means, still a usable image and things are easy to discern. I would consider the still image from Amcrest’s new offering to fall in the “acceptable” range.

Taking a look at side-by-side comparison of the image quality, we see that the Vitade 960A 1080p webcam (left) provides much better details when zoomed into 75 than the Amcrest AWC201-B (right).

Note the blurry skin from the Amcrest in the cheekbone region, and how hair appears to be a solid blotch of color, rather than having the texture of hair. With the Vitade, texture of hair is discernible.

Also note that in all the above images, XSplit VCam software is in use to change the background (the integration/interfacing with this software is discussed later in the review).

“I reject your background, and substitute my own.”

Adam Savage, probably.

Video performance

Video Test from Amcrest AWC201-B HD Webcam. [Update: I did later discover that the microphone error I was getting is a Windows error due to a Windows setting. That said, this is the only camera that I have this issue with, so that is still odd to me.]
Video Reference Test from Vitade 960A HD Webcam.

Interfacing with software

A key feature of a webcam, for me, is the ability to adjust the image. While there was no included software, or software available to download from Amcrest’s website, I did find that the generic controls of other applications such as Xplit VCam were able to adjust the image.

Screenshot of the video processing adjustments available in XSplit VCam that worked on the Amcrest AWC201-B.

While the image processing controls worked, the camera controls themselves were not compatible:

Screenshot of the camera adjustments available in XSplit VCam that didn’t work on the Amcrest AWC201-B.

But what about other software? Is the AWC201-B easily used “plug-and-play” with common applications such as Microsoft Teams and Discord?

While other parts of the experience with this webcam have been shaky, I was pleased to find that the camera really is “plug-and-play” for the most part. Microsoft Teams is a daily application for me, working in IT and with the rest of my teammates located some 300 miles away. In the video footage earlier, I talked about the issues connecting the webcam to my laptop to record the test video. While the built-in Windows 10 camera app gave me trouble, I didn’t have any issues setting the webcam as my device in Teams and making a call. In fact, the call quality was quite good despite the performance shortcomings in basic tests earlier. As far as Discord went, I also had an easy experience. After plugging in the webcam, Discord detected it and asked if I would like to switch to it. After clicking Switch and turning on my video in a channel, the video delivery was pretty smooth and clear albeit low-detail (likely due to the webcam only being 2 megapixels). Audio performance–again–was clear and significantly better than in the audio-only tests.

I also used the webcam to stream/import video feed into OBS Studio as well (which I use to record tutorials) and had no issues there either.

Build quality

Let’s talk build quality. While I may have found some of the technical features to be lacking in the camera, the same can’t be said for the actual build quality. The shape, design, and weight of the webcam is pleasing. Heavy enough to not feel cheaply made, but light enough to be convenient and non-intensive to use or transport. I do like the wide, slim design. In fact, I prefer this shape and design to my Logitech C920 that I use at work (quite bulky) and my Vitade 960A that I use at home (perfectly round). The hinge for adjusting the angle of the webcam moves easily, but also has enough stopping resistance to stay put once you adjust it. Rubber grips on the adjustable arm used for resting atop a computer monitor keep it relatively in-place.

As I mentioned in the Introduction, this webcam includes a privacy cover that can be flipped open or shut. The odd thing about it, is that it comes uninstalled. Upon unboxing, I had to peel the cover off the back and adhere it to the device. It took two or three tries to get it to sit on there level and not look “janky.”

My only major complaint regarding build quality is the cheap USB-A male connector. As mentioned above in the video tests, I couldn’t even plug the webcam into my laptop because if even the most microscopic movement of the connector occurred, the device disconnected completely. This is an issue I have not experienced with any USB peripheral of mine otherwise.

Price

$39.99 USD

Opinions will vary regarding price. I personally thing $30-40 is the “budget” end of webcams. So for me, $39.99 USD for the quality that this provides is about right. I might personally think it’s worth more in the $29.99-34.99 range, however, given it is only 2 megapixels and the USB connector is cheap. I do feel the price is just slightly too high given the fact that it is only a 2 megapixel camera, whereas Logitech’s C310 which is probably the best competitor in the price range, is a 5 megapixel camera with incredibly better performance all around, despite only being 720p instead of 1080p.

Conclusion

So who is this webcam for? I’m not entirely sure who Amcrest’s intended target customer is, but I could see this being a good option for someone who;

  • does not yet/currently have a webcam and needs one for work,
  • needs to order webcams at scale/bulk that are usable for basic video conferencing applications, but won’t break the bank,
  • needs a webcam but does not plan to stream on any platform,
  • plans to use the webcam only for one or two major/reputable video-calling platforms and doesn’t plan on doing any crazy integrations or production.

Pros

  • 1080p HD resolution
  • Even exposure weighting
  • Pleasing design
  • Includes privacy cover
  • Only $39.99

Cons

  • Poor color replication
  • High distortion
  • Cheap USB connector
  • Only 2 megapixels
  • Microphone is usable, but not great

As someone who spends a large portion of his day on video calls or streaming video to others, I can’t say I would purchase this for my personal use, but that’s not because it isn’t a worthy consideration. I simply don’t buy budget gear. This is a product that is worth considering for people who need a budget webcam and don’t necessarily care about crystal-clear audio and video, but need it to function well enough. Reviewing it for what it really is–a budget webcam–I’d give it 3.5/5 stars. It’s affordable, it mostly “just works” and is clear enough for general use.

What webcam are you using, and what do you like about it? Do you have an Amcrest webcam? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


Additional reading

Amcrest AWC201-B Product Information

Amcrest AWC201-B on Amazon

Keeping your software up-to-date the easy way

Get rid of annoying “update available” notification and pop-ups by having your computer take care of application updates automatically.

Introduction

Don’t you love those pop-ups you get in the corner of your desktop telling you there’s an update for a program installed on your computer? Or how about when you open a program and it tells you there’s an update? You just want to use your software, so if you’re like me, you’ve probably clicked “ignore” or closed the update to just get to what you were doing. But there is a better way! Nobody wants to take the time to keep all of their software up-to-date. In this brief blog post, I take a look at how you can make this happen “auto-magically,” at least for many common programs.

Installing Chocolatey package manager

The first thing we will need to do is install the Chocolatey package manager. This is going to let us have access to one central source for the programs and their updates.

To install Chocolatey, open Windows PowerShell by going to the Start Menu and typing “powershell” (quotes ommitted). Right-click the top result, and click “Run as Administrator.” This will require you to have administrative rights. If you do not have administrative rights, this process will not be possible.

In the Windows PowerShell window that appears, paste the following command:

Set-ExecutionPolicy Bypass -Scope Process -Force; [System.Net.ServicePointManager]::SecurityProtocol = [System.Net.ServicePointManager]::SecurityProtocol -bor 3072; iex ((New-Object System.Net.WebClient).DownloadString('https://chocolatey.org/install.ps1'))

Once that command has completed, close Windows PowerShell and launch it again with administrative rights like we just did.

Installing packages

Now we need to install the packages that we want to keep up-to-date. To find out if a program you have has a package available, use the below example in PowerShell:

choco search programname

where programname is the name of the program you want. Some examples might be:

  • adobereader
  • adobe-connect
  • googlechrome
  • microsoft-edge
  • discord
  • putty
  • icue
  • bitwarden
  • lastpass
  • obs-studio
  • conemu
  • forticlientvpn
  • openvpn
  • java
  • jre
  • logitech-options
  • reflect-free
  • and many, many more.

To actually install any or a combination of these, use the following command:

cinst programname -Y

where programname is the package name. You can list multiple package names in succession to install multiple programs at once:

cinst programname1 programname2 programname3 -Y

Chocolatey will download the packages and install them.

Writing the update script

With the packages installed, now we need to create a super simple script that will update those packages.

Open Notepad by going to the Start Menu and typing “notepad” (quotations omitted) and running the top result.

In the blank document that opens, type the following:

choco upgrade all -Y

If you continually run into errors with certain packages updating and don’t mind the insecurity of it, you can also use:

choco upgrade all -Y --ignore-checksums

though I don’t recommend it.

Now save this by going to File > Save As… In the Save As window, change the drop-down menu for the file type. It will be defaulted to .txt and we want to change it to All Files. Type a name for the file ending with .ps1. Example:

chocolatey-updater.ps1

Save it to a location where it won’t be touched and will always be available. I have mine saved to a folder I created at C:\ScheduledTasks but you can put yours wherever you want.

Scheduling automatic updates

Finally, now that we have installed packages and created a script to update them, we will want to schedule the update process to be completely automatic. Because being hands-off is the whole point!

Open the Task Scheduler by clicking the Start Menu and typing “task scheduler” then running the top result.

In the resulting Task Scheduler window, open the Action menu, then click Create Task.

Give your scheduled task a name and a description, then select “Run whether user is logged in or not” and check “Run with highest privileges.” Finally, Configure for: Windows 10.

Move to the Triggers tab.

Add a new trigger to begin the task on a schedule. Input your desired start date, reoccurence period, and ensure “Enabled” is checked, then click OK.

Move to the Actions tab.

Make the action “Start a program” and in the Program/script field, paste the path to PowerShell:

%SystemRoot%\system32\WindowsPowerShell\v1.0\powershell.exe

In the Add arguments field, add the following:

-file scriptpath

where scriptpath is the path to where you saved your script earlier. My example looked like this:

-file C:\ScheduledTasks\chocolatey-updates.ps1

When done, click OK on all remaining Task Scheduler windows and the task will be scheduled. Now, as long as your computer is on, you leave the task scheduled, and the script is available where you saved it, your computer should automatically update your specified programs without you having to do anything at all.

I have been keeping my computers up to date like this for several years (set to automatically update everything weekly) and it saves me tons of time, and I rarely get notifications about new versions or annoying popups anymore.

Bringing it all together

In this process, we installed Chocolately package manager, figured out what programs we wanted to keep up to date that were available through Chocolatey, installed those programs, wrote the update script/command, and scheduled PowerShell to run that command at a regular interval.

How did this go for you? Got any other neat tips and tricks for keeping your system running in great shape? I’d love for you to share them in the comments.

Internet in Elko, NV

Each of the main providers has ups and downs, but in general, we have had a good experience with Rise Broadband and Zito Media. I do not recommend Frontier Communications. That said, here is what I recommend considering if you’re looking for internet service in Elko

Do you live in Elko (or or the surrounding areas)? Then you likely know well the plague that is bad internet service providers. We’ve all been in a situation where we are trying to download something, stream a movie with our family, play a game, participate in a work video call, etc and suddenly the internet drops. You call your ISP and they say they can send someone–but it won’t be until next week. And now you’re stuck.

Why is it that internet in Elko…well…sucks? Who is the best provider? In this blog post I want to explore some of the reasons that we can’t seem to get good internet and provide some insight to my experience with each of the three primary providers.

This is a longer post, so if you’re just looking for the “too-long-didn’t-read” (TL;DR) version, scroll down to the Conclusion section.

Why is internet in Elko “bad?”

I believe there are a number of factors that contribute to the overall negative experience with internet service here in Elko.

First and foremost, I have to at least mention complacency. Take a look at the state of Frontier Communications’ copper/Ethernet network in Elko. It’s not good. Too long have their data lines been neglected. You can have the best equipment and the most efficient configurations, but if you put a crappy connection between all that technology and the user’s house, their experience is only going to be what the crappy connection can provide. Through various news articles and town meeting minutes, we have learned of the complacency of Frontier as an internet service provider.

Complacency stems from another one of the reasons internet in Elko is so bad. There isn’t any competition. When a primary or sole provider of a service doesn’t have to compete with another provider to offer the “best” service and win over customers, they tend to get lazy. It doesn’t matter what they do because people will just use them anyway. While a poor business mentality, when the number-crunchers look at the big picture, going above and beyond to maintain the same number of customers that would already be there while doing less isn’t going to look like a return on investment to them.

Lastly and unfortunately, we are a rural/remote town, which means that a link from us to the internet has to travel quite some way. With a limited amount of fiber running into Elko, new providers wanting to come in often would have to bury/bore their own fiber from their nearest hub–like Boise, ID or Salt Lake City, UT. With that limited amount of existing fiber to support Elko, issues have been inevitable.

The issues with Elko’s primary internet service provider–Frontier Communications–have frustrated residents and customers for at least 15 years. But it’s not just the residents who are fed up. The Elko City Council also decided that it was time for Frontier to get their house in order if they wished to continue serving members of the community. In a special city council meeting, Frontier representative(s) heard and anwered questions and complaints from the Countil on behalf of residents of Elko County. When little to no improvement was seen, the City approved a fee break in franchising fees to providers interested in coming to the area to encourage more providers to compete with Frontier. See additional reading at the end of the post.

Why are the prices so high?

Again, we see lack of competition as a cause of problems. Frontier Communications being the largest provider of internet services in Elko coupled with restrictions and red tape preventing (or at least making it difficult) for new providers to enter the market, there is very little competition to drive rates down for internet service.

But wait! You only pay $40/mo for your 25 Mbps Down / 5 Mbps Up plan? That might not seem bad to us here in Elko, but in larger cities you can spend that same money and get gigabit service (1000 Mbps Down / X Mbps Up). That’s 40x the bandwidth for the same price. So here in Elko, we pay more–for less. So what exactly does our over-expenditure get us? Let’s take a look…

Review of Internet Service Providers (ISPs)

Frontier Communications

For the first year that my wife and I were married, we had internet from Frontier Communications. Frontier offers DSL internet, which is an internet connection carried into the home via a phone line. We had an “up-to” connection with a cap of 25 Mbps download and 5 Mbps upload; there was no data cap. At the time, that plan on a promotional rate was $43/month. After the promotional period, the price would go up $20 putting it in the $60-65/month range. You can save roughly $10/month if you purchase your own modem/router combo instead of renting theirs. I’m sure they offered a static IP address, but never inquired about the pricing for one.

Frontier’s customer service was nothing to praise. If you ever called for technical help, they’d run you through their script and then inevitably say they need to send a technician out to fix the issue. Their scheduling availability could be next week, or next month. And when they did schedule you for a day, they would only say “they’ll be there between 8 AM and 5 PM, so make sure someone is home.”

Well,that doesn’t matter too much, because the technicians typically miss the first appointment. One time we had a scheduled appointment. I popped over to our neighborhood convenience store one block over while my wife was at home waiting for the technician. As I was walking up to our property, I saw the Frontier technician sitting in his truck. When I got to our front door, there was a note stating they tried to contact us but nobody was available. I went to talked to the guy and got him to perform the service call. Once he left, my wife said that she never heard a knock, and was sitting in the living by the front door the whole time. The guy didn’t even try. What a shining example of Frontier’s care for their customers. Once you do get someone to help you, their “fix” for whatever your issue is, will likely be simply replacing your router. Over and over again.

Another example of their customer care shows in one of my wife’s attempts to pay our internet bill. Due to having some banking security issues, we had to have new cards issued and could not electronically pay our bill as usual. She called the local Frontier office repeatedly for more than a day trying to pay over the phone. After failing to reach anyone, she drove down to the office and spoke to a representative there. During their conversation, the phone rang and rang and rang. My wife said, “If you need to you can get that, I’m in no rush!” The lady just said “Oh, I don’t make enough money to deal with that, so I just ignore it.” Hm. Not going to say any more on their customer service after that one.

In terms of actual internet, we usually got about 12 Mbps download / 2 Mbps upload (that’s 48% of the advertised “up-to” speed). Most internet service providers will guarantee 60% of the advertised “up-to” speed, so this fell far below our expectations. I guess the bright side was that they offered 24/7/365 phone support, so you could always reach someone to at least generate your trouble ticket.

For you gamers out there, the ping/latency was not consistent at all, but typically lived in the 90-200ms range. Playable at 90ms, but a bit frustrating at 200ms or higher when it would spike.

Our connection would go completely down/out quite frequently. I would say over the course of a year, we were up 80-85% of the time. Now while that might sound like an okay range, 80% means that 73 days of the year, we didn’t have internet. That’s a little more than 2 months! Ultimately, the combination of poor customer service and the connection being down so often led us to leave Frontier Communications.

Rise Broadband

We have had Rise Broadband for two years. Rise Broadband services customers via fixed wireless. This is where you have a small radio dish installed atop your roof or on the side of your residence. This radio points at a tower on a mountain-top and you wirelessly link to their system with that hardware and a normal Ethernet cable runs into your router. It is important to note that we have business-class service, not residential. On a promotional rate, we paid $89/month for “up-to” 25 Mbps download / 4 Mbps upload with no data cap. After the promotional period the rate would be in the $100-110/month range. In our case, we had to provide our own router (which was totally fine with me). A static IP address was available for $20/month.

Rise Broadband’s customer service was great when you could get a hold of someone. For whatever reason, the support call center is only open for typical office hours and is not available in the evening or at night at all. Seeing as how the few times our internet did go down it was exclusively in the evening, this was a problem for us. Representatives were generally friendly and helpful, though, so working with them wasn’t too much of a pain.

The one time we did have to have a technician come out, they arrived within the predetermined service window and were friendly and knowledgeable.

In terms of actual internet, we usually got about 17 Mbps download / 4 Mbps upload (that’s 68% of the advertised “up-to” speed). Most internet service providers will guarantee 60% of the advertised “up-to” speed, so while this didn’t quite meet my standards, it certainly fell within the normal/expected range of bandwidth for our account.

For you gamers out there, the ping/latency was ultra stable at 28-33ms. That’s pretty dang good.

Overall, our connection rarely went down. I would say over the course of two years we maybe spent a total of a week without internet. That’s a 99.98% up-time. Not too shabby. While we loved Rise Broadband, the high cost and hard-to-contact support led us to explore other options.

Zito Media

Take this section with a grain of salt, as we’ve only had Zito Media (formerly SatView) for a little over a month. Zito Media is a cable internet provider. They bring internet into your residence via coaxial cable (like you’d use for your television), then install a modem to which you connect your router. We pay a promotional rate of $60/month for an “up-to” 100 Mbps download / 10 Mbps upload connection. After the promo period, if not locked into a contract, the price increases to $80/month. You can save roughly $10/month if you purchase your own modem/router combo instead of renting theirs. A static IP address is available for an additional $10/month.

Zito Media’s customer service seems to be pretty good. The 24/7/365 support call center is easy to contact, though has longer than desirable wait times. Representatives are friendly and generally knowledgeable. I’ve contacted them twice this month–one call to finish up the install/turn-up of our new internet service and one call with a quick question about the first bill. Both were handled quickly and adequately. The install technician arrived within the 2 hour service window and was friendly and helpful.

In terms of actual internet, we are getting an average of about 92 Mbps download / 9 Mbps upload (that’s 92% of the advertised “up-to” speed). Most internet service providers will guarantee 60% of the advertised “up-to” speed, so this not only meets my expectations of coming within 10% of advertised speed, but also is well above the industry “standard.” I’ve had peaks of connection around 120 Mbps download. Around 5 PM to 7 PM, I have noticed that the connection does slow down to about 20 Mbps download speed or slightly less. This is due to the nature of how cable internet works. The more people sharing the same tap/hub, the more everyone sharing the connection slows down. Given that 5 PM is when lots of folks get off work and come home to start using their internet, this makes sense. It’s typically not a huge issue.

For you gamers out there, the ping is pretty stable at 80-90ms. It’s higher than I prefer, and definitely more delayed than our Rise Broadband connection was, but it’s still absolutely playable. Most games consider under 100ms to be “good” ping.

In the month that we have had Zito Media’s internet service, we have experienced 100% up time (though it’s a very small sample size). The combination of good customer support, faster/as-advertised internet, and the lower price has us thinking we might just stay with Zito for a while. While this sounds great, also keep in mind that as with any ISP, your mileage may vary. With technologies such as cable internet and DSL, distance from the hub and how many other users with which you share the bandwidth are crucial and can be the difference between a great experience, and a horrendous one. I have had friends and associates with Zito internet in different parts of town who have had polar opposite experiences–including two friends who didn’t have internet for an entire three months.

Other Options

There are multiple other options from smaller providers such as White Cloud, Choice Broadband, and satellite internet providers such as HughesNet and ViaSat. I’ve not tested any of these, but in general their pricing seems similar to the three main providers, but with less bandwidth and possible data caps. Do note that satellite internet connections are entirely unusable for gaming or timeout-sensitive activities (such as working from home over VPN).

Better options are coming, however. Southwest Gas has been creating a trench for their gas conduit and concurrently, fiber optic cable is being laid as well for CC Communications’ project “Fiber to the Home.” In 2021 and 2022, Elko residents can expect new internet service to be available with significantly higher speeds and much more realiable service than the copper- and wireless-based solutions which the majority of residents currently attempt to use.

Bringing it all together

Getting internet in Elko can be rough. The three main providers have their share of issues, and smaller new providers have trouble creeping into the market. The rural location and lack of real competition cause further trouble for residents just wanting to stream their Netflix, game, work from home, video call loved ones, etc. Each of the main providers has ups and downs, but in general, we have had a good experience with Rise Broadband and Zito Media. I do not recommend Frontier Communications. That said, here is what I recommend considering if you’re looking for internet service in Elko;

  • What is it that you need to accomplish? Stream Netflix? Work from home over a VPN? Make video calls? Game?
  • How many users will be using your internet simultaneously?
  • What is most important to you–price, speed, or stability? You’ll have to compromise.
  • Check with neighbors and friends who live near you, as their opinion of the service is really all that matters, as it will be similar to what you could expect. Keep in mind that location/distance matter as mentioned earlier.

With these things in mind, I hope you’ll be able to make the choice and settling on an internet provider that will connect you and your family with the world wide web in an adequate manner.

What have your experiences been with internet in Elko? What do you think about the lack of competition in the area? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.


Additional Reading

Elko Daily Free Press – In the trenches: Internet expanding to Elko, Spring Creek customers

Elko Daily Free Press – Frontier hears Elko council’s internet questions

Elko Daily Free Press – Bring in the Internet: City OKs fee break

Meet the Larkins | Alan + Meryl

I don’t often do engagement photos. In fact, the only engagement sessions I’ve taken on have been those of my closest friends. Becoming some small degree of tradition, it was special to have the opportunity to work with Alan and Meryl to create a few images announcing their engagement. Below is a look at some of their images…

6C0E33296C0E33306C0E33566C0E33696C0E33896C0E34016C0E34136C0E3417

I’m incredibly excited for these two and love them together. There will be more to come from Alan and Meryl as we wrap up the second part of their session, so stay tuned for that.