Appendix A. Lessons from Vineyard.NET

The following account provides some real-life experience with operating a web Internet service provider. It details Simson’s experiences with starting and operating a small ISP called Vineyard.NET and keeping that ISP secure.

In May 1995, my wife and I bought a 150-year-old run-down house on Martha’s Vineyard, a small island off the coast of Massachusetts with a winter population of roughly 12,000 and a summer population of over 100,000.

Our plan was to live year-round on the somewhat isolated but romantic location. We weren’t worried: we would have a 56 Kbps connection to the Internet as our main link to the outside world. But when we found out that the cost of our Internet hookup would be somewhere between $400 and $600 a month, we decided to start an Internet cooperative to help pay for it.

This is the story of Vineyard.NET, the Internet service that we created. It’s printed here so that others might learn from our experience.

Planning and Preparation

Because they all happened at the same time—the move to Martha’s Vineyard, the renovations on the house, and the creation of the Vineyard.NET Internet service provider—they are all intractably tangled together in my mind. Repairing the roof, building a new bathroom, pulling 10Base-T network cables to every room, and putting in special grounded outlets for the ISP’s computers were all items on the short list of things that needed to be done to make the house habitable. A few months later, when ...

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