I live in a rural location where I don't have a lot of choice in how I connect to the Internet. I have dialup through the bad regional service provider that bought up the good local service provider I had been with. I have enough trouble actually getting and maintaining a connection that I'd switch if I had an alternative, but most of the time I can dial up and get on. A much more pervasive problem is with DNS. Even when it's working fine once I'm talking to a site, I usually have noticeable delays and occasional failures resolving host names, and sometimes I will be unable to resolve a host name even over multiple tries. In every case, I am talking about host names that I know are valid and I think my computer should remember, but my software seems to think that DNS is reliable and cheap and therefore it should look up the name of my mail host every time I check for mail rather than using the known address, for example. I have bad results using my own ISP's DNS, and I also have bad results when I use NCSA's, which ought to be reliable. I suspect that at least part of the problem is that some settings are out of whack on my machine, but I don't know what they should be.
Can anyone out there offer any suggestions? Remember, this is a string-and-tin-cans dialup connection. Advice on any controls or settings on what my machine caches and how it will control what it caches, what the timeout/retry settings mean and what helpful values would be, or any other juju I'm not savvy enough to know about would be welcomed. Suggestions of a couple of other public DNS sites that really work, all the time as opposed to "90% is good, right?" would be fine too.
Alternatively, if someone out there wants to endow me with a good high-speed connection, I'd be happy. I assume that a lot of my DNS problems would be a lot less noticeable if I actually had enough bandwith.