Why are transactions at the Tangle Explorer at approximately 1-2 transactions per second? Is that the current transaction rate IOTA is achieving? That seems very low. When should we see the transaction rate increase? Can I help in any way being a total newbie?
I think you got something wrong there: 1-2 transactions per second is not the max amount of transactions possible, it's the amount of transactions people make.
On the live tangle, we have seen transaction speeds as high as 50 transactions per second or more.
Here are possible considerations:
1) Load balance on full nodes:
1a) are there enough full nodes functioning?
1b) is the load of transactions being equally distributed to nodes, or is it pooling all at once node and overwhelming it? Currently, it seems a few nodes may be overwhelmed.
2) Amount of transactions occurring: are enough transactions occurring to confirm each other? Currently, this seems to be true.
3) Coordinator performance: the coordinator serves as a bottleneck currently to prevent attacks. However, we have seen the coordinator perform at 30+ transactions per second, so it seems unlikely that 1-2 is the max.
4) Attacks or stress tests being run on the tangle that would cause slowdowns, delays, or other issues with the nodes. There isn't a consistent way to know about this currently.
If you want to help, you can set up a full node.