Saturday 4 June 2016

20 giga 35 euro

Back in the day, this is more than 10 years ago, we talked to the Interweb down a copper telephone wire, paying by the minute.  It was weird because the telephone company's spin-off Tinet [telecom internet] had two payment bands: Working day 8am-8pm vs evenings-and-weekends. So I'd get up early [no change there] to get my work and e-mails done before the 8am change-over. It was a major glitch when an enterprising relly would send me and The Beloved a picture. Something modest like 1Mb in size would slow everything down like a trudge through molasses, 8 or 10 minutes might pass and I'd miss the 8am cut-off and have to pay double rate.  In defense of people like us in the Interweb Third World I had a bit of a campaign to get people who had free and properly resourced connectivity - all my pals in business or college - to go easy on the attachments. I was strong on corporate nonsense attachments like a long disclaimer in Irish and English inviting the recipient of this e-mail to poke out  his/her eyes with a sharp stick if s/he was not the intended recipient. But that was only a couple of kilobytes of redundant trash-talk, it was the corporate logo(s) that really galled. Some of these might be a wholly inappropriate 1Mb in size and a couple of times, I sent back a far smaller but equally legible jpg reduced in size by the wonderful Irfanview [Prev].

Where we live, you can't get further form a bus-stop and still be in the province of Leinster and when the telecoms company upgraded to line to our friends-and-neighbours the other side of the village we had hopes of 'broadband' . . . but no the line went to the village and ne plus ultra. Eventually we signed up with one of several companies offering wireless broadband and got a bundle that allowed us 30Gb a month.  That was 30,000 bloatologos, and so quite adequate for our needs and we trundled along in this mode for several years. Then Dau.I bundled her kit into a handkerchief, tied it to a stick and left home. On her own, Dau.II sat on the sofa working her way through all the boxed-sets of House-Scrubs, Desperate Numb3rs, Masterchef, and The Wire which she could hunt down.  Having run out of DVDs she moved onto youtube until one day she Broke the Internet. She had exceeded the 30Giga limit a few days before and we'd been clocking up costs at 5c/Mb until the telecom company had enough money and stopped service: I think it cost !€70! to watch a déja vu loop of Gordon Ramsey shouting "This chicken is RAW".  We sucked up the hit, upped the monthly limit to 60giga and carried on until she, in her turn, left home. We could at that stage have returned the limit to 30GB and saved €10/mo but inertia and competitive pricing and fear of another €70 bill left it at 60Gb.

In April were acquired Young Bolivar YB as a new member of the household from Venezuela. Last week, I came down in the morning to launch a Blob and found that we'd been cut off.  As before, the ISP had allowed us to run up a King's Ransom in a couple of days of normal usage at the millionaire's rate. With some difficulty, about 3 elapsed hours and sundry other inconvenience, I managed to load €20 onto the account and schedule a couple of days of Blobs. That €20 was vaporized by the next day: partly because of me checking my emails, partly from Bolivar checking his, but also because without explicitly asking, my operating system decided to upgrade Adobe Acrobat so that I could read PDFs 'better'. Even reading the email is a significant load on a byte-by-byte line: to receive and read a single line email [140 bytes, say], for your convenience Gmail loads maybe a Mb of 'extra functionality' to make email reading 'more convenient'. Each of these megabytes is being paid for by the planet! More than 10% of the world's electricity is consumed by the servers [prev] of the Interweb: Google, Friendface, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Titterer, foursquare etc. etc.

For a stop-gap measure, until our next billing date, we've lashed out €35 to pre-pay for 20 Gb of idle youtube gawping and skyping.  There is a feeling that the Internet is free; it is not. YB now knows, for example, that our bandwidth is not illimitado. Back in the days of 25 years ago, I accessed the internet with an acoustic coupler. It was so S L O W that I'd think really hard what I wanted to do: that focus and consideration was surely a Good Thing.

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