How I crave real InternetsOctober 26th, 2009 by Reinder
Reader Branko asks: "Reinder, how is life in the new fatherland? Have they internets there?"
Well I don't know about the rest of the USA (it'll be a while before it's really my new fatherland as I won't even be getting my fiancé visa until early next year) but here in rural middle Tennessee, life is pretty good except that the answer to the question about the internets is "yeah, kinda sorta". We're way out in the boonies and that means that what internets we get come with conditions that the civilised world has long since forgotten about*): data limits, bandwidth throttling, overage charges and dropped connections when the weather is bad or the moon is in the house of Jupiter. To be able to do my long-distance work at all, I need to switch between two internet connections, both of which we pay through the nose for. We've got Aggie's satellite dish connection that throttles you to slow modem speeds once you've reached the daily data limit of about 500 MB - an SDLX translation memory file for one of our larger clients will get you halfway there. The satellite service also limits the number of separate connections that can be made and if I'm sharing it with one of Aggie's sons playing World of Warcraft, it gets pretty slow.
The other connection is the cellular internet connection that I pay more for than I do for high-speed bandwidth and cable combined back in Groningen. It too has a data limit, which is even more draconian at 5 GB a month, but at least I have it all to myself and it never actually artificially lowers the speed. Out here, the reception is pretty poor though and rare is the day that it shows more than two bars out of four. The closest thing to a credible competitor that Verizon has here, AT&T, is not reachable at all and the only time I can read messages on my AT&T cell phone is when we drive out to Manchester or Tullahoma.
This is the biggest obstacle I am facing to working long-distance: the connectivity simply isn't good enough to push around the files I am working with. There is some prospect for improvement as there are still a lot of houses being built in the neighborhood and the demand for broadband will eventualy be there. Still, it's a pity that all the Federal stimulus money seems to have gone to repaving the roads that were already there instead of building new infrastructure such as broadband cables.
Anyway, I hope that this explains why posting here may be even slower than usual: on working days, I am being throttled and on weekends and vacations, there's things to do in meatspace that after a week of dealing with this sort of thing, I'd much rather be doing.
*) Belgians take note: you are not living in the civilised world, and unlike the people out here in the boonies who simply don't have the infrastructure, you have yourself to blame for tolerating the limitations your ISP's impose. A few well-aimed bricks through the right windows will help you shed your data shackles.