February 4, 2006

Internet was down

I have been dealing with my internet access going up and down all afternoon. It seems there is some outage beyond my DSL provider, as I can get access to them easily, but the hops stop just after their router. This is what they are reporting also. I left about 5:00 to go get WiFi access at the local Starbucks, but they were out too. After negotiations at home to get work done that is all web-based, I finally found access about 10 miles north of us in Gaithersberg/Rockville. There were a few others at the coffeehouse (part of a small chain that used to be here in Bethesda also) that had been going through the same thing.

This new year I have had this discussion about an "always-on society" is fine until it is broken. I clear time to get work done around my son's naps and other down times, when the work load is light. When the network is out, increasingly this is the case, or the power is out I am sunk. More and more of our work is moving toward web-based applications, but our networks are not bullet-proof.

My trip to San Francisco nearly had me ready to give up on WiFi as it was really difficult to track down (it is not everywhere) and the carriers block so many port one can not send secure e-mail or other normal tasks. As WiFi expands its footprint is seems to be less usable. On my recent trip the most reliable connection was on my hip in my Treo, but I can not do the work on web-based applications that I needed to from that device. As web applications get richer interfaces the limits to what devices can use them. Unless the rich web interfaces degrade we are going to have problems with this diverging problems based on usage.

I get quite used to an always-on mentality and a instant or quick response communication. When it does not happen, it seems problematic and I wonder what went wrong. It was like this through the holidays as people who would respond in under an hour, or in at least a day were taking longer than a week. January turned into two to three week response times as everybody is swamped, or battling for their jobs with budget cuts.

As much as I like the public access to WiFi idea, it is not hear yet. The current state of things is making the mobile broadband cards from the mobile carriers look very tempting. It creates two classes of people, but the cost recovery (based on high rates while on business travel) and easy access is very tempting.



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