Aug 15, 2013

Struggles to Stay Connected

"Wow, you're really far out there, why would you live so far away if you've got a business to run?"

At a Starbucks on Monday we were milking a few cups of coffee as fast as our nerves would burn it. Deadlines always seem to coincide with internet outages, and though my laptop took a while connecting to the 4G on the phone, it eventually let me transfer five gigs worth of data both ways. Up to that point I was faced with the stark reality that there was simply no way to do my job. The house internet was down, and the phone was acting up-- where else do you go to transfer large files quickly?

Typically these kinds of file transfer tasks are done in the middle of the night while I'm asleep, or while we're out enjoying the view of the valley on a walk, but Monday was one of the many days that our service was too unreliable to get the job done. I wish I could say that's a rare experience.

Aside from the single unreliable provider in our region, our local library only has access on par with dialup, and the nearest 4G tower for our *still* unlimited cellphone data plan is an hour away. Verizon is slowly trying to box us out of tethering that to a computer, so it's only a matter of time before there really are no options.

When the internet doesn't work, neither does our life out here, and I think that's a shame. While waiting for my downloads in the coffee shop I was desperately googling for other options, and while on the phone with a provider the guy asked me what I was doing way out here. What could I say? I want to live out here. I want to live in a field or some woods where I can see wild animals and old barns. I like collecting our rain water to drink. I like quiet. You can see a storm approaching in the valley from our house, and when the blasts of wind start shaking the walls I like to peer out of the windows with my wife and watch the rain crawl over the hills.

He kind of laughed at me. Lightning takes out the tower that services our region every time it storms, and we have to reconsider moving to the city again. It sucks.

May 3, 2013

I’m still here: back online after a year without the internet

Many of the conversations I have with people about the internet relate to the difference between "real life" and "online". It's a conversation we all tend to have about the perceived negative effects a web connection has on our lives. My friends with kids are quick to point out the dangers of addiction or privacy that seem to be associated with the internet, for example, and people who didn't spend their youth online often suggest the internet explains features of younger people that they dislike.

How we get online is important, but what we do when we are is also part of this story, so I was drawn to this mini documentary The Verge posted about one of their journalist's experience being offline for a year. I won't weigh in with my own conclusions on this one, I'll just post it and urge you to read about his time offline, it is an interesting study on this larger struggle.

Apr 19, 2013


I've written before about the physical enormity of telecommunication infrastructure and the many ways wires are stretched from one area to another, but unlike telephone wires fiber isn't directly associated with one method of delivery over another. You'll find it hung up on poles, sunk beneath the sea, and buried underground. The last is particularly annoying for those laying the fiber, though, being that there's so much ground to move out of the way. Expensive deep trenches for miles and miles all for a tiny wire-- or so I imagined.

Thankfully micro-trenching is the new cost effective method for circumvents those difficulties. A giant saw cuts only the tiny necessary crack to string fiber through followed by a sealer that barely highlights the change-- simple and cool!

Mar 31, 2013

Honest Cable Company

I just stumbled across this and thought it was amazing, enjoy.