A Declining Organism- Speaking the Truth

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Words Know No Borders…

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Stumbling at the Finishing Line

Time for yet another instalment in the long-running saga of trying to get broadband internet available in our area. Our story began five years ago when I described the connection to the internet as being like a piece of wet string. Thus began our struggle to get a fibre-optic network laid around here.

After a number of false starts, things began to look up when work finally began on laying the network in July 2018. It was a big project that has taken more than a year to complete, but a couple of weeks ago people started getting connected and using the network.

However, it soon became apparent that not all was well. Consumers can choose between two internet service providers (ISPs) on the network: Caiway and Solcon. It became clear that the only people who were receiving the internet modems and able to activate their internet services were Caiway customers. Solcon customers were (and are, at this time of writing) being told that the network was not ready for use.

It seemed odd, so I contacted the network provider, Glasvezel buitenaf, who were clear that the network was indeed ready for use, and that they had told both Caiway and Solcon that this was the case. Indeed, their contractor, BAM, had completed the work on the distribution point in our local small town on the 19th of September. Then it was up to each ISP to define the settings in the distribution point’s patch panels, so that their internet services could be delivered to their subscribers’ addresses. Caiway has done this; Glasvezel buitenaf was, and is, still waiting to hear from Solcon.

Needless to say, I had chosen Solcon as my ISP (more fool me). So on the 28th October I sent them an email to ask when I could expect to have internet services delivered. The reply (also on the 28th) was (in translation):

I see that Solcon is still waiting on the fiber optic supplier. Of course we want you to have fiber optic internet as soon as possible, however, we are dependent on when Glasvezel buitenaf reports the line is available. To date, that has not happened yet.

Yesterday, I phoned Solcon, only to get the same story (we are waiting on Glasvezel buitenaf). I said that this was very odd, since a) Glasvezel buitenaf say they are waiting on Solcon, and b) my neighbours who are Caiway customers are happily using the network.

The helpdesk person promised to investigate further and send me an email reply on what the situation was. I’m still waiting for both the reply and any visible change in the status of my request for internet services. Oh, and Glasvezel buitenaf are still waiting to hear from Solcon what the patch panel settings need to be.

I think the next stage will be to assemble the torch and pitchfork brigade – if nothing happens soon, I’ll be asking the Village Community Council to alert our Solcon customers that a mass complaint is in order.

Addendum 8th November 2019: After publishing this post, I sent another email to Solcon yesterday. This was to outline the situation as I saw it, and to point out that I was still waiting for a reply. I have to say that I quickly received a reply from the Solcon Salesdesk that actually cast some light. Apparently there are three parties in the chain, not two, as I’ve always been led to believe. There is Glasvezel buitenaf, the owner of the network, then there is (new to me) the network operator: CAIWEAS, and finally there are the companies such as Caiway and Solcon, who deliver internet services to the customer. The Solcon reply stated that indeed, Glasvezel buitenaf has said the network is ready, but that control has now been passed to CAIWEAS, and it is this party that Solcon are waiting on, not Glasvezel buitenaf, as they originally stated.

A further clue is in the name CAIWEAS I think. It sounds suspiciously close to Caiway, so I suspect that the companies are intimately connected. Which probably explains why Caiway customers appear to be first in line to receive service. I expect that Solcon customers are banished to the back of the queue. Oh well, I’ve waited five years, a few weeks more isn’t going to kill me, I suppose.

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NS Newspeak

The NS (Nederlandse Spoorwegen) is the Dutch national passenger rail company. I have an annual subscription that entitles me to 40% discount on train fares, and up to six days free travel (keuzedagen) on the entire Dutch rail network. These keuzedagen are available to people who are 60 and above.

Yesterday, I received an email from the NS. It started promisingly enough (in translation):

We want to make our subscription offerings less complicated and more flexible for all travellers.

Well, excellent, I’m all for that. But then it goes on:

Due to the growing number of travellers, the afternoon rush hour is getting busier and the need to ensure a better spread of our travellers throughout the day. Unfortunately, we cannot maintain giving a 40% discount during the afternoon rush hour.

Eh? What was that about “less complicated and more flexible”? Introducing a period when the 40% discount doesn’t apply makes things more complicated and less flexible, surely?

Not only that, but the keuzedag free travel will magically become invalid during the afternoon rush hour. What if I am in the middle of my journey when the clock strikes four? Does the ticket inspector swoop down on me and issue a fine?

The final flourish in the email is the announcement that keuzedagen will no longer be available to people who turn 60 after 2021. I can continue to receive them as part of my annual subscription, but I’ll be part of a dwindling group as we all die off – much to the relief of the NS, I expect.

I can only reflect on the effrontery of the NS (and Tjalling Smit, director of commerce and development, who has sent out this email) and consider it a fine example of Newspeak.  

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Dear Europe…

That is how a number of letters begin that are published in today’s Guardian. From a range of public figures, they set out what Europe means to them.

I’m a Manxman by birth, but I’ve spent half my life living in the Netherlands. I owe a lot to Europe, just like these letter writers, and it distresses me to realise that many of my fellow Britons are hell-bent intent on closing boundaries, rather than opening them.

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Operation Yello-Whammer

As far as I am concerned, the Guardian’s First Dog On The Moon sums up the clusterfuck that is Brexit very well indeed.

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I’m not sure about this…

eXistenZ – here we come…


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