Drinking from the Firehose

It’s been a journey that has taken more than five years, but we have a fibre-optic broadband network connection here at the farmhouse at last. Now we have an internet connection speed of 200 mbits/s instead of just 3 mbits/sec.

When we first moved to the farmhouse back in 2006, we had only dial-up internet access (50 kbit/s) via the telephone line during the first months of living here. We should have had ADSL internet access (3 mbit/s), but there was a mixup made by our service provider, and the ADSL service was not transferred from our previous house in Gouda to the farmhouse.

It’s also a bit strange to think that, back then, I thought of ADSL as “drinking from the firehose” – I suppose it was, considering it was 60 times faster than dial-up access. However, as the demands made by websites on internet speed grew over the years, a speed of 3 megabits per second dwindled in my perception to be akin to watching paint dry.

After a false start in 2015, the campaign to get a fibre-optic network in our region of the Netherlands got properly underway in November 2017. Work started on the network in March 2018, and the expectation was that we would be connected by mid-2019. In the event, there were delays caused by weather conditions, and getting licenses from the highway authorities to lay cables under motorways. However, by last September the physical network infrastructure had been completed for our area and there was a fibre-optic connection in the farmhouse. Then came some hiccups with my service provider, Solcon.

I finally received the fibre-optic modem and the router from Solcon on the 21st of November, complete with clear DIY installation instructions. That weekend I connected everything up, but the connection didn’t work. I rang the Solcon service desk, only to be told that my connection would not be activated until the 9th of December. This turned out to be the case for all Solcon customers in our area. Someone in Solcon should clearly rethink their business process for new connections – either make it clear that installing the equipment before the connection in the local distribution centre is ready is pointless and will only lead to frustration, or ship the equipment to the customer once the connection has been activated (as other service providers do).

Needless to say, on the 9th December my connection had still not been activated, so I had an angry telephone call with Solcon. Lo and behold, the following day everything started working at 11am. Well, almost everything – I discovered that phoning our home telephone number resulted in getting redirected to a mysterious voicemail system. Another call to Solcon got that fixed quickly. We’ve also noticed that the TV picture will freeze for a few seconds once or twice per evening’s viewing. This is a known problem, which is being investigated and hopefully will be fixed in the next few weeks.

So now we have internet, TV and telephone services via our new fibre-optic broadband network. Our subscriptions to our old service providers for internet, TV (via satellite dish) and telephone have been cancelled, and will stop working by the middle of January.

It’s been a journey, but I think a worthwhile one.

Posted in Computers and Internet | 2 Comments

Is It Downhill From Now On?

Today’s Guardian has a sobering article on what the environment could be like in 2050. The most worrying aspect is not the environment itself, but the impact it will have on human society. It’s perhaps not such a stretch to say, as the article does, that civilisation itself will be at risk.

The author suggests that the risk may be reduced:

When it comes to the science, the dangers can be substantially reduced if humanity shifts decisively away from business-as-usual behaviour over the next decade. When it comes to the psychology and politics, we can make our situation better immediately if we focus on hope in shared solutions, rather than fears of what we will lose as individuals.

I know I’m old and cynical, but I see little chance of that shift happening. Fasten your seatbelts, we’re in for a bumpy ride.

Posted in Nature, Science, Society | Leave a comment

I Have A Bad Feeling About This…

I use Ivideon occasionally to keep an eye on the dogs when we’re out of the house. A couple of days ago, I received an email from Ivideon’s newly appointed business development manager.

We are exciting [sic] to announce that we are launching an affordable and easy-to-use tool for business! With Facial Recognition System you would be able to know many essential features of your target and existing audience with a click of the button: age, gender, emotions – you name it.

Ivideon 01

I have a bad feeling about this…

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“Let The Healing Begin”

So Boris Johnson says: “Let the Healing Begin…” in his statement outside No. 10. Reminds me of Thatcher’s statement on the steps of No. 10 in 1979:

“Where there is discord, may we bring harmony. Where there is error, may we bring truth. Where there is doubt, may we bring faith. And where there is despair, may we bring hope”.

Didn’t happen then. Won’t happen now. I despair for the future of the UK. 

Posted in News and politics | 2 Comments

Voices for Equality

Voices for Equality

Of the 69 countries around the world that still criminalize same sex relationships, 32 are in Africa. In many countries, violence and discrimination is a part of the every-day life of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT) people and LGBT activism is banned.

The UN Free & Equal project of the UN Human Rights Office has launched a new campaign: Voices for Equality. Take a look.

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The Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come

The full text of Sir Ivan Rogers’ lecture given at the University of Glasgow recently is here. He is both a careful analyst of events and a bellwether foretelling a future that is very likely to play out in the agonies of the Brexit to come.

Posted in News and politics, Society | 2 Comments

More Accomplished Racists Are Available…

With just nine days to go, First Dog on the Moon has published a handy voting guide to the UK general election. It’s definitely worth reading. Though I fear that his advice will be disregarded, and the current gang of “shits, charlatans and shysters”* will be returned to govern.

If there is a Tory majority, it will largely be because of their endlessly repeated slogan that they will “get Brexit done”. This means that Parliament will pass the Withdrawal Agreement, and Britain will leave the EU on 31 January 2020. However, Brexit is certainly not done, since the UK enters a new transition period during which the terms and conditions of multiple trade agreements and legislative frameworks have to be put in place. All of which leaves the future as uncertain as ever.

If you want a more in-depth analysis on what the future might hold, and the stances of the various players, then Chris Grey’s Brexit Blog and “What would ‘getting Brexit done’ mean?” is an excellent, and highly recommended, place to start.

*with acknowledgements to John Crace

Posted in Humour, News and politics, Society | Leave a comment