Friday, June 25, 2021

Yes! It's... My War With Technology — 25 June 2021

After the little glitch we had when we upgraded our internet, and the little glitches that have occurred subsequently, we haven't had that much of a problem with our internet connection. Obviously there was the split-screen Zoom incident at the beginning of our Lawless panel, but we're out on the Essex coast and it isn't just us in the area who struggle to get a stable connection.

So when the internet disappeared last Friday we didn't panic. It usually pops back up after a few minutes, an hour or two tops. Not this time. Of course, it disappeared at about five in the afternoon, just as we were wrapping up for the day, so we had other things on our mind.

The internet was still down on Saturday morning, and it was only when I went to phone Talk Talk that I realised that our phone line was also dead. No dialing tone, no beeping of any description... just an utterly dead phone line. We managed to report it to TT and then spent the weekend without any way to get online. We missed our Saturday games night, I missed the opportunity to upload a new batch of books and comics to eBay, but we survived.

I wrote up the article I mentioned last week, having finished most of the research on Thursday and Friday; I was about 1,000 words in by the end of play Friday and — after taking my usual break for Saturday — I had it almost finished by Sunday evening. It's 3,400 words and really that's way too long for the subject, so I may cut it down before publishing it. The column header will give you a clue to the subject.

On Monday Mel had to arrange to go into the office so she could keep working, while I cracked on with another article that I have been meaning to get to for months, as it is all linked to the projects I was working on back in February. [At the time, I was having trouble with the fan on my computer and power cuts!] It soon became very obvious how often I nip onto the world wide web to check things as I go along, but I was still able to get the whole thing started, thanks to some notes I wrote up a couple of years ago.

Thankfully, we were reconnected at about four in the afternoon, although the engineer warned us that this was a temporary fix. Apparently there are two boxes through which the wiring runs — a large green cabinet above ground and another one under the road. Guess where the fault lies in our case!

The engineer got our phone line working again and restored our internet connection, but admitted that it was not the best connection, but that he would have to apply to the council to have the road dug up. Now, as far as I can tell this will happen. It's an admitted fault with the service that needs to be fixed by BT Openreach. What surprises me (or maybe it shouldn't) is that this fault has existed for some while: we've always had a crackly phone line. I don't use the phone nearly as much as I used to (the last time I used the phone regularly was when I was editing Hotel Business a few years ago), so it doesn't really cause me any problems. But if that is what has caused our internet connection to be flaky, I will be very happy to see it fixed.

We've blamed a lot of the problems we've had on the fact that neither Mel nor I have our workplaces close to the hub, so we have floors and walls (and in my case lots of books) between us and the hub. Again, that's not a huge problem. Download speeds have improved hugely since we moved over to fibre broadband. It's the stability of the connection that's the problem, so if that can be fixed, we will be overjoyed.

Talking of fixed... we have been living with a busted loo since last August. It has been inconvenient but nothing more as we have two loos. This just happens to be the one closest to my office. The macerator wasn't pumping the water through as it should and a full flush just caused the box to overflow. Between Covid lockdowns and getting hold of a decent plumber whose workload wasn't backlogged six months, we had to wait until Wednesday to get a replacement fitted. After ten months of waiting, the guy who did it — "Saniflow Steve" as he's now known to Mel and I — had the whole job done in 45 minutes.

With the internet back in action, I will hopefully get those books and comics promised last week onto eBay this Sunday. I have some corrections to do on the next little batch of Bear Alley books to do (I have been waiting on someone), so news of those hopefully next week. Now... back to writing my rambling article.

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