Thursday, October 27, 2016

Too dependent on the internet

Have you ever thought you're too dependent on the internet? Wondered what you ever did without it? I have and most recently, our internet went down which highlighted the fact even more.

Photo via

Let me start you on my internet journey.

It's 1998 and I'm stuck in Cairo, Egypt on a project on my own (sort of). I had colleagues with me, of course, but essentially, I was on my own. On my own with my dial-up internet connection. Back then, we used something called SITA. I don't even know what that stands for anymore but it was one of those internet services which had dial-up numbers from all around the world. Very useful for someone who works all over the world (me) at that point.

When I wasn't working and wasn't out socializing with my colleagues, I was at home in my own apartment. There are no English bookstores and not many English TV channels for entertainment. After spending 10 to 12 hours a day working with my colleagues and having most of my meals with them, sometimes I didn't want to hang out with them. So I went on the internet, such as it was then. This little thing called ICQ kept me sane. It was an instant messaging system back then. I was able to connect with family and friends. (Is anyone old enough to remember ICQ?) I remember spending endless hours on it chatting with people. It kept me connected. Probably also explains why I'm glued to the hip with Facebook Messenger today.


I'm very grateful for the SITA dial-up internet connection. It was my doorway to the outside world. It kept me sane. And thus began my lifelong addiction to the internet.

Fast forward many years (don't ask how many!) and today we have ADSL2+ broadband internet. It's supposed to be rather fast, which it is - when it's working! I work from home. Most of my clients are overseas. I use the internet to transfer files, work, communicate and socialize. If I don't have the internet, a lot of my work cannot be done since a lot of it is internet-based. Take this blog for instance, my HTML editor is dependent on the internet and being online in order for me to upload photos for the post and later to upload the post to the blog. All of it requires I be online and connected to the internet. Some of my best friends whom I communicate with daily are also overseas. Without the internet, I cannot talk to them.

Very recently, our internet went down. It started with the internet dropping out entirely. I turned off my router and turned it back on. The internet came back at a crawl. I thought it would fix itself (it often does) but it didn't.

By 2am (I woke up early) the internet was down to 0.48Mbps download speeds. The upload speed was faster. It was at 0.58Mbps. Okay, miniscule-y faster. I reset the router twice.

By 9am, the internet was running at 0.01Mbps. I think that's even slower than dial-up. It was unbearable and I had a heap of work to do that day which required the internet. I also didn't sleep between 2am and 9am because I'm not always a good sleeper, so I stayed up and read. Or rather, I tried to read. I think I didn't concentrate very well on reading because I was so anxious about how awful the internet was. Steve was up and trying to work. His work requires the internet too. No dice!

iiNet slow internet speed sucks

As soon as business hours started (I waited till 9:30am) I rang our service provider. I knew I was in for a battle. It always is. They took me through the troubleshooting process, which I knew was a crock because I know there's nothing wrong with my line and my network. When they had exhausted all options, the guy said he would lodge a fault but he kept harping on how if it was not a line fault, then I would be charged an incorrect call out fee. I said fine. But then he kept harping on it, OVER and OVER again. If they can't find anything wrong, you will be charged and ICF. He made is sound like it was my fault. Meanwhile, in the background Steve is yelling "switch to Telstra!"

Let's just say the whole process of getting a fault lodged was very unpleasant (it's like that every time) ... iiNet, I'm looking at you!! Your tech support customer service sucks.

Then the guy told me I would be without my internet till Wednesday because that is when he gets back to work after having the weekend off. I flipped. I confess I may have raised my voice at him. I was very irate. It disturbs me that their customer service people on the phone are so blase about their customer's internet service being down. I had to take to social media to kick up a fuss and get any action.

I hate it when I have to resort to social media to get any action out of a company, but it seems with iiNet it is the only way to get customer service. Their social media people are really on the ball. I went on Twitter. I tweeted a picture of my dismal internet speed and asked WTH was going on. They asked for my reference number and so it went.

By the way, I was not the only person who had the problem. So did a guy in Melbourne.

iiNet slow internet speed problem

After many tweets, I was assured it was being looked into and it was a line problem. Then I get a call from the original tech support guy I was on the phone with. He said they had tested everything and could find nothing wrong. BUT, they had also refreshed the line. It's kind of like they turned it off on their end and turned it back on again. Well, that fixed the problem, didn't it? They should have just got someone to refresh the line instead of making me jump through hoops to even get it looked at.

Note to iiNet: next time, just refresh the dang line! My internet speeds are zooming!

Fast internet

I hate that they treat me like I'm stupid and I don't know the difference between my hardware or my network being down (BTW I have a rock solid network, it's commercial grade because we work from home!) and the service being down. It's ALWAYS the service in one shape or other. I know this from the last 6 or 9 times I've had problems like this. We also lose internet after a bad rain. Every. Time. It's because the junction box gets flooded. You'd think that after it being flooded 4 or 6 times, they'd do something permanent to fix it! But no!

I'm pleased the internet got fixed and I was only out of internet for about 20+ hours. Some would say that is not unreasonable. Plus between when I reported it and when it was fixed, I think that was about 6 hours. That's pretty good. But I kicked up a fuss on social media. :-/

Still, not having the internet working properly for what amounted to 20+ hours caused a lot of anxiety. I had work I couldn't get done. I felt like I'd lost a virtual limb. I couldn't look up stuff. I couldn't communicate properly with my friends. I couldn't do the stuff I normally did to promote my blog posts on social media.

Fortunately for us, we have internet back-up for such instances because it's happened to us so often of late. Unfortunately, it's happened to us so often of late. :-( Steve has a wifi dongle which gives us 15Gb of data per month which refreshes each month. I think we've got about another 6 months left on that ... maybe! I'm not sure. We can also use our phones as hot spots. Between Steve and I, we have about 9.5Gb of shared data on our phone. That's quite a lot. It can tide us over for a day or two if we are without internet and we use it very sparingly because in a no holds barred situation, we chew up about an average of 4.5Gb data per day on our home internet and wifi.

Floppy disks data
Photo via Visual Hunt

Having the internet has become a security blanket. I do not know what it's like for other people, but for Steve and I, it's difficult to not have the internet. So much of what we do depends on it.

Is it a good thing? Is it a bad thing? I do not know.

It's just the way it has become.

However did I manage before the internet?

What about you? Do you have internet free days? Are you okay without the internet? Or are you like me?

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  1. Oh Deanna

    I feel your pain we went through all of this not long ago and it is so painful to be without the internet and they way the people you talk to go on and on and we are with Telstra and Telstra own all of the lines so no matter which company you are with in the long run it is Telstra that needs to fix the lines if is the lines I had to threaten them with the Ombudsman before they finally did something and that was to actually lay new lines and they are giving us a discount on our next bill I get so mad when I don't hav internet. And yes I remember ICQ :)

    Have Fun

    1. Helen, I really feel for you. We are using iiNet but they piggy back off the Telstra infrastructure, so when I have a problem, it's Telstra that needs to fix it. That can be painful. I do a lot of ranting over the phone at tech support.