Random Thoughts During An Internet Outage

Being offline for a morning (not my fault by the look of it, the cable modem’s flashing where it shouldn’t, and the Virgin Media tech support line is permanently busy) does tend to concentrate the mind on all the other chores I should be doing rather than farting around on the web. But it also tends to concentrate one’s thoughts on the inherent fragility of the online existence.

Take Spotify, as an example. This brilliant music streaming service is being held up by many (including me) as the first step towards a radical new business model for the music business. Pay a tenner a month, and eight million tracks are yours. Up until the point where a workman with a jack-hammer chops a cable in half, killing internet connection. All of a sudden you’re paying for… nothing. Better hope the hard drive you stashed all your music on before eBaying all your CDs still boots.

Actually, let’s think this through. Say, like me, you use Google for a lot of your services, upload text to Google Docs, have online storage with any number of companies. Online banking. Chatting to friends in foreign countries. Online gaming, online shopping. Perhaps even running a business. If you couldn’t get at any of that stuff, then you’re stuffed.

This is, of course, exactly what the government’s proposing to do to alleged file-sharers, as part of their brave new digital strategy thought up in a couple of days flat and sketched out on a napkin by Peter Mandelson, completely superseding the moderate, carefully considered Digital Britain survey on which Labour spent months and millions. If one member of a household is “found guilty” of “excessive file-sharing” (these points are in quote marks as there’s no guidelines as to what either of these terms mean in reality. There’s no mention of any particular up/download limit after which filesharing becomes excessive, and certainly no mention of fair legal process or right to appeal) the whole household suffers.

There’s a school of thought that the Internet should become listed as an essential service, which it already is here at X&HTowers. This becomes more relevant when you consider that the Government is already moving some of it’s services and information onto a purely online basis. I now have to administrate Sick Puppy Films Ltd. through the Companies House website, as they charge me to submit my accounts on paper. This is only set to increase, and it becomes a matter of ever-growing horror and disbelief to me that there is consideration to throttle a vital conduit of services and information on shaky legal and ethical grounds.

See, even now I’m putting off sorting out the flat tyres on my bike in favour of ranting about the internet.

Ooh, look, the modem’s playing nice again. Gotta go. I have YouTubing to catch up on.

A Quiet, Busy Couple Of Weeks

You’ve probably noticed that yet another Update Sunday has gone by with no updates. That is not laziness. It is the problem with any blog that is run as a labour of love rather than as a commercial concern. Life, quite simply, keeps getting in the way.

Allow me to take you through the last couple of weeks. The Great Work takes up all my day-job time and then some, of course. Two weekends ago, we hired a tower and finally tore down the dead ivy that has been disfiguring the side of the house for the last three years. Pics of that mighty task can be found here.

Yes, half of it did come down in one sheet, and yes, it was one of the most satisfying moments of the year. As a sidenote to the endeavour, the new light we’ve put in by the door is so bright that you can see our house from the bottom of the road. Handy for directing cab drivers, although I’m sure we’ll eventually freak one of them out, by pointing them down the road with the cemetery at the end of it and telling them to head towards the light…

Last weekend we were up at the Caravan and Motorhome Show at the NEC in Birmingham, musing on the idea of never paying for a package holiday again and spending some cash on a camper van instead. You can pay silly money of course, and in the midst of the credit crunch it was nice to see the occasional two-bedroom flat on wheels sporting SOLD signs in the windscreen. I think if we’re cautious and do our research, there are bargains to be had. Then of course, there’s all the sights of Britain and continental Europe to be had from our doorway. I for one would be happy never to see the inside of an airport again. And it’s a much greener way of holidaying, of course.

This week has been spent preparing the house for winter. We’ve decorated the main bedroom, shunted round the spare room, got stuff up in the loft, and generally started battening down the hatches, ready for the cold days ahead. That’s a metaphor, by the way. After lugging furniture and slapping paint around all week, I’m at that acceptably knackered stage of proceedings, with just the odd twinge in the lower spine region to tell me maybe putting that last shelf up today might be a bad idea. But the vinyl cubes have arrived, so I can see an enjoyable evening playing with the record deck ahead. Some of the old Husker Du coming out for an airing, I think.

So, in general, adventures in domesticity. I’m content with that. It’s been a very simple week, and I’ve had some time to think and muse, getting in the right frame of mind for Nanowrimo, an open, thoughtful state where ideas can flow freely. I’m really excited about the novel I’ve come up with this year. It’s a fresh new idea that simply landed on me fully formed, and one I feel could go all the way to being properly published. I’m considering putting everything I write for it on the blog as a live experiment. Anyone up for reading unfiltered content?