The Worst-Case Scenario

The Worst-Case Scenario

I’m sure there are worse things that can happen, but from where I sit, this is pretty damn disastrous. It’s 1:00 in the morning, and since I got home, I’ve gone into my computer room no fewer than 14 times. I turn the corner, take a quick peek at the lights one last time—no change. I want this to be my last check for the night, but I know it won’t be.

As I write this, I’m on day eight of the longest broadband outage I’ve ever suffered through, and I don’t know how much longer I can take it. As long as I’ve had broadband, I’ve subscribed to one of the smaller, boutique ISPs, simply because it doesn’t prohibit me from running servers on my connection, and because I’d rather deal with a smaller company when I have problems than a hulking multinational, like the phone company.

Over the last six years, I’ve had really good luck with Speakeasy—no unscheduled downtime longer than a few hours, and great speeds in both directions. But this outage might break me.

On day two of the outage, I played some single-player games, did a little work, and watched some movies. On day three, I started walking around my apartment with my laptop, trying to find the perfect place to hook onto an unsuspecting neighbor’s wireless network. On day four, I read up on the basics of cracking WEP encryption. On day five, I gave up, vowed to move to a monastery, and never use technology again. It’s gone downhill from there.

This downtime has really brought my dependency on high-speed Internet access into sharp relief. My desperate need for bandwidth isn’t just a monkey on my back—it’s a 20-foot gorilla, and he’s riding me like a pony every moment I’m disconnected! Everything from my day-to-day banking to paying bills to my phone service happens over that twisted-pair of copper wires. I really can’t function as a contributing member of society without a steady stream of data.

Supposedly, an authorized phone company representative will grace me with his presence sometime between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm tomorrow. With a little luck, I’ll be back online in time to pay my bills and engage in online bloodsports by early evening. If he fails me, I’ll be the guy wandering around downtown San Francisco, with a laptop and a directional antenna, muttering about unprotected hotspots, uneven loop lengths, and ILEC difficulties.

It seems like a hassle, but at least I didn’t have to call the phone company.



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