Internet woes

In August 2001, I left these shores for an extended holiday in the UK but I’m back and starting to find my feet again.Surprisingly little has changed while I’ve been gone except for the fact that computer hardware prices have jumped substantially and the Internet seems much, much, worse than I remember it.
My stay in the UK definitely spoiled me as far as Internet connections go and I’m hating the slow and troublesome connection that I have now so much that I’m doing very little except checking my e-mail.
Most UK ISP’s offer free Internet connections which are fine for people who are not heavy Internet users and all the user has to do is pay for the phone call.
Users who spend a lot of time on the Internet can opt for a plan which allows them unlimited access to the Internet for the equivalent of 14 McDonalds cheeseburgers per month and nothing extra to pay for the telephone call.
The majority of UK residential users also have the option of getting an Asynchronous Digital Subscriber Line (ADSL) connection to the Internet at the equivalent of 29 cheeseburgers a month; work it out, that’s the equivalent of about R145.00 per month.
The ADSL line you get for that price works at only 10-times the speed of a conventional modem. This is nowhere near the technology’s full potential but you do routinely get downloads above 28 kilobits per second.
I’m angry because there is so much out there that we are missing and because those with the power plainly do not place any sort of priority on providing us with fast and affordable connections.
I got to love BBC’s Radio Two while I was on holiday and, even though it is available on the Internet, I guess it’s going to be a good long while before I get to listen to it again.
Earlier I mentioned that the prices of computer hardware had taken a jump since I last looked and that got me to thinking about PCs in general and about whether one actually needs the brute power that the current machines offer.
Some people may actually need the huge computing power of the newer models of PC but the fact is that lesser machines are, to borrow a phrase from Jerry Pournelle, ‘Good Enough’ for the average user to do whatever they need to do.
My prized laptop was stolen while I was overseas and, needing a PC immediately, I was confronted with the dilemma of whether to get the latest and greatest, and beggar myself, or aim my sights down market.
I can hardly hold my head upright with the shame of it but I now have a PC made mostly out of second-hand parts and which is powered by a measly Celeron 533 processor.
The machine, named Jim in memory of Jim Jackson the cat, has 256Mb of RAM, a 20Gb hard drive and, at less than half the price of a decent new PC, it is plenty good enough for everything I’ve wanted it to do so far.
I expect that there will be problems when it comes to manipulating large image files but I made sure that the machine’s motherboard will accept faster processors which will make upgrading it easy.
Mind you, I don’t know that I’d like to buy a second-hand machine from someone that I didn’t trust absolutely but, luckily for me, I didn’t have to.


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