Sunday, March 6, 2011

Tilting at Windmills

How many laptops can dance on the head of a pin, I ask you? Back at the ranch in FX land, we have had whole tribes of young bucks thrashing the daylights out of a simple home network that has ample security laid on, with few glitches and plenty of bandwidth. A trip out to the local bookstore (a Big Name one that is not closing stores), and the bandwidth is abysmal. The network blocks streaming and most other forms of serious utilization, so I wander by the 7 people that are online to see who is downloading the entire 50GB+ Microsoft patch library, and all are just doing the email thing. Another half-dozen are chatting like mad on the iPhone, but that's texting, and no great demand.

There has to be a reason for this, but the economics of crappy public wireless are beyond me. I come to the bookstore to browse the books, Have a $4 cup of coffee, and connect to the internet, in an environment that has people to stimulate the intellect, and generally hang out. I need to write a letter, I suppose. "Dear Sir/Madam; what is the compelling reason behind offering internet connectivity at your store that is so slow, the obligatory bookstore page takes 5 minutes to load?"

OK, they are booksellers, not techno-pundits. Nevertheless, they are a mere step below librarians, who, as all who read more than traffic signs and menus are aware, know where to find anything. This means that they should know how to adopt technologies which at a minimum, provide instant access to the bookstore website.

It is possible that they were early adopters, back when most folks were connected by modem, and they entered into a zillion-year contract with AT&T for a 56kb link. So, they are stuck with this, and cannot think about the possibility that, for $80 per month, massive additional service is available from the local telcos & cable providers. As long as I am making excuses for them, it is also possible that they are "stuck" via the landlord. My favorite do-it-yourself computer store (now deceased) had to share a 56K circuit with 10-15 other stores and could not, apparently, negotiate with the telcos & cable folks for a better deal. However, one would think that a national bookseller chain would have slightly more influence than a simple shopkeeper.

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