Monthly Archives: October 2014

Disruption upon Disruption (the journey back to online)


The temptation to apologize for not blogging as much as I want to is so overwhelming that I’m going to give in – I’m sorry, I really am. There has been (yet) another disruption (- two disruptions if you count the Scottish Referendum, which was totally amazing.)

It’s not (thankfully) another house move that’s blocking my blogging this time. No, this time and perhaps worse – NO INTERNET!
I hear you gasp, sympathetically (I hope). Yes, suddenly on 2 September, the internet as I know it in my building died and will remain dead until, well, it’s a long story and boring unless you have an interest in risers.

It took the usual few weeks to find out what was going on, and then the fun started (I don’t mean sarcastic fun, I’ve enjoyed this). Our riser issue, serious though it is, will be fixed in the fullness of time. The enjoyment has been in finding ways to still have an online life.

This blog post is therefore a triumph! Much more has gone into it than just the words. I’m thoroughly delighted to have had this experience, because it’s furthered one of my aims. Something I wasn’t intending to tackle just yet but it was on the to do list. And that’s to be able to function/work/write/doallmystuff anywhere in the world.

It wasn’t on the agenda for now because, apart from I can’t afford travel the world is not remotely peaceful, and we’re seeing the spread of Ebola too. It’s a rubbish time to be crossing borders and an even worse one for visiting other cultures. Fear and distrust are everywhere and rightfully so. Neither war nor disease can be taken lightly, people seek the protection of their own. So I wasn’t planning to travel and I wasn’t too worried about being online-and-mobile.

But I’m bothered about whether I’m online at all.

So I’ve been having a great time (quack)(don’t worry about the duck will explain later) finding workarounds.

This blog post is being written offline for a start – a habit I kept meaning to get into since it allows me to have a safe, easily accessible archive of my posts. I like WordPress lots, but last time I looked I couldn’t export my content as an easy, convenient .doc. Writing offline also gives me a chance to read and polish – it’s a fault of mine that I shoot posts out at top speed and I think that’s it done. Writing offline is habit I’m glad to develop.

For the online part, I found out all sorts of things. I’ll be uploading this post in a while using a little EE device which gives me mobile broadband. (I call this my ‘brick’ – I don’t think that’s the correct name) I could be uploading this blog post from a beach, whilst sipping mango juice. I won’t be, but I could do it 🙂 !!

Said beach would have to be in the UK and have 3G/4G coverage though. In other words my day-to-day needs are now fully met. It took a while to find this solution and a lot of the other stuff I tried and found out is situationally useful. For example if I fancy a nice cup of tea and a bun (or a meal) out while I work on something, I now have my favorite places I could go that have wireless internet. The gym has broadband attached to the treadmill and treadbicycle, library (what’s left of it) has free internet. All that kind of thing, useful to have it all at my fingertips. Later today I may go and ogle the ships in Leith Harbour. I can be online or offline, as I will. Noice!

Having located wifi sources out there, my android tablet + EE box + usb keyboard + cover/stand = a small app-dependent internet-capable computer. I can’t work with things like Blender on the tablet, but I don’t need to be online to work with Blender. As with this blog, that’s offline work, can be done at home in fluffy slippers and anything that needs uploading I use the little EE brick/go out and find a wifi hotspot. Sorted.

The tablet also works perfectly for such things as logging into a remote server via pUTTY and interacting with that server – there’s a helpful thing. In fact there are only a few things I can’t do using just that.

The EE solution means I’m constrained by a data allowance (took a monthly plan but I’m sure PAYG is possible, and I’m sure there are other providers) and of course, the internet I have this way is slow. It works but it’s slow. Or is it. No it isn’t really that slow. Or rather it might be, but I’ve now discovered that my broadband, cable, supposedly the fastest available was in fact pretty inferior. I already thought that, noticed that speed-checks showed it to be very slow – now it’s proved beyond a doubt. Because with this setup I’m experiencing similar speed. Cost is less with the mobile broadband by the way.

Global trotting would now just mean finding local internet access, the rest is sorted. The tablet + keyboard minicomputer, the phone as emergency backup, the laptop for heavy lifting. A wi-drive for portable storage – all those. Numerous Android apps have been discovered that fill in beautifully for the bloatier Windows “standard” software while I’m out and about. The ‘brick’ can connect up to 10 devices (including our laptops) – I quite like it. It wasn’t too hard to find my way back to the internet but I still want to become one of those wizards who can do it all with a Raspberry Pi and some rubber bands – I’ll keep that as an ambition. Doesn’t seem to be strictly necessary for now. I’m kind of sad about that. On the other hand everything I’m using now works and works together.

I’ve not tried gaming.

And that’s because, to my surprise, more than a month has passed without my playing any online games. None. Nada. Zilch. Ok, I logged into Flutter on my Android, whilst on the bus (oh yes, another discovery – our Edinburgh buses now have wifi). Apart from that absolutely none. The fact that so much time has gone by without me really noticing the absence of big AAA, online games is telling. Clearly, I haven’t missed them.

I could presumably play them now and will try it at some point. No rush. Very tempted to do a great big long ranty list of all the things I’m not missing about the AAA games, but nah. They have decisively lost the battle for my heart, time and money, lettem go.

I can pick out a choice few of the things I’m not missing in some other post – and there are things I am missing, but I have to think about it to notice them.

Oh yes, the duck. I keep hearing quacking in my head if some company advertises a “great job” – apparently this has now crept into any usage of the word “great” as an adjective. Let’s try it. “Great Scott!” Hmmm. No quacking. Oh well that’s a relief.

Categories: Android, Things In General, Useful Things

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