Broadband Hell.

Reading time:

So I know I’ve been quiet for some time on here. I’ve transitioned work (again). As per usual I’ve got a few hats on. I’m currently working as a Technical Evangelist for eGeek Consulting in Canada providing Evangelist services for some of their clients. On top of that I’ve taken on the role of Journalist in Residence at WeBreakTech.com, and I’m about to start another (supersecret) project as well.

All of this work is done from my home office. It’s a work in progress, but this is what it looks like currently:

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Everything is on the up and up and I’m remembering the feeling you get when you work the long hours but they are actually worth it.

So now I’ve got great work that I enjoy, Aleesha has a great job at the local University that she absolutely adores and we both love living where we are. This is the first time since we’ve been married that we are truly happy and starting to settle in as a family.

We live here in Wyreema in the Darling Downs regions of South East Queensland. We’re a very short drive outside of Toowoomba – nor more than about 7 minutes usually. Wyreema is a beautiful, affordable place to live and my parents live about 4 blocks away which is great considering my father has a heart condition and his health is quite poor.

There’s a fairly major problem though. We moved into this house at the start of March this year and we’ve been waiting for (very very patiently) for a spare port in the local exchange.

Yep. That’s right. We’ve now been living in this house for over 8months and we still haven’t had our internet connected.

Now I’m not a silly guy. My parents live here and so before we moved here I checked out the internet situation as best I could.

Telstra owns the exchange it because it’s a small town exchange it’s Telstra only. This limits our broadband choices to Telstra themselves who want an arm and a leg for not very much really, or someone who wholesales Telstra under their own banner. We went with one of iiNet’s Telstra wholesale reseller plans dubbed “off-net”. This means that iiNet don’t own the physical hardware in the exchange, so you don’t get as good a deal as you normally would on their hardware but you still get a reasonable deal nonetheless.

Heres the timeline of events so far:

On Tuesday the 4th of March our phone line was connected.

On Thursday the 6th of March iiNet began the steps required to provision our Broadband.

Then, this happened:

Provisioning_Port_FAIL

There weren’t any ports available.

This wasn’t entirely unexpected. It’s a small (ish) town. What was unexpected however, was what happened next.

ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

Nothing at all.

Every 10 days (or so) I get an email from iiNet informing me that there hasn’t been any further progress with my provisioning. I have quite a few of those and you know what? They’re identical. I know they’re identical because I checked. They’re the same automatically generated email that have been sent to me from day one.

Curious as to how the process works I tweeted iiNet on the 13th of April and was rewarded with this response:

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That’s right. Its 2014 and there is no waitlist. It’s first come first served. I’ve always been taught that patience is a virtue and so I’ve been patiently waiting since March for a port to become available.

It’s difficult to put into words or even document how much money this lack of internet has cost me. Optus mobile network coverage is basically non-existent and so I can’t sign up for iiNet’s Optus provisioned 20GB of wireless broadband. Given my eternal optimism, I refuse to sign up for a post-paid Telstra Wireless Broadband plan and so this leaves me with one option:

12GB of Telstra 3G wireless broadband for $180. Yep, my only option in 2014 is to pay $15 PER GIGABYTE for mobile broadband coverage.

Working from home, especially doing the work that I do, I cannot go without internet access. Foregoing internet access means that I CANNOT DO MY JOB. Not being able to do my job means clients take their business elsewhere and I therefore don’t earn money.

I’ve also been working on an article for The Register in cooperation with Trever Pott. We put in a request for comment from iiNet and Telstra but we have yet to hear anything back. Trevor’s advice is to take this to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman and I haven’t ruled that out yet.

Then, on Friday last week (the 31st of October for the record), this story took a turn for the… well lets just say there was an unexpected development.

My sister and her family moved from Bowen in Central Queensland, to a house 8 houses down from us. Naturally before she shifted called Telstra and arranged to have her home phone and broadband service disconnected from Bowen and reconnected here. She was told that her Broadband service would be connected by midday on Friday the 31st of October.

Lo and behold it was connected and working when we checked it on Friday evening. Somehow, in an exchange that is reporting no available ports, Telstra had managed to connect my sister to broadband.

I’m very very angry right now and those who know me best know that it takes quite a lot to push me to the point where I lose it. This shit has all but pushed me over the edge.

When I questioned Telstra about this via Twitter last week I was told that they couldn’t possibly discuss how she could have had her service activated immediately because it’s not my account.

When I enquire about how a port was made available to her that wasn’t available to iiNet I’m told to talk to iiNet because they are my supplier not Telstra.

When iiNet did a port check in my local exchange (which was only done last week for the record) there were no ports available.

SO CAN SOMEONE PLEASE EXPLAIN TO ME HOW ON EARTH THIS HAPPENED?

Right now, I want 2 things.

1. I want an explanation from Telstra how there was a port made available to here when I’ve been waiting 8 months becuase right now it looks to me like you’ve been withholding ports from their reseller’s in blatant violation of the law and previous judgements from the ACCC and the TCO.

2. I want a fucking broadband connection. I’m desperate. Its costing me huge amounts of money. In the last week I’ve used 7GB of 3G data. That’s $105 down the drain and that’s skimping. I’ve had to pass on work because I don’t have the connection to get it done. I can’t watch YouTube because it costs too much fucking money. I can’t even use Spotify anymore because that might mean I run out of data before there is money to buy more. It’s come to something when you can’t stream legal music because it might use too much fucking data.

So where do we go from here? Well tomorrow I’ll be lodging a complaint with the TIO. I’d do it right now but I can’t because I’m on deadline. I’ll also be resending my enquiry to iiNet and Telstra and cc’ing the ACCC because this has the stink of Telstra trying to force customers away from resellers all over it.

I’ll let you all know how it goes.

Aaron

PS in all of this, iiNet has been as helpful as they can be. I’m not angry at them. It’s not really their fault Telstra are a bag of wiggling dicks and I don’t have internet.

Questions – July 14 – “Electricity”

Reading time:

I’ve got a lot of questions floating around my brain that need to be asked. This months main theme is Electricity. I’m open to discussion about any of the questions below so if you want to engage me email me at aaron@wigginsixsolutions.com, hit me up on twitter @wigginsix, or comment and I’ll do my best to reply.

Questions”

1. Are we approaching the energy crisis from the wrong angle? Have we really considered if AC power is the best solution to our energy needs? It seems to me that while AC is better over long distances, most of our electronic equipment utilises power that is (or has been converted to) DC. Would it not be better to convert to DC at base stations or at the power entry point on our properties on mass and provide all equipment with DC that way?

2. Has anyone successfully gone off the Grid in a city? What trade-offs did you have to make if any?

3. If you own an electric car, or were planning to buy one, which (other than a Tesla) would you choose or have you considered?

4. We have a garden patch in our backyard. Is it worthwhile attempting to grow our own vegetables?

 

OK that’s enough questions for now.

Aaron

Disconnection

Reading time:

I don’t particularly like social networks. They force you to upload a huge amount of personal information and then they make you add people. LinkedOut is one of the worst. I can’t open the app without it telling me I don’t have enough contacts and “suggesting” (demanding really) that I give it access to my contacts.

I’m not the greatest friend there is. Before Fakebook, I never went out of my way to actively keep in touch with many people. There were varying reasons for this that I’m not going to go into right now, but for a long time my life was pretty rocky and in the end I’d shut out almost everybody that I cared about. There was one person that I couldn’t shut out though because he was the first that I shut out and I did it years before things were at their worst

I lost touch with this guy after having been extremely close friends with him for five years when he went off to university and I stayed in the town we grew up in. The worst part about it is that I didn’t have to lose touch with him. I shut him out because he got out of the hell-hole that we grew up in, went to university, was actively pursuing his dreams and I… wasn’t.

I think now looking back at it I was more than a little jealous. I hated growing up in Mt Isa and when he got out and I was still stuck there? Man oh man. So we lost touch.

In late 2004 or early 2005 (I’m not sure which) when I was beginning to spiral out of control I did see him though. I was waiting in a crowd with some friends one day and I saw him walk past. I know it was him because he was wearing our school jersey. Once I realised it was him I spent a fairly large amount of that day trying to find him but I never did. I wanted to say hi. To reconnect. By that point I’d been out of Mt Isa for 2-3 years, though it still had its hooks in me and although it wouldn’t have slowed my free-fall, it might not have led to the situation that I know find myself in.

Fast forward to now. I’ve been trying like crazy to reconnect with those people who over the last 20 years have mattered to me. I’m not the same person I was in my late teens and early 20’s. I’m older, certainly, but I’m also significantly wiser. I’ve often thought about that day I saw him from afar and wondered what could have been.

This might surprise a lot of you to know this. I’m not sentimental. I don’t dwell on what could have been and I never second guess myself so this is unfamiliar and wholly unexpected territory that I find myself in. That’s not where it ends of the point of this somewhat rambling post though.

I’ve not just thought about him though. I’ve actually actively looked for him too. On Fakebook I’ve posted asking if anyone still has contact with him (no-one did). I’ve Google’d him repeatedly and yet still nothing. Well almost nothing, because earlier this year, I finally came across him on Fakebook. Now you might be expecting this to be where the story ends but its not. I was ecstatic when I came across him on Fakebook so I sent him a friend request and sat back waiting for him to accept. I’m still waiting.

Now I’m sure I’ve probably sent friend requests that have been ignored and ones that have been rejected, but I’ve never sent a friend request to someone who’s acceptance of that request mattered to me. At all. Ever. I’m not the type who would normally give two shits about this and I’m actually deeply torn about what to do next. Part of me wants to send him a message. He hasn’t blocked me so clearly he doesn’t hate me, but he has also had more than enough time to decided that he wants to reconnect and he hasn’t made that decision.

It could be that what we had is in the past and he doesn’t want to be reminded of our life, because I’m fairly certain that he was hiding a secret in the closet. If he doesn’t want to try and rekindle the friendship that we once had I’m OK with that. I’m more OK than I was before I found him in one way, because now I know that he’s alive, yet I’m a mess in another.

So here’s the message that I wan’t to send him.

XXXX,
Hi. I sent you a friend request a while back and although you might not be keen to accept it, I wasn’t really all that interested in being a Fakebook friend. What I really wanted was to reconnect with you. To get to know the person you’ve become. To find out what you’ve done in the 14 years since we lost touch.
See, the last time we talked you were at uni and I’m pretty sure that whether I was aware of it or not I was a jerk. You got out and I was still stuck in the hole we grew up in and I’m pretty sure that I was jealous of you. I was missing all my friends from school by that point, but I was missing your friendship most deeply. I couldn’t handle that you were moving on with your life and so, like I did with everyone else eventually, I made us drift apart.
It doesn’t matter to me if you don’t want to be Fakebook friends, but it would mean a lot to me if we could meet up, even just once to catch up. If there’s an ember of the friendship we once shared left than I’d like to give it a chance to reignite. If not then we can part ways and I’ll leave you alone.
I’ll leave the ball in your court. If you don’t want to reconnect, I’ll respect your wishes and I won’t message you again or send you another friend request. If you think that you’d like to give it a shot, you can reply to this message or text/call me on 04xx xxx xxx and we’ll get the ball rolling.

Sincerely,
Me.

I’m posting this on twitter, but not on Fakebook because I’d be embarrassed for him to see it if I never send it and he does ever end up friending me. I’m keen to know what others think though. Should I send it or should I just leave things as they lay?

Geofencing and my right to listen.

Reading time:

I drive a lot. I work predominantly in Toowoomba, but we have clients located up to 8hrs drive away so I’ve taken to listening to audio books as a way to keep myself occupied. While I lived in Brisbane I discovered Audible and am a huge fan of the range and how easy they make it acquire new books and redownload those books I bought years ago.

Except. Except sometimes this happens.

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Audible.com can’t sell me Neil Gaiman?

Yep. Geofencing strikes again. It’s wouldn’t normally be such a big deal, this is Australia after all, we’re used to being screwed by US coporations, but it’s been happening more often. Normally as a marketplace matures, and a reliable customer base is established, content owners would eventually jump on board and offer their wares. This has happened somewhat with Publishers and Audible, but it turns out that the situation is a heck of a lot more complex than you could imagine.

The geofence’s that exist in the digital world surrounding video content normally mirror physical boundaries, ie the geofence around US content starts once you step outside of the physical boundaries of the US. The publishing industry has been around a lot longer than “Hollywood” and the other visual content creators. The easiest way for illustrate how bizarre the geofencing lines are is to tell you a story.

Last night, quite annoyed I tweeted the wonderful Neil Gaiman and Audible about the predicament. Neil took the time to respond with a link suggesting that I try the UK store. It’s not something that I would normally do, given the distinct difference in exchange rate betweeen the Aussie Dollar and the British Pound, but I did. Lo and behold, should I be willing to pay a minimum of  £7.99 for a subscription then I can have access to his entire collection for around £3.99 / per book. That’s actually a reasonable price even after the horrific exchange rate.

Why though, should I have access to Neil’s work on the British version of Audible and not the American? That’s the £7.99 question of the day and the reason behind it is effectively a combination of two things.

1. We started out as a British colony. For a long time we operated under British Law and even once we’d become a country in our own right, British Law held sway over our own. This, combined with the fact that for a very long time £1 was worth $3 it was extremely cost effective for British publishing companies to setup business here and they were extremely keen to do so because our physical isolation meant that there was very little we could do about the monopoly they held. Even now, (as far as I am aware) the larger publishers are still subsidiaries of their British counterparts.

2. Sometimes, because a publisher does not operate in a particular country, that publisher will auction off the right publish an authors works in the countries they don’t operate in. Normally when they do this they also package in the right to publish the audio book of the same work. This can mean that while, say Harper Collins might own all the rights to the US publication of a work, they might not own the right to publish the same work in Australia. That might be owned by Penguin or Scholastic. It can get even more complicated if an author changes publishers or, in the case or Mr Gaiman, falls in love with (and moves to) another country.

Once we take both of these factors into account, what we end up with is a type of geofencing that can sometimes border on random and is both bewildering and incredibly frustrating for the customer. Not everyone follows Neil on twitter. Not everyone would tweet him about their frustrations and he wouldn’t always have the ability or opportunity to respond. [He’s a nice guy though so I know he’d feel bad if he couldn’t.]

There isn’t an easy solution to this problem. It costs a fairly large amount of money to produce an audio book and it would probably cost a lot more money to go back and consolidate the agreements surrounding the publishing right for them. In smaller markets like Australia, where we don’t justify a dedicated Australian version of Audible, we’ll just have to put up with it for now. The lack of a dedicated Australian audio book retailer/e-tailer doesn’t justify piracy though many would at this point say that it might. I’ve run the numbers and the cost of an audio book on both markets ends up roughly the same after you take into account the differences in exchange rates. Even though you can’t buy them in Australian dollars, you can still buy them.

And while it does stink that I can’t use the 7 credits I have with Audible.com with Audible.co.uk, I’ve got Neil Gaiman reading words written by Neil Gaiman. That’s enough to put the bloom back on anyone’s rose.

 
Aaron.

Change? Again? Are you mad?

Reading time:

So you might have noticed a few changes again, although given the small amount of foot traffic on the site (due mostly to my lack of content/erratic post schedule) you probably haven’t. If you’re a new visitor then I hope you feel welcome. If you’re a returning visitor then welcome back. So you were the one. ;-)

I don’t believe in posting a post detailing all the changes. I might post, I might not, but when I do this is where you’ll find my thought and opinion pieces.

As always, Caveat Emptor is the name of the game. I will try to mark those pieces containing naughty language or NSFW content as such.

For now, we’re back by unpopular demand. This time though, I might remember to pay the hosting bill.

 

PS. I’m trying out SEO stuff this time around and Page Analysis tells me that you people like posts that contain a minimum of 300 words. I’d write another 150, but I really can’t be bothered.