Your leaking thatched hut during the restoration of a pre-Enlightenment state.


Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


decay & ruin
Biosphere II
dead malls
Irving housing

got that wrong

appropriate tech
Arduino μcontrollers
Backwoods Home
Fractal antenna

fun social media stuff

(nobody does!)

Like my brownhouse:
   relationship with information
Tuesday, March 16 2004
Dave, the lineman from Verizon (the same guy who installed our second phone line a year ago) came out today to look into the trouble ticket I'd filed about our mediocre DSL service. Initially he told me to confine the dogs, but when that proved impossible he actually petted Eleanor. I'm sure a guy who makes the number of housecalls that he does has had bad experiences with dogs.
Down in the basement, lineman Dave ran a test on the phone line with the rest of the house's phone network disconnected and managed to get a speed of nearly 1800 kb/s, over eleven times the maximum speed I'd been getting. Evidently the problem had been the many branches of phone wiring in the house, not the three miles of line back down to the DSL mothership.
I immediately decided to run ethernet line into the basement and hook up the DSL modem there and not run the risk of using the house's phone network. While I got started on that project, lineman Dave set up a house-wide filter for the phone lines and then ran a modular jack cord to the point where the raw line emerged from the cable coming from the pole. Just to see if I was actually going to get this brisk new speed, I brought the Westell 2200 down and plugged it into the phone cord and plugged my laptop into the Westell's ethernet port. Then I surfed to the Westell's web page and saw that I had a connection of 1792 kb/s (37 times dialup speed). It was almost too good to be believed. As for lineman Dave, he'd never seen the Westell web page in his life and had no idea it was so easy to get a reading of the available bandwidth. He had a clunky device for getting a vague reading of bandwidth available, but to test real performance he'd had to surf to and run a cumbersome diagnostic.
I've had good bandwidth in the past, but never quite this good. Furthermore, the year of low bandwidth has profoundly shaped my computer habits. Finding myself suddenly with lots of bandwidth once more, I could feel my relationship with information changing. Initially, though, I still had the momentum from the old paradigm, which had forced me to maintain an almost-continuous schedule of downloads, particularly at night or when I planned to be away from my computer. Under that system, I always felt uncomfortable if the computer wasn't sucking something down from somewhere. But now it's okay when the bandwidth isn't being used, just like it's okay not to use all the electricity available in the breaker box. If I really need something, I can slurp it down in real time (or else the time it takes to scratch an itch). A whole CD's worth of data takes only about two hours (as opposed to two days). The only reason to download and maintain libraries of files is to ensure that I have them in case they stop being available online. But in an ideal world of high bandwidth and unenforceable copyright, you don't really need much storage on your computer at all.
The proximity of this ideal immediately resulted in a change of my music listening habits. Instead of listening to my tired old MP3 collection, I rediscovered internet radio, finding niche channels on WinAmp playing my kind of music while also exposing me to stuff I'd never heard. That effect is difficult to achieve with your own music collection, no matter how large and randomly-acquired it might be.

For lunch, Gretchen and I had a much-needed lunch of tempeh reubens at Mother Earth's Storehouse, our favorite health food store located in a crumbling 70s-era shopping mall on 9W. Directly across 9W is a brand new Appleby's and a collosal new Barnes and Noble, the latter providing a suffocating dose of heterosexual-friendly corporate gentrification to Kingston's motor mile.

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