Monday 27 August 2012

No Phone, No Internet

Work station in The Grant Arms

Back from Edinburgh full of ideas and photos for blog posts, magazine articles and more I reached home to discover the phone wasn't working. A friend turned up soon afterwards. Big thunderstorm a week ago, he said. Lines melted, fused, destroyed all over the area. We were almost cut-off. In our fairly remote rural home the mobile signal is very weak - too weak for the Internet, except for occasional emails. The phone connection is very poor too, with calls constantly breaking up. Texts do work okay so that's been our main form of communication with the outside world for the last week. BT - our telecoms company - said the line would be operating again last Friday. The day came and went. No phone. BT's auto response was to apologise for missing the deadline but not giving us another one. I cycled out to the nearest call box, a couple of miles away. Brushing aside the cobwebs I ventured inside. It looked like something out of a Hammer horror film. A lonely call box set in woods far from the nearest house. I half expected to hear wolves howling and hear the echoing sound of horses hooves as a sinister black carriage pulled up. Cobwebs, dead flies, leaves and rust decorated the interior. No one had used it for a long time. Detaching the phone from its nest of cobwebs I was surprised to discover it still worked. All I got from BT was more apologies though. I noticed they had bothered to decorate the outside with a large poster advertising their sponsorship of the Olympics and the superfast broadband they supply (when it does work mine reaches a maximum of 1.1mb - average slow broadband would be nice).

Two days later, having patiently waited while BT managed to find a human being for me to talk to, and trying not to be irritated by the constant advice to go onto the BT website for information, I was finally told that the line should be working again 'in two or three days. We'll see. In the meantime TGO magazine final deadlines were approaching at great rapidity. How to send them my work, which was on a hardly portable PC. Transfer it to my netbook and find a wi-fi cafe to send it from. How do I do the transfer?? By wi-fi. Ah, but I haven't now got wi-fi. This was a dilemma my partner and I keep coming across, showing just how much we take internet communications for granted. I'll watch it on iPlayer, I'll look it up on Wikipedia, I'll get an online weather forecast. oh, I can't. Suddenly the radio and TV and DVD player take on greater significance. But these I realised are one-way only. You can't communicate directly with them, merely consume what they produce.

For my work dilemma I fished out an old memory stick and used that to transfer material from the PC to the netbook. Then I went into Grantown-on-Spey, five miles away, and settled into a corner of the very comfortable Grant Arms with coffee, egg roll and wi-fi, sent off my work and felt a great sense of relief. This will now be my workroom until the phone works again.


  1. How on earth did we all manage before the internet?
    Before the mobile phone?
    We take it all for granted until it goes missing.

    On the twittersphere & FB we all assumed you were on another of your long walks!

  2. Just a thought, but even if you don't have working internet your wifi should still work for transferring from one computer in your house to another. Assuming you have wifi in the first place that is!

  3. I tried the wi-fi - it wasn't strong enough to transfer files. It barely works - just enough for very slow email - half an hour or so to send one!

    True Alan, we do take it for granted. If I was on a long walk I wouldn't mind!

  4. I would have claimed to be able to function reasonably well without technology until our broadband failed and I realised just how often I visit the computer during the course of an evening, even if it is only for just a couple of minutes or so to look something up.

    It was actually a bit of an eye-opener.

  5. Chris - I think you've misunderstood the wi-fi point that Anon is trying to assist with...

    Wi-fi and your home internet connection are different things. Of course, often the whole point of the wifi connection is to access the internet connection.
    And the internet connection can be a wired internet connection via your BT (or other) broadband or a mobile internet connection (eg. on smartphone).
    I suspect your confusion is that when you are out of the house you specifically use wifi to connect to the internet....

    So, the point is that even if your broadband internet connection isn't working, your home wifi (which is just an internal wireless network) should still be ok (since this function of your router should work independently of the internet issue).
    So, you should have been able to use that to transfer from the immobile PC to your portable netbook.
    Which you should then have been able to take to somewhere with wifi AND a working internet connection.

    Are you with me?!
    Happy to explain further.... especially if it helps get your good work out!


  6. I miss it like I would my right arm when its not available! :-)

  7. Iain, Thanks.I think I know how it works. We use the internal wi-fi regularly. But it requires a Vodafone booster to work and that is connected to the router and the phone line. For some reason if there's no phone line connection then the booster doesn't work. Without it the wi-fi is too weak to do much. It tells me I have messages but then can't open them!