Eggheads Rule

Last century I wrote elsewhere that my first experience of Unix had been like drinking raw egg. That proved oddly prophetic, because few years later I was commissioned to take, and write about, week-long Unix course, and because the restaurant at which we broke for lunch had suspect standards of hygiene, the quiche I consumed led to close encounter with food-poisoning of the spewing kind.
Which adds reminiscent edge to my amusement whenever I see Unix file-address on bus, billboard, business card, or whatever. I mean of course the lines like www.whatever.co.nz, [email protected] that we now see all over the place. For all those dot-dot-dot and underline-at-dot-dot thingies are Unix file-addresses. Thus has one aspect of the Unix operating system gone from the arcane preserve of an egghead few to global lingua franca.

Telecom, the Kiwi share and the net
Under the revised Kiwi Share, Telecom must guarantee (I hope you are sitting down for this one) that telephone lines will operate at 9.6kbps over 99% of the country and 14.4kbps over 95%. There is of course small problem buying 9.6k and 14.4k modems, on account of the fact that they no longer exist, but yer 56k variety can throttle back to crawl, so welcome to the 21st century, folks.
However, I am sure you will be very glad to know that out of sterling sense of integrity, and desire to stand shoulder to shoulder in true-blue solidarity with ordinary Enzedders, and, last-but-not-least, so that they will never-ever-ever lose touch with the real world, Telecom’s entire executive has, voluntarily, chosen to connect to the Net at 9.6kbps. Only. What wonderful chaps and chapesses they are!
Sadly, that last paragraph is not true. But you knew that, of course.
What is puzzling is how Telecom can, in practice, guarantee those blinding speeds and percentages. Or any speeds and percentages. Because there are many telephone exchanges through which it is impossible to test the quality of lines centrally. So they have to go out into the field, knock on doors, and test every one manually. And count them. And multiply total over total B by hundred over one. Which is about as likely as that fictional crawldown by T. Rex’s executives.
So the whole guarantee is sham. T. Rex droppings. Thus fact indeed proves stranger than fiction. In this case it is both. Which is really strange. (Don’t wait for the movie.)

Milk-bottles and the fast net
Once upon time there was the milk-bottle. It was delivered, full of milk, to your letterbox – and at night so the sun could not putrefy the taste of yer Kiwi-kids’ slabs. The empties were taken away at the same time, washed by huge machines and filled with milk, and so round the glorious cycle we went. When bottles wore out they were melted down to make new ones.
But then it was espied that all that extravagantly sensible fal-lal was not as lucrative as packing the white stuff in proto-landfill and selling it through supermarkets, where it could be not only white but also range of sickening colours, and make the white-stuffers rich.
So the huge machines were, mysteriously, no longer maintained to scratch. So, mysteriously, it was found that it was going to cost lots to bring them back to scratch. So it was obviously, all yooz dunderheads, cheaper-an-therefore-better to put the white stuff in supermarkets. Thus endeth the good old system – with tigrish smirk from the executive white-stuffers.
One therefore wonders if all the abovementioned 9600bps and 14400bps stuff is not accompanied by the notion, deep in T. Rex’s smirk-neurons, that if the old system is not kept up to speed, it will cost too much to make it. Then we can all be moved to high-tech-and-very-expensive system that just happens to be parked behind the door.

Nobilangelo Ceramalus: Writer, commentator, journalist, desktop publisher, graphics-designer, illustrator, webmaster, photographer.

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