Last thursday, Comcast decided to ban me from their internet service. This came without warning, and left me with no internet for nine days. That isn’t completely true, as I have Verizon EVDO service, DSL in the office, and free wifi all over the city. But it wasn’t even close to the same because my primary machine was not hooked up anymore, and I was in the middle of transitioning from a desktop to laptop for primary use.
So what happened during these nine days? My primary internet connection became the Verizon EVDO, which provided ~500 kbits/sec of bandwidth. I caught up on some coding work, but didn’t get far because I couldn’t test it properly. The project is client / server based, and I didn’t have the server fully up yet. And I couldn’t upgrade the server software because I didn’t have the actual software packages. If I originally downloaded the full distribution, I would have the software local, but network based installs are alot easier. You don’t have to download as much initially, and when you install something, you will usually get the latest version. Yes, I could have downloaded it with the EVDO connected machine, and then move it to the server, but that is a whole lot of wasted time to me. I tried to continue my migration from a desktop machine to laptop, but that didn’t get far either. On new systems I like to install the latest version of whatever software I use, which I couldn’t get quickly because I was on a slower connection.
I would say that going from a 8 mbit/sec network connection to a 500 kbit/sec single connection reduced my computer based productivity by 75%. Tasks that take seconds on a fast network connection now take minutes on a slower connection. And after attempting a few tasks going at least half of your normal speed, you grow tired quickly. It was just not worth my time anymore.
Lifehacker has a couple posts on ‘things to do when your internet connection is out’ here and here. Lifehacker’s posts actually link to the postings from Commute Smarter and Speaking Freely. I read through all the posts, and there are some good comments in them.
On a somewhat related note, there is an experiment next month to see if you can survive without a computer for 24 hours. You can find more about Shutdown Day here or read some people’s comments at this digg thread.