Wiring In Sandakan

 

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Half way between the local shopping precinct and where I reside, there is the local district telecommunication exchange – sub station. Well, I think that’s what it’s called. It is a metal cylinder about one and a half metres tall which contains thousands of multi-coloured insulated copper wires.

I know because frequently, when I’m doing my daily walk to the coffee shop, I see an army of technicians working feverishly on a bundle of these wires. Not a pleasant job in the tropical sun, but a job that seems to occur all too often.

Telecommunication infrastructure in Sandakan is fully stretched. The fastest Internet connection that one can buy is a paltry 4 mbps and that is limited to only a few areas in town. We have just upgraded to 2 which is the highest possible in our street. They say 2 mbps but in reality if it crawls to 1.5 mbps we are ecstatic.

I shouldn’t complain really. Before the upgrade, the service would drop out 10 to 20 times a day. A technician investigated twice, 6 months apart. He assured us nothing was wrong with the phone line after inspecting the fore mentioned exchange. Miraculously the moment he left it’s been perfect ever since, well as perfect as it gets here. A little face saving I suspect. Anyway it’s much better than it was, although downloading anything of substance takes forever.

The problem lies in the infrastructure. It’s old. The very poles that originally held a single phone line now attempt to hold numerous cables. They are thin and made of cast iron. Note the accompanying photograph. The original pole has bent over at right angles due to rust and weight. At some stage a second pole was erected in an attempted to add support to prevent it from collapsing. As you can see, a further pole has been added to support the other two and not to forget the four guide wires to keep all three poles from falling down. Crazy you say? Sure is. Why not replace the original pole in the first place with something that can support all the weight.

Theirs is not to reason why…………

The day The Internet Stopped

Headline, headline read all about it, shock horror!

October the 12th 2018 at 9am, the day the Internet died.

Just what if… the unthinkable happened, the Internet stopped. Stopped, ceased to function in its entirety. Computers once again became self-contained isolated islands in a sea of unaccessible information. Good for writing on, doing some sums and playing games. That’s it! The smart phone lost its smarts. The iPad was now a no info dumb pad, only good for games and taking photos.

We have just all become time travellers, back, back…
25 years to the dawn of information enlightenment.

But why?

Rumours abounded that it was them, the powers to be, who wanted to wind back the clock to a time and place they could control. The drift of power to the people had become too much for some. Who knows?

For whatever reason it was, it just stopped working one day, gone the next.

As for me? At first, I found it slightly bemusing. It wasn’t like everything had stopped. Like, I mean to say, it wasn’t the end of the world, not a sequel to “Day of the Triffids” or anything as dramatic as that. The cars and buses moved along the street. The shops still sold food and other goodies. Life bobbled along as usual. Besides, it made very little difference to the older generation. Most have never really embraced the computer age, the Internet thing. No siree, made not a jot of difference to them. They continued to watch television and read their newspapers like nothing had happened.

But then the reality for others was quite different.

The young were at a loss. No instant gratification posting selfies or social chat. For many their world is online; no Internet no life. The prospect of having to make personal contact with their distant Internet friends was now impossible. Those friendships however tenuous were now extinct. The art of conversation in person had to be relearned and not just that, but eye contact, looking at people instead of a screen; painfully difficult for some.

Now before I go on, I will have to confess something to you. Even though I don’t pass off these days as a youngster, I’m not ancient either, but I do love finding out things. You see I’m a bit of an information junkie, so after the initial shock of losing my play thing, I became deeply depressed. After a few days, I was finding withdrawal difficult to handle. My daily fix was not getting met. In fact I was at a lost to know what to do. Relying on the printed media (never watch TV) for my daily dose of info was without doubt unsatisfactory.

I had become over the years skeptical about a lot of the things written in newspapers. The owners political leanings dictated the direction most articles expressed. I know, I know, what you are saying. Can’t belief what you read on the Internet too, but there is a difference and a big one at that. I can choose to read what I want and not be restricted to local sources. And more importantly, I can choose different forms of information delivery, social networking versus more formal sources of information, for example. By using both I could decipher, as they say, the chaff from the wheat or to put it more crudely the crap from the good. I had the control, not them. Besides, it was fun trying to work out fact from fiction. I could discuss issues with others of similar ilk with ease and at little cost and come to my own conclusions.

Think of the disputes that will now occur around the dinner table. Mr X says A, Miss Y says that’s not true, it’s B, Mrs Z thinks they’re both wrong it’s C, old aunt doubleXX thinks it’s all three! No instant confirmation now. No going to the Internet to solve the dispute. Just a lingering background of unease; life will never be the same again!

I was dreading having to pay the bills! I used to hate going into a bank or what every public utility at the best of times, waiting in line forever. What a complete waste of one’s time. Much prefer being online, done and dusted in a few minutes not to mention the saving on fuel to get there.

The cat had been let out the bag so to speak, but was now securely back in.

Maybe I’ve become a little paranoid.

Oh, well such is life. Think of the positives. Ummm, are there any? Oh yes, of course: books shops would come back into vogue; I might read a novel (hard copy) in the evenings before bed again; talk on the phone instead of looking at its screen all day; go for a walk to smell the roses. Maybe not all is lost.

It’s hard to go back in time and live a way you are used to then, but are not now. Like most things there is good and bad. The scales of right justness will tell us if we come up short or not.

I look down at my lonely white phone and sigh, It was a lovely love affair while it lasted, but like all good things, it has come to an unexpected end.

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