Broadband Down!


Please imagine the following diary entries being ticker-taped like news flashes. That’ll make the story they tell seem more exciting . . .

Wed 19 Dec
No broadband connection, so no internet and no landline! Never mind, it’ll be back soon. Went to bed.

Thu 20 Dec
Still no internet. Spoke to iiNet call centre in South Africa. Diagnosis: NBN Co* has probably reassigned my connection to someone else – happens all the time. No need for technician visit. All will be well.

Sat 22 Dec
Text message received: “Will someone be at home on Monday between 0800 and 1200?”

Mon 24 Dec
NBN Co contractors come and notice a wire dangling from a pole, and coiled wire hanging from a pole on the other side of the road. Hmm, this calls for a specialist, can’t do it today. Tomorrow? Tomorrow is Christmas Day, sir!

Fri 28 Dec
NBN Co contractors come. Hmm, this will need a special attachment to the pole. That requires a special specialist, can’t do it today.

Wed 2 Dec
An middle-aged man with a weathered look turns up with his young assistant, bits of bent metal, pliers, a hacksaw and a ladder. A specialist. Unfazed by having an inquisitive onlooker he sets to work. Three hours later we’re back online.

Two other wires were down in the same street, so the current theory is that an over-sized vehicle, perhaps connected with a nearby building site, was driven along the street and simply chopped through them.

It occurs to me that with all our relativity and quantum mechanics, with all our light-fast hi-tech whizz-bang technology and machines that go ping!, making things work often comes down to having a bloke up a ladder who knows what he’s doing.

* NBN means Australia’s National Broadband Network, and NBN Co is the state-owned company that is building and operating it. But customers access the network through competing retailers.

Science and Technology: How They Advance


My old friend Ron Allan sent me the following link to an interesting article:

The writer, Viscount Ridley, points out that many scientific and technological advances were made by several people, even though we recognise only one.  Darwin comes to mind, and last night Mrs SG and I watched a dramatised documentary (‘Genius’) which presented the perfection of television as a duel between the youthful Philo Farnsworth and Vladimir Zworykin, working for the aggressively entrepreneurial David Sarnoff of RCA.  But I was always taught that TV was invented by John Logie Baird, and Wikipedia lists a regiment of others.

Viscount Ridley goes on to argue that public investment in basic science is largely wasted and it should be left to the private sector.  I’m not sure I agree with that, but please read the article and let me know what you think.