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Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The great disconnect

The trouble with this highly connected high-speed wired world we live in, is that it isn't.

It's hard work staying connected on the road. I have two wi-fi enabled devices - a little lightweight laptop and a hunking great HTC Tytn pda. Which is all well and good but for the utter paucity of wifi in New Zealand and the nonsense of having to pay for it when you find it.

To add insult to injury, when you do happen upon wifi, you have to sit down, turn on your kit, wait for it to fire up, find the signal, go to the Telco web page, figure out how much blood they want, enter credit card details, wait for it to compute and connect.

Or find the url of your home Telco supplier's wifi site, load it and remember your username and password, and wait to connect. Or sally over to the coffee shop counter and buy a card and find something to scratch off the sticky black coating and type in the great long code hidden underneath, and wait to connect.

By which time your coffee's cold and the small window you had between meeting one and meeting two has closed so your emails and research and blog post have to wait until tonight.

You can check for a signal on your pda and fire off a typo-strewn missive tapped out on a tiny keyboard, but not without handing over your life savings to Vodafone for the privilege.

So you go to the hotel at the end of the day and plug in the ethernet cable, if you can find it, swear as you watch every single tab in your browser switch to the ethernet login page (surely one tab would do?), read the outrageous charges ($33 a night or $10 for two hours), weep, get over it, type in accept, wait, and then reload all your browser tabs.

By which time you're so knackered after the long day of meetings, lugging computer kit around and repeated logging ins and outs that you dispatch urgent emails quickly and try not to feel guilty about the rest as you power off and collapse into your overpriced bed. It's a wonder they don't charge extra for that and make you assemble it.

I don't mind paying a bit for wifi but for goodness sake build it into the cost structure and make it as easy as turning on a tap.