As I’ve written elsewhere, we’ve been on holidays, riding the train up to Cairns and driving back south through the edge of the western emptiness. During that trip we of course faced the great question of the twenty first century - how to get internet access.
Some of the places we stayed at provided complimentary internet, some did not, and some were simply out of range where there’s no coverage.
We couldn’t do a lot about a lack of coverge, but to combat the problem of small motels and rental cabins without the internet, we took our own, in the form of a little D-link 3G router I bought off of ebay for $18, an unlocked Huawei USB modem and one of these cheap data sim packages.
In the small towns of the bush it worked reasonably well allowing us to surf the web from an android tablet, check our email, and use internet banking and newspaper apps. In bigger, coastal places, such as Port Douglas, which was swamped with tourists, it didn’t do so well, probably because the 3G network was overloaded, meaning we suffered from dropped connections and timeouts.
Where we had good connection we even managed to have two tablets running at once - which was pretty neat.
It was fortunate though we’d taken tablets with us at the last moment, I’d originally planned to simply take the Chromebook and rely on phones for the rest.
Previously at home I’d successfully used applications on Roll.app over a 3G link from my chromebook so I reckoned we’d get good enough performance.
In practice I didn’t. The Chromebook was tempremental - I’m guessing just too much back and fro to big G and time outs. Where we had a fast connection it was usable, where we didn’t it wasn’t, even though our tablets were. We’d have probably done better with the Windows netbook I took to Sri Lanka last year, and using postbox for email despite my various whinges about the netbook’s overall performance.
Spending blocks of time - four or five days off the net at a time also just revealed how dependent we’d become on the net for news and weather information - in the old days we’d have taken an AM/FM radio with us and listened religiously to the news and weather forecast on Radio National - well we still have the radio we used to take with us, but didn’t think to take it.
We also became extremely adept at spotting where there was working internet in a restuarant or a stop on the highway - where the internet worked people, starved of electronic interaction, sat and looked at their phones or tablets - where it didn’t they talked to each other, and there were payphones and people using them …
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