I find it amazing sometimes how dependent we have become on the Internet. I have been involved with computers since around 1981, and with the Internet almost since its beginnings (no, I did not invent it, nor was I acquainted with Al Gore at the time!). I remember downloads taking about an hour for 800K, and that was considered rather fast for the time. Imagine if we had to wait that long today?!
I recently upgraded service to another company which gives me 50 Mbs, or about 6 megs/second download speeds where possible. That’s 360 megs per minute as compared to 800K per hour using a “fast” 1200 baud modem. We’ve got it made!! Well, that is, until one’s Internet service is down all afternoon/evening. Then those old speeds of 800K/hour sound pretty good!
Yesterday our Internet service went out for whatever reason, and of course I thought it might be something on my end at first. Some snooping around and a call to Tech support got me a recorded message stating service in my area was down. Good thing I wasn’t using an Internet phone! Much of what we do involves the Internet, including much of our “entertainment.” We were almost at a loss as to what to do last night when the service was still out because in this particular instance, both the TV service and the Internet were down (Fioptics), and so we were left with (gasp!) DVDs. (Of course OTA or Over-the-Air TV was an option as well — I keep an antenna plugged into the back of the TV just in case — but we find little on network TV we want to watch until at least prime time, and then the pickin’s are still rather slim!)
Now the real point here is not about watching DVDs–that is just what the wife wanted to do after she was ready to relax. As this is a blog about all things radio, you have probably guessed where I am going with this post. Guess what still worked just fine? R A D I O ! ! !
Yes, that’s right, my trusty old radio fired right up and could not have cared less about whether the Internet was up, down, or sideways. In fact all of my radios were ready at their post except my Internet Wi-Fi “radio.” And, as if this were not enough, my Free-to-Air satellite service was working just fine, thank you very much, and I spent a good part of the afternoon listening to (and sometimes watching) programming from around the world while I worked at my computer.
Although I did not have need to send out any E-mails during our Internet shortage, I knew I could do just that even when my Internet service was not working. “How?” you ask? Well I have several options. I can send an email through packet/APRS using my 2m/440 mobile. How cool is that?! I can also send email using digital modes to a Winlink or similar gateway which can reach the Internet when mine is down. I could send a fax if I wanted to, or I could relay a message to someone whose Internet was not down and have them send a message for me. Or I could use the time-tested and well-traveled traffic handling net which though slower, would get my message out when all else fails. All of this over the airwaves, free from interruptions (with the exception of those occasional pesky Geomagnetic storms!), and literally, wireless. And yes, I could do the same thing if my electricity were out as well — battery backups and generators are wonderful things!
Here we are in 2016 with all kinds of whiz-bang techie gadgets at our disposal, and yet it is the 1800s invention and the over a century old technology which still works as my fallback position in the 21st century. Is this a great hobby or what!! 73, Robert