Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Technology for Rural America

WARNING: TWBAR (this will be a rant)
I have a very up-to-date computer.  You can see it's a flat screen.  A Dell Vostro 220 purchased August 2009.  Carefully selected by my computer guru.  This wonderful guru assembled and installed everything he knew I would need and want for techno-whiz work/play in the arena of photography, writing, and blogging.  Everything, that is, except what he could NOT install:  normal people's broadband or high speed Internet--whatever it's called.  That's because it's not available out here just off the one-lane road. 

Yep.  Still on dial-up.  The audio comes in blurts, burps and spurts.  It sounds like someone is choking and in desperate need of the Heimlich Maneuver.  Alternately, videos are SUPER slow-moving, disconnected forward thrusts that fizzle mid-motion.

You want to know the funniest part?  The life-saving instructions for the Heimlich Maneuver on the computer are--guess what?  A video!  On dial-up, we're dead!

Why is this?  How is it that our so-called government can wage wars that we don't want, against our wishes, but they can't afford to make sure every citizen has affordable healthcare and the "opportunity" to come into the 21st century?  Something is truly rotten here.

You know, Third World countries (translated: undeveloped) even have broadband!  On that basis alone, Southeastern West Virginia should qualify.

Have you ever heard of the Rural Electrification program that was instituted during the New Deal? 

Here's from Wikipedia

"Rural electrification is the process of bringing electrical power to rural and remote areas.  Electricity is used not only for lighting and household purposes, but it also allows for mechanization of many farming operations, such as threshing, milking, and hoisting grain for storage; in areas facing labor shortages this allowed for greater productivity at reduced cost.  One famous program was the New Deal's Rural Electrification Administration in the United States, which pioneered many of the themes still practiced in other countries.  Worldwide more than 3.6 billion people do not have access to electricity, of which 83% live in rural areas."

Today, we are still reaping the benefits of this far-reaching and fair program that brought people in America who lived in rural areas, into the 20th century.

We should be doing the same thing, today, only in terms of technology.  Think how this would change the rural "landscape" in terms of working remote.  Long commutes might just become a thing of the past.  There's absolutely no reason whatsoever that the Verizons of this world should not be brought to heel in this respect.  It should not be a "for-profit" game; instead, corporations should be forced to cough up these kinds of needed services, free to the hinterlands that don't fit their "business model" of profitability.  It should be part and parcel of their being ABLE to do business here.  Out here, just off the one-lane road, we have always paid the highest telephone rates in the country. 

Am I angry?  You betcha!  Verizon hornswaggled me for three years, telling me that broadband was "just around the corner," or "on the way" but that they just needed a little more data, perhaps a better idea of just WHO in our area "wanted" broadband.  So, would I please take a little survey in my neck of the woods as to who "wanted" broadband.  Duh! Gullible me.  I fell for their dodgy ruse.  I did three separate surveys and each time came up with at least 75 families who "wanted" broadband.  Each time, I called to check on the results,and Verizon claimed never to have received these surveys.  But broadband was still on the horizon...somewhere.....if you could squint hard enough to see it...

This morning I received what I know to be a wonderful audio file from one of my favorite bloggers, Fred First of Fragments From Floyd. Check it out!  It's a fabulous blog.  I put my oar in on his comments, today, to tell him I was happy for him as he turns the corner onto more sophisticated elements of blogging. Fred is a great artist, wordsmith and human being.  He's going techno, upgrading his blog to be able to offer classy audio, video (I think) on his WordPress-based website.  It's what he SHOULD do!  But I am sad because I know as he gets comfortable with it, more and more of his offerings will fall into that genre, and I will be the poorer as I am less and less able to access them.

For starters, it took a half hour for me to "receive" his email with attachments.  I haven't even gone any further with it.  During the receiving period, I could work on writing my blog for this morning on Word; I could ssssssllllllloooowwwwwllllllyyyyy access iGoogle; but other than that, everything computer came to a standstill until that email had cleared.

It wasn't Fred's fault!  It was only a test.  If this had been an would have been directed to view the video of the Heimlich Maneuver...and you know where that got us.

Finally....this doesn't address the waiting....and waiting.....and waiting.  It's challenging being a blogger on dial-up!  And when it's a snow day, like today, there are more people than ever online and it's even slower.....So, I am knitting.  Seriously.  I decided to do a little multi-tasking here and see if I couldn't spend the waiting, and waiting and...doing something constructive instead of gnashing my teeth and using less than ladylike language(remember I am 65 years of age and Mother taught me those silly principles of "being ladylike.)  I am halfway through a knitted wool glove I started less than a week ago.  It's right here beside my computer.

Whatever happened to a government that cares about its people?  Did we ever have it?  Or am I remembering a fairy tale that never existed except in my mind?  Please, gentle readers, tell me your thoughts. Where did America go?


  1. I sympathise with your broadband difficulties. We are on the very limits of distance from the exchange and it did take a while to get even our limited broadband. Our provider, BT, advertises speeds of 20 Mb but we actually get 1/4 Mb. In a house with networked computers and youngsters who seem to be constantly down loading we have had to insist on co-operation especially if Pete is doing on his OU work, vital if it is an on-line assessment or tutorial. I only watch youtube when no one else is on the system and it is almost impossible to watch tv programs on iplayers. My new camera takes longer to upload pictures onto my blog and I usually get them going while I am doing something else in the house or else I go and play on the piano inbetween pictures. Our govt has pledged to get every household onto fast broadband but if you were to believe everything that politcians say you would spend your life being constantly disapointed.

  2. I discovered your blog after you commented on Fragments From Floyd. I live in northcentral Pennsylvania and we struggled with dialup for years, promises from the cable company in the nearest town (6 miles away), and promises from Verizon (who can't even maintain a dial tone here lately!). We went with HughesNet and now have a satellite dish pointing south in our backyard and a whopping new monthly bill to pay each month. HughesNet charges based on how much bandwidth you need (or want) and when you've exceeded your quota, they slow you down. But overall the satellite internet is a big improvement over the other options.

  3. I've done exactly the same rant to friends and co-workers. I'm in the same boat. New computers don't even have a dial-up sized jack/port and that's all I can get here. I did try mobile broadband but it was slower than my old dial-up. I took it back. now, the only way I can connect is to take the new computer to a WiFi spot. I have seen a USB to dial-up modem--Amazon has one. I'm ordering it next payday.

    I only live 14 miles from the state's capital, but 3G and WiFi and mobile broadband coverage stops 2 miles up the road. Apparently two normal-sized farm fields with no houses along them are all it takes before high speed anything halts and puts me in an area that's "unserviceable."

    Don't get me started on this. I can go on for hours. It's a sin as far as I'm concerned. No politician is even talking about rural electrification for high speed internet. What should we call it, do you think? Rural internetification?

    Carolyn H.