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Scary experience: Two days without Internet


This weekend I had a very scary experience. Early Saturday I flew to Düsseldorf to attend a reunion of old motorcycling friends I hadn’t seen in many years. This nostalgic event was taking place in a private brewery in the former coal-mining town of Castrop-Rauxel. A few hotel rooms were squeezed in above the malty vats, so I booked an overnight stay. But not before checking the website and noting that there was ample free wifi.

Not so, as it turned out. The wifi was disconnected, dead. I was given some cock and bull story about a previous guest having downloaded questionable material resulting in the proprietors suffering a 1,000 euro fine. Donner und blitzen, I thought, with little charity.

This unhelpful development cast a shadow over the weekend. I was forced to turn on the iPhone’s data roaming—a desperate measure if ever there were one—and take advantage of Vodafone’s £2-a-day package. This provides a modest 25Mb of data. It’s a good deal but it pays not to go over the limit or every additional megabyte costs £1.

Then came further disaster. I could get a very weak 3G signal only if I hung out of the window or walked 50 meters down the road. Most of the time alI I saw on the top bar was the little circle symbol which usually means “don’t even bother trying”. At least four times I had to make an excursion to the street corner so I could fill Instapaper with news and send a few emails. I think the Polizei call it lurking with intent. The iPad was similarly out of action and there was no chance of even a short MacFilos post.

Now back in wifi civilisation at the airport, I am a chastened person. I have glimpsed the past and I don’t like it. In the last few years I’ve never been without the Internet for a whole day and a night. It isn’t a pleasant experience, let me tell you. At least I had time to chat to the old biking gang and I was taken back to a time when mobile phones, 3G, wifi and the internet didn’t exist: a time when a Lucas magneto was the most sophisticated electronic device we had to contend with. We were happy because we didn’t know any better.


  1. You poor fellow you….. I have frequently found myself cut off from the internet, and actually rather enjoy it… No emails, no internet, no having to worry about posts for my blog… Simply forget all of that and read a paper book or talk to people… No bad thing really…


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