February 25, 2002

Once again, there is a huge gap between updates but once again it’s due to a set of peculiarly Sri Lankan (well maybe not just Sri Lankan but decidedly un-US <g>) circumstances :-) I guess again, I had better lay some background for those who are not familiar with Sri Lanka … The telecommunication sector in Sri Lanka is pretty bad – a few years ago (before I left the country actually …) the only people who could provide a person with a telephone line was the Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT). Since they were a monopoly, they basically made their own rules and there were instances where people had to wait years (I kid you not …) to get a phone line. Then, about five or six years ago, private telecommunication companies arrived on the scene. They used (I believe …) a variation on cellular technology to give people landlines (a Sri Lankan term, I believe, meaning a fixed line, not a cellular phone …) They were still kinda under the SLT monopoly because they had to depend on the SLT to connect them to the existing SLT userbase but you could at least get a phone in about a week or less instead of waiting for years.

My parents got a phone from one of these private companies when they built the house where I currently live. Things had been working fine till I got here last time on vacation <vbg> I discovered that the connection speed was pretty slow when I used the Net and was told that I could get a free line upgrade which would allow me to connect at 28.8 kbps or higher by simply calling the phone company and I proceeded to do so. Everything worked fine and I went back to the US and came back again. We recently started having problems with our phone and they came and replaced the antenna which connects us to their base station (since I believe this is some kind of fixed cellular technology …) but since then I could connect to the Net only at an abysmal 16.8 kbps! This happened sometime last week and since it took me about twenty minutes just to get my e-mail, I decided not to try and update my site for the time being. I’ve been calling the phone company’s customer support and trying to get the problem resolved for about a week now but since I’m not at home during the day (and my parents aren’t here either), it’s been virtually impossible to get anything done.

Add to that the fact that once I do get through to them, they give me some sort of a “it’s your fault” line and you can see how frustrated I must be getting. They’d promised to redo the line upgrade last Friday and I had to go to Kurunegala (where my parents were …) this weekend and so I didn’t get to check if the line upgrade had been carried out over the weekend. I came back yesterday and discovered that I still was connecting at 16.8 kbps and so called customer support again and was told that 14.4 kbps is the highest speed that I could connect at and that if I was connecting at 28.8, then I was actually depriving somebody else of their bandwidth!! <vbg> I told them what a bunch of bull that was and was finally promised that they “would look into the upgrade process again …” I came back from work today and discovered that I could again connect at 33.6 kbps – yay!! So here is an update on all that’s been happening …

But this is by no means a full update since I don’t think anybody is interested in the day to day happenings at work, traveling problems, the heat, power cuts, managing a large team of people at work etc. I haven’t even mentioned coding basically because I haven’t had much time to work on any of my apps except to respond to support questions – and even that is not done in my usual prompt manner because most days I don’t get back from work till late at night and just don’t feel like thinking about how to work with one of my apps :p I do need to get back to coding but the problem is turning out to be finding the time since I get home late during weekdays and then am not here on the weekends. Hopefully, things will stabilize soon and I’ll have the weekends free to get some coding done …

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Posted by Fahim at 7:50 pm   Comments (0)