Like most people who haven't lived in an "light"(<4.0 on the Richter Scale
) earthquake prone region, I would not have recognised one, if it bit me on the bum, On the 26 December however the earth moved for me ... or more precisely the 17 floor of the tower block in which I live, which "pulsed" in the absence of a heavy lorry or bus trundling past etc. My partner, as ever, noticed nothing.
The next day however we experienced withdrawal symptoms as we came to terms with limited or no internet access and excessive response times. This put a serious crimp in my blog update schedule as I struggled to get back on line. Allegedly local ISP's adopted simple disaster recovery strategies to optimally use the band width available to them. Essentially they
- gave priory access to available band width to paying business users by switching traffic at router level ie traffic from residential areas was routed to the "c" class road and left to find a yak to its destination
- changed time outs ie if target system didn't give a response you were thrown out before you even started
- changed time slices based on protocol ie smtp: (email) had higher priority than HTTP(s): which was in turn higher than streaming video etc. In practice this meant it was a waste of space going for multimedia since you never even got off the queue before you were timed out.
- may even have denied access to some "trivial" domains like gambling site, porn etc - a variation on the Chinese wall ploy
It demonstrated the value of good old fashioned page design (who these days can code a tight games program for an 8 bit processor ?) and specifically exposed issues with liberal use of images particular banner ads containing flash presentations etc and mashups in general. The more complex the page with lots of components from lots of different servers the more likely it was to crap out. Turning off image download at browser level and going for simple text only/print pages DID make a difference and for a while forcing the browser to go through a proxy server in Australia did let me get at hard to access sites although as ISP's got smarter with bandwith management this advantage diminished. (although I had to use it to get to Blogger.com to make this post)
To cap it all on New Years day, we also lost our cable TV. The up side is we watched videos (The Exciled), went to the cinema (Caino Royale) and I started reading books again(Digital Fortress). Still didn't have time to visit Ocean Park or the Cattle Depot so its almost a pity that normal service is now (more or less) resumed
One consequence is that I am not going to wax lyrical about what I did over the holidays other than to mention that I had an exceptionally good Christmass lunch at the Novotel in Wanchai . It was totally unexpected - and the best Christmas meal I have had in last 7 years to the extent that they are now down for a replay next year.