Thunderbolts and thievery

Dear Internet,

Don’t take this the wrong way, but lately it seems that you think all I do is travel the world and party (as-a-verb) with friends. This is not altogether true. You see, this blog is really a carefully pruned excerpt of a mostly mundane and often exasperating life (in-progress). People sometimes read this blog and say “I want your life.” Well, Internet, I’m here to tell you that all is not rosy at 1¢ Stage.

Recently we’ve had some intense summer storms here in Chicago. We lost power during a lightning strike. This was initially charming in the way that the buzz from one beer is fun where the stupor from eight really is not. Several hours later, well into our gridless stupor, the lights came back on and I realized that my two networked media drives were no longer accessible.

Connection Failed

This is, perhaps, the worst technological calamity which could befall my home. For this is what happens when you have digitized all your CDs and DVDs and wired up the whole place to access it from the network. And this is what happens when you were midway through a really well-intentioned, disciplined backup strategy but couldn’t afford that second terabyte of space.

So now we are a home of disconnected media islands. The kids’ Apple TV only has on it what was synched there before the electrical storm. The only music in the house is what I had on my iPod at the time. My hope is that only the controllers are fried and that I can get the media off the drives. Damn you, Zeus. We hurl our fists at you from the Archipelago of Re-Runs and Tiresome Playlists.

Oh, but it gets better. You may have read about how wonderful the iPhone was overseas as a conversation-starter. Well, here’s a conversation for you. I had assumed that international data roaming rates were only going to be as bad as the highway robbery of international voice roaming. In fact, it is grand larceny. While AT&T offers an international unlimited data package for the Blackberry, the iPhone gets a lovely two-cents-per-kilobyte surcharge. That may not seem like much, but the iPhone was made to view the regular web, and regular maps, and suck down regular bytes — not watered-down WAP-py data. 2.7MB, for instance, comes out to $54. That’s a hefty 10 minutes of web browsing. So what did the entire week of intermittent data access run me? Over $800.


Each tiny hit is itemized. I’m sorry, but the server log-as-customer bill is asinine.

When I called to complain I had to slog through the Three Stages of Customer Service: Encounter with the Script-Reader, Argument with the Pablum-Spewer, and Anger Management Therapy with The Middle Manager. Well. They certainly weren’t going to waive the fee. Heavens no. Just because I didn’t know it was two cents per KB didn’t mean I could get out of paying for such lunacy. If only I had drilled several dozen pages into the byzantine innards of the miscegenation that is the merged Cingular-AT&T website to learn that international data roaming is their dirty little secret. Seriously, it took two separate agents over 15 minutes to figure out what the rate was. And they work there.

Turns out there is a plan for international data. $25 gets you 20MB. Then it is a half-cent per KB after that. That will still bankrupt you if you are trying to do much more than, say, nothing — just more slowly. I switched to this plan and they “re-rated” my past charges to it. Ultimately I “saved” over $700. Oh, and I am now paying $25 more per month.

I swear, the irony of a user-focused company like Apple working so closely with a it-ain’t-my-problem company like AT&T gets more and more bitter every time I pause to think about it.

So, Internet, that’s what’s been going on. My life isn’t all warm, mixed nuts on trans-Atlantic airliners, you see.

Yours Sincerely,

PS – I also have a toothache at the moment.
PPS – Are you really just a series of tubes?

One response to “Thunderbolts and thievery”

  1. Darren says :

    My mum would approve of this post. She regularly refers to the act of sending email as “writing to the internet”. The more tech savvy members of the family therefore often start their emails with “Dear Internet”. Still, she did also try to explain to my dad that the Internet would be closed on public holidays so he wouldn’t be able to do his online banking.
    Sorry to hear about the bill.