Taking advantage of the slow lane

Life is fast: “oh, when will I have a free weekend?” Work is fast: “when will I ever get the time to sort out my inbox?” The internet is fast and getting faster and more available: janet, broadband, wifi, gprs. But it definitely pays to slow down every now and then…

Aboard the 06:25 train from Newcastle to Edinburgh today, I needed to double-check the arrangements for today’s workshop. (I know, I know … I should’ve had everything in place before actually getting on the train!) What were my options for connectivity? The most likely was to use my laptop to connect to GNER onboard wifi, a service that works well and one i’ve used a number of times, especially for longer journeys. But this seemed overkill for my task at hand – to connect to our online ticketing system (RT) to confirm a few details. My other option was to wait until after 8am to call Jamie who’s generally always the first to arrive at Netskills HQ in the morning. But that would mean: i) waiting, ii) having to sneak out of the quiet carriage to make a phone call, and iii) disturbing Jamie’s early morning peace and quiet.

But, hold on, how about using my O2 Graphite Smartphone as a USB modem? I’ve spotted the adverts from Three for USB plug-and-go ‘broadband’ modems. Surely they’re just a data-enabled sim card inside a plastic box? I’ve had a go in the shop and heard good reports from Matt Jukes (HEFCE/JISC) about the Vodafone version when we were off on a tangent after (during?!) a recent meeting. But I shouldn’t need another box; my smartphone has a ‘mobile link’ option. (Now, at this point I ought to ‘fess up; left to my own devices (sic.) I would’ve probably overlooked this and eventually been sucked in by the adverts – but that’s why we work in teams, right? Thanks Carl!)

I’ve been carrying around the manual and required CDs for a couple of days and, coffee in hand, decided to have a go whilst on the early train to Edinburgh. Twenty minutes later, using a combination of the instructions in the manual plus a how-to blog posting i’d previously downloaded, I was connected! Pretty chuffed with myself, time to test out the connection and fire up IE7…

First thoughts:

“Hmmmm, this is slow…”

“Aghhhh – too many tabs! I don’t need to load anything to start with.”

“Why am I using IE?!”

“Ahhh Firefox, that’s better…”

“Time to turn off images – sorted!”

After confirming I had the right details for today’s workshop, I sat back and tested out a number of pages. The performance was good, slow, but not too slow. In fact, just slow enough to force me to make an active decision about the URL I wanted to navigate to next. Now that’s a lesson the learn and remember, whatever the speed!