One thing that people who don’t live in Britain find hard to understand is how we can have such varied weather – to the point where it is a favorite topic of conversation – and yet find it difficult to cope with Sun / Wind / Rain / Snow. I live in a village within 5 minutes of a major town, but all it takes is a thunder storm and the power goes out. Interestingly although we can select the company which “supplies” our electricity, this relationship is just which company acts as a broker between us and the generator – the power lines remain the same.
My friends in Microsoft Consulting Services like to talk about high availability as “3 nines” or “4 nines” or “5 nines”, meaning 99.9%, or 99.99% or 99.999% uptime. Since there are 8760 hours in a year, 99% uptime means you’re off line for 87.6 hours, 99.9% is 8 hours 45 minutes, 99.99% is 53 minutes of downtime, and the magic 5 nines is a little over 5 minutes downtime per year. My power goes off at least 10 times each year (in the winter it seems to happen at least weekly) – it’s usually back on within a couple of hours, but the power reliability is significantly less than 3 nines.
A thunderstorm on Wednesday took out the power to the village, and I came home to find that my cable modem service had not come back up properly. This morning it still hadn’t come on line, so I called the infamous “customer service” department of the cable company. The first thing that happens is they ask you to key in your phone number. Why can’t their system read caller line ID (from a phone on their network) ? Having gone through that they tell callers to redial a national rate number if they have a broadband problem – why can’t they just get me to push a button and connect me. The broadband problem line was closed: why didn’t they put the hours on the first message ? I called back to get another announcement of the numbers to call if this wasn’t a broadband issue, once that had finished, other announcement tells me they’re very busy and to call back later if I didn’t want a long wait (again why couldn’t that come first !) .
What amazed me was how much I depend on my broadband connection, not just for work but for entertainment in the evening. With a poor evening’s viewing on telly the first half dozen things I thought of all needed an Internet connection; which is just a bit worrying…