by the stormy present
Fri Feb 1st, 2008 at 11:38:45 AM EST
The Internets have abandoned me.
This is going to be a nearly link-free diary because, well, it's hard enough for me to get online to post it, let alone surf around for links. I could be working on it for two days if I waited for that.
So anyway. Perhaps you read somewhere about the two undersea fiber-optic cables in the Mediterranean that were cut on Wednesday morning. (Or perhaps not; I'm not sure how much this has made news in other parts of the world. After all, it's just a bunch of brown people speaking funny languages who've been knocked offline....)
Anyway, it took out the Internet in all of Egypt (including mine, and I have three or four different ways to get online) for an entire day. At first, everyone assumed it was just a local problem -- the ADSL connection at my apartment is always sketchy. But then we started hearing from other people... it's down at the office too, and then at my friend's office across town, and then at another friend's home in a different area... and then I learned it was down in the Gulf, and then realized some other people in India and Pakistan were offline too... holy crap, this is big.
We were suddenly flung back to the Stone Age: communicating by fax and telephone (except the phone networks were having problems too) and gradually realizing that we might be doing this for a while. One friend said he actually had to send documents by telex. I didn't think anybody had telex anymore. Crikey.
Well, the Internet's back now, but it's creaking along at slower-than-dialup speeds, with frequent interruptions. It's maddening. I feel like I'm back in 1995, only all the sites are much higher-bandwidth than they were back then, with flashy graphics and bells and whistles. It's driving me insane.
One friend is actually using dialup instead of DSL because he swears it's faster and more reliable right now. I don't even have a freaking dialup modem for this computer to give it a try.
I can't do the simplest things. I try to send an e-mail, it gets hung up halfway through. Yesterday, I was trying to help out a friend who was trying to finish an important application before the deadline but couldn't download and print the .pdf application form in her usual Internet cafe because they were completely offline. From my office, it took -- no joke -- two hours to open the flippin' 500 MB document. The connection kept going down about halfway in, and then freezing everything up and we'd have to start over.
All of this is making me realize how completely and totally dependent I am on the Internets. I didn't even know how to contact any of the other frontpagers offline to tell them I couldn't get to the site! And I think folks in the telcoms industry around here are having a hard think about how vulnerable their infrastructure is.
Nobody knows what happened to those cables in the Mediterranean. Apparently they suspect a ship's dragging anchor cut them, but other people have talked about the weather. It's been raining like crazy here (also highly unusual) and even more up along the coast. At the very least, the weather is apparently interfering with efforts to get this shit fixed, since they (allegedly) couldn't get a repair ship to the site right away because of the weather.
This, I thought was strange. It's only 8 km off the coast of Alexandria. How hard could it be?
But wait... it seems that Telcom Egypt will be involved in the repairs somehow. My god, we're doomed.
Oh, and then there's this: Another cable was cut this morning between UAE and Oman. It's owned by the same company as one of the broken Mediterranean cables. It's part of a "self-healing loop" in the Gulf, so theoretically shouldn't affect traffic on the Arabian Peninsula that much, but still... I can hear the conspiracy theorists going nuts already.
Oh, this is going to be fun.