Sunday, 9 January 2011

Month without Internet

I had a wonderful month-long holiday in the Philippines. In the province (as they call the countryside in Pinoy lingo) home, I did not have any fixed line phone service, hence no wired (ADSL or cable) internet access. So I purchased wireless broadband USB dongles from both Smart and Globe (both made by Huawei). They claim to be 3G broadband. But there were no 3G coverage from Smart at where I lived; and there was 3G signal from Globe – sometimes 3G, sometimes HSPDA and sometimes just GPRS. Even with 3G coverage, the data speeds were pathetic – the overall speed was worse than dial up modems in the old days – definitely narrowband (speeds ranging from 0 to about 40kbps most of the time).

So instead of feeling frustrated with Philippines telcos (as I usually do), I decided to stay away from the internet altogether. Without internet and piano, I found that I had so much time and got to do what I had always wanted to do so badly for so long. I managed to read a Cisco CCNA book and practiced the labs using Cisco Packet Tracer and GNS3.

More rewardingly, I managed to start doing water colour paintings. I had always wanted to learn and practise water color for many years – I bought several books, some cheap brushes, colors and a pallet over the years. But I never had a chance to start painting until then. Once I started, I did not want to stop. I was painting at home, on tour, on other islands. I ended up with over a dozen nature and still life paintings. It was the first time that I used the proper gear – water color papers, brushes (they are absolute bargains from National Book Store in Tacloban – the same brushes would cost 10 times more in Sydney). Now that I am back in Sydney, I will keep painting and keep the online time to a minimum.