The pleasure and (minor) pain of Telstra Next G

Photograph of Telstra Next G cardbus modem in my MacBook Pro, with a pint of Kilkenny nearby

Over the last few months, I’ve been trialling Telstra’s Next G mobile broadband as part of an experimental “technology seeding program”. Despite my initial doubts, I’ve been impressed.

Previously I’d been using Vodafone 3G, tethering my MacBook Pro via Bluetooth to a Nokia N80. It worked just fine. I subsequently moved to a Nokia N96 and Virgin Mobile, which uses the Optus network under the hood. It’s terrible. I made a big mistake.

But that’s a story for another time…

Sure, Next G is the most expensive mobile broadband out there. But it’s also the best. Clearly.

On our road trip, we could use Next G almost all the way from Cowra back through Bathurst to Sydney. Yes, the signal dropped out as we drove through hilly areas, as you’d expect. But the data link automatically reconnected once it found a new cell — with the same IP address!

Seriously. Here I was in a moving car, running a ping and watching YouTube videos. The link dropped out. It reconnected. And when it did, perhaps six minutes later when the terrain sorted itself out, the video started playing from where it left off. Pings resumed with the very next packet number in the sequence — albeit with ping times of over 370 thousand milliseconds.

In another test, the data link kept the same IP address while I caught a train from Newtown across Sydney Harbour to Pymble. In CityRail’s loop under the Sydney CBD, there was no signal in the tunnels, but the link came back up within seconds of arriving at a station.

Somebody did some great network engineering. They deserve a pat on the back.

But what else?

Continue reading “The pleasure and (minor) pain of Telstra Next G”

Safely home in Sydney

’Pong and I have returned home safely from Cowra, a 655km round trip, thanks to the wonders of Matthew Hall and the Success Whale. All hail the Success Whale! (Except Stephen Stockwell, unbeliever.)

The journey home was enlivened with an interesting experiment. Instead of me broadcasting Stilgherrian Live — bright TV lights in a moving car at night would be a plan full of FAIL — we created an inside-out radio station. Some of my followers on Twitter took up the offer to send us links to music — which we streamed live from YouTube. The audience chose the music and we listened to it.

This experiment in crowdsourcing a playlist was remarkably successful. I’ll publish the music later. But even more remarkable was the power of the hyperconnectivity. Even though we were driving through rural New South Wales, we were still in touch with our friends — wherever they were too — doing the usual things we do of an evening, like swap links and tell each other bad jokes.

I’ll have much more to say about this soon. But for now I must rest.

Success Whale protects us in Cowra

Success Whale with the towels at the Alabaster Motel, Cowra

We’re made is safely to Cowra, thanks to our driver Matthew Hall and our trusty new mascot, Success Whale — but I think I’m going colour-blind.

The photo above shows Success Whale sitting on the bed at the luxurious Alabaster Motel. As you may see, all three and a half stars of colour are certainly on display! The clash of styles almost makes me vomit — but at least that proves we’re arrived. Somewhere.

So many things happened along the way. We saw cows. And sheep. And crows. And currawongs. The Navman satellite navigation toy told us to “Go to nearest road”, despite being on a rather fine highway. We did the world’s slowest lap of Mount Panorama race track (thankfully I forgot to press “record”). And much more I’ll tell you soon, I promise.

Driver needed for OLPC Cowra road trip!

Photograph of OLPC XO computer

’Pong and I need a driver this Monday lunchtime 13 October through to the night of Tuesday 14 this Wednesday lunchtime 15 October through to the night of Thursday 16 for our “road trip” to Cowra to film a project related to One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) (pictured) which is happening nearby.

This is a paid gig, although you probably won’t make enough to retire just yet. You’ll need a driver’s license that’ll satisfy our hire car company, and we’ll cover all food and refreshments, plus overnight accommodation at the delightfully named and oh-so-luxurious Alabaster Motel.

Cowra location map

We’ll also have mobile broadband Internet access along the way, testing out our Telstra NextG card. I’ll also be taking advantage of that to produce a special edition of Stilgherrian Live. May the gods have mercy upon our souls. And yours.

The shooting schedule is pretty relaxed, so you’ll probably have time to explore the wonders of Cowra while we’re filming at the school. This gig might well suit a photographer. But I will admit that everything’s rather… um… flexible at the moment.

If you’re interested, please email or phone +61 407 623 600. If you get voicemail it just means I’m at the gym pub or the goddam battery has run out again.

[Update Sunday 12 October: The dates have just been changed. This is turning into a… fascinating project. I am not stressed at all, no Sir!]