November 23rd, 2004 Comments Off on Addiction

You are reading your favorite comic strip when the Internet connection at work goes down. The forty-five tabs you have open in your browser become instantaneously useless. News arrives from support: the link to the broadband provider is down, and won’t come back anytime soon. You are now sure that this is a conspiracy to curb the sacred procrastination that is the right of every programmer. Time passes.

A few minutes later you need to understand an obscure parameter in a system function you are using. You open another tab in the browser, without even thinking about it. All sites you try to connect to are suddenly giving you “connection refused” messages. You thoroughly check the connection parameters in the browser before remembering that the unthinkable happened. You despair of life. You can’t even remember that the tool you are using has a help system as comprehensive as the one you are trying to access on the site of the tool’s maker. More time passes.

Without access to e-mail, newsgroups, forums, and blogs, you are starting to feel isolated from the world. In the office, silent until them — the only noise that of the air conditioning and the occasional ping of an e-mail hitting an inbox — voices begin to sound, a rare cacophony. Time is still passing.

After a couple hours, your hands start to shake — a sure sign of abstinence syndrome. You decide it’s time to go home before things get worse. At home, you at least have your old dial-up connection. You close the open programs, and prepare to shut the computer down.

Suddenly, a lonely instant messenger windows pops up on the screen. The connection is back. Relieved sighs sound around you. The following silence is complete and almost instantaneous. Ecstasy — and network saturation too.

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