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When Free is Too Expensive

Kevin Ryan

I get internet access for free through the university where I work. It has become too expensive in both time and security. The provider that spreads access to many universities services mine through a 128Kbps connection. That was fine when I was one of six users at the university. Then they opened it to students. I saw access speeds drop precipitously, taking me back to the days of 300 baud modems (and pictures are worth millions of words when downloading).

Our provider has kept service running about 360 days a year. The problem occurred last week when it suddenly went down, cut off from outside Japan for four days without notice. There was some information I simply had to have. I was surprised at how quickly I had become dependant on the Internet. As the days stretched on without a connection, I became frantic.

You might say that trading stocks shouldn't be done through a work account. But the way the Internet is set up, having more than one address is most often redundant and usually inconvenient, unless you like to compartmentalize your life. Flat-rate payment seems to encourage the one-account access too.

On the fourth day, I pulled out Ken Cotton's handout from Global Online, filled it out in five minutes and faxed it in. GOL's President (and past TPC President) Roger Boisvert presented at the March TPC meeting. Ken gets a commission from new TPC members that sign up through him. About four hours later I received new account inforation from GOL by fax.

It took me ten minutes to get the information I had been needing for four days. What's more, the speed was blinding compared to my university connection. There is access to far more newsgroups through GOL. I can actually download files without taking forever (and paying NTT for local phone calls, which in the end would cost more than the GOL account).

Having two accounts now, I needed to reconfigure Netscape for multiple access. Their help files showed how to do it. You have to make two User profiles and set up two configuration files with Regedit (be careful here, these files affect how Windows work on a very basic level). Just click on the configuration file that you need, log on and start Netscape. Go through the same process if you want to log on to your second account.

Global Online has my hearty recommendation as the best internet provider in Japan. The speed surpasses my parents' access through a provider in rural Colorado. I am amazed at the price. It is becoming the de facto provider for most teachers I work with in JALT, a teachers' organization. This has made my life a lot easier and certainly more secure. By the way, I sold my stock before the 140-point drop in the Dow.

I got on. What about the TPC?

Roger's presentation shows a warming of relationships after a very badly handled decision to continue with a TPC BBS two years ago. I believe we made the right decision at the time, but we unnecessarily alienated Roger and a couple of other providers in the process. I was President at the time, and would like to belatedly apologize to these providers for the decision-making process. The final meeting was done correctly, but we dallied far too long up to that point.

I'd like to take this opportunity to encourage the new Executives of the TPC to consider consolidating members with one provider. I think the best we can do is offer support to TPC members in exchange for a discount at a certain provider. Then perhaps set up four or five newsgroups dealing with issues relevant to Tokyo PC users and use them for communication in parallel to our current BBS system.

© Algorithmica Japonica Copyright Notice: Copyright of material rests with the individual author. Articles may be reprinted by other user groups if the author and original publication are credited. Any other reproduction or use of material herein is prohibited without prior written permission from TPC. The mention of names of products without indication of Trademark or Registered Trademark status in no way implies that these products are not so protected by law.

Algorithmica Japonica

May, 1997

The Newsletter of the Tokyo PC Users Group

Submissions : Editor

Tokyo PC Users Group, Post Office Box 103, Shibuya-Ku, Tokyo 150-8691, JAPAN