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December 09, 2003"Aaaaaarrrrrgggghhhh....." We interrupt this post to bring you the sad news that David Steven, hyperactive blogger and aged resident of this site, has been incarcerated in a Swiss asylum, following a serious - and we fear irreversible - breakdown.
Steven was dragged away by a UN-seconded Swiss soldier, frothing at the mouth and clutching his beloved laptop to his chest. "All I want is an internet connection," he was heard to scream. "We're supposed to be at the heart of the internet revolution but everything's [bleeped] and no one has a [bleeping] idea what's going on."
Steven arrived in Switzerland lunchtime today after a short flight from Southampton in the UK. Witnesses said he appeared "jaunty" as he walked from the airport to Palexpo, the rather ugly conference centre where the summit is being held.
However, this veteran of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, who had survived Joburg's basic (but serviceable) dial-up connections, soon found the following:
Problem#1 - The security cordon is incapable of coping even with the few delegates who have already arrived. There are many many men with guns, but very few x-ray machines. Nor are there even trays in which to place coats/phones/cameras etc. - small cardboard box lids are used instead. Expect to wait 30 minutes or so today (and presumably many hours tomorrow).
Problem#2 - Switzerland's electric sockets are not compatible with the rest of Europe's - the UK's are different again. Adaptors are on sale - outside the security cordon. So there's a queue to buy the adaptor and another to get back into the summit.
Problem#3 - The wi-fi network is free, according to the media centre's information desk - but it isn't working. Try the wired LAN. Which isn't working either. "We don't know anything about computers here," says a lady, politely. "Why don't you phone technical support?"
Problem#4 - Technical support is dealing with overload by picking up the phone and slamming it straight back down. Persistence pays and only 4 (international) calls later, a man answers. "There's only two of us and we have to set up computers for the whole summit. The LAN may not be working, but I don't have time to help you. Why not call back tomorrow?"
Problem#5 - A breakthrough! Wi-fi isn't working, because wi-fi isn't free! It's only 200 swiss francs (170 US dollars or so)! And the cards are sold... outside the summit perimeter. So... there's a queue to buy the card... and another to get back into the summit.
Apparently, the final straw for the poor fellow was when he overheard the woman selling the cards telling the man in front of him that the wireless network wasn't working very well. "But it's not our problem. If you're unhappy, call Swisscom."
Steven is not expected to make a recovery. Please feel free to add any messages of sympathy for him - or his 9 now-destitute children - in the comments below...