Ruth's Diary


Don't worry, I'm not going to talk about yet another video game. I won't be able to for a while anyway. Well I suppose I could talk about them but I'm unable to play them since I'm stuck 11 hours ahead of home in Australia.

If there's one thing that's stunned me about this country/continent it's how backward they are, technologically and culturally. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, I mean unlike back in Europe the mainstream dance scene isn't dead around here, so I hear some pretty cool songs on the radio. On the flipside it was only by visiting the Australian National Film and Sound Archive and by talking to the friendly locals there that I learned such cultural tendencies to lag behind the rest of the Western World (since, you know, we're in the East) meant that our Aussie cousins had to put up with their own variety of grunge for another 4 years after its official death. God have mercy on them all.

I suppose I should explain what I was expecting. Certain Australian-produced TV shows (chiefly Cybergirl-it wasn't that good mind you) gave me the impression that Australia was so electronically advanced that computers adorned every desk in almost every classroom. The fact that my visa for this place was electronically tagged to my passport instead of printed further intensified my overimaginative impression of Australia. So behold my first shock: my hostel didn't provide free wi-fi. Up to this point, every hostel I'd ever been in provided free wireless, although usually restricted to the ground floor and sometimes I had to ask for the password. Actually, the exception would be that one hostel I was in in London, but considering they provided free breakfast, I've decided that's the trade-off.

So yes, in order to get internet I had to go out and about instead of browsing the internet from the comfort and safety of my room. Or if I did do that, I paid $1 per 15 minutes or $4 an hour. That's just bloody ridiculous. (Bear in mind those are the prices in Sydney, I'm now in Canberra where my hostel's within walking distance to the library, the prices in the hostel are a fifth more expensive.) Out of frustration at the lack of free wireless, or free wireless being tragically slow, I researched the development of Australia's broadband system. The broadband system isn't completely national and it relies on the network of copper telephone wires. How archaic! Also, internet charges have gone up instead of down like in the rest of civilised society, partly because most of it is monopolised by Telstra. Seriously, if the Australian government wanted to sell off the management and maintenance of the country's internet connections why didn't they divide the ownership between 2 companies instead of 1?

Well enough about crappy internet facilities. Other things that left me baffled is the discovery that a lot of places continue to use the signature system when a customer uses a card instead of the more usual chip and pin. 

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