Tags: eclipse

2

sparkline

60 seconds over Idaho

I lived in Germany for the latter half of the nineties. On August 11th, 1999, parts of Germany were in the path of a total eclipse of the sun. Freiburg—the town where I was living—wasn’t in the path, so Jessica and I travelled north with some friends to Karlsruhe.

The weather wasn’t great. There was quite a bit of cloud coverage, but at the moment of totality, the clouds had thinned out enough for us to experience the incredible sight of a black sun.

(The experience was only slightly marred by the nearby idiot who took a picture with the flash on right before totality. Had my eyesight not adjusted in time, he would still be carrying that camera around with him in an anatomically uncomfortable place.)

Eighteen years and eleven days later, Jessica and I climbed up a hill to see our second total eclipse of the sun. The hill is in Sun Valley, Idaho.

Here comes the sun.

Travelling thousands of miles just to witness something that lasts for a minute might seem disproportionate, but if you’ve ever been in the path of totality, you’ll know what an awe-inspiring sight it is (if you’ve only seen a partial eclipse, trust me—there’s no comparison). There’s a primitive part of your brain screaming at you that something is horribly, horribly wrong with the world, while another part of your brain is simply stunned and amazed. Then there’s the logical part of your brain which is trying to grasp the incredible good fortune of this cosmic coincidence—that the sun is 400 times bigger than the moon and also happens to be 400 times the distance away.

This time viewing conditions were ideal. Not a cloud in the sky. It was beautiful. We even got a diamond ring.

I like to think I can be fairly articulate, but at the moment of totality all I could say was “Oh! Wow! Oh! Holy shit! Woah!”

Totality

Our two eclipses were separated by eighteen years, but they’re connected. The Saros 145 cycle has been repeating since 1639 and will continue until 3009, although the number of total eclipses only runs from 1927 to 2648.

Eighteen years and twelve days ago, we saw the eclipse in Germany. Yesterday we saw the eclipse in Idaho. In eighteen years and ten days time, we plan to be in Japan or China.

Shape shifting

I’ve been with the same ISP for years: Eclipse Internet. I never had any cause to complain until recently. I’ve been finding that certain types of requests simply weren’t completing; file uploads, some forms, Ajax requests…

I started googling for any similar reports. I found quite a few forum posts, all of them expressing the same sentiment; that Eclipse used to be good but that since getting bought out by Kingston, service had really gone downhill. Most alarmingly of all, I read reports of .

I called up technical support. They didn’t deny it. Instead, they tried to upsell me on a package that would give me an admin panel to allow more control over exactly how my packets were throttled.

Screw. That.

I started shopping around for a new ISP. When I twittered what I was doing, I received some good recommendations. Eventually, I was able to narrow my search down to two providers who both sounded good: Zen and IDNet. With little else to distinguish between the two companies, their respective websites became the deciding factor. That settled it. IDNet was the clear winner. Not only is their site prettier, it also validates and even uses hCard.

To cancel my Eclipese account, I needed to call them to request a . Of course the reason why they make you call is so that they can try to persuade not to leave. Sure enough, the guy who took my call asked And can you tell me why you’re moving away from Eclipse?

Traffic shaping, I responded.

Ah right, he said. Technical reasons.

I corrected him. Moral reasons, actually.

I got the info I needed. I ordered my new broadband service. Today I switched over.

If you want to find out if your broadband provider is a filthy traffic-shaper, check to see if it’s listed on .

If you find yourself changing to a more ethical ISP, you too will probably be asked to explain why you’re jumping ship. Just tell them what you want:

Fat Pipe, Always On, Get Out of the Way.