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Archive for February, 2021

10+ Years in the Same Company, Focusing on Free Software

Roy Schestowitz

DECADES ago somebody told me that changing employers very often is a sign of weakness. Several times later I’d hear the same thing, which follows common sense. Loyalty to an employer or devotion to some particular path shows both a careful choice (of employer) and persistence rather than adventurism. The same goes for housing or residency. Some people move from place to place very often, having to relearn locations of things, spending a lot of time on paperwork, having to meet new people (and losing touch with old friends and colleagues).

When it comes to my current employer, this past week marked 10 years of me working there. There were better times and worse time, both for myself and for the employer.

For the first time in my life I can say that I’ve worked in the same company for over a decade. For just over a year (or about 2 years) I’ve been able to say that I’m the most “senior” (in terms of duration) regular employee there, sans the founder/CEO, who established the company way back in 1998. In a sense, this also means that when I joined the company (with about 20 people in it back then) I was the “latest recruit” and all those people whom I joined are now gone, except the CEO. It’s an interesting situation to be in.

Will I work another 10 years in the same company? It’s hard to tell. The thing I do like about it is that it respects my freedom of expression (it tells off Microsoft when they try to cause issues by phoning the CEO!) and software freedom in general. I realise that many people are forced to use Windows, at least sometimes, and not everyone is permitted to work from home all the time. I’ve worked from home for 14 years now.

BT UK: You Must Work From Home, But We Won’t Provide a Connection Suitable for Work

Biden the Pain Harold: They say I must work from my desk in the kitchen, but it's not even a desk

Recently I said I would write about the latest formal letter from BT (got it hours ago by post). It raises many questions about right to Internet access and forced home working. The correction in the letter, which I requested, is in page two. It made incorrect assertion about what I had said. So they have removed that bit and resent the (new) letter. I’d like to draw attention to a statement made in page 1. As many people worldwide are aware, Britain takes lock-downs very seriously. All the stores are shut (except for food and few other things) and people are forced to work from home. For those of us who work in “IT” (a bit of a buzzword) that means that there are technical demands, which cannot always be met/satisfied when connections are slowed down or crippled [1, 2, 3].

Here’s the latest letter:


Compare to the previous version of page 2 (I never said that my connection speed was zero, that’s just false):

BT correction

For the time being, seeing that I have IPFS issues further upstream in the network (that software does not scale too well and it is fast-growing, apparently), I am laying aside my grievances with BT. They’re refunded the costs wrongly incurred and may soon issue the compensation promised. I remain largely dissatisfied on many levels, but I’ve come to accept that once in a few years there will be a major ordeal if not catastrophe with the ISP. It’s inevitable. Nothing is perfect. I’d like to get back to writing about things, rather than this networking/Internet ‘activism’, which is somewhat outside my scope of expertise (I’ve worked on networking/routing/engineering before, but it’s not my strongest domain).

Making the Web (and the Internet) work better in a decentralised fashion is a big if not truly massive challenge, which goes beyond the limitations of ISPs. Unlike Bitcoin, it’s not an energy hog and probably not a traffic hog. In a sense, we try to make datacentres obsolete; that would be greatly beneficial to the environment.

BT’s Weak Attempt to Prevent Me Filing a Complaint Over Throttling

BT complaint

BT complaint

MY ordeal with BT is not over. I wrote about it thrice already [1, 2, 3], at least here. I wrote about it elsewhere as well.

At the moment there are several outstanding issues.

  1. They charged me for a hub I did not ask for and which I repeatedly told them there’s no point sending as it would certainly not solve anything. I was right. In fact, it took me 3 hours just to reconfigure everything after they had sent it. And then they charged me for it. Amazing!
  2. They did not issue the compensation they’ve mentioned in the letter above. Kind of odd to forget to deduct such a thing after over 5 hours over the telephone.
  3. I now know for a fact, and can demonstrate with detailed evidence, that BT engages in retaliatory throttling and collective punishment for the use of IPFS, which is perfectly lawful and hardly consumes any bandwidth in relative terms.
  4. They mention in the letter (above) that they are willing to offer an upgrade to “business”, but there’s no reason to believe this will stop the throttling and it does nothing to undo almost a month’s suffering. Not to mention BT’s dishonest denials.
  5. It seems clear they try to just discourage a complaint being filed. In fact, the letter above took nearly a whole week to arrive. Why did they take so long to dispatch the letter? Did they hope that a week passing by would like like a “cool-off” period?

Our connection remains seriously degraded, so I shall phone and demand a resolution, not another phony round of fake ‘solutions’ that only add up to suffering and pointless chores (like setting up a newer hub when the actual problem is upstream, at BT’s own systems).

It seems most likely that at the end I shall carry on with the complaint.

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