Last Friday, I was trying to send an email back to the office, but what seemed to be a flaky WiFi hot spot meant that although I could apparently connect, I couldn't actualy send it.
The odd thing was, I was on a boat, in the middle of the Irish Sea. There was a WiFi network, which I could connect to, which is great. But then you get a splash screen (once – which I couldn't get to come up again) before you can actually connect to the internet.
Thing is, the wifi network is then connected to the internet through space - a satellite connection of some sort which I won't even pretend to understand. As far as I'm concerned, this goes beyond the kind of 'magic' that makes almost all of the video in the world stream in high quality to a little thing in my hand that is smaller than a C90 tape and into the kind of 'magic' that I can only take on faith that its actually how it works (as opposed to what, I'm not sure. Perhaps the ferry drags a very long ethernet cable behind it as it travels across the sea.)
But I have more faith that the satellite connection is working properly than I have that the wifi network and its silly splash screen is going to work properly in letting me actually connect to the local network.
I think the reason I think that way is that if someone is going to go to the effort of setting up an internet connection that goes through space and then claim that it works, then I tend to believe them. But if someone says that they have a simple screen to pop up and tell you where your internet connection is coming from, that you just have to click "OK" to some small print agreement before you can connect, then I tend to assume that it won't work with something other than a Windows XP PC running an old version of Internet Explorer.
When it does work on a Mac, or an iPhone, or anything that seems to be newer than the interior design of wherever I happen to be at the time, I'm pleasantly surprised. But when I'm 50 miles away from land and I'm told that there is an internet, that is provided wirelessly, for free, and from space, then its not much more than meeting my expectations.
It seems like my expectations might be a little backwards.