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MAYBE whiny Canadian folk troubadour Joni Mitchell had a point after all. She certainly didn't in the inelegant rhyme of putting all the trees in a "tree museum" and then charging people "a dollar and a half to see 'em".

But she scored a bullseye when her distinctive nasal soprano intoned: "You don't know what you've got till it's gone".

I don't think she had in mind my home broadband's wireless router going haywire when she wrote those famous lyrics - but she may as well have done.

For the past fortnight my wi-fi has been promising as much and delivering as little as a Parisian coquette in a chastity belt. One minute it's pandering to my every news, entertainment and e-mail whim. The next, it's telling me the connection has failed.

Which is a particular annoyance as I've only just finally got to grips with the unfettered possibilities of the online world.

It's not that I've ever been a particular slouch when it comes to computing. I mastered the basics of BASIC when I got my beloved beige Commodore 64 with tape drive on that far-off Christmas Day in the early '80s. I know my way around a smattering of html and even spent part of this very evening reconfiguring my port access and setting up a static IP address. (I know what you're thinking - that's one hell of a party ice-breaker/chat-up line you've got there, Tryst.) But the practicalities of organising and paying for the latest web connection ensured that I was still fettered to a dial-up connection, complete with that distinctive spewing and churning metallic growl reminiscent of a violently sick R2D2, while everyone else's maiden aunt had already joined the twitterati. Broadband is still a recent innovation in our household.

My wi-has promising as much But, since Christmas, the twin delights of a wireless router and a new laptop have propelled me kicking and screaming into the Information Age. The occasional visit to the decade-old desktop PC (state-of-the art in its heyday, of course) in the boudoir had long become a numbing chore reserved for necessities such as booking economy flights when you factored in the aeons it took to crank it up from a standing start. and delivering as little a Parisian coquette in a Having the web at one's fingertips, by comparison, has become a novelty. Again. For the first time in years, random e-mails possess the visceral thrill once reserved for the satisfying thwump of post on the doormat. Then there's the compulsive bank balance-checking, the regular trawl of online news sites, the joys of iPlayer and even downloadable movie rentals from iTunes.

chastity belt And to think we're only one generation removed from the days of having to go to the library, complete with index cards and buff-coloured tickets, to physically check up on those nagging all-important facts - like who won 1978's Swalec Cup, or what was Shergar's inside leg measurement.

With the marvels of wireless broadband, Richard Branson's lot opened my eyes to a world of infinite opportunities - and have left me bereft now that it's acting up.

Hmmm, now what was the name of that Joni Mitchell song again? Looks like a trip to the library is on the cards...

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 13, 2010
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