Distractions, reflections

David Ing, at large … Sometimes, my mind wanders

Internet withdrawal by the lake in Austria

The International Federation for Systems Research hosts about 25 people in Fuschl am See, Austria, every other year. I was invited to the meeting two years ago, when the venue had been set as the Seehotel Schlick. Over the two years, I’ve noticed two improvements at the hotel. Firstly, they seemed to have done some sprucing up, with a small but noticeable maintenance (which is probably more than just cleaning). Secondly, the Seehotel Schlick has gotten a fancy web site, done by a professional designer. The photos aren’t misleading, but that’s not to say that every day in Austria has blue skies. (About half our days did).

In 2004, the best that we could do in Fuschl was dial-up access. On one afternoon, arrangements had been made for attendees to get a bus ride into Salzburg, presumably for the opportunity to see sights. DLH and I spent much of the afternoon in an Internet cafe, catching up on e-mail. Going offline for extended periods of time just feels bad.  Unfortunately for the Seehotel Schlick, their Internet access hasn’t improved over the two years.

This year, we heard that up the street, at the Hotel Mohenwirt, high speed Internet access was available. On the first day, three of us took our laptops up at lunchtime. We told the person at the front desk that we had come for lunch and Internet, and she gave us IDs and passwords for an hour, without charge. On the second day, a different front desk clerk said that she was going to charge us, but then gave us the same deal. There must have been six laptops all open on lunch tables that day.

On the third day, on the walk up to the Hotel Mohenwirt, we met some of our group walking down. They said that the policy had changed, and the hotel was charging for Internet access and for lunch. That group decided to walk out in protest. Gary and I decided to just pay for 30 minutes, and then ate somewhere else. The hotel lost some revenue by not bundling its services together.

On the afternoon off, if it wasn’t for the cataract in my eye, I might have taken a bicycle trip around the lake. Diana wouldn’t let me pack the folding bike on this trip, though.

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