You haven’t seen a Ninth Circle article recently, and the reason why is because I bought a new computer. It arrived in late February. It didn’t work. To cut a long story short, the modem drivers were not compatible with Windows XP, so the system would freeze within seconds of me opening a web browser. This made downloading drivers somewhat difficult, but I eventually used my old computer, with has a CD burner, burned the files, and transferred them across that way.

    Now, you might be wondering what the delay was, if that’s all the problem was. Well, I did say I’d cut a long story short. In between there was five weeks of me talking to clueless “customer support,” trying to resolve the problem. Their responses ranged from replacing the RAM, to re-formatting the hard drive, to going to an Internet cafe and downloading IE 6, and then bringing it home, as my problem was that I wasn’t using IE 6. I was, and no, I’m not kidding on that last one.

    Finally, I did what I should have done in the first place; post my problem to an Internet tech forum. Within a few days, the system was up and running.

    Now this experience taught me a couple of things. The first was not to waste money paying for phone support with a new system.

    The second was more important. Without the Internet, PCs suck.

    Spending 5 weeks with no Internet connection meant that I barely used the computer at all. This was actually quite a shock to me, since I don’t really play games online, other than MTGO, unless I’m out with friends. If you’d asked me before what I did online, I would have said, a little email, a little web browsing, and that’s about it.

    In fact, the Internet is invisibly central to my PC use. When it was gone, I realised just how much I use it.

    Not only do I use the net a lot, but games playing is something I do, in between accessing the net. I never noticed that before. But when the new computer was offline, I simply didn’t use it. I played a bit of Alpha Centauri on the old machine, but that was it. Games like Medieval: Total War went unplayed, even though I bought the system with that kind of game in mind.

    Computer writers who argue whether or not the Internet has or needs a “killer app” to make it indispensable have things the wrong way around. The Internet doesn’t need a killer app—it is the killer app. Without it, a lot less of us would bother using PCs. They are more trouble than they’re worth, without the net attached. With no Internet, my brand new nerd box was just a $2500 doorstop.

    My offline activities, even those that don’t involve a PC, all rely on the net for up to the second information, and also communication. To say nothing of the Ninth Circle. I had considered myself primarily a gamer in terms of how I use my PC, but now I realise that’s not quite true. Primarily I’m a writer who uses the net a lot and sometimes plays games. Almost everything I do is connected in some way to my Internet use. Or to put it another way, my Internet use is connected to almost everything I do. Without the net there, things just weren’t as much fun anymore. Without my communications tool, I was not a happy man.

    Still, everything is fixed now (fingers crossed) and so normal Ninth Circle service will resume.

    The Ninth Circle was written from 2002-2006, by David Kay, and with 58 installments it was the longest running column in Diabloii.net’s history. The Ninth Circle covered computer gaming, RPGs, fantasy novels, the gamer’s life, and other related issues. Opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of Diii.net.

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