Would you like to know why I get a lot of action at night?
I'm an 'early riser', if you know what I mean
Something for the Weekend, Sir? I've been up all night, doing the business like hammer and tongs, going at it again and again. I can be relentless when I'm on the job – a man of action and drama.
Of course, there are things I'd rather be doing than trying to get all my work prepared the night before I set off on a business trip. For example, going to bed would have been a nice thing.
But no, instead of tripping through the daffodils in fairyland, I spent most of the dark hours in front of a computer screen, shivering in my pyjamas and trying to keep warm sandwiched between a hot water bottle against my back and a laptop on my knees.
Unusually for me, most of my work commitments had already been met and deadlines honoured. So why was I bashing away – on my keyboard, that is – through the night?
Preparation. Knowing that I would have a few hours of uninterrupted train travel to get some extra work done, I needed to be sure that I had access to the work files. And these work files are safely stowed on the cloud... which as you know renders them utterly unavailable.
A frequent traveller by Virgin Trains East Coast, I am familiar with the drill: quiet carriage – check, unpopular reverse 'airline' seat – check, power socket – check, free Wi-Fi – check.
Oh yes, and there's the inevitable revolting pig of a fellow passenger with a runny nose, sniffing loudly every 20 seconds like the snorting, snot-swilling twat that he is – check. I prepare for this by always carrying extra packets of tissues in my backpack, distributing them freely among the disgusting dipshit bastards I meet on public transport like a nasally obsessed Mother Theresa.
I have noticed that these sniffing Sids, without exception, are wearing earphones and listening to shit dance music. My conclusion is that there must be a connection between nasal capacity and rave culture. I wonder what it could be.
I log in to the onboard Wi-Fi and so begin my real problems. The connection isn't so bad considering the train is rattling down the line at 130mph but, as expected, it has been hijacked by a madman in the train company's IT department who wields his IP blocker like he was slicing three peppercorns with a machete.
This hamstrung Wi-Fi provision allows me to check emails and browse the web a bit. I can even try to entertain myself by depleting my smartphone with ten types of barf streamed from an onboard server via an award-winning app that eats up half your journey just trying to be downloaded in the first place... before you realise the Google Play Store has been blocked.
More importantly, Dropbox access is blocked. Given the vast size of my box (ahem), I don't mirror the entire content to my measly laptop otherwise I'd have no space for anything else such as, oh I dunno, application programs or an operating system. And it's a good job I have those installed on the hard drive rather than running in the cloud otherwise those would probably get IP-blocked too.
My home NAS, which I suppose takes a known route, is blocked. Client company VPNs are blocked. Evernote is blocked. YouTube is blocked. Google services other than web search are blocked. Not even Google Mail seems to work.
This leaves me just one night to get the latest versions of everything I might need downloaded to various USB sticks and SD cards that I have lying about. Besides, who knows, maybe the net access at my destination will be just as bad, or even absent altogether. Just because I've been called in to give a consultation about digital media doesn't mean the client is prepared to help me get online.
Big corporates and small businesses are wonderful to deal with in this respect, mind: it's the mid-size companies that seem to have a problem sharing a Wi-Fi password with visitors, and they positively freak out if I produce an Ethernet cable. This leaves me running everything through 4G, which works fine until the moment I'm expected to browse through 100GB of uncut video files in the cloud, each labelled helpfully with filenames such as VID2846759.
"We put everything in your Dropbox last night," they tell me, underlining the fact that my inability to access any of it while on the train or in their office is evidently my problem.
So that's what I was doing all last night: downloading folder after folder. Hammer and tongs. Action and drama.
But hey, I don't mind doing that for large media files. What bugs me is being denied access to a 24kb Word doc while en route to my client meeting because the file just happens to be hosted on Dropbox servers. Often all I need is to be able to see a file list, not necessarily download the files themselves.
And while I remain shut out of my own data, I grumble to myself on the journey home, the incessantly sniffing nob-end sitting across the train carriage aisle is streaming billions of bits to the YouTube app on his smartphone.
Er, hang on. How did he get that to work?
After a little investigation, it looks as if there are gaps in Virgin's blacklist. Forget using a web browser on my laptop, let's try some smartphone apps... Yup, if I steer clear of the obvious routes, I find I can get into places that IT's Mr Machete doesn't want me to access using his precious onboard Wi-Fi routers.
In fact, it turns out that one of the services he forgot to block was Google Drive. That's quite an omission and useful to know – I might actually start using it. I make a mental note to attack Google Drive in a big way when I get home, hammer and tongs, action and drama. Just don't tell anyone, right?
Back at my abode, I make a final check of my email in case I missed anything. Sure enough, 50 messages suddenly appear in Google Mail in one go, having been patiently waiting there inaccessibly since I set off this morning. Actually, that's yesterday morning now as it's already past midnight.
Oh look, another client wants me to pop round tomorrow. I wonder what files I'll need to take with me.
And so begins another sleepless night of passion among the clouds in preparation for the day ahead. Not much time left so I go at it hammer and tongs.
Action and drama.