On Sunday I caught up with one of my sisters. After the inevitable exchange of news one of the hazards of being a computer nerd raised it's ugly head; would I look at her computer and maybe fix whatever it was that prevented her connecting to the internet?
So we proceeded to the study and waited while it booted. Given the age of the machine it booted surprisingly fast - no more than maybe 5 minutes! Then she clicked on the DUN (Dial Up Networking) icon and I listened for the familiar modem sounds. Not a sausage. Aha, thought I, either she hasn't turned the modem on or it's dead. But she swore black and blue she has no modem. I very much doubt my sister has perfected the art of using DUN without a modem and I was about to start tracing cables when we saw some messages logged in the progress window; it had connected and was validating. Ok, so the modem has no speaker or it's turned off; either way it's not worth the argument whether she has a modem or not. Sufficient unto the day that I know she has and she doesn't need to care.
Lo and behold, mystery solved, the validation failed with the usual message about user name or password not valid.
'I can't fix this; you need to contact your ISP and find out what's going on' said I.
She whipped out a piece of paper containing her username and password; the original paperwork from the ISP when she set the account up. She retyped the username and password and tried again. Nope, same error message and, from me, the same response.
Then I spied some interesting details on the sheet. At the time of writing it's just past midnight, Australian Eastern Standard Time, on October 2 2008. This receipt was dated November 1, 2003. And next to the date was the purchased number of hours; 200 hours. No, she hadn't bought any more hours. Indeed she was adamant that she couldn't have used up anywhere near 200 hours in the all but five years since initial purchase.
Now that's what I call light Internet usage!