By Judy Bailey.
I once ordered too many tomatoes. I was new to online supermarket shopping and, somehow, I'd managed to add a few zeroes to the number of tomatoes I wanted.
When they were delivered, I was aghast. I'd never seen so many tomatoes. God knows what they thought I was going to do with them. Luckily, the supermarket was very understanding and took the excess back. Otherwise, we would have been eating tomatoes for months.
I mention this only because, in support of Chorus' Generation Connection Project, I've seen both sides of the connection coin – those of my generation who are amazingly adept online and those who aren't; those who took to fibre broadband enthusiastically, knowing it to be an amazing technological advance…and those maybe a bit intimidated, who have let it slip by.
I am both those things. I started out as an internet ingénue, ordering enough tomatoes to feed an army. But now I'm a fibre broadband convert and literally couldn't do without it.
That came home during the lockdown. There were six of us at home – me, my husband Chris, our daughter Gemma and her three girls.
Chris is a television producer. Gemma is a teacher and was teaching online. Two of the three girls were schooling online. I work from home and was viewing dozens of videos as part of my role as ambassador to the Doc Edge Festival, the celebration of documentaries (also sponsored by Chorus) which has moved online this year for the first time.
Chris had to work at home during lockdown – and he was in post-production for a New Zealand drama co-produced with Canada and was working with his editor online as well as with composers and sound editors. That requires downloading of big files.
I, meanwhile, was in the midst of viewing a raft of docos from all over the world. They were also big files. Can you imagine the turmoil if we hadn't had fibre broadband? A lot of the time it was hilarious – Chris and Gemma would get dressed in their work clothes and head off to different parts of the house with their coffee, just as you normally head off to work.
I'd be left to deal with the three girls and the documentaries…
It was actually a great time to be together and safe, of course, but I couldn't help but wonder what would have happened if we'd had a less able internet connection. I can only imagine the upset if we'd had our old, rather slow one.
Working from home will clearly become more common now, thanks to Covid-19, and for many age groups fibre will be a must solely because of that. I can still remember how frustrating it was working on a Vimeo video on our old connection and having it endlessly buffering.
But even for those not working from home – and particularly older generations – fibre broadband is a must. It's not just its greater speed and capacity – so Chris, Gemma, the girls and I could all do our thing at the same time – it's a window to a whole new world.
I know that fear of the unknown and a tendency to be hesitant when it comes to new technology means some people are put off. Anyone new to online can lessen the frustration of learning, simply by taking time to explore the various websites. Don't be afraid of pushing the wrong button – and, if all else fails, you can always ask 'how to' questions on Google!
We all have to learn that way. Once you get the hang of it (and mostly it is very easy), it really does open up not only information and entertainment but a new way of looking at the world and whole new activities.
What do I use it for? Professionally: email, working on videos online and researching articles and writing. I use it for banking, bill paying, sending invoices, in fact all kinds of office chores.
Personally: I'm not a fan of social media, I'm not keen on having my whole life out there, but I visit a lot of news websites here in New Zealand and overseas, including the Guardian, the New York Times and BBC. I hunt for recipes – I often head to Annabel Langbein – and I play games like Scrabble or Wordscape (a word puzzle game) and Monument Valley.
The other day, doing a video interview online, I thought I was looking at the person I was interviewing. But when I played back the recording, it looked like I was looking off-camera and not listening. Whoops.
So we never stop learning – and, no matter what age you are, I think that's a good thing.
To find out if you can get fibre broadband at your place go to chorus.co.nz