I have to agree that I found this article so particularly narrow and irrelevant that I couldn't read the whole thing. All that knowledge and energy, wasted on such triviality, it's baffling and almost depressing. But the article is an insight into the workings of an irregular computing mind. For example:
When something hits me, I'll drop everything I'm behind deadline on and spend 20 hours automating a task that takes five manual minutes; I know I'll eventually recoup the benefits months down the road, after I've long forgotten the automation exists ("you only notice electricity when it's missing").
First of all, that is imo recklessly irresponsible. I'm not here to judge or instruct, but that to me shows by your own admission that your priorities are skewed and your expectations unrealisticly high. Usually, you waste as much time as it takes to make reality match these expectations, and ultimately succeed. Obviously, so far in this instance, that is not the case.
Spending 20 hours remedying a "problem," for instance PPP/email automation, could take much more than a "few months" to recoup (though mathematically just over one month for a 5 minute task). You seem to act as though opportunity is timeless; effort spent back to back cannot be fairly measured against effort spent distributed over time, particularly when that time caused you to postpone work that was already past deadline. In other words, one has to measure QUALITY, and not just QUANTITY, of time spent. To do anything less is myopic and is to take a one-dimensional view on life.
Anyway, the time spent dialing up, logging in, and downloading your email is probably a matter of minutes or even seconds. And if you spent 20 hours working on the issue and no telling how many more documenting it here, that's at least 72,000 seconds or 1200 minutes. And since you never found a solution, that's 1200 minutes down the drain, lost forever.
I've automated iTunes album listings, video file annotations with AppleScript and Perl, have tried numerous todo and schedule outlines, and generally enjoy having my computer be far more "robot" than those of 90% of the populace.
Some of those sound like productive exercises, and automation is great, but this goes beyond enhancement and into the realm of obsession.
This is a tale of how Panther broke my automation and how, with a few days of disjointed searching, experimentation, and dreaming, I didn't fix the problem.
I wouldn't say Panther "broke" your automation, I'd say Jaguar provided a feature that made your peculiar, very particular, and almost certainly unique automation possible.
Instead, we simply follow one man's obsession as he makes steadily more-desperate attempts to scratch a bothersome itch.
Hey, you said it. For your sake, I hope your next "itch" is something that could effect a solution and an article that more of us would find useful.
As to the mysterious enthusiasm for dial-up, when you say something that outrageous in the company of the type of people who are likely to read such an article, I think you owe it to your audience to justify this odd take. If it's for security reasons, then you could start and stop your internet connection with crontab entries no matter which interface you're using. The time taken to download your emails, collect your files, shuffle files from the office to the home, particularly if they are large and content-rich, would decrease by an order of magnitude, and thereby save you thousands of man- or at least computer-hours. No longer would you have to use a CD burner to transfer files, and you could keep your OS updated much more regularly and quickly and painlessly. I'm sorry, but for these and MANY other reasons, you sound dememented with this Luddite fear of bandwidth. If you're so obsessed with automation and saving time, bandwidth should be your best friend.