Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain in the Autumn for a month or so
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Bill is back online, fingers crossed!

Do people who speak about themselves in the third person strike you as a little strange, somewhat weird even? Personally I tend to look askance at such people myself, so I apologise to anyone who feels the same way; I'm trying to wean myself off it (or indeed, as Bill might have put it: "He's trying to wean himself off it").

OK, enough of this verbal silliness! I now appear to be back online - rejoice, put out more flags! Whether they be the Union Flag, the Saltire, the Cross of St George, or indeed the lovely flags of many/most other nations or sovereign entities or those that desire to have this status, or a glorious mixture! Yes, I am happy. Mind you, I have not entirely worked out all the kinks of the new equipment I'm using so there is probably still some 'tweaking' of my knowledge of it to achieve before I've got it running precisely as it should.

To recap, yesterday I had a lengthy and only partially-productive conversation with the AOL technical help call centre and spoke with a perfectly nice Indian gentleman who seemed to know what he was talking about, even if the conclusions he seemed to want to draw about what was ailing my broadband connection seemed to owe at least as much to corporate policy (based, I suspect, on suggested screen-prompt answers); to put it bluntly, an attempt to shift blame anywhere but AOL! I had been forming the opinion myself that the problem was a fault in my wireless router (a Thomson 'Speedtouch' model which was one of those recommended by AOL, and bought from their recommended supplier a couple of years ago when I was moving from wired broadband to wireless broadband). The fellow in the call centre wanted me to believe it was either a problem with my telephone line, one or more of the ADSL filters I use or indeed with the power socket the router was plugged into; I tended to doubt this, but suppose any of these could have been the possible source of the problem. However I had focussed on the router because of the changes I had noticed in the sequence of various status lights on the equipment from start-up.

It so happens that yesterday one of my nephews was up in the area on business; he helps to maintain the communications network throughout Scotland of a government entity and often visits the north of Scotland and the northern isles from his Glasgow base, usually with a colleague, to do maintenance and upgrades and to trouble-shoot. At dinner last evening he gave me his suggestions based on what I told him and his own much greater knowledge of such systems; he thought it extremely unlikely that the problem was anything to do with my domestic electricity supply and was probably more likely to be a problem in an AOL broadband server or possibly in my wireless router, as I myself suspected; he suggested that I could eliminate the latter by using a different router (unfortunately he hadn't a personal spare with him to let me try), so today I went and bought a new wireless router - I got a Netgear RangeMax, because the information I had was that the set-up wizard would handle most of the hard work. The Thomson Speedtouch had been a real pest to set-up! And so it proved - the CD that came with the box went into my laptop and pretty soon I seemed to be online, with no unfortunate cut-off after a couple of moments, as I had been experiencing with the Speedtouch since my return from Spain last week.

I'm still not happpy with AOL for a variety of reasons, though, and the 'Which?' article I referred to here, along with the comments to the same linked article by various of my readers, is spurring me to make the change of ISP I have been contemplating for some months. Although I haven't completely made up my mind, I am contemplating a move to O2, according to the 'Which?' article one of the most reliable and best value providers; funnily enough the P.O. (mentioned by Richard in the comments referred to above) isn't included in the report, so I must do a little more investigation of the very useful add-ons he refers to; from my point of view O2 sounds specially attractive because my UK mobile is on their network, which apparently entitles me to a significant reduction in monthly fee and its customer service is highly-rated by 'Which?'.

However, because I know it takes a little while to transfer from one ISP to another (to get the release code from my current provider and give it to the new provider and then for the replacement broadband link to be activated) I don't want to start this process off before I leave again for Spain next week; instead I shall wait to do it when I come back at the end of September. I've got a lot to do online before I leave next week and don't want to have any [more] 'funny business' with my broadband connection before I go. I'm hopeful that the new wireless router I'm using will let me have reliable internet until next week, so I won't have to lose more online capability than I already have over the past several days.

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