Yesterday late morning, I suddenly found myself unable to connect to the ‘net.  This was sudden death: I’d been on earlier, and just had a break of maybe 15 minutes. After a couple of tests for “usual suspects”, I logged in to the router, and found it had indeed lost the connection.

I have the ‘phone number for my ISP, so I tried it.  But the ‘phone wasn’t working either: it wouldn’t even give me a dialtone.  That’ll no doubt be another symptom of the same underlying problem.

But how to contact BT to complain?  My mobile phone is working fine, but doesn’t give me the standard operator numbers I’m accustomed to: 150 is invalid on it, and 100 gives me O2’s operator, who has no idea how to contact BT’s.  Neither can I look it up without ‘net access.  The joys of a single point-of-failure!

Trying to think who I can ask to borrow a BT line, and is likely to be around at this hour, I wander down into town.  There in the centre is still an old-fashioned red call-box.  Miraculously it’s working, and doesn’t even stink of smoke – how things have changed since those phoneboxes were something we had to use regularly!  I successfully phoned BT: not a human, but a long series of menus that actually worked(!)

The system promised a next-day response, so I just had to hope it would happen in time not to miss a couple of meetings, including crucially the ASF board and new-member elections (online voting, and online access required for research prior to voting).  The board election was interesting, with a much higher number of (strong) candidates than ever before.  I was back online in time to vote for the board, but not to research the new member candidates, so I confined myself to voting for nominees with whom I’m already familiar.

The worst thing about this little episode wasn’t so much the sudden and unexpected loss of contact, but the uncertainty over it.  First having to figure out how to contact BT, then just hoping they’d fix it in a reasonable time.  I think they’re not bad at that these days, but when you rely as much as I do on it, it’s always a worry.

So whilst in town I also went in to Carphone Warehouse and asked about contracts for mobile broadband connectivity.  The man there recommended that since I have a mobile phone on monthly contract, I should ask my provider to upgrade that.  Which means, slightly painfully, having to use the phone as a modem anytime I want to use the connection to get online from a computer.  There’s still no deal available that gives me connectivity both from the phone and from a USB stick for a single subscription 😦

Posted on July 9, 2009, in telephony, teleworking. Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Phone-as-modem (tethered) isn’t so bad – I did that the other week when I needed to install qtpfsgui on the notebook sitting one evening in a b&b. Linux distributions using the NotworkMangler seem to recognize it and offer to set up a `mobile broadband’ connection straight off. Helps to have a “smartphone” of course – Nokia N95 at present.

  2. Indeed, that’s what I’d expect (and I’m sure my E71 smartphone is up to the job). My current priorities include Mac (the laptop) and OpenSolaris ahead of Linux, but I can’t see it being a problem with any of them.

    OTOH, sitting on a train and trying to find a comfortable working position, I could do without an additional (and valuable) device dangling! And what about battery life: will it mean I need to take a ‘phone charger for a weekend away?

  3. Yes, certainly with the N95 I don’t consider tethering without one – battery just jumps out t’window in half an hour flat.

    But have phone, will have mobile internetty one way or another. Used to use mine to check on ISP status page whenever we had issues over in Perth.

  4. I use a PAYG USB mobile broadband dongle for backup and occasionally when travelling – vodafone’s one was about £40 I think. No charger needed by still more dangly bits 😉

  1. Pingback: Mobile phone as modem « niq’s soapbox

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