Monday, January 16, 2006

Broadband switch - the sequel

I wrote about my termination spat with Demon on Jan 6th. At the time, they had told me that I couldn’t switch from a Demon commercial account to a Demon residential one without a delay of 8-10 days. I called their bluff and switched to TalkTalk. This morning, without any warning, the Demon connection had gone down. By 9am, the TalkTalk connection was live. It took me until nearly midday to get the two computers and the Xbox to recognise the new line, due mostly to me stumbling about unaware of how to changeover the settings on my Ethernet ADSL router. But a phone call to the router suppliers, DSL Warehouse, (incredibly helpful), put me in the picture and everything is now up and running smoothly. In fact, all I had to do was change the user name and password in the router, which is accessed by typing its IP address directly into my web browser. I had done this the previous January when first getting broadband up and running but had, of course, forgotten how to do it in the mean time and had been twiddling with the network settings on my laptop which only succeeded in making a very simple operation a complex task indeed. The downtime? Even with me screwing all the network settings up and having to reset them, it was less than four hours. I didn’t even need TalkTalk’s welcome pack, just a user name and password, which I accessed from a direct dial, number they provided. The saving? Its now costing me £18 a month instead of £39 and the speed is 2meg/sec, four times the download speed. Some downgrade!

I had a computer weekend. On Friday after lunch with my publisher, I plugged my laptop back in, booted up and then attempted to download the day’s emails. Something spiked and the computer froze. Maybe it was a parting shot from Demon? Whatever it was, the computer went down with a vengeance and when I reawoke it it wasn’t the same as it had been.

I have been using Microsoft Entourage as an email package for about three years and something happened at this freeze-out to cause Entourage to fall over and die. I can’t say I am that bothered: I never much liked it anyway. What it did, which was elegant, was to combine calendar, address book and emails all into one package, as part of Microsoft’s Office for Mac suite. But the way they were all connected was klutzy and the search field was quite the most horrible thing Microsoft have ever produced. But Entourage had all but died: I could retrieve most of the old information but I couldn’t use it to do anymore emails. So I took the chance to switch to the Mac’s inbuilt tools, being Address Book, Mail and iCal. None of these exactly sings as far as I am concerned, but they work reasonably well and they all have a big plus in that they integrate with DotMac, the online server space which Apple sell as part of their package and which I have been using for some months now for email and web space. By synchronising between my computer and DotMac, I can have access to my address book and calendar, emails and browser bookmarks from any computer anywhere in the world. With just a password, I effectively have all my vital information stored on line so this gives me both backup and access from afar. I like that.

I also chose this moment to switch all the traffic from my selfbuild mail list to google mail. This list has been a big part of my life for many, many years but it generates a huge amount of mail, far more than I get otherwise, even including spam. I have been archiving this stuff for three years and my Entourage database now holds 30,000 messages, which I will of course never read. Google mail is offering me 2685MB of web space for free: that looks an ideal spot to park the next 30,000 messages.

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