28 Aug 2005

no internet at home!

well, been around a week without internet at home now. we're awaiting for ADSL to be activated on the phone line, but its been a long wait.

1. been shopping around earlier this week about what broadband packages to get in UK. turns out NTL cable is by far the cheapest option (£25/month) compared to all the ADSL options since it doesn't require a phone line and also is 2Mbps. downside is that you get NTL's famous service and there's a 1GB/day limit. most ADSL plans go from £20 to £30 plus you have to pay for a phone line (another £10/month), so its around £30-40 altogether. however, we found that ukonline did a deal for £15/month for 1Mbps so it works out to be similar to NTL's pricing.

2. the previous tenants installed ntl and possibly forgot to cancel their telephone line, and also cut all the BT lines in the house, so BT had to send and engineer over to fix the line.

3. i haven't been able to get any modem in the house to find a dial tone on the line, so i'm a little worried about the quality of the telephone line in the house. however, i've also not been able to get the phone line in my office to dial out through my modem on my powerbook either, so i'm not sure what is to blame here. for the record, i've tried an aussie powerbook, a hong kong samsung laptop, a couple of united states modem pc cards and also an hongkong ibook. the phone itself works fine, but i did notice that all modems use the middle two wires of the phone plug where as the handsets use the outer two wires plus one of the wires in the middle. so maybe one of the wires aren't working?

4. i had been under the illusion that there were no wireless networks around on the street that i'm living in. except on saturday, i suddenly discovered (after using the samsung laptop) that there are actually 4-5 wireless networks around here! my aluminium powerbook must not be good for the 2.4GHz antenna on it :) however, our of the 5 networks, 4 of them are encrypted with WEP (i think one very weak one is with WPA.) the only one that is unencrypted, i can only get reception around 30% of the time in one corner of the house. so i've been able to quickly check my email, do some online shopping and check up on whether i can crack the closer encrypted networks using some sort of kismet livecd! to my surprise, there are a couple of them, called knoppix-std and auditor. not that i'm able to download them yet because of the flakey connection, and plus, i'm not that far from the lab :)

5. also discovered that when you are one a bad link, one that drops in and out alot, using your browser to download large files is a stupid idea. bittorrent rules in this case because it is able to gracefully handle disconnection, nodes dropping in and out and resuming with ease. whereas things like firefox and safari just truncate the file at the wrong place, and more often than not, just restart from scratch. its really frustrating when you have to start over after spending an hour to download 10M!!

so i'm still waiting for proper net connection at home ..

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