Wireless Broadband

Managed to get a verizon and a Sprint pcmcia adapter to try out the companies wireless internet access via a trial period that the companies had given us. The initial experiences were vastly in favour of the sprint setup as the card needed installing in the slot, the software installed and the GO button clicking on the software to connect to the internet. The verizon card on the other hand needed installing, various usernames and phone numbers entered (no passwords though) and then clicking on one of their two accounts that were created in their applet. At this point the software failed due to username and passwords were not correct – but there had been no questions for the username and password in the installation process and no options within the software to provide this information (even if we knew what to put in). As it turned out, we needed to ring verizon to activate the card before use – not a very good out of the box experience if you have to ring the support line (for a long time) to get the line activated with no instructions to say that you need to do this. The other downside to this process is that you need access to a phone besides the phone card that has just been purchased – which may not be available.

Having said all that, it seems that once the verizon card was setup correctly the performance on the network was a lot better than the Sprint, but I’ve not had the laptop in my hand to quantify this.

Speaking about Out Of The Box experiences, our new vacuum cleaner had a HUGE red warning sign as the box was opened that said “Stop – Do NOT return to the store” (as did the old cleaner) – this seems to imply that they are expecting a lot of faulty returns as the shops will take the items back no questions asked, whereas the vendor will make you jump through hoops (and make you pay for return shipping).

Avaya phone installs

Anyone had any (good) experiences with installation of an Avaya phone system? I’m just wondering if we’re the unfortunate ones to have the worst ever telephone “upgrade” or whether this is normal. I can’t go into specifics here but I’m spending about 50% of my work schedule (since the beginning of December) on supporting and troubleshooting the phones.
I’m thinking the phone system needs to be upgraded again – but this time using a piece of string and a couple of empty baked bean cans (although full ones would probably still give better service right now.)

Verizon bill

We got our first (and last at this rate!) phone from Verizon this afternoon for the calls for this month. We’ve not bothered with a home phone number as we don’t make that many calls….unfortunately we’ve received a lot of calls – most of them during the day and after the 500 minutes we get with our monthly allowance, each minute is charged at 45cents. We’ve had a bill for $282 of calls for Kristen’s phone this month!
That is totally unacceptable so we’re now quickly looking for an alternative. I’m looking at possibly using timewarner’s voip or vonage – both of which I’ve heard nasty things about. So any recommendations?

Google Talk.

From the bbc I found a link to Google Talk – their latest beta product enabling free voip for computer to computer chat.
What I can’t understand is the need for yet another im/voice chat running on yet another protocol. Surely all these conflicting services mean people end up with too many ways of communicating so they need to buy faster machines and bigger screens to cope with all the icons in their system tray (I have 19 at the moment!). This also seems to be moving away from the “one number gets me anywhere” philosophy that people would like. Now to get hold of me you can send me an email, ring me on the home phone, the mobile, send me an sms, yahoo, google, msn, aol message me (and you used to be able to contact me via irc but I don’t do that anymore).
The big drawback of this app is that it doesn’t do talk to landlines.
Update I’ve added my systray picture to flickr tagged with systray – what does yours look like?
My systray

Wifi with Mobile phone now works.

For some weird reason my wifi started to get disconnected whenever the cordless phone was used. Apparently 2.4Ghz phones cause interference with wireless as they operate on the same spectrum. The weird thing is that this was working ok for 3 months without causing obvious dropouts. A bit of searching suggested that changing the channel that the wifi is on should fix or reduce the problem. I changed from channel 11 to 1 (the other end) and the problem didn’t go away. I changed it to 6 and still it didn’t go away. Interestingly though a wifi card placed about 1′ away from the access point with the cordless phone being used downstairs would result in no wifi service. I changed the channel back to 11 last night and for some reason the wifi no longer gets disrupted when the phone is in use.
Seeing as though that is how I started off I am not sure why this problem has occured. Still, at least I can now use the internet when other people are on the phone.

ICE (In Case of Emergency) on a mobile phone

It has been suggested by a paramedic in england that people should program a contact number into their mobile phone under ICE that they would like the emergency services to use if they were found in an accident and unable to talk. This seems a good idea and there are talks about mobile phone companies building this feature into the mobile firmware.
The only drawback I can think of is that some people have their phone locked whilst it is not in use to prevent theft which means paramedics wouldn’t be able to get to it (unless this was made available as part of the firmware updates).
The other drawback is that some incredibly stupid phones such as the Samsung that I have don’t let you have more than one contact for the same phone number. Therefore, in theory, I can’t have Kristen and ICE going to Kristen’s phone. The way around this is to program a pause at the end of one of the numbers (or add an extra digit that gets ignored by the phone system) to one of the numbers so that the numbers appear different.