Connectivity

 

picture of people using the mobile phones on york railway station.

Eyes down. (That’s Ron Mitchell centre-stage 😉

James Clay’s recent e-Learning Stuff blog post – http://elearningstuff.net/2013/04/15/so-what-if-i-am-not-connected/ prompted the following reply from me on Facebook:

I so agree James. It’s almost like 10 years ago when we couldn’t assume that learners (or their teachers) could (or would) be able to get on the net.

Now that everyone pretty much ‘can’ get on the net and mainly ‘do’ get on the net for social purposes – we similarly assume that they are savvy enough to deal with lack of or no connectivity, JAVA updates, Adobe updates and the like, all of which take up time – always at the most inconvenient, obtrusive “ffs leave me alone” time.

I leave train journeys for ‘Office’ stuff and reading now – I never try because it’s just so depressing.

He’d talked about how unreliable getting on line was during the times he had to take part in online courses. Whilst I am not taking part in such a course, I have exactly the same frustration – as I’m sure do most travelling (peripatetic) workers who rely on the internet for collaboration and communication.

I am working away all of this week, in Maidenhead.  Whilst I’m working in the college I’m so full on that I am unable to access my emails, reply to FB or Twitter ‘stuff’, blog or – anything that would, if sat in my office at home, effect an immediate response. So that sort of thing has to wait until I’m sat in my Travelodge bedroom, walking the streets or sat in a pub.

In my Travelodge bedroom (which may itself evoke another blog post) I have a wide variety of ‘pay for me‘ services available and I’m not paying for those – they are just as unreliable as the train WiFis. However, I do have a ‘3’ pay as you go MiFi which rarely lets me down when it has good reception and I’m not in a moving vehicle. I’m using MiFi as I type this. So – pretty good service, but I have to wait until I’m static, have switched it on and I’m connected.

Walking the streets – the MiFi would probably be ok, but why would I carry my laptop or iPad around with my, typing in the streets? I could use my iPhone, but the clue is in the name: when you’re walking, it’s really only any good as a phone. When you’re sat still and doing anything other than texting or reading emails on the iPhone 3GS, it’s only any good as a phone (and therefore discarded from this tirade).

So, the pub (and many other out-and-about establishments) provide access to The Cloud or similar services (e.g. BT Total Broadband). And, I use them. But. They are so erratic. I tried to upload a photo to Instagram the other night but it just wouldn’t go. I’ve no idea why, I had good connection to The Cloud  but – nothing. It’s not the first time I’ve had trouble with Instagram.

The same occurred when I wanted to share a passage I’d read in the Kindle Book I was reading – “sorry, something has gone wrong” – Amazon, the cheeky sods even sent me emails each time I tried, to say “sorry, something went wrong, please try again” (I can’t. I’ve finished the damn book now grrrr).

So, when I’m away from home I become a frustrated communicator/collaborator. When I’m abroad, it’s even harder.

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BT Home Hub

BT are my broadband provider. There’s little point looking around for a new provider as they would have to use the BT line anyway and I know for sure that despite all the noise around ‘Infinity’ and super-fast broadband speeds, all that I can expect from my local exchange is around 4mb/s.

I’m happy enough with that, there’s no point wishing for something I can’t have.

screenshot of my broadband speed

I have a fairly old but serviceable BT Home Hub and (touch wood) have only ever experienced intermittent problems – the most recent of which was dealt with by making a short call to BT’s help desk in India. My hub allows any of my visitors (with the password) to connect. No worries.

However, that’s not the experience two of my friends have with their BT Home Hubs. These two hubs, one as old as mine and another one of the 3rd generation hubs, just do not work properly! A thousand calls to India will not (have not) make them work and they are just frustrating wastes of space.

Gill bought a new MacBook Pro last week. The Apple chaps made sure that everything worked for her before leaving the shop – so she was doubly disappointed when her new laptop wouldn’t pick up her BT Home Hub. Or rather, it did pick up the hub, it just WOULD NOT connect to it. Another (she made more than one) 40 minute call to India did eventually find a roundabout way of connecting but it’s hardly satisfactory and, as the weekend has shown, not very long lasting.

Gill’s old Windows laptop (XP) did connect to the hub but her husband’s Windows 7 laptop never could. Whenever Sharon and I visit, none of our ‘i’ or other devices EVER connected to Gill’s home hub. It has always been faulty but just try getting BT to understand that.

The MacBook Pro is working fine (it worked ok in the shop, it also detected and connected to my MiFi without a problem) and the Home Hub is receiving Internet from BT as the MacBook Pro connects easily when using the Ethernet cable – but it simply won’t connect to the Home Hub via WiFi (as AirPort is now called).

Karen’s third generation Hub simply won’t allow anyone except Karen to connect to it either, and from time to time it won’t even let her use it.

So what’s the answer? Who do my friends contact to tell their story, without going through the Indian merry-go-round again and again?

Why don’t BT recognise the signs that suggest the ‘caller’/paying customer has faulty apparatus?

How can they make their Internet Hubs more accessible for themselves and their visitors?