Monday, 27 August 2012

Escape to the country

Hello from deepest darkest Rutland: England's smallest county; beautifully rural, nicely quiet and with only a whiff of silage.

Yes, ATSF and its domestic staff (Elaine and I) have moved. Time for a change.

So, you are no-doubt asking, how's the connectivity? For haven't we heard that Rutland (and rural UK in general) is basically end of the queue when it comes to handing out bandwidth?

It's been an interesting couple of weeks and we spent one of them with only a slow GSM data connection on my iPhone as a means of getting online. BT (bless them) had my new phone line waiting when we arrived but, for some unknown reason, Demon (my ISP) weren't able to order my broadband until the phone was active and then it was going to be another week. I have a suspicion that if I had ordered BT broadband then they could have been synchronised but I need a static IP address and I've been a Demon customer almost since they started. There is a local contender, the very interesting Rutland Telecom, but they can't help me at the moment. In the end I had a hurried conversation with Demon ordering the broadband while I was literally in mid-move part-way up the A1.

As an aside I should add the Rutland is being connected in the next 12 months, by enthusiastic payers like Rutland Telecom and, presumably even BT, so I may yet see fibre to the bathtub around here. At least, Demon tell me that my local exchange (Cottesmore) will be unbundled in March.

The email about the broadband arrived bright and early after exactly a week. I had some trouble setting up the wi-fi (stone walls do not a good RF path make) but finally got it all sorted. The ADSL connected up once I sorted out the new login credentials and I was back online. I have to tell you that coincidentally the past week has been just about the worst for spam that I've ever had. I call it being spam-bombed. When I got to my mail on the computer I downloaded over 1500 emails of which only about a dozen were real ones. Talk about wheat and chaff!

At this point I decided to check my bandwidth. I'd checked earlier with both BT and Demon online and found that the speed should be about 7.5 megabits so when I did a real speed check I was surprised to see it hitting 2 megabits. I'm only 100 metres from the exchange (and 50 from the pub). Reading the small print on an email Demon sent me (dug out from beneath a pile of that spam) I found that I had been put on a package with the ominous letters '2000' in the title. A capped package? Nobody told me. After a somewhat assertive call from me they are looking into it.

Meantime, the hosting company for one of my main clients decided to move machines between data centres. (Experienced readers will see what's coming.) On restart both of the computers holding the main databases failed and when one was replaced and rebuilt my database didn't seem to be working. Without an online connection, I spent a frustrating time on the phone to the weekend support desk but between us we could find nothing wrong. Nothing in the error logs. It turned out that there was nothing wrong: the database was fine; the problem lay elsewhere. It was what we used to call finger trouble back in the BBC.

You'd think that moving in August would be uneventful? How's your week been?