Tuesday, 24 February 2009

How I’ve Managed Without Broadband At Home

As I have detailed in previous articles of late, I have been temporarily without an internet connection at home for the last couple of months.

Keeping this, and my other blog (Our5Kids), up to date has been difficult.  As such I decided to instead concentrate my efforts on DieselTekk and allow Our5Kids to fall by the wayside – something I feel incredibly guilty over since Our5Kids keeps many family members and friends up to date with what is happening in our children's lives.

Anyhow, this is a short story about how I have managed to maintain some semblance of internet normality while by internet connection at home has been disrupted.

1.  The Mobile Phone

Not the best or cheapest method of keeping up to date online, but it worked for a while.  I have a network contract with ‘3’, who I thought were quite reasonable with their charges.  It wasn’t until I found out that I had ”reached [my] credit limit” that I noticed that internet usage charges amounted to an excess of £70 for just a couple of weeks use that I realised I was wrong.

In future I will keep a closer eye on this, as it appears email access, Facebook and Windows Live Messenger is free, whereas Skype, and the rest of the internet is not.  Strangely, a friend who has the same monthly contract as myself – but has a different mobile phone – pays nothing for Skype, in fact it’s encouraged by ‘3; that he use Skype on his handset!

2.  The Coffee Shop with Free Internet Access

There is a stunning coffee shop in my town called Tengo! which offers free WiFi internet access to all it’s customers (and those camped outside on the street or on the roadside huddled in their cars!).  The download speed seems quite quick, in line with the rest of the town centre at around 4-6Mbits/sec, and allows me to use my Aspire One netbook without issue.

It is an open connection though, with no WEP key for access or and kind of security, so does carry a little worry.  I don’t have a great deal on my netbook that requires me to worry a great deal about security, however my emails and contacts etc are all held in an Outlook PST file.  So should some unscrupulous fool manage to snoop within my system, he could potentially grab a great deal of my personal info in one fell swoop.

Using Windows 7, with it’s enhanced security, and ZoneAlarm (albeit the free version) installed helps prevent this kind of action, but you never really know who is on the snoop!

The other downside to using an internet cafe,is cost.  The internet access may be free in Tengo!, but you have to be a customer which does mean you have to actually buy something!  For an hour of use I will go through at least two regular cappuccino’s, and at £1.50 each it may be only £3.00 but I have a lot to do online in a single session, so 2 hours would cost me £6.00 plus a great deal of time on the loo.

3.  Another House

I have also been using the internet at the mother-in-law’s house, which is a little slower than I am used to, but more than adequate for what I need.  The benefits are clear – free drinks, free food etc, but the downside is that I have to talk which means if I am there for an hour, I will get maybe 33% done of what I need to get done.  Not so good.

The same would be the case no matter who’s house I was to go to, another family member or a friend.  Ah well, it’s still free though!

So there you have it, the three main ways I have been getting online over the last couple of months.  Not so easy as opening my laptop in my home, in switching on my main PC, but it’s helped.

If you have any tips, or past “missing net connection” stories that you would like to share, please leave a comment below!

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