The sound of purring

Wednesday April 19, 2006

7 days to M-day

Such a small thing

You wouldn’t think that such a small thing could cause such trouble, would you? The Vodafone 3G Data Connect card, I mean. Yesterday I was all set to give up and leave the problem to Graham but this morning I had an atypical burst of courage and energy and decided to tackle the job myself.

There were three problems. First, though I didn’t know I had to do it, the SIM card had to be activated. That took a number of phone calls, spaced through the day, much wading through menu systems and several long, long waits. The second was to resolve the conflict between the card and the unused built-in modem in my laptop. That was accomplished easily and quickly, though it involves touching parts of the operating system I always advise the non-technical to avoid. The third was learning how to disable the laptop’s wireless connection to our home network and the Internet, and restore it when I was done. That was done easily, too, but once more I had to interfere with areas of the operating system that are best avoided by the under-informed.

And that was the job done. I stuck the card into the slot, fired up the Vodafone connection program, and clicked on the ‘connect’ button. It buzzed and whirred cheerfully and, lo!, I was connected to the internet, via the mobile telephone network.

I tested my email program, the browser, and the FTP program I prefer to use. I also tested the SMS text message facility. It all worked like a dream and I’ll be fine now to carry on writing, and on-line journalling, while we’re in the caravan.

That done, I closed the connection program, removed the card, and reactivated the link to our home network. I was working on the broadband connection once more, as if nothing had happened.

I count the operation a complete success and I glowed with a tiny bit of self-satisfaction when I received my ‘well done!’ from Graham.

Financially, the operation is supportable. The data card came ‘free’ with the purchase of the laptop, which is just as well because it costs an eye-watering 200 pounds to purchase retail. The mobile phone tarif suits me, too, with no long term committment and no standing charge. I’ll get a bill once a month, paid by direct debit, for the amount of data I transfer using the card and the mobile network. That runs out at two pounds a megabyte, so I’ll not be using the connection for anything other than the essentials; I shall do my email and casual browsing for free at the library. There is no charge for the length of time the laptop is connected to the network, just the data transfer fee.

I reckon that, providing I’m not profligate with the size and number of photographs I post to the journal, the thing will cost me about the equivalent of one regular mug of Starbucks coffee every day. I can support that for the two or three months we’re in the caravan and before we find our new home and install broadband in it once more. It’ll act as a spur to effective house hunting, too, which is no bad thing.

On speed of operation, no complaints. Here in our Lincolnshire backwater there is good GPRS coverage but little in the way of 3G. Even so, it felt a lot faster than dial-up. Graham tells me that the 3G coverage at the caravan is pretty good, so it’ll work even better when I get there.

Here I am, then, basking in the glow of a successful operation, with the pain of a fiddly, awkward installation fading fast. I can cheerfully recommend the Vodafone data card and the operational network services to which it gives access. It’ll do the job for me and I can’t really ask for more than that. They could profit by looking a little harder at the installation, though.

Other than that I used my day reasonably well. The weather and light conditions were perfect for outside window cleaning. I grabbed a roll of tissue and my trusty bottle of Mr Muscle Window Cleaner (with added vinegar) and started the task. It was good to be out in the fresh air even if its freshness bordered on the decidedly chill. I got the job done, though, and shall do the inside windows tomorrow.

I also had a lot of other phone calls to make, cancelling supplier accounts and such prior to the move. More long waits, more impenetrable menu systems… but I got it done. By lunch time I got it done.

That was another chord cut between me and our life here in Lincolnshire. With each one the feeling of detachment increases and the weight of the responsibility of house ownership diminishes. There’s a train of thought there, worth exploring, contrasting my wireless connection to the Internet with the snipping of the chords that connect me to Lincolnshire, and taking taking in the concepts of anchors and safe harbours. I think I’ll leave that for the future, though. Too busy just now for philosophy.

“I’ve had a pretty successful day,” I said when we spoke late in the evening.

“I’ll say you have. What are you going to do now?”

“Make an early night of it, I think. I feel a bit weary.”

“Sounds a good idea. Nunnight, then.”


Very shortly afterwards I was washed and brushed, and settled in bed. I snapped the light off and composed myself for sleep. A familiar thump came from the foot of the bed as Dolly jumped up, closely followed by the firm and comforting flump of a 25-pound Mega-Cat settling against the least twitchy part of my leg.

“Good night, Dolly,” I said, knowing I’d get no direct response.

I was rewarded, though, for the night filled with the sound of purring.



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