24 February, 2007

Telstra Writes Shonky Software

Well, my wireless broadband modem arrived from Telstra on Tuesday - just four days late. You may recall, I had a bit of a job ordering it. I rushed over to Wifie’s Macintosh to install it, put the CD in the drive, clicked the start button and 2 minutes later was on the phone to Telstra technical support. At first, they thought they’d sent us the wrong installation disc. Then I was put on to someone who knew what they were talking about and they informed us that, while the modem would run with a Macintosh, the software for that hadn’t been written yet. It might be ready in March, they said, ‘but I wouldn’t hold your breath.’

So the Telstra sales chimp had lied to me. What a surprise. Still, since Telstra’s 3G network is the only way to get broadband here, I decided I would have to install it on my machine. Because of the relative expense of Apple versus PC components, it would have been a lot cheaper to serve the internet from Wifie’s machine but, hey, them’s the breaks.

It has been a busy week, so I didn’t get to try to install it on my own Windows PC until the next evening – Wednesday. It actually seemed to install fairly smoothly. I got a clutch of error messages about this and that but you get used to that with any Windows installation. The thing is, it seemed to work. I actually had broadband – for two hours. Then I went to get something to eat and when I got back, it wasn’t working anymore. I got straight on the phone to Telstra technical support and waited on hold. I gave up after 25 minutes of listening to really bad music and had a whinge at Wifie. Then I came back and tried again. This time my patience only lasted 20 minutes before I gave up and went to bed.

The next day, Thursday, my Internet connection still wasn’t working. I seemed to be able to connect to my new ISP (‘Big Pond – or Big Pondscum as I have come to think of them) but couldn’t load any web pages or get any email. I waited a mere 13 minutes to talk to a silly, giggly girl who, in the course of the next 40 minutes, failed to fix it. We left it that I would download a new installation program from the Pondscum site (using my old dial-up service) and try running that. As this program was 9.2 Mb large, it took an hour and a half to download. When I ran it, I still had all the old problems.

So I called again (only took a couple of minutes waiting this time!) and spoke to a techie who seemed to understand the problem. Nevertheless, it still took more than half an hour (including four reboots of the machine) to fix. The solution was to delete half a dozen files that the installation had put on my system and which were ‘probably causing the trouble’ (so why put them there?) and to change the settings on some system files - including resetting winsock to its defaults. I also had to reset the modem itself.

I did not trust Telstra to write a decent piece of software and I was right not to. The installation was clearly a shambles and the ‘Connection Manager’ that runs the connection to the ISP is so buggy that it barely stays running for 5 minutes at a time (it is ‘not responding’ as we speak). When I shut down my PC last night, I got error messages saying the Telstra software could not be closed properly.

Today, Friday, the broadband connection was working again – for 30 minutes! Then I had the same old problems. It would connect to Pondscum alright but it wouldn’t load any web pages. This time I knew what to do, so I did it and it is up and working again – and still running almost two hours later! Any minute now, a new record will be set. I've already set the record for how hard it was to buy and install a piece of software. Six sales chimps and four technical support persons - and it's still not working properly. Well done Telstra!

Oh, and the speed? Just over 500kbps (kilobits per second). The chimp promised between 500 kbps and 1500 kbps ("depending on signal strength"). Well, my signal strength is "excellent" (according to the Connection Manager - when it's working) which is the top of the scale. What do you reckon, Telstra? Am I a satisfied customer?

I’m just hoping the connection stays up long enough for me to post this.

No comments:

The Gray Wave Jukebox

Powered by iSOUND.COM