Notes from underground

يارب يسوع المسيح ابن اللّه الحيّ إرحمني أنا الخاطئ

Archive for the tag “Telkom”

Incommunicado

For more than three weeks we have had a faulty ADSL line, and have been virtually incommunicado.

Every time we tried to connect to a Web page, the following message appeared:

Secure Connection Failed

The connection to notepad-plus-plus.org was interrupted while the page was loading.

The page you are trying to view cannot be shown because the authenticity of the received data could not be verified.
Please contact the website owners to inform them of this problem.

Learn more…

Report errors like this to help Mozilla identify and block malicious sites

Today the problem has been fixed, and we can communicate again.

Instead of reporting it to the Website owners or to Mozilla (how would we do that when we are unable to send e-mail?) we reported it to Telkom. They sent a couple of people round who informed us that our router was at fault and pushed off. We spent R1000 on a new router, and installed it and it had exactly the same problem. So we reported it again to Telkom.

The people came back, restrung the wire between the house and the pole, and tested various other things, but could not solve the problem.

huaweiWe were able to communicate to a limited extent with a mobile WiFi gadget supplied by Telkom, which works on 3G. We’ve previously used it when travelling, but it proved quite useful for emergency use when the ADSL line wasn’t working. Unfortunately, however, it only has 1 Gb a month on our contract, and when that was used up, even our limited emergency access to the Web came to an end. We asked Telkom if we could transfer some of our bandwidth from the ADSL line to the 3G mobile WiFi device until the ADSL line was repaired, but in spite of their advertising such devices in their brochures as “failover”, they said it wasn’t possible. We’d only get another 1Gb at the end of the month. They would give us a credit on our phone bill for the time the line wasn’t working. In the mean time, of course, there is still snail mail.

I’ve actually been able to download most of my e-mail, usually after 5-20 attempts. But none of the queued replies were sent.

 

Telkom subcontractors trying, unsuccessfully, to repair our line

Telkom subcontractors trying, unsuccessfully, to repair our line

I’ve been thinking uncharitable thoughts about who ever it was who invented and recommended outsourcing. On a previous occasion when our phone line was down, we got two different subcontractors, who could not sort out the problem. The third one came in a Telkom van, and fixed it. This time it was the second subcontractor. But outsourcing such things seems to be a remarkably inefficient way to run a telecoms business.

But my main purpose in writing this is not just to complain about Telkom’s rigidity in being unwilling to allow us to use the 3G device while the the ADSL line waa not working (if you ever see this, it will be working again). It is about the bad advice from Mozilla.

Reporting such errors to Website owners or to Mozilla, as the error message suggests, could be not merely misleading but could cause a lot of unneccessary problems. There is nothing a Website owner can do about a line fault, which might be in another country or another continent.

Similarly, the line fault does not necessarily mean that a site is malicious, and so reporting such things to Mozilla could lead to a lot of quite innocuous sites being identified as malicious and blocked.

So I suggest that Mozilla add a line to their error message along the lines of “if this error is reported for several sites, report it to your ISP, as your connection may be faulty”.

 

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Telkom upgrade: lots of freebies, but what are they for?

One of those Telkom salespeople phoned a couple of months ago and offered us a faster Internet connection for an extra R100.00 a month, and it included free datadownloads between midnight and 6:00 am.

Since one son does computer animation which requires regular huge program updates, and the other likes to watch videos of motor racing, that seemed like a useful deal, so I signed up for it.

It came with a lot of other benefits. One was that it included Telkom-Telkom calls 24/7 instead of just during “CallMor” time. We don’t make many calls anyway, so it’s not really a benefit, but nice to know in case we need it.

But there were a lot of physical goodies too, which came in a big box.

The trouble is that there were no instructions, and only the barest descriptions, so we don’t know what half these things are, never mind how to use them, and for what.

So this is a plea for help: can anyone tell us what these things do, and if they are at all useful? Or do they just incur more liabilities?

Can we use any of them, or should we just advertise them for sale on an online auction site?

You can see the web page with the list of goodies here: Telkom Smarthome Premium ADSL.

And here are the goodies that came in the box:

  1. D-link ADSL Wi-Fi Router
  2. 3G Hauwei E5330 Mi-Fi Router
  3. Huawei Wi-Fi Range Extender
  4. Microsoft Office 365 (x2)
  5. SIM 1 with 1GB Data Every Month
  6. SIM 2 with 1GB Data Every Month
  7. SIM 3 with 100min Talk Time Every Month
  8. SIM 4 with 100min Talk Time Every Month
  9. Free DStv Explora

(1) The D-link ADSL Wi-Fi Router may be useful if our existing router gets struck by lightning.

(3) The Huawei Wi-Fi Range Extender may be useful for using laptops away from the router — is that what it does? How do we get it to work?

3G Hauwei E5330 Mi-Fi Router

3G Hauwei E5330 Mi-Fi Router

(2) 3G Hauwei E5330 Mi-Fi Router — Am I right in assuming that this could be used to connect to the Internet while travelling or during load shedding, using SIM cards (5) or (6)?

If so, it could be the most useful thing in the box. We’d just need to learn how to set it up and get it working.

MS Office 365

MS Office 365

(4) and (9) —Microsoft Office 365 and Free DStv Explora seem to be the gifts that go on taking, since it seems that you can’t use them without paying expensive monthly subscriptions. Should we try to sell them on an online auction site?

(7) & (8) the SIMs with 100min Talk Time Every Month seem to be useless without extra cell phones, or are they the kind that you can transfer your existing number to when your present contract expires?

Any ideas/comments/suggestions anyone?

 

Under the weather

Posting on this blog has been a bit erratic of late because we have been a bit under the weather.

For details see: Back to the Dark Ages, or the heat death of the universe?

Dead phones and the power of Twitter

Our phone is working again after being dead for 12 days.

We reported the fault to Telkom as soon as we noticed that the phone wasn’t working, and when it hadn’t been repaired within a day, I posted a message on Twitter & Facebook (via cellphone) to let people that we had problems, so they would understand that we would not be able to respond immediately to e-mail messages and such things. Something similar had happened about 6 months ago, when the phone line was down for a similar period, and when the service was restored I found lots of messages saying “Did you get my previous message?”

Occasionally the ASDL Internet connection worked, even when the voice line was dead, It worked for an hour or so, perhaps once every 3-4 days, and then would die again.

On the Twitter messge I used the #hashtag #Telkom, and was interested to see that it was picked up by @TelkomBusiness, who asked for the phone number, and then followed up with the technical department, and after we had been without the phone for 10 days asked them to “escalate” our fault. Whther as a result of that or something else, the phone started working again today, and with it the Internet connection. So thanks to @TelkomBusiness for the role they played in that. It just goes to show that someone out there keeps an eye on the hashtags, and picked up the #Telkom one, and followed it up. It also shows the power of Twitter. Thanks to the people at @TelkomBusiness for their readiness to help.

It will take some time to deal with all the accumulated mail: when I downloaded it in the brief windows when the ADSL was working I would sort it into various “To Reply” folders, sometimes with a quick note that I would deal with it when the line was working again, and delete the spam. Apologies for the notes that were perhaps curt and abrupt, or full of typos. I was typing fast to try to get it off before the connection died again.

Gideon Iileka, Steve Hayes, Thomas Ruhozo, at Kamanjab, Namibia, 5 October 1971And here’s a picture that shows the bloke who was sending the notes; that’s me, in the middle.

The picture is over 40 years old, but then some of the people I send e-mail to I haven’t seen for 40 years, and so they will be more likely to remember me looking like that. And the two other blokes in the picture I haven’t seen for 40 years either. But I like the picture, and I’d like to see them again, and perhaps take a follow-up picture.

There’s one other thing to add.

I posted this to let people know that our phone line is working again, and over the next few days I’ll be working to deal with the accumulated mail. But when I tried to write this, I couldn’t. WordPress would not let me.  The WordPress editor simply would not let me type the text. So I thought I’d try to write the message on my Tumblr bloglet, Marginalia, but that wouldn’t let me edit it either. So eventually I tried loading Internet Explorer instead of Firefox, and that seemed to do the trick. So it looks like the current edition of Firefox is broken, and needs an update.

 

The heat death of the Internet

A couple of days ago I commented on entropy on the Internet, and things are getting worse. Amatomu is still broken. Technorati returns “Page not found”. I’m thinking of removing their widgets/links from my blog, since they no longer serve any purpose.

And last weekend my ISP, Telkom, announced that there would be service interruptions over the weekend so that they could improve their service, and the service interruptions have continued ever since. The service seems to work for 30 seconds, and then to be off for two minutes, in a continuing cycle. Two out of three web pages I click on return the following message:

Network Timeout

The operation timed out when attempting to contact groups.yahoo.com.

The requested site did not respond to a connection request and the browser has stopped waiting for a reply.

Is it just me, or are any other Telkom subscribers experiencing similar problems?

Americans whinge about proposed Internet bandwidth cap

For the first time ever, it seems American ISPs are thinking of implementing bandwidth caps to curtail Internet usage, and many users are up in arms about it.

But Comcast’s mooted 250 Gig cap seems infinitely generous compared with Telkom’s 3 Gig monthly maximum, and anything else one has to pay extra for.

The era of unlimited Internet usage for a flat monthly price is one step closer to its end, as cable giant Comcast officially announced today that residential subscribers would top out at 250 gigabytes (GB) per month of data bandwith availability, beginning October 1.

Critics of metered broadband say that the plans offer too little bandwith for too high a price. Customers will shy away from using high-speed Internet’s full potential, such as uploading or streaming videos, if they are afraid of going over their limits in doing so, and that companies who are supporting metered plans do so to protect their own video channels and hamstring competitors such as YouTube.

blog it

For a long time I’ve been annoyed by URL-only posts on Usenet newsgroups, and sometimes respond to them with a URL-only reply, to explain why I find them annoying. I never even try to look at You-Tube or other streaming video, I get annoyed with too many unnecessary graphics on web sites, and blogs that play music on all posts. Even with this, I find that I often run out of bandwidth before the end of the month, and have to pay extra to retain access.

If Telkom offered 250 Gig, most South Africans would be delirious with joy.

Americans whinge about proposed Internet bandwidth cap

For the first time ever, it seems American ISPs are thinking of implementing bandwidth caps to curtail Internet usage, and many users are up in arms about it.

But Comcast’s mooted 250 Gig cap seems infinitely generous compared with Telkom’s 3 Gig monthly maximum, and anything else one has to pay extra for.

The era of unlimited Internet usage for a flat monthly price is one step closer to its end, as cable giant Comcast officially announced today that residential subscribers would top out at 250 gigabytes (GB) per month of data bandwith availability, beginning October 1.

Critics of metered broadband say that the plans offer too little bandwith for too high a price. Customers will shy away from using high-speed Internet’s full potential, such as uploading or streaming videos, if they are afraid of going over their limits in doing so, and that companies who are supporting metered plans do so to protect their own video channels and hamstring competitors such as YouTube.

blog it

For a long time I’ve been annoyed by URL-only posts on Usenet newsgroups, and sometimes respond to them with a URL-only reply, to explain why I find them annoying. I never even try to look at You-Tube or other streaming video, I get annoyed with too many unnecessary graphics on web sites, and blogs that play music on all posts. Even with this, I find that I often run out of bandwidth before the end of the month, and have to pay extra to retain access.

If Telkom offered 250 Gig, most South Africans would be delirious with joy.

Blatant phishing expedition — Telkom scam

Someone sent me this blatant phishing message today

Date sent: Fri, 9 May 2008 07:36:09 +0100 (BST)
Subject: Please Verify Your Email Address‏
From: “TELKOMSA SUPPORT TEAM”
Send reply to: helpdeskmailteam@gmail.com
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Dear telkomsa.net Webmail User,

To complete your telkomsa.net webmail account, you must reply to this email immediately and enter your password here (*********)

Failure to do this will immediately render your email address deactivated from our database.

You can also confirm your email address by logging into your telkomsa.net webmail account at http://webmail.telkomsa.net/src/login.php

We apologise for any inconveniences, but trust you understand that our primary concern is for our customers to be totally secure.

THE TELKOMSA WEBMAIL SUPPORT TEAM.

The giveaway, of course, is the Replyto: address — why would Telkom ask for replies to be sent to a Gmail address?

As it was no doubt a mass mailing spam as well, others may have received it, so be on your guard.

Back in touch

Yesterday afternoon our phone started working again after being broken for five days. At least this time Telkom sent an SMS twice a day to say that they were working on the problem.

Now I have a mountain of e-mail to catch up with. The advantage was that I was able to get some work done with a morning uninterrupted by phone calls.

Why I avoid YouTube, Podcasts etc

I never watch YouTube or other online video stuff. I never listen to Podcasts (don’t even have a speaker connected to my computer). I hate it when people refer me to such things online, or when they fill their blogs with multiple photos and videos. I now avoid Facebook, because I’m overwhelmed by demands to look at things that require me to download and install yet another bandwidth-consuming (and possibly privacy-threatening) “app”.

Why?

The end-of-the-month broadband blues, that’s why.

Read this article: The cap that chokes.

We switched to broadband nearly two years ago, just after my BBS computer finally crashed. We calculated that by giving up the extra phone line, broadband would cost about the same as we were paying for dialup (about R750 a month), and we wouldn’t have to rush to get everything done on the Internet before 7:00 am, and then wait for callmore time to kick in again at 8:00 pm before looking again. At least if someone referred to a web site in an e-mail or newsgroup, one could look at it any any time of day, instead of saving it up for the evening.

Or so we thought.

What they didn’t tell us was that the 2 Gig cap would mean no access at all for half the month. We increased it to 3 Gig (the max). Last month we ran out on the 26th. The month before we ran out on 21st. At least for the last couple of months e-mail still worked, but before that even e-mail was cut off. That doesn’t apply to web-mail addresses, of course, like Yahoo or Google mail — they are still cut off.

And if someone refers to a web site in an e-mail message, sometimes it’s not a matter of waiting till callmore time in the evening to look at it, but waiting till Internet access comes back at the end of the month.

It makes blogging impossible. It makes online calendars virtually useless, if you can’t check your appointments for half the month. And then the first three days of the month are spent catching up — trying to read the comments on one’s blog (and the complaints that one hasn’t responded to someone’s comment), reading other people’s blogs, deleting spam, marking Usenet trolls as read, putting all the real e-mail into the “to reply” folder.

And that happens even when I do avoid videos, YouTube, podcasts and the like. I wonder how anyone manages to use them. Some people must be looking at those YouTube inserts in blogs, or listening to those podcasts, but how do they manage it?

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