Test Cross-post

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Something needs fixing

Hhhmmmm, I think my blogs aren’t cross-posting to my Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages – something needs fixing.
Baring teeth smile
If you are seeing this post on any of those sites, I’m WRONG!

The Only Way is… Tooway

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OK, after years of constantly below-par broadband speeds here, I finally ‘bit the bullet’ and did something about it.

For as long as I can remember, it seemed like everyone else (apart from the rest of the neighbours in our immediate area) were getting faster connection speeds than us.

When the houses were built 20+ years ago, they made no provision for the ‘information super-highway’ and recently, the mighty Virgin confirmed they had no plans to change things – even though we occasionally get mailshots from them promising us Bolt-like speeds.

BT have been strangely quiet, and even Sky wouldn’t sell me their broadband package because of the (low) speed. 

The simple truth is that, for broadband-by-phone, we live too far away from the Exchange. On a good day, I might just get a 1.25 Mb/s download here, but as the work-day progresses, it just gets slower and slower – and many of our neighbours are languishing with speeds even slower than mine. Technology can put a robot on Mars, but it can’t get Tynan Close a 2 Mb/s broadband connection! It’s soooo sloooow that services like iPlayer and YouTube sometimes won’t run at all on our TV.

Currently it takes almost a day to download a 60 minute episode of Mad Men!!

Mad!!!!!

Prior to looking at alternative ways to receive broadband, I carried out a speed test. The result below, is the BEST I got over a six hour period from Demon Internet.

Download speed: 0.81 Mb/s

Upload speed 0.38 Mb/s

    

Preparing for Changeover
So, what did I do? Well, a quick Google search revealed a broadband service delivered by satellite. The company I chose is based in the UK (that’s  a bonus!), and is called Tooway. They offer a number of speed packages – I chose the 8Mb/s, as I’m pretty certain that will meet my business and personal needs. There are faster options available – right up to 18 Mb/s at the time of writing, and a slower one (2 Mb/s) if you’re on a budget. 

The process with Tooway was very straightforward. Call them, pay the upfront costs for: installation, hardware and your first month’s fee – and the ball is rolling. OK, unlike some other internet providers, you’re not going to get lots of add-on goodies like a free calls bundle and free access to wireless when out-and-about, but what you DO get, is a promise of a reliable and fast connection that doesn’t rely on where you live. Nice one!

A Few Day Later…
Having ordered the product over the phone (you can also order online), a few days later, two packages arrived containing all the hardware. A few days after that, an installation company called to arrange installation. You can do-it-yourself, but I’d recommend leaving it to the professionals. It’s not a difficult job in itself, but aligning satellite dishes is something most of us won’t have much experience in! Just remember that it means another dish on your property, and sometimes you might need permission. If your residence is restricted, Tooway do provide an option to receive your TV through their dish.

Not the prettiest of sites, but functional!

Installation Day
On the day of the installation, it all went pretty well. The Installers arrived slightly earlier than expected – and that turned out to be an advantage because it took them slightly longer to ‘point’ the dish. Depending on where your house is, you may be limited on suitable locations for this essential piece of metal – it has to be able to ‘see’ the satellite and there shouldn’t be any visible obstructions like trees or tall buildings in the line of sight.

A few hours later, everything was up and running. It’s worth remembering that the installers will only configure the modem to work and confirm your connection is working. It’s down to you to connect the modem to the router (which Tooway sell) and make any adjustments to the settings on your PC. In short, don’t expect the installers to touch your PC at all.

Any Good?
Oh yes! Everything is working as it should. I didn’t notice much difference with normal ‘surfing’, but downloading and/or streaming is a smooth and speedy process. Downloading Sky Movies is now a breeze, so is watching iPlayer – and I can even look at Facebook and Twitter on my TV – how sad is that!

As a quick test, I downloaded a 120 minute movie from Sky and it took just 23 minutes – and because of the faster download speed, Sky let’s you start watching it before the download is finished – in fact the film was viewable within about three minutes. Perfect for a film addict like me.

Here are the results of the BEST speed tests carried out over a two-hour period for the Tooway setup – remember I’m on an ‘8Mb/s down’ and ‘2 Mb/s up’ package.

Download speed: 8.4 Mb/s

Upload speed 1.9 Mb/s

Just compare these to the broadband-by-telephone results above

    

I’d say that was a fantastically good result – 10 times faster downloads than the previous setup.

Hats off to Tooway. The service has been excellent, there’s an efficient customer service team and the technical help and advice (not that you’ll need much) is spot on. It’s also nice to be able to talk to real people, rather than spend ages trying to get through to a faceless call-centre. Call Tom on 0844 874 0600 if you have the need for speed!

This has definitely been one of my better decisions of 2012!

PS. Only the satellite is connected to Tooway, I’m not a relation of any of the staff, nor part of their organisation – just a VERY satisfied customer!

The Cat’s away…

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Ann’s away on business for a few days.

Riotous parties, excessive drinking, late nights then..? Well, maybe not –  I’ll leave that until the Party on Saturday!!!!

5ive go mad in London

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Well, maybe not quite!

View from the Jubilee Bridge I set off for London around 2ish and got into town around 3.30.

After a quick walk to the Circle Line, I was soon at the Embankment, heading across Jubilee Bridge, heading for the South Bank. It was hot muggy day and perhaps as expected, the place was very busy with people – the Tube, the streets were just packed.

On arriving at the South Bank, it was even busier – people, people and more people everywhere but there were plenty of street entertainers (mostly the same – the ‘live statue’ variety) to keep the crowds happy.

logo-chezgerard After a bit of searching (and with Angela’s help by text), I found the restaurant I’d pre-booked – the Chez Gerard – on Belvedere Road (my sat nav didn’t have this particular Chez Gerard in its database – bah!). Angela arrived slightly ahead of the rest, around 5.40 and we settled down in the restaurant for a natter accompanied by some bread,olives and a cool(ish) bottle of house-white.

Carey, Philip and Antoinette arrived within minutes of each other and after a quick initial natter, (June couldn’t make it), we started looking through the menu. It’s a French restaurant and the choice was pretty good. It didn’t take me long to make up my mind – the Gnocci for starters followed by the Burger (how very french!!!!). My starter was a little strange – more mushrooms and sauce than the title suggested, but this was more than made-up for by the burger. There’s are meaty burgers and then there was this beast – even I couldn’t have eaten two! It came with the smallest french-fries I’ve ever seen and some strange green-stuff, that I was told was lettuce 🙂 Boy, was I stuffed by the end? – I couldn’t even manage dessert (and that’s unusual for me) and I just settled for a double-espresso.

It was good to the gang, and we could have stayed and chatted for longer, but we all had homes to go to. We got the bill, paid our dues and then headed our separate ways, literally. As it 10 years of us ‘getting together’ next year, we’ve decided to do something special, around this time in 2011. We’re not quite sure what yet, but it’ll probably be a meal somewhere, possibly at lunch-time, somewhere in London. It was good to the gang, and we could have stayed and chatted for longer

I headed back across the bridge around 8.30 (still busy with people) and made for St Pancras, narrowly missing the 9pm train by a whisker. Normally, I snooze on the train, but this wasn’t to be, as the carriage had acquired a screaming sprog for the whole of the journey. Headache!!!!

I stumbled through the front-door around 10.45, still stuffed and with the sound of the sprog reverberating around my head.

Personal Website re-launched

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Personal Website A bit of a quiet week here business-wise, so it was a good opportunity to finish off the re-design of my personal website. Actually, I’d been tinkering with it all week but for some reason, I’d not being particularly productive with it all.

So, with grim determination, resulting in some significant re-design along the way, at last, it’s all done! I’ve even managed to incorporate my twitter feed on the home-page, but I can’t figure out how to do the same with Facebook – ideas anyone???

Blog, Blog, Blog

Reading time: < 1 minute...It’s exactly six years since I started blogging – pre-dating FaceBook and Twitter by a few years – a total of 1500 entries. Phew!!!