• "I cannot think of a worse fate: hearing something worse than John Mayer when you have to click on a link that says John Mayer. (Consider clicking on a Google search result for your dentist’s office phone number and getting your ex-girlfriend instead.)" This line is very funny, but the whole post is a shrewd explanation of the importance of resolution, and the fist Facebook makes of it. I hope consumers will discover they care about this more than they thought, too.
  • Stanford's iPhone development course.
  • "Is writing ever NOT collaboration? Doesn’t one collaborate with oneself, in a sense? Don’t we access different aspects of ourselves, different characters and attitudes and then, when they’ve had their say, switch hats and take a more distanced and critical view — editing and structuring our other half’s outpourings? Isn’t the end product sort of the result of two sides collaborating? Surely I’m not the only one who does this?" Something else that's been on the pile (to link) for a while now.
  • "The craftsman as hero is a consistent motif in Ruskin’s artistic and social theories. To him, mechanisation and division of labour dehumanise workers, enslaving them to execute exactly the specifications of others. The only way to recapture the humanity in labour is to put the designer back in touch with the tools of the craft and to unleash the creativity of the maker." A lovely metaphorical piece from Matt Edgar, reminding me of how much I need to brush up on my knowledge of the Arts and Crafts movement, if only because of how much I appreciate their sentiments.
  • "At some point, I begin to feel that I am carrying entire Latin American forests home with me. Also, I am afflicted with a terrible need to stop and write things down, at almost every corner, slowing my passage through the city and impeding motion. I am locked in this ridiculous two-step, unable to travel more than half a block before sitting down and writing out more, papering over the last thirty feet, dripping more ink onto the street: this absurd project, this incomprehensible, incompletable urge, this terror of forgetting and compulsion to record." Beautiful writing from James, which has been sitting on the "to link" pile for far too long.
  • "Here is an extraordinary piece of film. It is a live outside broadcast of a British army simulation of an attack on a train in Britain. It went out at prime time on a BBC programme called Saturday Night Out. And it happened in 1956."
  • "Maps are having their F-64 moment, right now, which is important and wonderful but I don't think anyone really wants to live in a world with an infinite depth of field. It's an appealing idea but then something like the Hipstamatic comes along and we all get irrationally weak in the knees, all over again." As usual with Aaron, I could quote most of the article, but in this case, I'll pick my favourite piece of writing, rather than perhaps the most succint quotation; just read the whole thing. (And: I wish I could code or even write like this).

Pipex: a resolution

27 August 2008

Time to conclude the tale of woes I went through trying to repair my internet connection (previously documented here and here). I got a working connection on Friday, 22nd August – 12 days after my connectivity first disappeared – when a Pipex/Tiscali engineer came around to my house.

The solution?

A new router. Specifically, a Thomson Speedtouch, supplied free by my ISP. Both the Netgears I tried weren’t up to the job, apparently, despite having worked for four years prior.

(I think what happened is that, after a failed attempt to migrate away – another broadband provider being incompetent – that when my MAC code expired, my line became a “new” Tiscali line, which all of a sudden only works with their own modems).

Anyhow. Back online. The disappointing thing is that if I’d been able to get through to a second-line engineer on the Tuesday after my problems had occurred, I might have been able to get through to UK-based support sooned, and had an engineer around over a week prior to the 22nd.

As it was, I became stuck in call-centre hell. All the first-line support staff at the call-centre were courteous, and concerned about my problem – especially when they saw from their own (well-kept) records how long it was taking to solve.

When I escalated the issue, the team in the UK at high-level and network support were all sharp, courteous, and quick to call me back or track progress. It was they who ultimately asked from an engineer to come.

The engineer himself was courteous and sharp, and had the decency to contact me several times when he turned out to be running late.

The gap was in “second-line support” – essentially, call-centre staff who perform more technical tasks, such as testing the line. They consistently failed to call me back when they said they would, and given I needed to be in to respond to their tests, this made it impossible to progress beyond them. Added to that, it was impossible to be transferred to them; they had to call me back direct. As a result, I frequently called to report that they had failed to call me back, only to end up back at first-line support again.

Still, we’re back online, and that’s what matters; it’s a shame it had to play out like this, though. For now, I’m just sticking with this ISP for the time being. Having a connection is better than no connection, at the moment.

(As a footnote: when I signed up to Pipex, about four years ago, they were not the cheapest, but they had dedicated, knowledgeable support staff in the UK, on the phone from 8am to 8:30pm. They’ve now been bought by Tiscali – something they never informed me of – and the quality of service just isn’t the same.)