"Dial up"

Friends on Facebook will already know my broadband suffered an outage on Saturday. Well, actually it’s still out. The set-top box stopped responding at 06.50 on Saturday morning, and the usual prodding didn’t bring it back to life, so I did what any computing professional would do in this scenario – unplugged it from the mains, and plugged it back in.

Unfortunately, it didn’t actually work – instead of springing back into life, it sat there looking at me with all it’s LEDs and bar segments on. 88:88 is not what you really want to be seeing on your STB.

At that point I had a nasty feeling that it might have been in the middle of flashing it’s firmware or something (I didn’t actually bother to turn on the TV to see if there were any messages to this effect.. rebooting the STB is a fairly regular occurrence), but it was well and truly door-stopped.

Nice man from Virgin media is coming tomorrow to give us a new one (hooray), but in the meantime I’m rediscovering the ‘joys’ of dial-up Internet. I’d forgotten how painful and frustrating it is to have stuff trickling down at 56k. I’d never really minded about the spam coming in (my spam filter eats it before I see it), but when you see 60 messages coming down … oh…. so …. slowly … and none of them are for real. Arrggg.

Then there’s trying to just pop onto Google maps while you’re on the phone to someone – but no, doesn’t work. Grrrr.

I did manage to get a whole bluetooth GPRS thing going with my Samsung on Orange (a whole 115 Kbps too), but my contract doesn’t include any data, so that would work out even more expensive then the dial-up.

For what it’s worth, the magic was actually straightforward:

  1. Pair phone with XP
  2. Set the initialisation on the bluetooth modem that appears to


  3. Set the number to dial to *99#

I found this info on various sites, such as this one.

Still, a useful reminded of the importance of anti-bloat on websites. MySpace is a particularly bad offender over dial-up, incidentally. It’s slow over broadband, let alone over a piece of wet string.