Just thought I'd email in a post to sort of update people on things.
We're still offline as a rule, which is really starting to drive me
nuts. It's now been nearly 4 months since we moved into this house and
asked for a phone/broadband/TV setup. We nearly got the phone line on
Tuesday, but paperwork overruled and we have to start the process
again. Apparently, the problem was that when Bruce filled in the web
form he needed to choose "porte xx" instead of "unit xx". Quite
obvious really, when he really was looking for the "maison" option
which didn't exist. So, France Telecom claim that it's not a
functional address and not even the France Telecom guy who was in my
lounge room could convince them to change that one dumbass thing and
connect the line. So, we wait for France Telecom to send the "please
send a better address" letter to Free. Then we wait for Free to
contact us for a better address, us to respond, then for Free to send
a "Here is a better address. Please try again" letter to France
Telecom. Then France Telecom send around the guy again (who apparently
lives two houses from us) and we might possibly get a phone line. Then
we have to wait for Free to set up the broadband. Free have astounded
us with their incompetence, having taken 3.5 months to send the docs
to France Telecom in the first place then emailing us a reminder about
our appointment two days after the appointment. We've got a French
lady (who has had similar pain with French telcos) helping us by
ringing Free almost every day. Nothing seems to help. We're stuck on a
contract with Free for two years.. *sigh*
I'm surviving with a 3G key of slow, expensive, occasional internet
plus the rare, dodgy connection to the one open network I can find
(which stays online for a minute at a time then drops out). Every now
and then, Bruce takes me up to his office on a weekend. But, this time
is usually spent calling people, working and uploading photos. I
wanted to get an iPhone and tether my laptop to it, but the 30 € (AU
$60) per month plan I found was actually the optional extra internet
plan. The real iPhone plan is 60 € (AU$120) and all up that's 90 € per
month too much to pay just for crappy 3G internet access (I barely use
the phone and I don't really *need* an iPhone. In fact, I mostly use
my current phone for texting Twitter updates). So, I wait. Once a day
I get online for 10 minutes, let a bucket-load of email send to
various websites and people, sync everything and quickly check
Facebook. Unfortunately, this means if a friend wasn't one of the many
to post an update in the last 10 minutes then I probably didn't see it.
Very, very sick of waiting. All my apps which are supposed to make
being offline easier are actually a pain in the arse. Mail seems to
eat the occasional email on send (some of which I didn't notice at the
time and have since forgotten about). It's also taken to showing me
the subject lines but not showing me the body of the email. But,
despite all this it's still better than most of the other apps.
Remember The Milk has gears which sucks - occasionally when you try to
sync it reloads from the server instead of putting all your offline
activities online for you. Also, if Firefox crashes you're screwed.
All the other RTM apps fail horribly offline too. iCal was working
awesomely until there was a change in the way CALDEV works (about a
week ago). It used to be that if you were offline it tried to sync and
then gave up. So, you could have it automatically try every few
minutes and it would sync both ways when it could. Now if you try to
sync to Google Calendar while you're offline it freaks out and forgets
all info about the calendars you have and the data in them. So you
lose all the entries you put in while you were offline, can't see your
calendars anymore and when you're next online you need to set it all
up again. Ridiculous and annoying. But seriously, the only people who
have noticed are the ones largely offline and who therefore aren't
likely to have made a fuss online yet. NetNewsWire is awesome for
syncing to Google Reader, but RSS feeds aren't exactly vital.
Not having internet access means I'm professionally in a little bit of
a black hole, not in touch with everyday news and not keeping up with
news from friends in Australia. Four months and counting.
So, aside from the annoyance of not having internet, life is great.
We've got great friends here, we travel around a bit, we've had a few
Aussie visitors, we're loving the food (okay, we're missing some
things in the food department*), we spend evenings reading heaps,
playing lots of games and watching lots of movies. Mainly, we spend
most of our time working and learning French. Life is good.
We've got our tickets sorted for our trip to Oz soon and we'll soon
have to start organising where we're staying and how we're going to
catch up with everyone. Looking forward to it!
* We're missing things like Thai food (can't get some ingredients, so
I can't make some stuff), pizza with more than just cheese on it (we
make our own, but still it's nice to be able to buy a pizza that
tastes right**), cheddar cheese, haloumi, kangaroo, soft white bread,
etc. etc. I am very happy about finding oats, though (France has a
thing about oats - there's import restrictions and everyone seems to
think it's food for horses). After finally finding a box of oats I've
had porridge almost every day - just as the weather turns cold too.
** Actually, we miss having cheap, tasty takeaway. Takeaway here is
neither. If you want to eat out in France you need to forget about
takeaway, go to a nice restaurant, pay through the nose and do it
properly. That way lies the good stuff.