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     Friday, October 09, 2009

    Hello from beyond the great French telco incompetency firewall
    Maybe this is a rant. Maybe this is a whinge. Either way, I'm sorry.

    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.

    Angela Alcorn @smange

    Posted at 8:04 AM #

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