AT LARGE: If I only ...

AT LARGE: If I only ...

Well, I've been and gone and done it now. I finally put my money where my keyboard has been for the best part of two years now, and signed up for cable Internet access.

For the sales types among you, there's a lesson in the decision I finally reached. I've contacted every broadband supplier servicing my area over the past 18 months or so, including some that were only promising to offer a broadband service eventually (many of them went when the bubble burst - that's how long I've been investigating this).

Only one company was interested enough in my business to follow up my initial investigations with further contact. Now, I'm not talking about hassling phone calls, unsolicited e-mail or anything like that. I'm talking about contacting me every once in a while, when there was a relevant development that might be of interest. "We're connecting a house in your area, would you be interested in a reduced installation fee?" or, "Our pricing structures now take into account computers with onboard Ethernet", that sort of thing. Keeping me aware without being pushy. Fine art, that.

Anyway, I went Optus. Second phone line for free was basically the kicker. Work calls on one phone, personals on the other, and all the time I've got an uninterrupted, live, streaming . . . erm, er, um, access to an FTP server for files related to my work for which I am paid and would never consider slacking off on work time, no siree.

It does give me many opportunities to be creative - like working out how to define watching all the videos on the Lord of the Rings Web site as "work related". I suppose I could justify it if I mention it in a column.

I was most impressed by the amount of bumf I had to read before signing on the dotted line of my contract. Six pages of it at least. Most of it was the standard, self-contradictory, loophole-ridden end-user agreement stuff you get with any software package. "Not to be used in weapons systems or any mission-critical application where death or serious injury could result from failure of the service", that kind of stuff. Think about it.

The thing that had me worried, though, was the fellow who installed the thing. All the while he was here, he was whistling "If I Only Had A Brain" from The Wizard of Oz. I'll certainly think twice before hooking my Optus cable up to my mission-critical weapons systems now. For the technical types among you, there's a lesson in that.

What have the Hottentots got that Matthew JC. Powell ain't got? Find out on

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