Andrew and I are going to the snow this week, and we’ll be un-broadbanded. Since I have some work I need to finish for a conference paper, and I know that the lodge has a fixed line, I thought I’d grab a temporary dialup account.
I would have thought that pre-paid dialup, which does exist, made sense. But either you have to pay a lot for a little (our friends at BigPond, as usual) or you have to go to a physical store and ask the blank-faced underpaid sales assistants to provide you with something that they sell very little of and therefore have never heard of (Primus, Chilli). And in any case I really don’t like the model where I look something up on a computer at home with a broadband connection and a perfectly good Visa card sitting right next to me, only to have a website tell me that I have to go to the shops to pick up a card, at which point I have to take the card back home, log onto a website using said pre-existing connection, and set up a new account. Since it involves a pre-existing connection anyway, why not just let me sign up online?
I do confess to having been stupid enough to try this retail outlet scheme this morning though. I was duly punished for that when Dick Smith told me that they don’t even sell the starter packs for pre-paid dialup, only the refills, for goodness sake.
Anyway, thanks to those picky folk at Whirlpool I found Beagle. Nice and simple. Beagle’s not pre-paid in the usual sense (that is, you have a fixed amount of access that expires at some point), they do actually sign you up for an ongoing dialup connection on a monthly billing cycle. But there’s no contract and cancellation is an easy, automatic and well-advertised website feature. $13 a month. Looking around a bit more I see that AstraTEL among others could do it a little cheaper, but with uglier web pages, so on the balance I’m still ahead.
And testing it out, I find that the support for my laptop’s onboard SmartLink modem has improved, I now only have to install sl-modem-daemon rather than needing to compile a kernel driver as well. Another win!