This week has been a little frustrating in terms of working from home (and putting up blog posts on time) – thanks to a fault on Telkom’s side, my home ADSL suddenly wasn’t working any more (my modem was reporting a DSL connection failure, or rather, no DSL connection at all), starting Monday evening and finally being resolved late morning Thursday!
This isn’t a particularly great thing if you have fashioned a little work office in your braai room like I have, and because I haven’t really planned for this contingency, other than my Vodacom mobile data on my phone contract, I didn’t exactly have a backup Internet connection to fall back on.
(Luckily Wednesday I needed to be in office for my weekly meeting – hello Frogfoot fibre network in the Westlake Business Park. So, so fast…)
Of course, being a software developer means that I can do the majority of my development work offline anyway, so it’s not like my work world paused or anything like that for the duration of this week – though I have to say it was rather nice to not be able to respond for a bit to all the support queries and calls for changes that come into my inbox on a daily basis. (I’m currently the only development resource in the company. In other words, I have to do pretty much everything.)
Calls to Telkom’s call centre for support didn’t get me anywhere (due to the loadshedding there are a lot of confused old people and broken modems flooding into the support system at the moment), so in the end I grabbed the Telkom Android app off the Google Play platform and used that to log a fault.
A day and a half later, I got a phone call to get more details about the issue, and the next day I got a phone call from a technician asking me if everything was working now. I glanced over at the modem, and true as Bob, both the DSL and Internet lights on my old Mega 105WR router were now happily flashing along.
(Though if this was a simple line re-synch or whatever they did remotely, it bothers me a little that they haven’t automated this process yet. Surely it can’t be hard to get people to log a fault in a particular way, those instances then being picked up by a monitoring system and automatically sorted out? Or at least, if it is already an automated system, then why does it take so long? Or am I just being silly at this point?)
Anyway, although not fast, the service was good, so I have to commend Telkom on that.
Thanks to the whole RICA process, it should finally be arriving on Tuesday. A little too late to be of actual use, but at least now I’ll be ready for next time! :)
I sat with an interesting problem the other day. Essentially all of a sudden I couldn’t access this site (craiglotter.co.za) from my home connection, which of course meant that I immediately hopped on to Afrihost’s support page to log an issue (they currently host this site for me). They quickly responded saying that the site was loading just fine for them, and indeed, when accessing the site through an anonymous proxy like Anonymouse.org, I too could see that the site was up and running. So the next problem had to be my home Internet connection itself, and after running a couple of tracert requests to craiglotter.co.za, I could see that for some or other reason, one of the servers in the chain hop was simply refusing to respond to my machine’s requests.
Based on the support guy from Afrihost’s screenshot, I could see that the US-based address that was denying my traffic was allowing through his, so next on my steps to resolve was mucking about with different DNS services. Needless to say, this didn’t solve the issue either.
I rebooted the router once or twice, but that didn’t solve anything either, and then I twigged that perhaps I’m being rejected based on IP address – which in that case could be resolved by forcing a change of my Telkom line’s external IP address.
Grabbing my current external IP address via http://www.whatismyip.com/, I switched off my router for 25 minutes. No such luck. Neither did a sleep of 30 minutes do it either. Too late to call up Telkom support to request a line port reset, I located a note on the Internet that in order to manually reset your Telkom IP address in the manner least likely to raise flags (like cloning or changing your MAC address for example), you need to turn off your router for an extended time period – around 8 hours is a safe bet.
So I duly turned off the router (or rather, instructed Chantelle to turn it off before she came to bed in the evening), and the next morning as I settled in to start work, I flicked it on and checked my external IP address – success! To force a reset of your Telkom IP address, just turn off your modem for a super long period of time (+- 8 hours)!
Of course, if you are trying to do this during the day, you could just phone up Telkom and ask them to do a port reset which might solve the issue, or if you can access your router, switch the WAN connection to say the Telkom Guest Account and then back again, as this should also force an IP reassign according to Afrihost support guy (I received this last tip after having solved the issue, but it is worth mentioning here).
Anyway, problem solved!
Related Link: http://www.whatismyip.com/
Yay, so I’m finally off the painfully slow 384 kbps ADSL line at home, having opted to at long last bump our home connection up to the next Telkom-offered level, now that I’m going to be working from there more often thanks to the newly implemented Tuesday and Thursday work from home agreement with Touchwork.
One of the nicer things to have happened in the interim since we first got our home ADSL connection is that Telkom went ahead and decided to up that next step from 512 kbps up to 1 mbps in terms of speed, and at the same time bring down the price for that jump, meaning that it now only costs about R130 more per month (so R289 in total per month) for a connection which is essentially three to four times faster than the one you were used to before.
Still bloody expensive of course when compared to the rest of the developed world, but at least better than what it was when you had to pay a couple of hundred Rand more per month for a jump of only 150 kbps to the 512 kbps mark! (Which was why I have never upgraded until now).
Anyway, the increase is speed in terms of the Internet at home is definitely better (Speedtest.net confirms this), but seeing as I’m spoiled with a 4 mbps line here at the Westlake office, it still seems pretty slow. Still, Facebook is smoother and Google Calendar and Gmail freezes less often, and uploading pictures to the blog is less frustrating than what it used to be, so I’m pretty happy with it I guess.
In any event, I’ll keep holding thumbs in the hope that Telkom might decide to be even nicer to us little people again sometime in the future! :)
If you are in the position of having switched to Afrihost thanks to their particularly cheap ADSL prices or any of the other smaller ISPs that offer some quite attractive rates, you’ll no doubt be quite frustrated over these last couple of days I’m sure.
International connectivity has pretty much been non-existent or moving at a completely unusable crawl since Monday, all thanks to a disruption in the all important Seacom undersea fiber cable that connects Africa to the rest of the world and acts as the cheap carrier line that allows all these small ISPs to offer the deals that they do.
After noticing a fault in the line, Seacom originally pencilled in the maintenance period to commence on Saturday 24th April, but unfortunately rough seas and stormy conditions prevented the repair ship from launching the submarine operation in order to bring up the affected faulty segment and run repairs on it. As it is, it would now seem that the problem is much larger than initially thought and there are currently reports from Seacom that the cable may very well be down all the way through until Friday the 30th of April!
Some of the other ISPs like MWEB purchased redundancy on the SAT3 cable that Telkom uses and that certainly helped their customers a bit, but as of the 28th that access has since been withdrawn by Telkom, meaning that if you opted to go with any other ISP outside of Telkom and the few others that make use of the SAT3 or 3G system, you’re pretty much screwed at the moment.
A good example of single point of failure then I’m afraid.
That said, Afrihost is at least offering some sort of limited, extremely shaped and throttled Internet access through a special proxy server it has since set up (http://www.afrihost.com/proxy.pac), but as you can well imagine, the amount of traffic trying to get through there is already clogging that alternative route up.
So in other words, unless your needs are entirely local, you’re pretty much dead in the water at this point in time.
Else, if you have a setup like me back home where I make use of both an Afrihost and Telkom ADSL account, you can sit back, give a wry smile and continue to work, thanks to the surprisingly reliable (for a change) Telkom alternative!
Now who would ever have thought the use of the words “Telkom” and “alternative” in a single, positive sentence? ;)
Did you know that your Telkom supplied router has a web-based management interface? Did you know that you can manage and play with all its settings at just a click of a mouse?
Well if you didn’t know that, and you are connected to the Internet using your Mega 105WR router, point your browser to http://10.0.0.2 and hit enter.
The default username and password to access the web portal is:
Of course, it is strongly recommended that you change these as soon as possible. Which you now can, because well, now you know what they are in order to access the site that will let you change them!
I got a horrible fright when Chantelle grinned to me and said “I’m so glad that I am not Mr C. G. Lotter right now” last night.
“What? Why do you say that?” I pleasantly enquired, only to be taken aback when she handed me a thick envelope bearing my full name in glorious print. Yup, our first ever Telkom bill had arrived. Gingerly I reached inside, gripped the white pages within, and slowly pulled out, almost falling over when my eyes scanned the amount that I owe.
What? Surely that can’t be right?
Ouch! I know my package should only amount to maybe R400, but certainly not R750! Bemused and befuddled, I vehemently swore that today I would go straight to the Telkom Direct store to directly enquire as to this seemingly high amount that they are asking from me.
But of course, I being me never got around to it, so I decided to phone the conveniently listed Billing helpline instead. Actually, I got a really helpful lady on the other end and she patiently assisted me in increasing my debit limit and explained in a nice tone that in fact, a person pays for their telephone account upfront! Upfront?
So of course this means that I’m paying for June and the arrears on May when everything got installed, which then all adds up to this rather high total I see in front of me.
So now it all makes sense to me, but still… it kind of feels like a lot of money to pay all in one go. :(
Ah, if only Telkom was as user friendly as a Teletubby – which of course unfortunately they aren’t, a fact that more than just a few South Africans have testified to in the past.
Funnily enough, my own experience with Telkom started out sweetly enough. Just before my move here to Gordon’s Bay Chantelle and I went to the Telkom Direct shop in Tygervalley where we spoke with an exceedingly friendly and helpful lady by the name of Anneline who got us all signed up for the Closer 3 + ASDL package and then did her best to fast-track a line installation date for us so that we could be up and running by the time I moved in on the 1st of April.
And that’s about when my good experience Telkom ended. From that point onwards we had numerous miscommunications with Telkom and its technicians, resulting in at least two installation call cancellations and then finally a confirmed installation call for the 29th of April, a full month after the point where I had actually needed the line active and running already!
Thankfully this time Telkom stuck to their guns and I organised to be at home on the 29th, refusing to set foot out of the house until that damn technician had arrived. As the day grew longer I grew more and more worried that he wasn’t going to pitch but thankfully just before I could call the coast guard in to come and look for him, I heard the doorbell ring and there standing on my doorstep was my much awaited technician.
In the end, the job didn’t take all that long to complete and the technician was pretty decent bloke, and pretty soon my two points in the kitchen were wired and open and the technician bade me farewell as he left for his next appointment. Excitedly I awaited Chantelle’s return from work and off we shot to Telkom Direct in Somerset Mall to proceed to stage 2 of the process.
Unfortunately for us though, long weekend fever was already in the air and we were met by an absolute stonewall in the shop. No one was interested in helping us, looking up our contract or even just giving us some information – these guys were on holiday already, and nothing but nothing you were going to say was going to dissuade them. Chantelle was on the verge of jump kicking over the counter and taking the consultant out when I decided that it was time to go and we hurriedly backed out before the fuming rage of C could be unleashed.
More than a little pissed off, the two of us then marched across the corridor to Game and purchased a phone instead, so that we could at least test if the damn line was working or not at home. I found a nice plain and simple Panasonic, exactly what I was looking for, and off we twaddled back home to test it out.
Success! According to the ‘consultants’ at Telkom Direct in Somerset Mall, we don’t have a contract, never even mind the ASDL connection, but there it was… a ring tone. Okay, admittedly it sounds like an engaged ring tone, but we are able to make and receive calls on the line so it looks A-okay to me :)
Which then brought me back down to Earth with the thought of “Well, now what about the ASDL which you now apparently don’t qualify for?” Luckily for me though, I have a consumer rights little fighter in my corner and C was not going to take this matter lying down. No, the next day she was in Bellville sorting matters out (well she was actually there for a doctor’s appointment but Telkom was second on her list, I assure you). Amazingly enough, as she later relayed to me, on walking into the Telkom Direct shop in Tygervalley, standing in a queue and then finally approaching the very same Anneline lady from before, this woman actually recalled who we were! She remembered my surname, our new address and pretty much all our details – and not just remembered, she even went as far as to help us out again!
Sifting through our paperwork, making phone calls and organising our stuff, she eventually told Chantelle that we just needed to wait until Monday for all the upcoming public holidays to pass and then she would phone us and organise the final hurdle, following which we need to come and collect the modem from her! Talk about a Telkom superstar employee! This is the type of person that makes you want to write to the boss singing all their praises!
Okay, so she was sick on Monday and Tuesday in the end, but we did end up getting our modem on the Thursday and I did get around to doing the self-install on the Friday and I did get around to doing the line activation on the Saturday, but now I finally have everything up and running and my ASDL headache has now been resolved. Ah, no more worries and my home office is finally complete! :)
Of course, the only drawback to having everything finally in place is that I can no longer blame the crappy Vodacom connection if I don’t feel like working any more!
Oh noes! It is the 4th of April and still no sign of a landline or ASDL in my humble man room! Just what the heck is going on? O.o
Well, first off the bat, I have to come clean and admit to this rather large oversight being entirely the fault of… Chantelle and myself (well, our work in all truth). Yes, I have said it. The dream team of C&C went a little FUBAR and the result is no Telkom installation as of yet.
Actually, Telkom were really, really helpful when we first approached them via the Telkom Direct shop in Tygervalley. We were helped out straightaway and Anneline bent over backwards trying to accommodate us, going so far as to organize us an emergency installation date in order to help us get set up by the first April.
Unfortunately a little bit of a communication bungle between the assigned technician and ourselves meant that he rocked up at our doorstep when both of us were stuck at work! As his business fell through, we had to fall back into line and a query or two to Telkom didn’t turn up to much information until a phone call out from the blue on Thursday where a Telkom representative informed me that they could send a technician out to us on Friday. Damn. Trust it to again be a date that both Chantelle and I are stuck at work, meaning I had to politely decline their offer.
Asking whether or not I could get a technician out here on either a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday, I got a ‘certainly sir. Let me just check the availability list’ reply and after a short wait had to bite my tongue when the lady told me that the first available date is in fact on the 29th of April – just about a month later than what I had originally planned to have everything set up.
Nuts. Guess I am going to have to wait until then to get my line installed, never mind get the ASDL activated. The only little concern I have at this moment is that the buggers at Telkom Central might start billing me early simply because they can. In any event, thank goodness that my 3G Vodacom connectivity has somehow mysteriously changed from an unusable 1 bar weak signal to a stable 3-4 bar very usable signal at the flat! Who would ever have thought that I would be thanking Vodacom for coming charging to the rescue?
Now all I have to do is try and make my teeny weeny little 500mb cap last as looooonnnggg as possible…
(So maybe not so many blog posts then?)
Thursday’s work went okay I guess – got a lot of smaller items I need to focus on which means some of the larger projects have to get pushed behind a little, which isn’t all that great. On the up side, we did get a request for a small website that Ryan and I might actually take on as a project for our now faltered CodeUnit.ZA collaboration while the other good news was that Chantelle managed to get the much needed two new tires for the Getz… without buying a TV cabinet while she was in full possession of my debit card! :P
Though she did opt to buy an exquisitely beautiful and expensive Russel Hobbes toaster and kettle set for the GB (Gordon’s Bay) flat from her own funds instead! Go figure…
Actually the two busy little bees that are Chantelle and her mom were rather productive yesterday, doing a ton of shopping for themselves and window shopping for the flat, uncovering quite a few items of interest that Chantelle was more than eager to show off to me when I joined her in Tygervalley later the evening after I returned from work.
As it is, thanks to their diligent work, it looks like I’m going to end up buying something first that was actually way back last on my list of things to get over the next couple of months, namely a dining room table and chairs. Home Depot has an awesome deal on a dark wood table with four padded chairs for only R2000, a price good enough to make me buy it without asking any questions first. The size of the set is exactly what we need to fit on the little ‘patio’ so it would be really silly to pass this one up and seeing as the chairs on their own retail for about R450, getting the table plus the chairs at that price is an absolute bargain – and you all know how much I love bargains!!
Our main mission for being in Tygervalley however was actually to make work of organising a landline and internet access for the GB flat, so on arrival Chantelle and I promptly strolled straight into the Telkom Direct shop and stood around like lost sheep. Luckily for us, they didn’t like us cluttering their shop doorway like that and an extremely helpful and friendly lady by the name of Anneline ushered us to her desk where she set about showing us the various options available to us as well as kicking off the process to get everything started.
I can’t tell you the relief when Nagua Bay complex showed up on their system, because I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to hook up ASDL there which in that case would spell worst case disaster for my home office plan. As it is I’ve taken out a 24 month contract on the Closer 3 plan that comes bundled with a 1GB ‘FAST’ ASDL package for R500 a month. Hopefully the landline will bring down some of our cellphone costs because I would like to downgrade my current Vodacom contract when I get the chance. So with that out of the way, my home office takes one more step towards becoming reality!
With that done and our browsing of furniture and carpets complete (as well as quick snack stop), we headed across the road to the Montgomery residence to join up with Cheryl, Monty and Robert for another one of the usual family braais. As always, Robert was slaving away behind the blazing fire while Monty and I stood around drinking and talking nonsense with Chantelle and Cheryl making themselves useful in the kitchen and shouting at the Strictly Come Dancing judges on the TV whenever they got the chance. Boy, I never knew Chantelle could dislike a person THAT much! :P
A little into the evening and we also got to meet Zandria, the girl from Swellendam who has temporarily moved in with the Monty’s until she can find a place of her own. As it was, she made it just in time for starters which just happened to be ’skilpadjies’, a dish which I would probably never ever touch on my own, but thanks to peer pressure I did and thoroughly enjoyed it. For those of you who don’t know, ‘skilpadjies’ are basically skinned livers wrapped in either bacon or fat and then cooked on an open flame. Not the most appetizing sounding of dishes, but actually bloody tasty I have to shamefully admit.
Thankfully though the main meal held no extra little gastronomic surprises and instead we tucked into some delicious chicken kebabs, neck chops and Boerewors, all rounded off with some delicious flame grilled buns, potato dish and salad. Ah, a true South African meal! And seeing as it is almost Easter, what could be better for dessert than Easter Eggs? (though actually Chantelle did top their dessert with a little something of her own on getting home later the evening – can anyone say Lindt chocolate bunny rabbit? :)
As always supper was great fun and after ditching Robert and Zandria with dishes duty, we said a quick farewell and slinked off home to get some well deserved rest! Ah, another busy day in the life of Craig and Chantelle! :)