Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Creeping paranoia

I've become very superstitious over the past few days. I'm afraid to use my Internet connection any time that it seems to be working, because it always seems to fail again shortly thereafter. I can't take the risk of uploading any pictures to my blog, obviously. In any case, the pictures I've taken will be historical documents by the time the sleeping technicians at France Télécom fix my problems. The connection is still working very poorly at the moment, but that's better than not working at all, which has been the usual state.

It's supposed to be snowing outside. I don't know if that's actually true, as I haven't gone outside today. I rather doubt it, since it's always warmer in real life than the weather service claims. If it says “light snow,” that means, at best, a bit of slush on the sidewalks. Traditionally, Paris has had about two weeks of snow days each winter, but in recent years that has shrunk to zero, although the weather service will claim that there has been some measurable snow on a few days (but like I said, their snow is actually slush inside the real city). I haven't seen actual, dry snow in any significant amount here in years.

The temperature is around freezing outside, which isn't unusual for this time of year. It usually doesn't go much lower, fortunately (I like chilly weather, but I don't like sub-freezing weather). Somehow, despite these low temperatures, the building's heating system still manages to push the temperature up to 79° F inside the apartment. I still have to open a window and let heat out in order to get the temperature lower. The radiators are much too hot to touch; I find myself wondering how they get water this hot to circulate in them, and how much pressure they may be under (the pipes are 72 years old).

Since the dew point is 26.6° F right now, the relative humidity in the apartment is just over 14%, which means that my mouth is dry and my nose is blocked most of the time.

I'm debating whether or not to call France Télécom again. Perhaps the phones are staffed by people who have actually seen a computer or network at this time of day, but I'm not optimistic. The only time people work full-time in France is in October; the rest of the time, they are either preparing for holidays or recovering from them. And even though the importance of data communications is approaching that of other common utilities like electricity or water, the customer-service aspect is not keeping pace with that—in fact, it's dead in the water and deteriorating. Anyway, I'm thinking about it, trying to decide if calling FT is more likely to help or hurt the situation. I wish someone at FT would simply see the problem at their end and fix it; if they are truly keeping an eye on their network, it should be obvious.

My Internet connection has deteriorated again (superstitions justified?), so I don't know if this entry will survive the trip to my blog.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

I give up.

I've been holding stuff for a month now, waiting for France Télécom to fix my Internet connection. I can't keep it all set aside forever, so I'm just going to throw it away.

I just tried to call technical support for France Télécom a/k/a Orange. This is the “pro” support line, believe it or not, and I'm charged for each minute of the call once they answer (which takes a while). When I dial, a friendly recorded voice asks me if I'm calling for trouble on the same line from which I'm making the call, and gives the number. I confirm that this is indeed the case by pressing a button. The recorded voice warns me that the waiting time is six minutes.

I wait several minutes, listening to inane France Télécom music, and finally someone answers. I tell the woman who answers that about 50% of packets in the downstream direction are being lost on my connection. She asks for my telephone number so she can look up my file. (One wonders why she needs my telephone number if I just confirmed it to the recorded voice—not a good sign.) I give my number, again. She asks me to wait while she looks up the file.

For the next several minutes, I hear agitated female voices speaking in what sounds like Arabic in the background (I kid you not). After several minutes of this faint chatter, the line goes silent. I wait a few more minutes to see if somebody is going to answer, but nothing is forthcoming. So I hang up, with no solution to my problem and several euro poorer.

Every call to Orange/FT technical support over the past year or so has resulted in no help at all. The only time I got any help was from a kindly FT employee who contacted me by e-mail after I posted my problem on the Net. I don't know when or if FT will fix my connection, so I don't know when I will next be able to post any pictures or anything useful to this blog (I'm lucky to get even a text post in from time to time). My holidays are ruined because I have a barely-alive Internet connection, and all my leisure activity (almost) requires the Internet.

Do you see why I've given up? Remember that before you consider Orange or France Télécom for any of your telecommunication needs. When their equipment works, it works well, but if you ever need technical support for a problem, you might as well jump off a cliff. Other people have told me the same thing, and apparently their attitude is the same even towards large enterprise accounts.

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