Internet - mike harvey
With the registering of an e-mail address to use this site soon, I was thinking what internet sevice providers people use and find good. I often use my work computer to access this site, and it is lighning fast, but at home I have 'BT Now and Again' (which they call 'Anytime'.) It's dreadfully slow, if I can connect, and so unreliable. I would appreciate a quick poll of your recommendations so I can change. Or am I just unlucky? There is no cable provider in my area, so it's the old phone line I'm afraid.
Thanks
Mike
Re: Internet - Dan J
I also use BT Anytime and find it dreadful - Quite what I am getting for my 15 pounds a month I have no idea sometimes. It frequently will refuse to connect and has been engaged at times as well. It is so bad, in fact, the the advertising standards authority has asked BT to remove the word 'reliable' from their internet ads! The number you call to complain to them on is 50p a minute or whatever so you can't win. I have several friends on BT Surftime (the one where payment is included in your phonebill) and also Freeserve Anytime and I have it on good authority from them they are both just as bad. Anyone got any info on ISPs other than that provided by BT?
Re: Internet - Stuart B
Mike,

I would suggest you take a look at net4nowt.com, there is more in here than you can shake a stick at but it answers some questions.

I currently use Concert its a collaboration between BT & AT&T, with free phone numbers around the world but service is pricy. So currently looking for an ISP for home PC now that we have moved and cable is no more.

B regards,
Stuart
Re: Internet - Dave Marshall
Get cable. Modems are so passé........
BTInternet and Anytime. - David Woollard
Guys,

It's the old "speak as you find" thing.

We've had BTInternet for over a year and the £14.99 monthly Anytime service since it was introduced.

Apart from one 24hr period (when they had a declared fault) and the week after the Word Trade Centre problems (when I thought the whole net was slow) our service has been fast and reliable. We never hear an engaged tone or fail to dial up at first attempt 99% of the time, one the 1% occasion when it doesn't connect a "Cancel & Connect" in the box gets us on straight away.

Most callers think the performance of our PC is very quick on the net and several have moved from others to BT because of this. Perhaps we are in a good area (Rural and low housing density) with plenty of line capacity.

I think some of it is to do with the configuration of your own PC as well. Dad's P.450 Evesham PC has always been far slower than our HP AMD 500, he's recently had NTL Broadband Cable because he found Freeserve and then NTL absolutely terrible for getting a connection.

Funny thing is that I was trying to help him with some downloads the other day something was making them about half the speed (via NTL Broadband) of doing it here on BTInternet.

One thing I noticed was when we increased our own RAM, from 64 to 192, Internet and overall performance was massively improved. I multi-task most of the time, often with Outlook Express, two or three Internet Explorers, a Word document and perhaps an Image program all running together.

The reason I post to HJ so frequently is I usually keep it, plus one other Forum, minimized whatever else I'm doing on-line and give it a look now and again. With the standard memory supplied with many PCs over 18mths old this is a struggle.

David
Re: BTInternet and Anytime. - Chris
Among other things I do quite a bit of work online, and need a good connection all day. I'm not in a cable area, so it's the modem for me. I actually have three providers. One pay up front and pay local call charges (U-Net), which is very reliable, very fast and very expensive. It's used mostly for e-mail. Then there's ntl, which I find reliable but a bit slow. And also Onetel. No monthly charge, but 1p per minute any time of the day or night. Onetel is reliable and fairly quick, and 1p is not a big problem unless you are online for ten hours a day. If you are having a problem with connecting it _could_ be your phone line (between the house and the telegraph pole). Data connections have to be better than voice connections, so even if voices sound fine, your computer may be saying "Eh? Could you repeat that?" all the time.

BTW David, you say that older PCs are slow, well they are, but not if they run older versions of Windows. I often have seven or eight browsers (Ex5.5 and Netscape) open, plus Word 97, a non-Microsoft mail program (for virus reasons). My 1997 200 Mhz P2 with 32Mb is easily as quick as my father's brand new 800Mhz job. In our "home office" we even quite happily run a second monitor/mouse/keyboard terminal off this PC, so I reckon Windows is the problem. A cheap way of speeding up your PC is to reinstall an earlier version of Windows :-)

Chris
Re: BTInternet and Anytime. - Dan J
Downloads are only ever as fast as the 'weakest' link so if you are downloading something from a very busy server or say, from someone via a modem (ie music downloads), it doesn't matter how fast your connection is or whether it is broadband as the download rate will still be naff! I don't think a faster PC would help to be honest, the pitiful 56k offered by landline modems could be handled by any PC of the last 15 years at full rate without any problems. We are talking 5k a sec here - anyone on a LAN (I use my laptop here at work and on 56k modem at home where it is dreadful) can get in the region of 300k a sec, now that is a good data speed. Everything these days, corporate web pages, anything transferred by or made by Microsoft is always so big filesize-wise it makes life very difficult for those of us at home.

With regards to your comments David, it is exactly because you are in a quiet rural area that you don't have too many problems. I moved up from London to Manchester recently and have had bad problems in both, but never when visiting "outlying" regions - BT have a lot of trouble getting everyone through to their servers in busy areas. If I download a 3 meg MP3 (music) file from the internet via modem, we are talking 30 mins here, your dad, on cable should expect download times of at least a third of a 56k modem. Never mind, am moving to Manchester soon so cable here I come...
freeserve anytime. - ladas are cool
i use freeserve anytime, its only £12.99 per month, and i find it better than BT.

P.S. i think BT internet was on watchdog, because alot of people were sick of the long waits for connection.
Re: BTInternet and Anytime. - Martyn (Back Room Moderator)
David Woollard wrote:



> We've had BTInternet for over a year and the £14.99 monthly
> Anytime service since it was introduced.

My iMac -- my normal work machine -- is connected to BT's DSL service (Openworld), and though the ordering and installation process was a nightmare, so far I have never had a problem with using it. It does what it's meant to do, quickly and unobtrusively. I think it's well worth the forty quid a month it costs me (especially since my previous ISDN link was generating bills approaching £600 a quarter). At home I use a laptop PC to connect to BT's Anytime. Most of the time it works ok, and I'm not dissatisfied with downloading speeds. But every so often, especially in the early evening, it won't connect. About a month or so ago this went on for about three days (the three days I had to work from home, of course), so I called the 50p/minute Helpline. After about twenty minutes of useless chitchat I was told that a virus had corrupted my modem drivers. So, to be on the safe side I re-initialised the laptop's disk and started again from scratch. Same thing. Then, about three hours later, I managed to connect and it's been fine ever since. What does this tell you about BT's scandalous Helpline?

I suppose I work on the "better the devil you know" principle. I would certainly change if someone else could guarantee me a better service.

Incidentally, did anyone see the BBC's Watchdog programme about Anytime on TV last week?

hj.co.uk runs on commercial servers, which as far as I know don't offer ISP facilities to individuals. Shame.
Re: BTInternet and Anytime. - Jon
A company in Manchester is offering uncontended lines. These are primarily aimed at companies, but I think that they are also available to individuals.

Post back if you want further info.

Jon
Re: Real Player. - Chris
David

In answer to how I manage with 32MB. Well, everything is pared down. Minimal installation of Word - only the bits I need, but the rest is there on the CD anyway. Not using Outlook for mail helps as well, as that's very hungry. Similarly with the browser: only what I need is installed. The 2Gig (!) hard drive does chatter away at times, but it's rare for the machine to be slower than I am. Things like video do slow the thing down badly, but I use that so rarely it doesn't matter. Every few months I think about what is on the machine and ruthlessly get rid of the junk. Now if only I was that disciplined about the loft.

Chris
Re: BTInternet and Anytime. - Mark (Brazil)
>>One thing I noticed was when we increased our own RAM, from 64 to 192, Internet and overall performance was massively improved.

Firstly, I would doubt that 192 is working. Or rather, it may function but it is unlikley that anything is using the memory.

However, the improvement from 64 will def. have made a difference to overall performance, but it is not related to download speed - for sure.

Also, it is unwise to get to excited about the connection speed it says that you have achieved. This is only an estimated speed given from the handshake process. It can be used as a broad indicator as to whether you got a good connection or not, but it most certainly isn't accurate.

Busy signals and difficulty to connect are usually a result of a lot of people using the service. However, performance normally isn't. Of couse, extreme peaks like NY can cause it, but it isn't usual for the ISP to be affected in this way.

It is normally related to one of two things; Traffic at some point between your ISP and the file you are trying to receive, and frequently the actual machine you are trying to receive it from, or noise on the line.

Try reconnecting.

As for Broadband - you should see an improvement, but this only impacts the speed between you and your ISP. The speed beyond them will be unaffected by this link. That's why it still runs and hugely below its seemingly likely capacity.

If you can get cable, this is clearly a good option at the moment. However, only if you don't have to pay too much for installation because the capacity of land line telephone networks is still growing very fast and will, probably, exceed that of cable.

Also, cable will reach a limit. These are not designed to be two-way networks and they have to shift an ever-increasing amount of information over ill-designed networks.

Don't get excited about wireless data, its not coming your way anytime in the next 5 years, at least, more likely 10.
Ram useage. - David Woollard
Mark,

As I'm working tonight I 've got Norton Utilities running with a display of real time RAM useage. The total is over 120MB at the moment and opening up an image program would push it up further still. So I may never hit the 192 but even 2x64MB wouldn't be enough for me. Actually my chip based video takes 8MB from the RAM to start so the 192MB is only 184MB available.

The things using RAM as I type are...Word 2000 22MB, Windows 34MB, Outlook Express 14MB, Internet Explorer 12MB, Firewall 15MB, Anti-virus 15MB plus loads of smaller background programs.

That's why I can't understand Chris how you manage on 32MB. Your machine must run very lean programs or the hard drive must be acting as virtual memory all the time. When our PC only had 64MB the hard drive was chattering all the while, now we hardly hear it mid session.

David
Re: Ram useage. - Mark (Brazil)
David Woollard wrote:
> So I may never hit the 192 but even
> 2x64MB wouldn't be enough for me.

Thing is, its not so much the 192 as the fact that it doesn't use between 128 & 256 very well.
>
> The things using RAM as I type are...Word 2000 22MB, Windows
> 34MB, Outlook Express 14MB, Internet Explorer 12MB, Firewall
> 15MB, Anti-virus 15MB plus loads of smaller background
> programs.

Well, I don't know about all the smaller programs you've got, but you just showed 112mb used. I just opened all the same ones to see, and mine was only using 74mb. I wonder why ? Maybe just different versions.

> That's why I can't understand Chris how you manage on 32MB.

Older operating systems. You can still run Windows 95, for example, and there isn't much that won't run on it - provided you're happy with the older versions of some software.

M.
Re: Ram useage. - David Woollard
So is it that there is an issue with PCs or Windows 98 having a limit on the RAM they are able to properly manage? You seem to say this may be 128MB? I didn't get this large RAM increase for any other reason than it was very cheap and the case was open for a new hard drive anyway.

David
Re: Ram useage. - Mark (Brazil)
David Woollard wrote:
>
> So is it that there is an issue with PCs or Windows 98 having
> a limit on the RAM they are able to properly manage? You seem
> to say this may be 128MB?


No, not quite. What I meant was that it is better at using 64/128/256/512 etc. then it is at using memory in between.

I seem to recall that the natural limit is 512, although I can't remember for sure.

Windows, and the programs which run on it, are not necc. that good at fully utilising memory levels which lie between the natural steps.

M.
Re: Ram useage. - Andrew Hamilton
Forgot to say W98 limit is I think 512Mb. Also I am still on Freeserve Off peak surftime at £6/month. (New members paying £9/month!)
Re: Internet BT Anytime - peter
Totally satisfied as a customer of this service. Use it from 3 different locations all day and all within the 01707 code area and cannot remember the last time I had an access problem. I do not stay on line permanently (this is the biggest headache for ISPs), just log on and off as needed probably 30 times a day!

Regular up/downloads of large graphic files.

I guess it all depends where you live, maybe in the future utility service quality will start to affect house prices the way schools and local transport and amenities do today.

Should I sell up in the South East and buy a street up north?
Re: Ram useage. - Alvin Booth
Very strange some of these problems.
I tend to think the answer relating to your location must be a viable one.
I have BT surftime and keep intending to upgrade to anytime but not yet got round to it. The connection is always good. The speed of the internet is better than most. I live in a rural are so location must count.
I do not believe the memory answers can be correct. I have 64mb of ram and always have several applications open at the same time including excel,word, express and several browser windows and with everything possible open never get below 65% resources without using the hard disk as virtual memory. This is with win98
However for what it worth at one stage I did have memory problems which gave many problems. After many days of trying to solve it I eventually deleted realplayer and suddenly everything was solved. Why I've no idea but it worked. There was obviously a conflict between programmes and it may not be the same for all computers. If anyone is having problems with memory I would suggest using ctrl/alt/delete and closing down programmes on a trial and error programme to see if you can get an improvement in performance.

Alvin
Re: Ram useage. - Andrew Hamilton
Windows 98 locks up some memory when programs end. The more programs you use, the more ends locked up! As memory is so cheap now I went for 256Mb which solved that. Other problem is that some programs operate in the background. One example was an accounting program I had unused on the computer. Getting rid of that firms product reduced background activity by 25%. Guess it was in some sort of loop. If you look at the Microsoft utility that shows computer usage you can see how busy computer is.
Re: Real Player. - Alvin Booth
David,
I think your best option is to do what I did for a while....
Everytime after I started my computer into windows I went to ctrl/alt/ delete and used the "end task" on realplayer.
I then carried on using the computer as normal.
After a while I found I wasn't missing it so I uninstalled it.
To be quite honest I can't remember why I loaded it in the first instance. I suppose I must have been prompted to by some site I was in at the time.
However I haven't missed it yet so I wouln't install again.
I certainly don't believe that memory has anything to do with performance on the internet. My nephew a computer whiz kid who is a boss in EGG, he has 32MB of ram on his own computer and never has any problems with anything on the internet or elsewhere. So I tend to think that the "get more memory advice" which is the Doctors recommendation for any PC ailment is overdone and its more tinkering at the edges which is required.
Alvin
Re: Real Player & RAM. - David Woollard
Alvin and others,

Interesting stuff. No I don't think I do need Real Player so I've uninstalled it for a while and we'll see how long it is before I'm asked for it. I have my download for it saved to Zip so no need to wait for another full download if I want it in the future.

Not sure I can agree about RAM being unimportant. The folks who have been quoted as working with minimal RAM (32MB) are perhaps PC "boffins" who understand how to minimise program usage. While I understand more than some our PC runs mostly with the Hewlett Packard software package as sold, plus a huge weight of other stuff. I don't tinker with the detail, all the office/image packages are loaded as maximum installs.

There is no doubt that is runs far faster with 192MB than 64MB as we use it. RAM is very cheap and easy to fit in a desktop so I would say to doubters "give it a go", you will be well pleased.

If I have a gripe with the industry it is that the cost of PCs dropped every few months until about 12/18 months ago. Now they still seem to cost from £750 - £1000 for a basic package, but the speeds/spec has jumped well beyond the needs of normal domestic work. There still ought to be basic P. 350/500 machines for starter packages at £300. Or that is where I would have projected the price to given that PC World did have such packages 18 months ago for £449.

It is still very hard for the unwaged to break into PC training without one at home for practice. The second hand market is a minefield and new ones are too expensive.

And those schemes Tony Blair was parading a while ago for those to get refurbished PCs at cost are very hard to find, and when you do track them down the prices are very high for outmoded gear.

Social comment over for the night!

David
Re: Real Player & RAM. - Stuart B
David Woollard wrote:
>
> There still ought to be basic P.
> 350/500 machines for starter packages at £300.

Guy round the corner, (a sort of IT version of David Woollard Motor Engineer) is selling exactly that, Internet ready kit for £250 and there is definitely a market.

> And those schemes Tony Blair was parading a while ago for
> those to get refurbished PCs at cost are very hard to find,
> and when you do track them down the prices are very high for
> outmoded gear.
>

Not sure what the source was but sis in law has got an ex government set up for £60, and its quite a good spec, better than a lot of what is still in use at work. Do not begrudge it her but if that is what they are throwing out its no wonder our taxes are so high, and yet if we get 2p off petrol and diesel acc Tony it means schools and hospitals suffer. When will he learn great British public is not stupid.

Political comment over.

Stuart
Re: Real Player & RAM. - Chris
David Woollard wrote:
>Now they still seem to cost from £750 - £1000 for a basic
> package, but the speeds/spec has jumped well beyond the needs
> of normal domestic work. There still ought to be basic P.
> 350/500 machines for starter packages at £300. Or that is
> where I would have projected the price to given that PC World
> did have such packages 18 months ago for £449.

If they would do the same thing with cars it would be good too. It seems to me that basic cars tend to be flimsy and small. To get a good sized car cheap you have to buy second hand. What about new cars built to old designs (as long as the engines meet the new emissions regs of course)? Most cars of the last fifteen years were reliable, comfortable, and fast enough for today's traffic. I'll bet there is a small but significant number of people out there who would happily buy a "new" old car such as a Pug 309, or a Golf Mk2. Was it Daewoo that did this with the old Vauxhall Astra and Cavalier? Why did they stop?

Chris
AOL - David Lacey
I'm on AOL £14.99/month unlimited access, no dial-up or connection problems.
Again, being in a fairly rural area may help.
Reliable and quick downloads also.

Rgds

David
Re: AOL - Alvin Booth
Andrew,
I think realplayer operates in the background. Another downside I had with this program was that the energy saving features of win 98 would not operate properly, it would not go to full system sleep. But there was more to it than that. With everything closed down and just the desktop showing I was out of memory. Re-booting restored memory for a period and then later it would again run out of ram.
Realplayer turned out to be the culprit for these problems.
Alvin
Real Player. - David Woollard
Interesting, I have Real Player and it is one of the larger RAM users of the "background" programs. Also my Firewall is alerted to it trying for an Internet connection every time I'm online.

If I uninstall it what will I lose on the net? Will Windows Media Player do most things? Can I configure Real Player to be less of a nuisance?

David
Re: Real Player. - Martyn (Back Room moderator)
David, imx the only thing you need Real Player for is playing Real Player files. Everything else is handled either by WMP or Quicktime. Dump it, I'd say.

You might want to look at a free low-overhead MP3 player such as MusicMatch if you like to listen to downloaded music files, but that should be all.
Re: Real Player. - Tomo
Well. most of this is double-Dutch to me. I have Compuserve, because that's the first thing I came across; I have a BT connection because that is what there was and is, unless we pay more money to some lot who dug up all the pavements and never really put them back properly; and whom some took aboard and then chucked again. I have 400MHz, 128k (so my son-in-law told me when he uprated the machine) and Windows 98 Mk2 (that was my own contribution) and it all works sort of mostly; except sometimes when I connnect The Back Room everything siezes up and I have to reset and start again - trust nobody is trying to discommode me! Does this aged person do wrong?
System Start-up confiuration - David Lacey
If you want to configure you PC to stop some programs starting up and running in the background - from the 'run' command type in "msconfig"
Go to the start-up tab and remove the check-mark against any unwanted programs. Windows start-up will be much quicker and the PC will be less clogged up.
Be careful, though. You need Explorer for windows to run, but most other apps can be disabled. It is easy to go back in again and change your selections if need be.

David
Re: System Start-up confiuration - Lee Harkis
David,

excellent advice there. I managed to get through my Windows 98 MCP exam without knowing about that.....

no more trawling through the registry to weed out non-uninstalled(!) apps.

Thanks again,
Lee.
Re: freeserve anytime. - Brian
I have a 400 MHz AMD processor, 128k RAM and live in a semi-rural area connecting via Freeserve Anytime, with Virgin as a backup in case Freeserve is down.
I am limited to a modem because cable hasn't reached these here parts. ISDN might be attractive, but the current prices are about double what I (and I suspect millions of others) am prepared to pay. It is a scandal that the UK has only around 100,000 users on broadband as opposed to nearly a million in Germany, for example. Another case of government aspirations unmatched by action!. We could certainly do with it at work, but economics rule that out.

Connection is usually no problem, I often run a couple of internet windows (Explorer), a spreadsheet, e-mail (Outlook Express) and word processor (Word 97) all at the same time and performance seems to be quite acceptable.
The only area where lack of speed downloading appears to be a problem is on web-cam images.
Although reasonably au fait with computers, I am by no means an expert and any tips and advice are welcome.
Re: Internet - mike harvey
Quick thanks for contributions from all. It will keep me busy. I'm not too clever with computers, but I will try. BT put a new number on this week to improve things. Not for me it didn't.
Mike
 

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