3 dongle + Terminal 5 = 8

Just arrived back into the UK from the States. After coming through the joys of Terminal 5, I can sit down, plugin the 3 broadband usb dongle and check the world is still indeed spinning while i was in the air.

Terminal 5 is Heathrows new flagship air terminal, much publicized prior to its opening, and much talked about after its opening as most things that could go wrong did. One thing they don't make obvious is that Terminal 5 is not one building, but three. This makes a huge difference when you are connecting from a BA Glasgow flight to a BA LA flight. As a result, our bags took a few days to catch up with us in California.

Flying back home, the experience is much more relaxed. The UK seems to be following the paranoid yank route and bio-scanning us now as we come into the country. So my mugshot is now part of the anti-terrorist database, and assuming the rectal exam and urine sample doesn't bring anything untoward back, i will be in the clear!

So as I wait for my flight to Glasgow, this gives me the opportunity to test the 3 broadband dongle. First things first, for a modern, brand spanking new airport terminal, the availability of power points is very poor. Infact it makes Amsterdam's Schiphol airport over bubbling with power!

The dongle gets me onto the 3G network and I am happily surfing the BBC site. I then fire up Thunderbird to check IMAP email and on first blush this works flawlessly too. So far so good.

Received a warning email that one of my servers is running out of disk space, so I hop on via SSH to sort this problem out. I get connected and manage to do my thing but then it drops. At this point, I am discovering a small pattern. I get about 5 or 10 mins of surfing then it all freezes for a minute. The software tells me I have full coverage, which is how it should be in our nations capital.

The freeze is enough to throw off SSH sessions, and even have Thunderbird complain of not being able to connect to the mail server. Firefox naturally is timing out the odd page, but when I do get a connection, it rips through the pages nice and fast.

One thing this dongle does is to offer unlimited SMS texts. I have been playing with this, and so far I can say the desktop application for sending and receiving sucks big time. There are only so many shortcut keys so you have to fiddle with the mouse to read messages. If someone sends you a multipleSMS message, then its broken up into separate ones and you can't follow the flow. It also can't receive MMS messages either. So all-in-all its awful. This is just a software problem, so I expect 3 to address this pretty sharpish.

Overall, I am still happy with the flexibility that this dongle is offering me, especially in situations where I have a few hours that can now be spent a little more productively (including composing this entry).

Oh by the way, I am watching Live Snooker via the BBC Internet broadcast, beautifully with this dongle. I think i am in love!


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