Moving to Homechoice

We’ve decided to move from our current ADSL provider (PlusNet) to Homechoice, the London-only provider of broadband, TV and telephone packages. They do all this via the little copper wire that runs from the BT telephone exchange to your house – impressive.

The main reason for switching to them is not the tech though (oh no, read on about that), but the fact that out TV reception has been awful since the Arts Depot was built up the road from us. Thanks to the precedent set by Hunter v. Canary Wharf in 1996, you can’t complain about TV signal disruption if a building project causes it, so we needed to look for alternatives. Satellite or cable would be the obvious choice, but we just don’t watch that much TV these days to justify the cost. The basic Homechoice package would give us what we wanted, give or take about a fiver per month, based on our current phone usage.

So, we’re due for installation on the 17th March. It poses a couple of annoying issues though. The first is that the Internet connection, like cable, will emerge from the set top box, which is in our living room. The computers, however, are two floors above that. So, I’ve had to lay a cable from the top of the house to the bottom – which has been an adventure in Ethernet (I can now wire a CAT6 terminal…). The second issue is that the STB will have a plain RJ11 socket to attach the home network to. That’s fine, but it means the ADSL router we have will be redundant. We’ll need a router/firewall, but since I’m determined to get this done on the cheap, I’m attempting to make one out of an old computer using IPCop.

Several nights into the small hours later, and my “spare” PC appears to work OK, but it’s so old it’s not Y2K compliant and keeps thinking the year is 2001. This means that every time I boot it up, the firewall goes nuts thinking it’s five years out of date, etc.

So, like any tight-fisted geek, I went to eBay. Last week I took delivery of what was described as a 650MHz machine with no hard disk and 32Mb RAM. It was £15.00 including postage. However, it turns out to be 90MHz with a hard disk, a SCSI CDROM that doesn’t work, and 64Mb RAM. Hmm. Never mind, at least I can install IPCop with floppies. Now, however, the box mysteriously hangs at random intervals. The installation date is approaching, and I’m thinking the fates are against me…