Friday, 28 May 2010

The Intrusive Wireless Dongle from O2

As with the posting I wrote about ONN vacuum cleaners a while back, this one is the result of me having a difficult time with a particular electronic item.  As I have noted here, earlier this year I was living in a hotel.  It had wireless facilities but being a rambling place made up from linking together two hotels which themselves had started life as Victorian houses, it was often difficult to pick up the wireless connection.  Not wishing to spend my evenings simply surfing through reality shows, cookery programmes and soap operas, I got hold of an O2 dongle which the woman in my house had bought.  This allowed me to tap into the 02 wireless cloud over the town I was staying in.  The connection was not always brilliant but it worked and allowed me at times to connect to the hotel's wireless system too.  Of course, installing the O2 system disabled the built-in wireless system that came with the laptop when it was given to me by my boss.  When the hotel upgraded its wireless provision, I think going from G+ to at least N if not N+, I tried to go back to the original wireless connection from the computer, to save me money.  The O2 charges are not great, £15 for 1 month's connection and in fact my usage was so low compared to what they deemed normal usage for a month that it usually lasted me two months.  Anyway, removing the dongle and the software was not enough.  The laptop seemed to have given up on trying to connect to any wireless service and kept defaulting back to O2.  There is a way of doing it, but even bringing in people far more knowledgeable than myself we were unable to get it to return to the original set-up.  In the end I had to re-install the O2 connection and continue to use it.

Having lost my job, I had to return the laptop and tried again to restore the laptop to its previous settings so it could access my work's wireless network without using the dongle.  I failed.  I was able to strip out all the visible signs that I had used the O2 dongle but not get the setting back.  Fortunately the ICT staff at my work said they were going to 're-face' the laptop for another user.  I trust that they can get it back in a decent state, because I left with my dongle.  I should have been wary of using it again.  However, with everything being moved around in my house I fell back on it as an easy way to get internet connection for the computer that had been moved away from being wired into the BT Home Hub and was now dependent, for the first time, on a wireless connection.  This time it was even worse.  After one day of the dongle set-up working it decided it was not going to connect again.  Getting a wireless card fitted in the computer (which for some reason had never had one installed) meant that I should be able to access the home system, but of course the O2 set-up was not going to budge.  We stripped out the software and went through all guidance on re-installing the card's seeking of a wireless connection.  A woman who has uninstalled wireless connections from a number of laptops was brought in and spent over two hours battling with the system.

In the end the only solution was a system restore back to March 2010.  Of course, this now means I am sitting here getting all the updates to my software covering over two months.  So, if you are thinking of buying an O2 wireless dongle, please bear in mind that you may be locking yourself into a system that is incredibly difficult to remove if you choose to use a different set-up.  Other wireless dongles may also be as invasive as the O2 one, but that is the only one I can talk about from personal experience.

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