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Q: My wife and I are heading off on a longish trip and bought a new laptop for the purpose of Internet access. At the time we were informed that the laptop could be used in one of two ways. Picking up hot spots via wireless connectivity or by inserting a pre paid card and signing up for a contract that was appropriate to the time of our trip, eg 2 months. I have now consulted with three carriers, Telstra, Optus and Vodaphone and have three different options/stories!! Optus offer one plan of $19.99 per month (plus $5 for the modem) which entails a modem phone attached by USB. Catch is that it is for 24 months although the first four months are free. Download limit is 1GB. Vodaphone is similar except that cost is $39 and download limit is 5GB. They say coverage is better due to "roaming" facility when out of Vodaphone range. Telstra says that only they offer broadband regionally, via 3G, and the others only offer dial up speed when out of metropolitan areas. However their cost for a card is $300 up front and then $34.95 per month. Given I already have Optus Cable at home on the Fusion Plan of $69 per month and have it networked through a router & wireless adaptor, I'm reluctant to give all that up and just go wireless for all my needs, eg home and travelling. The alternative seems to be to add another $25 per month to my bill and be locked in for 24 months. Is what I'm being told accurate or are there other options?
A: What you have been told is accurate. As I am also planning for a long trip to the outback, I have been following the various options and most require you to sign up on a contract. Relying on WiFi hot spots will only work in cities and larger country towns and you may be struggling to find them. For WiFi to work you have to be within about 50 metres or closer to an access point.
Depending of where you will be, you will have to ask your proposed carrier what coverage they provide. Asking my colleagues who travel a lot, the consensus seems to be the Telstra’s Next G has the best and also the fastest Internet service, but also the most expensive. Optus has a $19.95 / month service with 1 GB / month of data included but the coverage is not as extensive as Telstra’s.
If cost is a problem and the volume of downloads is not large an alternative is to sign up with an ISP who provides dial-up access and has many regional regions. This means that you only have to pay for a local call for your access and almost all laptops have an in-built modem. One such ISP with a national number is Lizzy and they have plans starting at $3.90 per month giving unlimited hours with 70 MB per month or $8.90 completely unlimited service. See: http://lizzy.com.au/ for details.
At the other end there is a satellite phone which will give you Internet anywhere. Rental is $17 / day but the data charges are a huge $17 / MB or $1,700 / GB. You can easily clock up several hundred dollars in a couple of weeks.
Installing software only on C:
Q: I recently purchased a HP DeskJet 3120. I run XP SP2 Home Edition and my default drive is "E:\ drive. But HP say that the program must have a C:\ drive for installation. As you are aware Windows NT, XP and Vista do not require specific c:\drive since with XP for example I could run on partitioned C:. The messages from HP tell me that the only advice is to partition the drive. I am sure that to do this I would have to backup all programs etc, then format and somehow position -- a lot of work for $60 printer -- but I am retired person on limited income so this is not cheap. Can you advise other way I may partition? The reply from HP said “Thank you for contacting HP Customer Care. Pam, the hard disk has to be repartitioned. A seperate partition named C Drive should exist. Please contact your computer manufacturer for assistance in this regard.” Don’t you think HP have poorly programmed their disk using specific drive rather than default drive?
A: I am amazed that HP requires the software to be installed onto C: drive. On my test computer the OS is on drive E and everything works. Try contacting HP for a better solution.
As a last effort you can you can create a temp folder call it say, HPtemp, and substitute as drive C: This technique to ‘create’ new drives can help in cases where in installing software is inflexible and has to be fooled.