Since winning my laptop in the DealsDirect Australian Bloggers competition, I have been researching prepaid wireless dongles on Ebay for what seems like a millennia.
Finally I decided on Optus, as the reliability and coverage is reported to be better than the other networks. I had witnessed others struggling with their various network's connections, suffering dropouts, and finally taking up creative swearing. I had to be vigilant.
I found an Optus USB slimline modem (dongle) on Ebay for $100 - not bad, considering they are $200 new plus $30 for a new SIM card.
Now, I have always considered myself to be quite adept with computers, having used them since I was around seven years old, perhaps earlier. I learned to program in basic, connect networks, install and configure operating systems on PC and Mac. I later learned HTML, completed a course in CSS and enjoy tinkering with code and other such nerdy pursuits.
The USB dongle instructions couldn't be simpler:
1. Put SIM card in USB dongle.
2. Insert USB dongle into computer. Wait around 7-10 minutes as the dongle automatically installs itself. The wonders of modern technology.
3. Click on the icon and press "Connect".
Now lets be fair. Even a monkey could probably work out how to do this after a bit of trial and error. But do you think I could get the dang thing to work? Nooooooo.
So I called Optus telephone support with all the enthusiasm of a heretic at a Spanish Inquisition party.
"Hello, Optus, how can I help you?"
The line was bad and I could tell I had called somewhere in the vicinity of Mumbai.
"Um, yes. I've installed the USB dongle and that's all fine but it won't connect. It keeps saying 'SIM card not recognised', I can't work out the problem."
So for the next twenty minutes we go through a number of avenues, SIM card set up, SIM card activation, password this and identification number that.
She suddenly stopped and I could hear her thinking.
"Uh, have you installed the SIM card properly?"
"Yes. Well, I think so anyway. Hang on let me check."
My heart rose as my nerd cred sank.
I looked at the dongle.
Pulled out the SIM card.
Checked the gold connection points.
They were on the wrong side.
Super nerd had inserted the SIM card upside down.
"How is that now?" she asked.
"Er, yeah. It works. Er... perfectly. Wow, that's great. Thanks."
"Have I been any help to you today?" She asked hopefully.
For the first time in my life was able to say yes.
Optus Prepaid Wireless