Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Zen Internet to Amazon Kindle - from triumph to disaster in 2 hours... and why you need to buy a windows PC with your Kindle.

I got home from the client this evening to 2 technical tasks.  Today was the day I left Virgin Media for an ISP that gives a damn.  Zen Internet is now the ISP of choice at Corylus Towers, and the upgrade happened as they said it would - today, and all I needed to do was tweak the router.
I had a new, unused NetGear router (DG834PN) that was going very cheap in the manager specials bin at Staples a few months ago for this very purpose, but on checking the Zen site for the “how to configure your router” discovered a NetGear specific instructions, and wondered if the Virgin specific router firmware in the old DG834 would take a tweak.  I wanted to do this as the Wi-Fi setup (including all the MAC filtering) would remain in place.
Lo and behold, 2 tweaks and the new userid and password and I’m connected.
What’s more my internet connection has moved from 1.6MB to 2.3MB without anything else being done (and I’m pretty sure the 668KB upload is a better connection too).  This bodes well for the other broadband line being migrated later.
So, having restored the Internet connection to the domestic network, the goal was then to get my newly delivered Kindle up and running.  I’d ordered the Wi-Fi only version as I have Wi-Fi in the house and office, and a MiFi unit to cover the situation when hotspots aren’t available.  I prefer it that way to subscribing to more data connections and hotspot services (although of course whilst the Kindle has free 3G, the unit is £41 more expensive).
The Kindle was unboxed, and set to charge for a bit.  After dinner, I grabbed the MAC address of the unit, and added it to both Wi-Fi networks running here and switched on.  The Kindle would not connect to the network, it could see it, and I could see that it was attempting a handshake, but all I got was “Unable to connect to wireless network…”.  Some surfing later gave me cause for concern, so I decided to try some diagnostic tests.
Thirty minutes later, and both network changed from WPA2 to WPA to WEP, from MAC filtering to none, (etc. etc.) nothing was working still.  The device would very nearly connect, but not.
In desperation I got the DFG834PN out,  and just plugged it in.  In factory default it’s completely insecure; but as it wasn’t actually connected to a phone line, it didn’t matter.  A quick check on the iPad confirmed it was working (and got me its IP range – the usual 192.168.0.x), and I tried the Kindle on that.  Again, nothing.
So over to the help line, noting with some wry amusement that the plastic protective sleeves were not yet removed from the Kindle…
At least it was an 0800 number, as the Kindle support line first cut me off, and then on the second call believed I had not bought one!  Eventually we got to work.  The usual interrogation by a customer support line took place, almost down to my inside leg measurement,; then after some initial attempts a full hard reset of the device was prompted.  After this the device briefly connected (albeit at what seemed to be 14bps), and I got a list of books I had already bought – but completely failed to download them beyond a few % (and again very slowly).
Some more diagnostics later Kindle Support decided (as I had over an hour ago!) that the unit was faulty in the Wi-Fi department.  “So I will send you an email with details on how to create a couple of logs files, you then just connect the Kindle to your computer and send us the files”…  At which point I asked why they assumed I had a computer to which I could connect the Kindle.  That caused some fun…  I pointed out that I had an iPad in front of me (which was working perfectly well on the Wi-Fi).  SO I was asked to connect the Kindle to the iPad “but the iPad has no USB!”. 
Several minutes later, Kindle Support had no idea how to overcome this particular problem, but I had shown mercy, and dug out the laptop and grabbed the files.  One of my reasons for reticence is that I would not trust the 3MB contents of these files not to contain data that I consider to be confidential.   I had a quick scan through, and all seemed to be OK, but when they said they’d call back in a couple of days I got properly annoyed.
I suggested that as the unit was not working properly it was “unfit for purpose” and “of unmerchantable quality” under the terms of the Sales of Goods and Services Act 1968 (as amended); and that I thought a more proportionate response (as they already had my money) would be to send a replacement and arrange for collection of the useless unit.
The resulted in a lengthy conversation with his supervisor whilst I listened to more muzak, when he came back, the answer was yes.  The support engineer wanted to know the name of my Wi-Fi network (not keen), but he went back to his colleagues to find out what next – which was go ahead.
So after about 70 minutes on the phone, my Kindle was factory reset (only have a hard reboot though as it stuck again), reboxed, and a replacement due to be with me in 2 days.
After I hung up, my wife commented that I’d remained very calm (surprisingly!) and guessed I might write a word or two about the experience.  Right on both counts!

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