Unfortunately, my employment with the University of Essex has come to an end. It's a little sad, as I very much enjoyed working with the amazing people in the department and all of the students I've had the pleasure to teach over my time at the University.
The good news is I've got employment at another University, as part of the team delivering their games degree modules. The university in question is Falmouth University. They're a lovely bunch and I'm very much looking forward to working with them. There was just one slight problem with the new job – it's the location!
I've lived in Essex my entire life. When I've rented for my undergrad degree it was either via the university or a dedicated student-housing landlord which handled pretty much everything for you. Trying to find somewhere in Cornwall from Essex proved challenging.
I had problems trying to find somewhere and arrange a booking during the week I'd managed to arrange as a trip to view properties. I can see why – the area is amazing. Thankfully, the very nice people at Real Estates managed to find me somewhere ( the apartment I'm in is very nice, and has everything I could have asked for ).
I've spent the weekend sorting out bills, trying to get recycling boxes, etc... and now that's all done I'm looking forward to getting back some of the work I need to do. At the moment I'm using a wifi hotspot provided by BT until the broadband is sorted. It 'sort-of' works but every now and again demands that I re-enter my credentials. This isn't something that's just me – the couple next door told me they had a similar problem when they first moved in.
Phone Tethering ('usb connection sharing')
The no-internet problem is something I'd tried to prepare in advance for. Firstly, the most sensible option would be using mobile-phone tethering. This is allowing the use of either the phone's WIFI connection or USB port to share the mobile connection from a phone to a computer. In the past being able to hook an android phone up and use it as a “USB ethernet adapter” has proven very useful on strange hardware without wireless drivers. You can also use this to turn the phone into a USB wireless dongle (connect to a wireless network, enable connection sharing over USB).
My mobile provider explicitly allows this, and it's been very useful in the past when internet issues have come calling or I've been away in hotels (read: travel lodges and premier ins). The problem with this approach is that I don't seem to get a phone signal inside the flat. I suspect the thick stone walls are to blame (but they keep it nice and cosey so can't complain too much :)).
The lack of phone signal does prevent another problem, however, namely that without the internet or a phone signal, setting up contracts for utilities is problematic. There is a signal outside, which is why I spent most of the weekend standing outside the flat talking to companies about setting up contracts.
With working internet, the phone signal problem can be mitigated thanks to a neat feature of modern phones, wifi calling. This allows you to make calls over the internet using your mobile number (similar to using SIP phones with trunking). This is all completely transparent when enabled.
In other words, if I have a phone signal I can have internet, or if I have internet I can have a phone signal. The problem is, I'm still without either.
Plan B was similar to plan A, when looking at the flat originally it was noted that there was some signal with another UK mobile network, EE (my carrier being Three). In preparation for the move, I brought a 4G modem with a pay-as-you-go EE sim card. This approach works but is very unstable. There is an EE signal in the flat, but only barely. The maximum speed seen so far via this approach is about 200kbps, and even then it was patchy.
As a result, that plan was left on the drawing board.
There are a few BT routers around, most of them have very good signal (I suspect from other occupants of the building). They are broadcasting an ID called BT wifi, which is a paid-for service that gives you access to the internet through any BT router participating in the scheme. You can also get free access to this if your router is part of the scheme, although I'm not sure how many people know that.
I decided to shell out for this as a work-around until the BT engineers can come and engineer some broadband for me (on a side note, my landlord has agreed to let me have fibre to the premises, which has made me absolutely ecstatic! I'll be able to get my work done with no problems!).
This solution isn't perfect, the connection drops somewhat periodically. I've not been able to find the cause of this but when it comes back it requires me to re-authenticate. I've tried disabling wifi address randomisation but had no luck with it. The connection seems to drop more when I'm moving around the flat (it's most stable if I sit at my desk) so I suspect it's switching SSIDs or something.
I'm hoping it'll be good enough for my Microsoft teams sessions at the start of term, else that the broadband is working before then!