You know this whole internet thing is really starting to disappoint me. Most of the websites out there are full of more trash than the local rubbish tip, downloading MP3s has become a drag. (How many times have I found a supposed rarity and found it’s either not the artist in question or of such poor quality it might as well been recorded underwater by a tone deaf man wearing ear plugs). However it is not the content that has disappointed me the most but the way that I have to connect to the web. Yes were back to everyone’s favourite topic Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Like bog paper they’re something that most people don’t want to talk about but are an essential luxury for a ‘decent’ standard of modern living. Without that I am nothing , with them I am a frustrated and twisted individual whose resentment grows steadily as every day passes. I have already written about the joy and rapture my last ISP brought me. Thanks TheFreeInternet (TFI) the agony you gave me has only made me stronger. Now I wish to bring you the second chapter of my story. A chapter I would like to call ‘Driving Me Nuts (Hell)’. It was August 2001. A barmy summer of patchy cloud and sunny spells. I had been driven to the verge of insanity by current ISP, the harsh mistress by the name of TFI. She had often given me a poor connection and short shrift with session times, however in August she said she was leaving for a month to sort things out. It then I made the decision to ditch the harlot and find myself a new ISP. Following a trial of recommendations from Websites and friends I arrive at the home of Nutshell. A ISP offering a service of such beauty and simplicity that it made TFI seem like a flea eaten dog whispering complex maths problems into my ears. Nutshell offered me a monthly package of unlimited and unmetered connection for the humble sum of 14.99 per month. Not the cheapest but a mighty fine deal
as it wasn’t locked into a certain number of months connection like certain other ISPs I shall not mention. This package suited me to a T. The attraction of unmetered access after the time limited connections of TFI being the icing on the cake. The registration and installation of the connection software went like a dream. After tapping in my Card details I was able to download the connection software and start surfing the Web within five minutes. The time in takes to start a revolution according to rock legends MC-5. However I was in no need to start any form of revolution or even a small street protest as I only had to made one attempt to connect to the web and I was ready to surf. Compare this to the mammoth hair pulling and expletive shouting that TFI had caused as I tried to connect to the web for the 75th time in a row without success and you could have seen the visible change in my personality. I was finally relaxed and the internet had become a device of pleasure rather than a instrument of torture. My Summer of Love continued with Nutshell. I was getting a connection first time every time . I was no longer getting cut off sporadically or at completely incontinent times. My care free days of surfing the seas of the Internet had truly begun. My collection of MP3s steadily increased and for a change I was also able to allow people to download MP3s from my computer. Not only because I was free of time restrictions but also because Nutshell had finally given me a stable bandwidth. I was averaging a connection speed of about 48000kbs on a 56K (Which given the fact that data headers take up a good percentage of the remaining data rate was a very good thing). Things were going so swimmingly well I even joined the world of ICQ. I suddenly found that I could have inane conversations with drunken friends and strangers in real time. I also joined the wonderful world of FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and found that I know longer ne
eded Audiogalaxy or Morpheus when I could log onto a remote computer and download straight from the horse’s mouth . Truly the wonders of the modern telecommunications system had been laid open before me. One thing I have learnt in life is never to get complacent in life, for things are bound to change for the worse. Yes a very pessimistic view point, but then again a pessimist is never disappointed. Nutshell was very shortly going to prove me right. It is now early October the UK is enjoying an Indian Summer and like all Holiday romances my love affair with Nutshell is about to crash and come to a bitter end. I’m having a week of Holiday at home and looking forward to doing a bit of uploading and downloading of various software. Great I’m thinking I’ve got unlimited Internet access, now to make good of all those promises of sending files to my friends. I attempt to log on Nutshell and for the first time I can’t log on first time. No problem the dial up software attempts another nine times. Nine times later and I’m still not connected. My dial up is not even getting as far as Password verification. So I leave trying to log on thinking that many they’re doing some maintenance work on the servers during a non busy time (How many home users do you know who use the Internet at 10.30 in the morning?) . I try again later and after a further few attempts finally get connected. The connection is slow and intermittent so I decide to contact the Nutshell helpdesk to see if there is any known problems and just to do a sanity check to see if it’s not my end that’s playing up (insert flatulence joke here). I send an e-mail to the Services desk and also make a note of the Technical support desk number (Which was incredibly difficult to find amongst the acres of gibberish that constitutes the Nutshell homepage). A couple of days later after a few days of connections they make me wish I had stay
ed with TFI I finally get a E-mail from the Services desk saying that the problems have been caused by Cable & Wireless (C&W) have accidentally taken one of their servers out of action and that everything should be back to normal. Great at least I got a decent response. However three days pass and still my connection is a joke. Time to phone the Technical Helpdesk. Anyone that knows me knows that this is a big step for me to take, as I not the best person and communicating on the telephone and try to avoid using it as much as possible. I ring Nutshell and immediately get through to the Technical Helpdesk and they quickly and politely tell me that C&W still haven’t fixed the server problem. This doesn’t surprise me as C&W have the moniker Cable & Clueless within the Telecomms industry. The Helpdesk chap promises me that service will be back to normal again by the weekend. Grudgingly I except his word on this. The weekend comes and goes and still I’m having massive problems getting a connection . So I decide to phone again. Firstly the Technical Helpdesk. All I get is a dead line. Thinking maybe Nutshell has closed the Technical Helpdesk because it was getting too busy , I phone the Services desk and get another dead line. I try several other numbers only to get that lovely tone of death. Now back at work I check that the site is still up and running it is. However all further phone calls end up the same. It is now that I give up the ghost with Nutshell and go to cancel my direct debit with them, only to find it never existed. Everything begins to fall into place when a friend tells me that C&W actually backed Nutshell and it looks like they pulled the plug on the company. Luckily it seems I was never charged for the service. When I had Nutshell as my ISP it was a joy to use, however when things went wrong they did in a big way. I’m now signed a deal with the Devil (AOL) and at least I’m back
on the web. If anyone has any more info on what happened with Nutshell I be overjoyed to hear it. Come back in a few months and I’m sure I be ranting about AOL. Sometimes I think that the internet maybe isn’t the place for me, but hopefully one day I will be again beguiled by it’s novelty and wonder.
Im currently going through a stage in my life that all internet users seem to go through sooner or later. I'm sure a large number of you are familiar with this phase, it's quite simple. You splash out on an internet provider only for them to let you down completely. So you try another one. This is good until this one lets you down. I'm afraid to report that Net in a Nutshell has become the 3rd in a current row of 4 to let me down. I signed up to Net in a Nutshell after being let down by the collapse of BigBlueSky and then by 08002go. The offer looked reasonably tempting. £9-99 a month for free phone internet access whenever you wanted it, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. After the dissapointments of BBS and 08002go, I put a little more research into my choice this time, enrolling in the reliable advice of ISP website, ispreview.com. The one that stood out to me happened to be Net in a Nutshell and in fact this is where I first heard of it. The offer seemed fairly straight forward, £9-99 a month for totally free internet access whenever you wanted it. This fitted the criteria for what I was looking for and so I proceeded to read up on some of the users comments on the ISPreview website. Everyone seemed to place a reasonable amount of praise on the service and so I jumped in and visited their website to sign up. Upon arriving at their site it looked pretty impressive and professionally done. Alot of the ISP's websites or the smaller ones anyway can look quite shoddy and don't really give a good impression or much confidence making you want to sign up. It has a good news section on it and minimal advertising. There were easy links for horoscopes, weather, sport and entertainment. Also a comprehensive detailed information section with regards to the Nutshell service. All was ok, and so I decided to sign up. The sign up process was completed and sorted out with no problems at all. However the problems were never far a
way from this point onwards. Although I had certainly had a lot worse, even from the start there was a few problems with engaged tones. However I put up with this as when a connection was obtained (it was easy enough to get a connection within about 10 attempts) it was a solid one and one at a reasonable connection speed. After about a week or so and the more major problems started to occur. The engaged tones continued although as I said before it wasn't this that was a major problem. Authentication problems were now starting to kick in and although I was able to dial the number, it was impossible to get connected because the service wasn't accepting my password. The problems continued on and off and it came as no suprise after approximately 3 weeks of me using the service, they pulled the plug. The excuse was that they were in dispute with their provider, Cable and Wireless and due to the dispute, C&W had pulled the plug on Nutshell being able to continue the service. Nothing has changed as far as I am aware, Nutshell are still in dispute with C&W and the link on their website to sign up to the service is not working, so whether we will see a ressurection is doubtful and even if there was one, I wouldn't sign up again.
UPDATE 22/10/01 Due to cirumstances beyond Nutshell's control, the Internet service is currently suspended. All enquiries should be directed by e-mail to email@example.com The above is an email from nutshell. Ps: If you're reading this and you're a dooyou member who can't be bothered to log on and rate, I hope your ISP goes pop. ********************************************* Second-hand car dealers and double glazing salesmen hold the top two spots in the UK's league of shame for complaints to consumer champion the Office of Fair Trading. But coming up on fast on the rails - with a hefty 50,000 complaints a year - are the new kids on the block - home PC companies and internet service providers. Government ministers are so worried by the boom in complaints about ISPs they have pledged to set up a super watchdog to police the UK's burgeoning communications industry. But Ofcom won't be up and running until 2003 at the earliest - giving the ISP wide boys another year to make hay with customers' money. Bigbluesky is the most notorious example of a fly-by-night ISP which took its customers for a major ride - it was still accepting annual subscriptions as it went in to financial meltdown. But even respectable ISPs are seemingly not above the smash-and-grab attitudes of the fledgling industry. Take Net in a Nutshell, once a decent ISP offering reliable if unexciting 24/7 service for a competitive £12.99 a month (£9.99 for the first three months). Run by Ananova, an outfit set up by the well respected PA news agency and now owned by mobile phone giant Orange, nutshell offers: Three hour cut-off Five email accounts (easy to set up email accounts in the members only area on the website) Webspace National rate support line 8am to 10pm and weekends Newsgroups Its home page is basic but it was a safe bet fo
r internet access when you wanted it. It sells cheap computers with internet access and even accepted non-BT customers, unlike most ISPs. But suddenly nutshell turned in to a hit-and-miss affair requiring multiple dial-ups to connect to the internet and more patience than a Railtrack shareholder. Now Nutshell can take up to 20 attempts to connect, depending on the time of day. And your connection rate can be a laughable 33,000. Some times you can't connect at all and the only option is to fall back on a pay-as-you-go ISP. Things have improved in recent days but connection is still a laborious process and speeds are way down. There is no explanation about the crisis on the nutshell website but an email to the company drew this reponse: 'Unfortunatly (sic) Cable and Wireless had turned off two of our servers by mistake this was caused when they were disconnecting another ISP provider. Please accept our apologies the service is expected to resume today within the next few hours.' At least they had the courtesy to reply and I have no reason to disbelieve them. The servive has improved, although it is still second division compared to its old mid-table Premiership status. But I can't shake off a strong feeling of deja vue - our old friend bigbluesky blamed its woes on BT for switching off its servers. Worringly nutshell has signed a deal with the National Union of Students to provide cheap 24/7 internet access for students, a massive market of 3m potential users. The deal was done.. last week. Is it a coincidental nutshell falls to bits just as it opens its servers to many more users? Could be - you would hope the NUS would have the nouse to sign up a company which can deliver and nutshell's parent company Orange has the muscle to cope with surges in demand. But meanwhile frustrated nutshell users are left wondering whether to set off on yet another tiresome tra
wl for a reliable ISP or stay put and risk appearing in the horror movie Son of Bigbluesky. Nutshell was such a good ISP with a spotless reputation. Bugger.
Well hear I am again, a few months older and yet another ISP!! Just when everything was going fine with my last Internet service provider along came all these problems, which began to get worse and worse with no sign of improvement. So the inevitable happened and the hunt began for something that sounded a little more reliable then the service I had. It is hard work looking for a 24/7 0800 Internet connection when you don’t have a BT line but it has been something that I have become accustomed to for over a year, way back in the days of X-stream (Anyone remember them? Surfing past mid-night till the early hours of the morning just so you could have your daily fix of the net!). Will after the pain staking, long and boring search, I gave up and asked my telecom provider what they would recommend and found out something interesting, but that would be an update for another opinion written. After the man suggested a couple that were compatible, he went on to tell me to check out Net4nowt.com, they have most, if not all of the current isp’s listed, with the added bonus of finding out if you need a BT line with out the hassle of going to each site. Well this is what I did, there were loads listed but sadly only a few that we could use but as a result we did settle for one by the name of Nutshell.net. They are certainly a new one on me, and who the hell thinks of these strange names for companies? Well we checked out the site as you do, and was taken back by all the fantastic package deals they have (Shame we already have two computers!). This time we were being a bit more cautious, reading all the FAQ’s, looking at virtually every page they had on the site and finding out their history, you know the bit where you wonder where on earth did they spring up from. History -------- Well it appears that they were founded due to the high demand for economical Internet access, with a goal to provide such service that is affo
rdable and easy to use. With a team that is dedicated to provide a service for everyone’s individual needs at low and affordable monthly cost, from complete Internet ready PC’s, along with unlimited Internet access to 24/7 Internet access only if you already have a computer. They are a registered business that currently have six major partners, some you would have already heard of and some no so well known, these are the likes of Hewlett Packard, Cable and Wireless, Ananova, Westcoast, IMS and able2buy. This played a big factor in our decision to join, the way we looked at is was with well known partners such as Hewlett Packard etc, if they did come across financial problems they would more than likely be bailed out by one or more if the service plan was still viable. Packages ----------- The packages seem to be too good to be true, with a particular set up costing just £29.99 per month, including unlimited internet access and the most expensive being £49.99 which is fantastic for small businesses requiring a PC and connection to the internet especially at peak times. Each package they offer is a set amount for a total of 36 months with 0% added interest. All packages at the present time are from Hewlett Packard, so if you are not a big fan of Hewlett Packard then these are not for you. The personal package -------------------------- The personal package is just £29.99 per month for a total of 36 months, or if you are feeling flush it can be paid in one lump sum but will set you back a total of £1079.64, but considering what comes with it the total cost does sound reasonable. So just what do you get for £29.99 per month: Unlimited, Unmetered Internet Access (Does not sate if access is for the whole 36 months, or less, it would have to be something to inquire about to their sales team on 0800 056 6200 or fax on 0800 056 6300) C800 MHz Celeron Processor 64 M
B Ram 20 Gig Hard Drive 56K Modem 24x CD Rom HP 15” Colour Monitor Internet Keyboard Audio/Video (Does not state if it is plug and play or onboard) Speakers HP Mouse Windows 98 (Pre installed) MS Works 2000 (Pre installed) 3 Years Warranty, First Year Onsite, Then Two Years Parts Only. The Family Package ------------------------ The family package is at £39.99 per month and for that little extra per month you also get a larger 17” monitor, flat bed scanner and printer. Like with all packages you can opt to pay the whole amount in one lump sum or monthly with a total of £1439.64. So just what do you get for £39.99 per month: Unlimited, Unmetered Internet Access (Does not sate if access is for the whole 36 months, or less, it would have to be something to inquire about to their sales team on 0800 056 6200 or fax on 0800 056 6300) C800 MHz Celeron Processor 64 MB Ram 20 Gig Hard Drive 56K Modem 24x CD Rom HP 17” Colour Monitor Internet Keyboard Audio/Video (Does not state if it is plug and play or onboard) Speakers HP Mouse HP 4300 Flatbed Scanner HP 840c Colour Printer Windows 98 (Pre installed) MS Works 2000 (Pre installed) 3 Years Warranty, First Year Onsite, Then Two Years Parts Only. The Professional Package ------------------------------ If you are looking for a PC that has all that you need but with the reliably of a 1 GHz Pentium III Processor and can afford £49.99 per month, the this is the package for you, the total cost of this set up will be £1799.64. An optional Hewlett Packard G55 Officejet all in one copier/scanner/printer is available with this package but you would have to check for details of additional cost with added options. So just what do you get for £49.99 per month: Unlimited, Unmetered Internet Access (Does not sate if access is for the whole
36 months, or less, it would have to be something to inquire about to their sales team on 0800 056 6200 or fax on 0800 056 6300) 1 GHz Pentium III Processor 64 MB Ram 20 Gig Hard Drive 56K Modem 24x CD Rom HP 17” Colour Monitor Internet Keyboard Audio/Video (Does not state if it is plug and play or onboard) Speakers HP Mouse HP 4300 Flatbed Scanner HP 840c Colour Printer Windows 98 (Pre installed) MS Works 2000 (Pre installed) 3 Years Warranty, First Year Onsite, Then Two Years Parts Only. The Laptop Package ------------------------ If you prefer the mobility of a lap top computer and like the professional package can afford £49.99 per month or a lump sum payment of £1799.64 then you could consider the lap top package. An optional Hewlett Packard Leather Carrying Case and a Support Pack are also available with this package; check with Nutshells sales team to find out what additional cost would be incurred. So just what do you get for £49.99 per month: Unlimited, Unmetered Internet Access (Does not sate if access is for the whole 36 months, or less, it would have to be something to inquire about to their sales team on 0800 056 6200 or fax on 0800 056 6300) Celeron 750 MHz Processor 128 MB Ram 10 Gig Hard Drive HP 13.3 XGA TFT Screen 24x CD Rom Floppy Drive 56k Modem Ion (Lilon) Battery (4 hours run time) Windows 98 SE (Second edition) Warranty Limited One Year, Worldwide, Parts And Labour Return To Base. *~* None of the prices shown above include the cost of delivery; the cost of delivery would be £49.99, OUCH!!! *~* At the end of your second year of membership you can choose to upgrade your computer package if you wish and will be given the option. As computers change so much and are always being changed in one way or another this is a good idea. *~*~* Please note, this applies to all PC/i
nternet packages *~*~* Monthly payments are based on financing over a 36 month term, with 0% APR and like all financing terms are subject to status. You must be a UK resident to apply and be over the age of 18 years. The price depends on what package you choose and products and prices may be subject to change without notice. If there are any changes in products or price then you will be notified when you order. Internet access ----------------- Internet access is open to all UK residents that hold a credit or debit card, you can either sign up online or order a CD by phoning 0870 010 2550. Once you have signed up online, you can access the Internet ASAP but if you ordered the CD it would take around 4-5 working days to arrive. At the moment they do not have high-speed access such as ISDN, ADSL, or cable modem but they are in the process of developing high-speed connections for the near future, so there is something to watch out for. Signing up is easy with the basic details that are taken in easy steps. Step one: You choose what type access options you require: a) £12.99 per month (with a rolling contract) b) £9.99 per month for a minimum of 3 months, your card will be charged £29.97 per quarter, c) £16.99 per month, which is for business accounts only. Step two: Personal details are then added, such as title, forename/s, surname, address, postcode, telephone number, email address (optional, for the purpose of Nutshell sending you information from time to time), yes or no option to receive newsletter/additional information from time to time, security question which is one of four (favourite colour, mothers maiden name, pet name or birth place) and then the option to have your information passed on to other affiliated businesses. Step three: Credit card details are then taken with card type, card number, expiry month, expiry year, name on card, card issue number (for Switch card
s only), valid from month and valid from year. Step four: You are then given all your dialup details to print off in you need to use it for future reference, such as user name, password, email address, pass word, the dialup number for manual set up and your email client information. I would recommend that you print it off or if you have no printer save this page in favourites but make it available offline. Step four: Is where you download the software for auto configuration and bobs your uncle. Prices ------- The prices for unlimited Internet access start from as little as £9.99 and up to £16.99. £9.99 per month applies if you decide that you would like a minimum of 3 months access, this is paid in chunks of £29.97 per quarter. £12.99 per month if you decide to pay only one month at a time, this is the option we choose due to past problems with other isp’s, we didn’t want the commitment of 3 months at a time if the service ended out to be crap like many others. £16.99 per month for the business account. What you get for your money ----------------------------------- Fixed monthly fee with no Internet call charges Unlimited Internet access, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week No minimum contract (Provided you take the £12.99 per month option otherwise a minimum of 3 months applies) 5 e-mail address (with 5MB of space per email address) 5 MB of web space News, weather, sport, entertainment, music, finance and horoscopes My experience of using Nutshell --------------------------------------- I have not been a member for long and in my short time I have come across a few problems, but given my track record of providers of any kind of service this came as no surprise. My first problem encountered was with my email account (outlook express), every time I tried to send or receive new message a log in window kept popping up,
I just put it down to them not fully updating their systems. After a few days of having this problem I decided to ring them up. I was greeted by a pleasant spoken man, who then advised me to ring their technical support line, and then went on to supply the number for me to ring. I took the mans advice and rang them straight after. The tech support guy asked me to go through the settings with him until he could figure out what the problems was. It appears that during the auto configuration it put the wrong user name in and after changing it to what it should be the problem has now been resolved. One thing that did impress me was the fact that I was told not to hesitate to call them back if I should still get any more problems and the one to one attention, help and assistance that I was given. Then came the connection problems, I am not one of these people who expect to connect first time every time, not through a standard telephone line any way. The first few days were fine, ok not major speeds and not to the full capacity and capabilities of our modem, but never the less they were stable and downloading was on average faster then what I had become used to. Three days later I saw a change in the service I was once getting, trying to connect had become difficult, it was not unusual to hear engaged tones. After a few attempts of re-dialling I did manage to connect but yesterday their service went down in my estimations that prompted me to ring up BT to ask how much it would cost to have a phone line installed, so that we were not limited to who we have as our isp in the near future. Well like I was saying trying to connect yesterday was beyond a joke, I had to resort to a pay as you go provider just to search for others. After several hours later and a few more grey hairs, I rang them to be told that they were updating their systems and that service should be back to normal within 48 hours. All I can say is why did I have to phone a national rate num
ber to find this out, surely if they were planning anything like this they we all should have been notified a few days prior, or at least have a service status up on there site, because I sure as hell can’t find one. Today service doesn’t seem to be too bad, I am still not connecting first, second or even third time but I do usually connect by the tenth attempt. I am glad that we never signed up for three months in one go, because with any luck and if the price is right I will be having a BT line installed and be able to have many other to choose from with out being limited to taking a gamble every time we change isp and not through choice but necessity. Conclusion -------------- This is not the best around if you expect first time connection or 2nd or 3rd for the matter. The connection speed is not wow!! But it is steady and stable and unlike most you can connect for 3 hours at a time provided you keep the connection active or after 15 minutes of lack of activity you will automatically get disconnected. Given what I know now and the service I have received this would not be one I would consider again unless they make remarkable improvements in the near future. As with many isp’s you take a gamble just like I did with 08002go and yes they did go with the promise they will be back in a month, this one is less of a gamble as you have no contract to commit to and can leave at any time if you wish with no months in advance payments to account for. The choice is up to you, I am not saying that I made a bad choice but the service could be improved in many ways. *~* To find the Nutshell website you can go to their home page which is at http://www.nutshell.net or to go direct to there information page regarding 0800 unlimited access at http://www.nutshell.co.uk Thank you for reading and sorry for the 2,500+ words length. *IMPORTANT UPDATE 22-10-2001* I have rec
ently found a new isp, so my hard to connect to Nutshell account was no longer needed. I phoned them to ask to end my membership to be told that I would have to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, I also stressed that as the money had already been paid then would I still be connected for the 30 days? to be told to email and ask, they should provide all the answers regarding my questions. I did in fact email them but my questions remain un-answered. This reply is the only thing I have had from Nutshell and goes omething like this: Thank you for your e-mail Please accept this e-mail as confirmation that your account is pending deletion. If you have any further queries please call us on 0870 010 2550 who will be more than happy to help you. Kindest regards ****** ************* Nutshell Customer Support So I then try to phone the sales number and the number that is given in my email to find the line dead, yep dead (as dead as 08002go) Browsing the net today I came across this on www.net4nowt.com which had 1st got posted on the 20-10-2001: ***~~~~~~Internet users across the UK are today up in arms after Net in a Nutshell suspended their unmetered service without any prior warning. Since 08002go closed their unmetered service a few weeks ago, many Internet users on non-BT lines went on the search for a suitable provider. Net in a Nutshell fitted the bill perfectly and were receiving glowing reviews from current customers. But the increase in subscribers took its toll on Nutshell which uses C&W to provide their service to customers. Customers complained of constant engaged tones and once connected, very poor download speeds. In short the service became absolutely atrocious. Despite a brief and unreliable increase in performance, customers now receive just a disconnected tone. Rumours started to do the rounds suggesting that Nutshell owed around £1.5 million to C&W. Now it appea
rs that there may be some truth in the rumour. Shortly before the Nutshell site vanished today, there was a short announcement saying: “Due to circumstances beyond Nutshell's control, the Internet service is currently suspended. All enquiries should be directed by e-mail to email@example.com” ~~~~~~*** Which made very interesting reading, and yes told me that I and many have been conned, yes they took a months worth of dosh out of my bank when I didn't even get 2 weeks service.
Has Nutshell bitten off more than they could chew? After searching for a reasonably inexpensive unmetered i.s.p. that I could use without having a B.T. line, I decided to plump for Nutshell. After all, some friends were using this i.s.p. with no probs, and recommended it to me as a good service. I signed up for 3 months, but almost immediatley had regrets. Connection some times takes 30 attempts, and never am I connected on the first 5 attempts. When I do connect I am occasionally disconected abruptly for no apparent reason. My friends now have the same probs. Is this the result of Nutshell allowing too many users to join, with insufficient capacity?
Well, I'v been a members of nutshell.net for a few days now and I ahve truly inpressed. Normally free dial-up ISP's can be slow, have bad connections, high modem ratio and premium technical support charges. Nutshells is not an ISP as such, Its a VIRTUAL ISP that is powered by VISP.com. There are a few local rate isp in the UK that are powered by VISP, SO I tried nutshell to see if it was the same quality. The VISP server are located in the United States Of America, Which I thought was a bit strange for UK internet access. At first the service was very very slow, E.G Google was taking 7 minutes to load up EH !!!! After phoning the support desk, they tweaded a few setting and BANG, Lightning speed !!! Hopefully they won't do what most ISPs do and overload their server with too many members. Its advertised in all the internet magazines that there is no technical support by the phone. All these magazines are wrong in printing this. VISP/NUTSHELL does offer a nation rate technical suppoirt help desk. On theire website you find up to date information on news, sports, finance, weather, entertainment and coming soon your also see travel. Overall this is the best ISP I have been with in the last 3 years. Long live nutshells.
For the past year I'd been happily paying nothing for off-peak surfing thanks to Libertysurf who charged only £20 for the years service. Of course it wouldn't last and now I was faced with paying £14.99 a month, a big step up when you consider the line rental as well. I was then one of the people who signed up for the amazing Bigbluesky offer of £25 for 24/7 free access. I'm sure if you read a lot of opinions on that company then you'll realize that it's a complete fiasco. Net in a Nutshell however saw an opportunity and offered the conned individuals like myself a way out of our internet connection rut. I was offered 24/7 free access for £6.99 for the first 3 months then £9.99 for the preceding months in the year. A bit of a step up in price but it was a monthly rate so no chance of being completely ripped off. I e-mailed away about the offer and to my surprise I was called within 20 minutes. This is the difference, I actually spoke to a person, another voice, not just a machine. He took my details and said someone would call me back the next day to setup my account. The next day I get home and wait for a call and get nothing. I phone up again and it seems they've lost my details, not so good I think but mistakes do happen. Although this was a negative point I will say that they dealed with it quickly. Later that night the technician called me a little later than scheduled but was polite and helpful from the outset. Setup was easy and I got the e-mail address I wanted with ease. A 5 minute call and I was up and running. So how does the service perform? Well I've now been using it for nearly a week and I have to say it's quite good for what you pay. Connection rates on my 56K modem have been steady at 49333Bps and with a 3 hour cut-off time you've got plenty of time to surf and download. However I have found the connection isn't as stable as others I've experienced. I've had several unexpecte
d cut-offs, some in a short space of each other. This can be annoying but unlike some 24/7 access services you can get back on first time 97% of the time. As for the support well I haven't had to use it so I can't comment. I don't foresee myself doing so as well but if all their support staff are like the technician who set up my account then there shouldn't be any problems. It's worth noting that if you give them a ring then it's an 0800 number so the cost is thrown out of the window. So far so good then, I hope it stays that way and I'm sure if they continue a good quality of service it will. Either way it's better than BigBlueSky. ***** UPDATE 20/10/01 ***** Well as you can see I said that it was better than Bigbluesky and that's still true. I eventually got my money back from those people. But I'm now sad to report that nuthshell appears to have gone the same way. Service had been great for the duration of my use until a couple of weeks ago. On dial up it you were met with an engaged tone on several attempts. This was something not encountered before and I out it down to more customers. The exuse was that Cable and Wireless had turned off some servers by mistake causing an outtage. At first this seemed slightly feasible but then again bigbluesky used the same excuse and look what happened there. At the beginning of this week service seemed to improve until yesterday. Up until 1PM I was happily using the net, I went to lunch, I came back and dialed up and got a dead line. Several attempts later and I thought things were just temporarily down. Later in the evening I get nothing and a look on the nutshell website says the service is currently out with the only line of enquiry being an e-mail address with the handle of 'cancel'. Well further investigation shows that Nutshell appear to have gone to ISP heaven owing a large sum to Cable and Wireless. Wether
this is true remains to be seen but I'm not holding out much hope. I've paid for me 3 months use at a reduced rate and haven't lost out so I'm not as annoyed. It's just a pain changing e-mail address and finding a new ISP. I'm now with Freeserve for a month where I pay nothing. Let's hope the experience gets better!
Nutshell.net is the new hot hatch back Internet Service Provider (ISP) on the block, that has had many users in a spin. To start with An ISP is a company that gets on you onto the Internet. If you phone someone up to talk to, then it is probably BT that connects you to that other person. With the Internet it’s an ISP that connects your computer up the all the other computers on the Internet. I recently changed from freeserve anytime to nutshell as it had received some rave reviews on the message boards, so I thought I would join. Nutshell charge £12.99 per month for unlimited Internet use or if you pay 3 months in advance you can get it for £9.99 per month for the first three months. Nutshell state that there will be no other charges on your phone bill at all. There is no cheaper option to just use the Internet on evenings or weekends though. If you are crafty though you can get it for £9.99 per month without paying 3 months in advance. If you go to www.gamesdomain.co.uk and click on one of the advertisement banners for nutshell you can pay just £9.99 per month for unlimited use, with no minimum contract. Nutshell does accept debit cards as well as credit cards, as not everyone has a credit card. For your hard-earned money you also get 5 POP3 email addresses and 5MB of web space. There is only 1 phone number for you to get access to the Internet, but with BT’s new system you are supposed to be able to gain access to the Internet first time. When I joined Nutshell I had heard many stories of how fast it was so I was looking forward to using Nutshell. Before Nutshell I had freeserve anytime and I still have it for a month as freeserve gave me a month free when I threatened to leave them, so I can compare the two ISPs. To be honest I was a little disappointed with the speed of nutshell. It is marginally slower than freeserve in the daytime, but at rush hour (
6pm to 10pm) nutshell shows its true colours and leaves freeserve standing. A lot of major ISPs are fine during the day but at night they slow down considerably, but not so nutshell, it just continues on at more or less the same pace as it does during the day. I often look over my shoulder and chortle as I think of all the other people with ISPs stuck in the internet rush hour, while my nippy little beast (nutshell) just keeps on going. Nutshell is a new company and it does have its fair share of teething problems. When I first tried to download the software to use nutshell, it would not work. I phoned up the helpful support staff who said it was a problem with the software, and it would be fixed by the next day. They offered to phone me back when it was working which nearly sent me into shock, as most ISPs would not dream of phoning you! I quickly got the software to work, but I do understand that a few other people are having the problem of registering with nutshell through their software. The help desk is open from 8am to 10pm seven days a week and is charged at national rate. I am sure this must be a world record as most ISPs charge you 50p a minuet and shut up shop at 8pm. Most ISP's Sunday service is very little or non-existent as well. The staff at nutshell are all friendly and helpful. Most ISP helpline staff can not wait to get rid of you, and frankly I can not wait to get off the line either at 50p per minuet, but the staff at nutshell seem as though they would talk to you all day to get the problem sorted out. If the telephone support staff cannot help you then they get the technical staff to phone you back! I can see freeserve shuddering with fear at the thought of phoning someone back, when they could easily fleece them for 50p a minuet on their over priced helpline. (Better be careful what I say, I sense a liable case starting with freeserve) When phoning the helpli
ne, I waited only a few minuets at the most, whereas with freeserve and other ISPs you can be waiting for half an hour and no one will answer the phone. As you can gather I have had to phone up nutshell a few times as I have had a few problems. I think their software may have altered my news server settings. I have found another free news server though as nutshell do not have their own. When you download nutshell's software you will notice an icon for a news server, but they have only registered the name of the server. They have no news groups on it yet. Nutshell have a cut off of 3 hours which is better than the standard 2 hours of most ISPs, but it would still be better if they did not have it at all. If you have not been active for 15 minuets then they will cut you off, which is fairly standard for ISPs. The nutshell homepage www.nutshell.net has a variety of options for members. You can change your email address and password quite easily. You can set up a website. I could set up my website name easily, but I was a bit lost as how to create my web site with nutshell. Most ISPs let you create a website, and they also make it easy for you to create a website as well. I am not sure if nutshell have a website set up wizard or not. You can download your Nutshell ISP settings as well, if you wish which I find is useful. The terminology in the member's section is a little confusing and ofputting, but it is quite easy to use. Nutshell also offers you the option to rent a computer from them as well as unlimited Internet use. They start at £29.99 per month for a basic computer and go up to £49.99 for a 1GHz Pentium III with scanner and printer. Against all the options there is written 36 months in brackets. I am not sure if this means that you have to rent this computer for 3 years or not. If you do have to rent if for 3 years then in the long run I do not think it is
worth it, as computers are getting faster and cheaper all the time. A recent survey said that most people want fast speed and reliability from their ISP. It also said that people are not too bothered about news servers, email addresses etc. If this is the case then nutshell has done its homework. As they provide a fast and reliable service with friendly and cheap help. Nutshell are not so hot on the flashy extras, but I can get them for free from other places on the Internet anyway. I do not want so many weeks or hours of free Internet access if that service is going to be slow or I get cut off because of congestion on the company's network. I am not too bothered about free CDs that I will probably never use, that some ISPs give you. Nutshell is a little brute. It moves quickly and is solid in build, although it does lack the extras. All I want from my ISP is fast reliable and cheap service, which nutshell gives me. Although it can be a little tricky setting up the extras, that Nutshell does not if you are new to computing I would recommend Nutshell to everybody. *Update* Nushell have reduced the price of their service on their home page from £12.99 to £9.99 Nutshell's news server now has lots of newsgroups on it, including binary newsgroups. *UPDATE* 20/10/01 Nutshell completely stopped all internet access without warning yesterday. Apparently there are rumors of them owing cable and wireless £1.5 million. The advice been given is to try and get a refund if you are already a member. If you have not joined them please do not try to, as their website is still active.