Foxvideo Productions

February 2013

Switching ISP - Hit or Miss?


Switching ISP's is a bit like changing banks or energy suppliers - you know you'll probably get a better deal but, it's a bit of a hassle and you really can't be bothered.

I've had 5 ISP's since 1995, originally a small Welsh outfit called Celtic on a 28k modem, they soon went bust and we went to F9 who later became PlusNet, we stayed with PlusNet when we moved house in 1999. PlusNet went through some serious problems around 2005 which resulted in the MD posting an open apology letter on the web promising changes, I decided to switch to another Service provider - EFH, this was a great ISP, almost like a 'mom and pop' outfit, great service, constantly fast speeds (I live 200 yards from the exchange so have always had speeds around 7 or 8 Mb), excellent support - almost too good to be true - and it was - they soon went bust and were taken over by 186k.

We stayed with 186k until they had a major dispute with Tiscali who supplied their service, by this time PlusNet (now owned by BT) had sorted their problems, so we went back to them and to be fair, I've not had any problems for the past 4 years.

With the huge leap in mobile communications, internet 'on the go' is now almost a necessity, in our rural area we have a very "patchy" 3G service but I had noticed lots of BT WiFi and BT-FON connections. A recent TV ad for BT Internet seemed to be offering just what I was looking for - Unlimited download, no throttling, free Wifi access to any BT hotspot or BT-FON, 6 months free and all for only £16pm so I went for it.

Switching was actually very easy, I got my MAC code from PlusNet who offered me a good deal to stay, but admitted the free WiFi access couldn't be matched, they told me they'd tried to get access to the BT Wifi and FON network through their parent company BT, but had been refused!

My BT Internet was switched on within 6 days and it was just a case of swapping my router for the BT Hub and I was up and running. Initial speed tests showed I was getting around 1.7meg - not good, a quick email to BT and I was given a stock answer - "let it settle for 10 days" before getting back in touch, I knew it wouldn't get much faster but swapped cables, routers, filters etc just in case.

I had variable speeds between 1.5Mb and 2.5Mb for 10 days, an email last Saturday to BT and within an hour they phoned me, a knowledgable young lady asked the usual questions from an obviously prepared script, after a few minutes she agreed I'd done everything I should have so she'd 'escalate' the problem and get back to me. Within 30 minutes a speed test here showed I was getting 7Mb, the lady did call back, she said some 'changes' had been made at the exchange and I should now be getting better speeds.

4 days on and I'm still getting an average of around 7 meg, we also now have access to any BT WiFi or FON hotspot anywhere, so yes, it was worth switching.

Drop shadow in DVD Studio Pro missing

Apple (in their wisdom?) have decided DVD's will die out and downloads will be the norm so they won't update DVD Studio Pro after 4.2, I still use it frequently and find it a great program for DVD authoring.

When producing menu's I always increase the default 30% drop shadow on text to between 70% and 100% to get a sharper shadow, since using OS 10.7.5 Lion this option has been "greyed out" in the text box options and I've never really bothered to find out why.

A DVD I was producing recently had a large amount of text on the menu buttons and I wanted to make them stand out with a better drop shadow, so after authoring I opened the DVDSP project in OS 10.8 and the drop shadow option was there so it looked to be a Lion 10.7.5 bug.

The answer, was to update my rock solid 10.7.5 FCP Studio 3 boot disk to OS 10.8 Mountain Lion which I've been putting off for for as long as possible. So, last night I cloned my 10.7.5 system (just in case!) and then, after a 4 hour download I upgraded, I made sure the system was booting OK and then called it a night. This morning it all booted up fine with a nice sparkly 10.8 Mountain Lion OS, I had some issues getting the eSata drivers working but it was a problem I knew about, I got an older driver version from Silicon Image (v1.2.5.0) and it worked fine (figure that one out!), a few other minor tweaks to suit me and then I tried DVDSP and, lo and behold - the drop shadow option is back and working, DVD Studio Pro lives on!