Popped over to my mother's house last night, expecting to spend 15 minutes upgrading her Internet connection from dialup to dsl from SBC/Yahoo! I've done this so many times I could do it in my sleep: install the filters on all lines, install the dsl modem itself and connect it properly both to the incoming phone jack and to the computer, open the computer and set the Internet preference to wireless/DHCP. Actually, I wasn't sure whether it was DHCP or PPPoE, but DHCP seemed a good bet. My impression is that PPPoE is out of fashion. Anyway, got it all set up - the work of maybe five minutes - powered on the dsl modem, got an IP address, and - nothing. Could not get to the Info Autobahn. Instead of fifteen minutes, it took me an hour and a half and three calls to SBC Yahoo! tech support to get things ironed out.
The first call was needed to get the dsl modem properly registered and working. This involved some sort of online registration process. Before calling, I had run the installer that comes on the CD (after failing to do it all manually), but it didn't do this for me. At the moment, my impression is that everybody must have to call tech support to complete an installation.
Except that this didn't quite complete it. Seems that the online registration process will not work properly if you use Safari as your browser. Huh!? In 2006 something doesn't work properly unless you use Internet Explorer 5.x? This is pretty shocking and there is no excuse for it. If you can't build a web site that works in Safari, Firefox and Opera as well as or better than it works in some five year old version of IE, then you should not be building web sites.
Anyway, the fact that I could not complete the registration online in Safari caused me to have to call back two more times to get email working in Apple Mail. The first time, I called just to get the addresses of the POP and SMTP servers. I tried to find this info online but was unable to do so.
Now, I'm by no means a networking guru, but I have installed dsl many many times before. I think I was one of the first dozen folks in Houston to get dsl about a decade ago. I remember having to help the installation technician (this was before self-install kits), who had been rushed through training and didn't actually understand what he was doing. If I have to call tech support three times, how does the general public do it? Perhaps I was just unlucky. Perhaps the general public uses the installer, follows all the instructions explicitly, and perhaps if you do that, you don't have problems.
But really, this isn't the kind of thing that should require that you use an installer, is it? From what I could tell, the main things that the installer was going to installer were a Yahoo!-branded version of Firefox and a special Yahoo! chat client - neither of which my mother would want.
Why can't they put all the necessary information on half a sheet of paper, and title the paper "Info for folks who know what they're doing...."?