The HP ProLiant MicroServer

I bought a couple of HP ProLiant MicroServers this week. They arrived on Friday, along with two Remote Access cards and four 4Gb sticks of memory from Crucial.

I can honestly say that I’m impressed. HP are offering £100 cashback on these servers until 31st August, £238 from dabs.com, so really £138. For that, you get a 250Gb SATA disk, a rather lean 1.3GHz AMD Neo processor, in a small box that can easily be tucked in the corner somewhere. Add the Remote Access Card, and you have a headless server – admittedly it requires a bit of fiddling to set up, but I have plenty of server-side experience.

The machine has four slots for SATA disks, and installing them is straightforward. Bolts and a Torx wrench

PXE booting both boxes was no trouble, and they both have Ubuntu 11.04 running on them without issue.

Specs are here.

Three is not a magic number

When I moved from Orange to 3 in February, I was full of praise for them – and they’ve been generally excellent. £15 a month for their SIM Only 300 – 1 month plan, which is loads less than I paid on Orange for lots more data. I have a MiFi for Internet access when I’m out and about, handy for the commute to my new office which is about 90 minutes.

And that’s where the problem happened. At my desk, I get no 3 signal whatsoever. If I move outside, it’s fine – but at my desk, nada. I can’t move desks, there’s no chance of using UMA in the office as 3 don’t offer it, and my mobile is useless at the place I spent 8 hours a day.

I made the decision to move to giffgaff purely on the excellent O2 coverage at my workplace. Nothing else mattered. giffgaff sent me a SIM within a day or two, which I activated online last night. I called 3 this afternoon to get a PAC so I could port my number over. Here’s some bullet point which represent the half-hour long struggle.

  • Call up, press the buttons for ‘thinking of leaving’, get plunged in to a silent abyss. Twice.
  • Call up, press the buttons for ‘phone or network problem’, get through to a chap in India who is difficult to understand.
  • I tell him I want a PAC – no more details – he asks why, and steers me through a troubleshooting process in which he checks coverage at my location and tells me there’s good signal. I tell him I get no signal at my desk. He tells me there’s a good signal in the area. I tell him my phone’s useless if I can’t use it at my desk.
  • He suggests my phone may be at fault (repeatedly putting me on silent hold without saying anything, and it’s only perseverance on my part that keeps me on the line), and I tell him my phone’s fine, and that I want a PAC because I have no signal at my desk. He asks if I can try my SIM in another phone, and I tell him my phone is not faulty, that I’m not going to waste time trying my SIM in another phone, and I want my PAC.
  • He tells me he can’t issue a PAC, but he’ll put me through to somebody who can. That other person asks why I want to leave, I tell him I have no signal at my desk – he checks on their website, and tells me there is good signal. I repeatedly tell him I have no signal at my desk.
  • He asks who I’m moving to – and I tell him I get five bars of signal on giffgaff (O2). He asks how much I’m paying and what the bundle is, and then asks me if I’d stay if they reduced the price. I tell him that even if he gave me the same bundle for free, if I can’t use it at my desk, it’s not worth having.
  • He suggests that he could put in a request for them to make their network better in my location, and I tell him I can’t wait for them to possibly do something, at some time, which might help, and that I want to move.
  • At this point, he finally gets the hint and tells me they’ll text me a PAC within 24 hours. It arrives an hour or two later whilst I’m outside, and I arrange my number porting with giffgaff for tomorrow.

Apart from 3’s shockingly poor callcentre, they were a better provider than Orange. Thanks, 3 – you’ve served me well over the past few months and I’d find it hard to come up with anything but minor niggles over your service… but please – sort your callcentre out. They’re your representatives.