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The Big Move

When I first signed for AT&T's Worldnet Service, I was very pleased with it for about the first few years. It was one of those "secret" ISP's that no-one had known about yet, unlike AOL which was clogged to the capillaries. It didn't even bug me that they butchered up my last name (which is "McFarren", but AT&T in their infinite wisdom always thought that it was "Farren" with "Mc" as middle initials).

Then the AT&T ISP started getting popular, and of course slower with age. Instead of using the "first come, first serve" logic, AT&T came up with the "perpetual end-of-the-line" concept: If you did not sign up for the Premium Worldnet Service, then your queue on the Internet was considered low prioity, which meant getting bumped off if enough higher priority users logged in, even though you were only logged on for 1 minute.

At first it was an inconvenience, later annoying, and finally impossible to log on. Why pay for an internet service each month, if you cannot even use it? Better yet, why go for AT&T's premium plan if SBC was offering DSL for only $10 more than AT&T's "loser plan"?

So the decision was made: Drop AT&T, and call SBC. I am now locked in for 1 year at $30/month... but that's still $120/year more than I use to pay, so I decided to cut corners and went for the DIY (Do It Yourself) package to save that extra $200.

The box of goodies came about a week later; An ethernet card, external modem, wall wart, cables, 5 filters and an installation CD. According to the instructions, the setup should only take 1 or 2 hours. In my case, it took 9 hours.


The very second I ran the CD, this error message popped up:

DSL Installer has found the following incompatible software that you need to remove from your computer before proceeding with your DSL installation:


Print these instructions, then click Exit and follow the instructions below.

  1. Open Add/Remove Programs in Control Panel (to open Control Panel item, click Start, point to settings, click Control Panel and then double-click Add/Remove Programs.)
  2. Click the Install/Uninstall tab, select the program to remove, then click Remove.
After you Remove the software, leave the DSL Installer CD in your CD-ROM, Shutdown and Restart your System.

So off I went to Control Panel, and then Add/Remove Programs. When Prodigy was not on the Add/Remove List, I knew right away that I was in serious trouble. As a matter of fact, none of my computer's pre-installed software appeared on that list; it only the programs that I added myself AFTER buying the computer.


It seems that the old Prodigy was only half installed. I was still stuck on square one of the process, and tried many ineffective ways to break that first barrier. Here are some examples (from experience) of what *NOT* to do:

Erasing the Prodigy directory and all its contents:
Definitely a big no-no. You may need this old software at a later date to resolve other Prodigy software conflicts. Besides, it's not the actual Prodigy software that's giving you problems; it's the maps and pointers that are embedded throughout your hard-drive.

Uninstall Prodigy using the Windows Setup tab from Control Panel's Add/Remove Programs:
Buried inside the "Online Services" component was a Prodigy Internet sub-component. Clicking off the checkmark in the checkbox does nothing. Once you hit APPLY button, the checkmark is gone forever, and you will still have to face the infamous software conflict later. You cannot click the checkmark back on, because you have to hit the HAVE DISK button next, and you know very well that you don't have an old Prodigy disk laying around.

Uninstalling Prodigy with bin/piuninst.exe:
All you get is a message saying, "Please use Control Panel to uninstall Prodigy Internet"

Reinstalling Prodigy:
I figured that the best way to uninstall Prodigy was to simply reinstall it first. First I tried bin/piInst.exe, but that had no effect whatsoever (or at least I hope nothing bad happened). I've tried other methods, but to no avail. Some were so risky I'm not even going to consider listing them. Even if you have an old Prodigy diskette, you may not have the correct version, so don't even think about using Control Panel.


I was at my wit's end, so I got bold and went for the last resort: REGEDIT.EXE. Using regedit can be dangerous, but I had no choice. Since I assume that some of you reading this will attempt this desperate measure (despite the big warning), then the rest will be written in "second-person" format.


First of all, create a new directory like OLDPRO, where you can keep all the old Prodigy stuff. You don't want Prodigy to disappear completely, just hidden away from public (like the government witness protection program).

Now go to Explorer (or My Computer). Move the Prodigy directory (and all its contents) from the Program Files/Online Services directory to your newly created OLDPRO directory. Reboot.


So now my site is temporarily banished to GeoCities; the HOMELESS SHELTER for web pages that are down on their luck. But the saga is not over yet! As of this writing, I still have yet to disconnect from AT&T's Worldnet service. You see, in order to disconnect, you simply cannot call your local AT&T office. Instead, you must dial a 1-800 number that does the following:

  1. Thanks you for calling.
  2. A badly recorded message about the screw-up on last month's bill, how to deal with it, and how they're trying to fix it. The almost unintelligible voice sounds like a sweaty Peter Lorre being held against his will.
  3. Anouncement that the menu selection has recently changed.
  4. Verbally lists the new menu selection (cancelling the Worldnet service is option #4).
  5. "Please enter your 10-digit telephone number..."
  6. "Just a moment, while we connect you..."
  7. "Transferring you to another line..."
  8. Another rant; this time about how your worldnet service portion of your bill is no longer located in the long distance portion of your bill, but is now located on your worldnet service portion of your bill, etc.
  9. Another thanks for calling.
  10. "Please hold on, until the next available agent is ready..."
  11. Same previous message about the phone bill screw-up, but this time with a different and clearer voice, sounding very much like the female computer voice on Star-Trek.
  12. An announcement stating that all lines are busy, so busy in fact that you are much better off calling back later rather than being put on hold.
  13. If you hold on long enough, then another computerized voice will state that an agent will answer your call in approximately *29* minutes. How on Earth did it become so hard to contact the PHONE company using a TELEPHONE?!?

November 6, 2003

After about 200 phone calls, I finally cut the AT&T umbilical cord. Now I have problems (with the SBC DSL) while viewing images on certain websites; images that are either re-sized or that originate from a different directory. This results with an error message near the toolbar, so expect another BIG MOVE in 2004!

Easter, 2004

Temporary fix: If images do not appear on a certain web-page, then left-click View, Encoding, and checkmark Autoselect only if it is blank. The menu box automatically dissappears. Afterwards/Otherwise, then left-click View, Encoding, followed by Western European (Windows), and just like magic all of the images suddenly appear on that current web-page. The bad news: You have to do this every time you encounter a web-page that refuses to display re-sized images. Does anyone know how to force the encoding to a default setting?


Ironically, ATT buys out SBC! Even more ironic, the telephone monopoly they busted up 30 years ago is now once again reunited. I really miss the original no-crap-zone MA BELL.

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