Monday, 29 December 2008


Today has turned into 'one of those days'. I had a plan... and the plan has gone awry - fairly predictably.

I got up this morning and took myself down to Woolwich. My plan was two-fold; pay cheques into the bank and buy a wireless adapter for the Xbox 360. The queues in the bank were horrendous... and I decided that I would use the quick deposit point. Great idea, except not a single pen in the entire bank was working, what nonsense! I had to walk to WHSmith, buy a pen, and walk back to the bank. I then I had to walk back up to game to purchase my wireless adapter (and a game) and return home.

I set about the next part of my plan with trepidation. I have (on one previous occasion) managed to connect my Xbox 360 to the outside world. This was the second attempt (the first failing as it wouldn't connect via Windows Vista Home Basic, which didn't have the right 'file sharing' facilities). You think it will all be simple as it is all Microsoft. I wasn't feeling quite so optimistic this time, I knew it wouldn't be simple. And I was right - but for all the wrong reasons.

The instructions seemed comprehensive but that is only because they are provided in ten languages. They are actually brief and not very helpful. I plugged into the router and went into the settings. Everything seemed to go smoothly... the Xbox connected to the network... only it didn't. The Xbox Live Test Settings failed. Network not connected. Useless error code X 8000-0011. What does it mean?! Nothing anywhere.

So I decided to call Xbox Support. They are usually very helpful and even better supply a free-phone number. We went through my problem (twice) and carried out the steps I had already carried out myself. What we wanted (apparently) was the 'security key'. Apparently this required me to call Virgin (internet provider).

I called Virgin. Also happily a free-phone number. I ask them for the security key. They ask me for the make of my router. Belkin I say. They can't help, only Belkin can. I ask if this is the security password I use to connect my laptop to the router... I'm told it is - as we shall later see  there is actually some confusion on this matter. The best thing about calling Virgin is that before they put you on hold they give you five choices of music to listen to whilst on hold! Cute, or worrying (that they think you will be on hold that long).

I call Xbox again. We go through the whole set up again, the assistant assures me that the security key is apparently something different from the password. I really do need to speak to Belkin.

So - eventually I find a phone number on Belkin's website (after two sets of gibberish code). I call the number. It tells me that there are a high volume of calls and hangs up on me. Twice. Now I'm getting annoyed. The third time it doesn't hang up on me but puts me eternally on hold. Fortunately one of the recorded announcements gives me a web address for live support. I hang up on the helpline (which isn't a free call number) and go to the chat.

I am connected to the live chat for twenty minutes, the representative introduces themselves twice and keeps asking me 'Are you there' (four times)... before terminating the session. The next two attempts failed to connect... and then I'm back with the same agent. Time expended on this exercise... 30 minutes with no solution. Why can't this sort of thing be simple. Why can't they send a leaflet in the box so that in the likely event you'll need this information it can easily be found!

I have (generally) no faith in these processes. The last time I used an online chat with HP they concluded that my problem was Windows Vista and 'just one of those things'. That was my scanner that wouldn't work, which randomly started working again the following day.

Eventually after 40 minutes Belkin manage to direct me to the page on the routers own IP where the security key is listed. The security key IS the same as the password. My network is WPA-PSK and PSK stands for 'pre-shared key'. It turns out the only problem I've got in connecting my Xbox wireless adapter is that a) I've muddled the pass-key and typed it in wrong and b) the Xbox doesn't tell me this but just pretends to be connected.

This is not the first time I've wasted a lot of time looking for the routers own IP page... I had the same thing when I was setting up my parents' wireless network for them. Seriously, why isn't the IP address printed in HUGE letters on the box or something?

After all that I'm connected. The Xbox updates itself (again) to a very fancy new dashboard and all is well. Yes, it is great when it works... it is just making it work that is the problem.