A tweet from 3mobilebuzz this morning alerted me to some really sweet deals from mobile operator 3 regarding mobile broadband.

Half-price offers! The one that interests me is the 18-month contract for 3’s USB E160G modem dongle with 5 gigs bandwidth allowance per month for just £7.50 instead of the usual £15.

This is similar to the broadband modem I had on free loan from 3 and 3mobilebuzz earlier this year to try out, and I liked it and 3’s service a lot.

I needed no urging to sign up for this – it’s a very good deal for the price. So I go to 3’s website to buy it online.

That’s when I fell at the first hurdle. Actually, more like a brick wall.

I couldn’t fill in some of the information on the online order form which asked for my address information as it only let me input things like UK postcodes. So I couldn’t enter my address in The Netherlands from two years’ ago.

So I go onto web chat. First attempt failed as the message I got was the service was too busy and to email instead. Email? So much for spontaneity.

I tried again a bit later and got connected via text messaging to a customer service agent.

And here was the brick wall: No, sorry, we can’t accept your order as you haven’t been resident in the UK at a UK address for three years or more.

gordonbrownspeech I watched a good 40 minutes of Prime Minster Gordon Brown’s speech yesterday at the Labour Party conference in Manchester, broadcast live on BBC News.

If you read the speech, I think you’ll agree that it’s pretty good as far as political speeches go, which are clearly designed as much for interpretive reporting by the mainstream media as they are aimed at those physically present as well as the general public watching and listening.

Expectations for his keynote address to this conference were very high indeed, if reporting and commentary in the mainstream media this past week has been anything to go by.

There’s been much talk of this speech being a ‘make or break’ moment for Gordon Brown, the moment when he either asserts his authority as Prime Minister and leader of his party, or succumbs to continuing speculation and sniping from within his own party and beyond, with an outcome that would likely be politically fatal for him long before a next general election.

I suppose I was wondering most how he would do: how would he look, how would he sound; above all, would he look as though he has strength or would he appear weak.

On balance, I think he did well. He certainly didn’t appear weak; on the contrary, he looked quite comfortable. And I think it was a master stroke of planning for his wife Sarah Brown to address the conference before her husband took to the podium (a first at a British political conference, according to some media reports), setting a personal tone that I think helped Gordon Brown connect more to those watching. I certainly saw a personal side to him I’d not seen before.

I’m not so sure about the whizz-bang presentation effects – the colour scheme, the music, the video, all a bit too ‘American lite’ for my taste. But maybe we’d better get used to seeing major political events presented this way in the UK as it is about presentation and personalities today leading to instant analyses by anyone with an opinion and an internet connection (someone just like me, in fact).

There wasn’t any magic in this speech, though, nothing that made me say ‘Wow!’; it was a Gordon Brown speech: serious but not boring and, well, solid.

On a scale of one to ten, with ten being the ‘Wow!’ factor, I’d give it a six.