Egg's Internet Service Guide and Tips
I keep a watch on the various Internet Service Providers (ISPs) mainly from the point of view of Open University Students who are now obliged to use a commercial ISP to access FirstClass and the web. There are now many free ISPs so any new candidate must have a clear competitive advantage to be seriously considered when there are fast proven services such as Freeserve. The Egg falls into that class firstly because it has an International Dimension - many students, particularly those on the MBA courses, spend time abroad in their work and the same is obviously true of Tutors. Secondly the Egg is the banking arm of the Prudential who are adopting an aggressive approach to the Internet Banking sector and are likely to provide a very good service whilst they are forcing their way into the market.
There are many free ISPs but few with the backing of an organisation as strong as the Prudential with a reputation to maintain. Egg is being directed at the novice user and could be good for new students needing TCP/IP access who are currently without an ISP. It is particularly appropriate for tutors who need web space which is accessible for uploads from abroad (ie using any ISP). The promise of cheap international access via iPass and local ISPs also distinguishes it from the many free competitors.
Preliminary Use and Evaluation
Our own Internet access: I have registered us for Eggconnect and it will be used in parallel with rather than replace the existing Freeserve, CompuServe and OU access. The OU TCP/IP is currently much faster than CompuServe but is only available for OU and associated activities and now only to tutors. Freeserve seems faster than the OU TCP/IP link for general browsing as it is has a proxy server. It also offers a valuable additional 15 Mbytes of web space. Egg should be well supported, offers 10 Mbytes of Web space and also promises cheap Global access which is a major attraction to us. We need addition web space because Pauline's OU presentations and the rest of her support material have taken up a considerable amount of our original 5 Mbytes. Our CompuServe email address is well known and CompuServe is still needed to provide the Global Dimension and will therefore continue to be our prime Email service provider. Our web site master is still on CompuServe but after a series of upload and server problems it is now mirrored on Freeserve and accessible through http://www.corinna1.freeserve.co.uk/, however it can only be updated whilst we are in the UK.
Potential Student Use: Students without an existing ISP or those who are happy to make some changes to their existing configuration should be able to load the software from the CD, register online and be up and running immediately with email and web browsing via a user friendly launcher. The browser will start up at the Egg Portal at http://www.egg.com. The Launcher is a nice idea but there is however a major potential problem if you use, or plan to upgrade to, Internet Explorer 5 (IE 5) as suggested as appropriate for some courses such as M206. The IE 5 problem comes about because:
Upside to using Egg as an ISP
- The Launcher is designed to use IE 4.01 (SR 1) and will not work with IE 5 at present
- If the Launcher is run on an IE 5 system all existing connectivity and offline browsing is compromised until a time consuming procedure is carried out.
- OU students will probably also need to make an additional DUN connection which bypasses the launcher to use with FirstClass. Creating a DUN is however easy and covered below.
Downside to using Egg as an ISP:
- A simple launcher interface for the complete novice
- Backed by a major UK company with all to win and more to lose
- A telephone number and modems specifically configured for calls from overseas.
- A new International Dimension to access using local calls. (via iPass).
Avoiding Configuration Changes: I was concerned about unknown changes to our existing and highly tuned configuration so I was reluctant to load their software from the CD but could find no way round installing the launcher before registering. It should be possible for an experienced user to uninstall the Launcher after registration and before it is run and then configure manually. This worked with IE 5 the second time through (but only after 4 hours of trauma). Fortunately only the more experienced will be using IE 5 at this time but that will change - hopefully ICL will by then have updated the launcher for Egg.
Email and Newsgroups: Configuration is covered for a number of email programmes on the Egg Support site at http://users.eggconnect.net under FAQs but I could find nothing on newsgroup reader configuration. I have written up general details on such configuration in Using Multiple ISPs should be sufficient with the knowledge that the Egg newsgroup server address is newshost.eggconnect.net
Web Space: Eggconnect provides an adequate 10 Mbytes of web space and the Launcher has an FTP programme built in. I prefer to use standard freeware FTP programs such as WS_FTP and have written a Novices Guide to Setting up a Web Site using only system software and freeware to get people up and running. The Web Site access is different to usual in that you have to obtain a temporary password for FTP every time from the Egg Support site at http://users.eggconnect.net which then expires after 1 hour. This has one advantage as the site can be uploaded reasonably securely from any open TCP/IP socket rather than a dialup using the provider - this means one can update from abroad. In practice it worked fine using WS_FTP LE and I did three uploads and updates within an hour and put up 1 Mbyte of our site. Have a look at
http://users.eggconnect.net/pcurtis which is just a gateway linking to our other sites or try
http://users.eggconnect.net/pcurtis/homepage.htm which gives access to a mirror of the top level only of our site so you can at least get an impression of the site speed.
The Launcher is configured to connect to the telephone when accessing the Browser preventing easy offline use.
You will need to set up a normal DUN to Eggconnect if you wish to access the Browser directly
It will not work with IE 5 using the Launcher and extensive and time consuming work is needed to repair the system if the launcher is used when IE5 is loaded.
The FTP to the Web Space is unusual - however it should allow foreign access.
Help is pretty minimal on the Eggconnect sites and there is no link from their main pages.
Lack of maturity of the Service - but it will improve.
Eggconnect provides a copy of Internet Explorer 4.01 SR 1 and Outlook Express 4. The registration program checks that IE 4 or higher and the Egg Launcher software are loaded before you can register. I was therefore forced to install software from the CD onto our "OU and Development" system and then ran straight into the IE 5/Launcher interaction problems. Their support staff were at that time unaware there was a problem - they know now!
Once the Launcher has been run the only work round I have found is to:
Just running IE5 setup to reinstall the software again or using the rebuild options is not sufficient.
- Uninstall IE 5 from the Control Panel Add/Remove Programs which takes one back to the previous configuration (IE 4 in most cases) Note that once this has been done:
- Outlook Express 4 will have lost all its mail but there is an import option to retrieve it from the OE mailbox.
- Internet Explorer 4 will have lost all the cached files and there will be no history left.
- Uninstall the Launcher from Control Panel Add/Remove programs
- Reinstall IE 5 from CD but not the Launcher or other Egg software
- Configure the DUN and OE 5 Accounts manually.
Creating an Eggconnect Dial Up Network (DUN) Connection
The following instructions assume that one is adding Eggconnect to a machine with at least one current working Dial Up Network (DUN) connection. If this is not the case consider loading the whole Egg software - you will be able to access FirstClass and the Internet OK. If one wants to install and configure Windows 95 for PPP connections and Install Modems and Optimise Modem connections from scratch there are instructions on my web pages in the Howto technical articles pages. If you have any connection already, meaning the system is configured, it is very easy - I made a spare connection using the procedure below from an empty desktop to modem dialing out it 71 seconds and was connected and using the link in under two minutes! The procedures to follow is:
1. Create a new connection.
Follow the instructions in the Wizard - they may vary slightly in the original Windows 95 and Windows 98 from the OSR2 version here but the information you have to give is obvious. You can change everything latter.
- Open (Double click) My Computer
- Open Dial-Up Networking
- Open Make New Connection
Screen 1 - Call the connection Egg and select the modem from the list of those you have installed - it should already be configured if you are using it.
Screen 2 - Add the telephone number for Egg which is 0845 301 1205 and check the country code is UK
Screen 3 - Check the name is what you want (Egg) and click Finish
That wasn't difficult was it!
2. Configure the Connection
You now need to set the properties by going back to the Dial-Up Network screen as above and RIGHT CLICKING the Egg connection and then clicking Properties on the menu. This gives you two or three tabs depending on which version of Windows 95/98 you have.
Scripting Tab - Ignore if you have this option - No Connection script is needed for Egg connections. Just like the OU DUN connection.
General Tab - This is where you can change the telephone number and modem type and configure the modem specifically for this connection. Chances are that it has been already optimised but you may want to set the maximum speed to 115200 with a 28800 or better modem after the connection is working.
Server types - This is the important one
You now have the Egg DUN which needs the username and password to be entered the first time it is run. If the "Save Password" box is checked you will never have to enter them again.
Remember your ID/Username and DUN password needed here are the ones that were issued to you on the screen during registration that they told you to write down. The ID/Username will be something like aabcfg76543 and the DUN password is the one issued to you as a meaningless string of characters.
- Set the Dial up Server to PPP: Windows 95 .......
- Clear the top 5 check boxes (first two never seem to matter)
- Tick only bottom TCP/IP box (important that only TCP/IP is checked)
- Now click on TCP/IP Settings
- Check the Server Assigned IP address button
- Check the Server Assigned Name Server Address button
- Leave Use IP header compression set
- Tick Use remote gateway on remote network (important)
- Close down with a series of OKs
Set up your Email and Browser
You now need to configure the accounts in Outlook Express or your chosen Email programs. Configuration is covered for a number of email programs on the Egg Support site at http://users.eggconnect.net under FAQs. Some of the links have already changed so you may need to look for the FAQ/Help information! It is also covered in my Technical Howto Article called Using Multiple ISPs. The most important information you need over and above the names and passwords you chose for each account registered is:
The email account passwords were the ones you provided (you entered them twice for confirmation)and could be different for each email address of the five you could have registered.
- The account name you enter is firstname.lastname@example.org assuming you registered yourname
- POP server: pophost1.eggconnect.net
- SMTP Server: mailhost.eggconnect.net
- News Server: newshost.eggconnect.net
Using Multiple ISPs and Changing your ISP
This is a topic in its own right and there is a comprehensive page to cover this called Using Multiple ISPs which explains how to set your default Dial Up Network (DUN) Connection for your browser and the principles of how to convert and use Email when there are a number of ISPs and connections. It also gives some guidance on newsgroups and newsgroup readers. It is not specific to Egg but the all the extra information you should need is given above.
The views here are entirely our own and are not endorsed in any way by the Open University or Egg. What is written on these pages is our own experiences and is not intended to replace in any way the documentation supplied with any of the Open University or Eggconnect software.
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Copyright © Peter Curtis
Content revised: 17th May, 1999