I also managed to find two more people who had friends or relatives back in Horsham. I seem to have a knack for this. I also apparently am the sort of person that people like to talk to, given how many people I just ended up chatting with (one English Heritage volunteer about computing and gaming, one Maritime museum volunteer about sailing from whom I scored a free go with the R/C model sailboats, and another Maritime museum volunteer about Falmouth, life in general and the docks). I don't know how I do it, but I just seem to manage it. It's quite nice, as you find out all sorts of quirky little bits of history (like apparently some of the buildings in Pendennis Castle are haunted), and I've quite often been given freebies.
Anyway, while I was in town, I decided that GPRS mobile internet via Bluetooth and a Ericsson T39m wasn't really the done thing nowadays, and required too many steps. The phone also occassionally resets when the GPRS connection is active, which is a known firmware bug with it and is most irritating. So I popped into the local Vodafone shop and emerged a few minutes later with a pay-as-you-go 3G USB modem.
Setting it up was an absolute piece of cake, and the truely awesome part of the install is that no CD was a) provided nor b) needed. The modem Vodafone chose comes with about 30MB of onboard flash, which is formatted as a CD and contains the full windows installer and drivers. Yes, the hardware has bulit-in drivers (XP and Vista only, but that covers the overwhelming majority of laptop users). The only other piece of hardware I've *ever* seen which did this was an ultrasonic rangefinder for a graphical calculator, which could send a handful of built-in programs over a custom serial link to the calculator. Ever since I saw that eight years ago I have been waiting for the PC world to catch up. Plug and Play was close, but still required drivers that came on an easily-lost CD.
So here I am, with fast (and not too expensive - £15 for 1GB with the first topup included in the modem cost, compared with £1/500kB on my phone) internet that truly works anywhere, and requires *two* button presses to install and enable. And one of those is accepting the EULA. Combined with this laptop, that's a couple of hours of internet access almost anywhere within the UK. The future, ladies and gentlemen, has arrived.