PUBLISHED : Monday, 07 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 07 May, 2007, 12:00am

I am so frustrated trying to get information in English on how I can upgrade to broadband. You'd think it would be easy, but no one can explain this to me without offering me a gazillion deals related to TV channels.

I currently have a dial-up internet service from Pacific Internet connected to my old iMac. I also use a Pacific Internet e-mail account. Who do I ask to provide me with broadband for my new MacBook? Is it the phone company (PCCW) or the ISP (Pacific Internet)?

Pauline Bunce
Heng Fa Chuen

DQ: Having been through something similar in the past, I sympathise. The answer is that both may be able to provide broadband access, but it may depend on coverage. The big players, such as PCCW and Hutchison Global Communications, should be able to cover you, but shop around first. Pacific Internet may also be an option, but my attempts to contact them failed - their telephone lines were always engaged.

You could use residential internet service provider Netvigator, a branch of PCCW, to connect to the internet via broadband and still keep your Pacific Internet e-mail account. If you can access the account via a Web browser, you should have almost no problems at all. Some Web-based e-mail systems are not as snappy as those that connect via an e-mail client such as Apple's Mail application or Microsoft's Entourage for Mac (or, for example, Outlook Express or Thunderbird on the PC).

There are likely to be other problems, however. If you approach PCCW, they will be keen to sell you their NOW Broadband television service, as you appear to have encountered already.

I would follow Nancy Reagan here and 'just say no'. The advantage of PCCW is that it has relatively few problems supporting the Mac. (A Mac can be easily connected to PCCW's broadband service. Other aspects of support for the Mac are not always so good.)

A potential problem with Netvigator is that it usually does not allow subscribers to send e-mail using a server other than its own. This is done to prevent spam. What that means is that you could receive e-mail from Pacific Internet but when you send, you would be sending it from Netvigator. This would require a little bit of tweaking on your part.

On the Pacific Internet website, the company suggests you call to find out about Mac support. That sounds ominous but, as you may not be able to get through anyway, it may not matter.

I want to be able to write the date according to the ancient Chinese system. Do you know how I can convert the western calendar date to the Chinese one? Is there a Web page that could do this for me? I want the Chinese characters, not a translation.

Wan Chai

DQ: Check out this site: www.sinica.edu.tw/~tdbproj/sinocal/luso.html.

For those who cannot read the Chinese text but still have an interest, just fill in the bottom row with the year, month and date (all in numbers), then hit the 'return' key.