Thanks for those; the easyNetDial option seems to be the sort of thing I was looking for. Don't really want to install AOL; I have had problems removing it from peoples machines in the past. While searching, I found this: click here - buy a prepaid phone card here in the UK and it will give free ISP access in the US and other countries. £5 cred give 250 minutes; more than enough for checking mail.
I will leave this open in case anyone has anything to add.
VoG™ - no, nothing to apologise for! Being a man of leisure [read: self-employed]I was given the opportunity to go there to catch up with an old university friend who lives in Malaita (South Pacific) for most of the year. He is unexpectedly going to Chicago and suggested we meet up. But being away from the internet is not ideal for me - a commission may arise and I will need it to pay for the trip! :-}
I have been here in Chicago now for about two weeks and internet access is simple. Well worth the effort of getting it sorted out.
FWIW, prices are no great incentive here for purchasing electronic goods - the dollar is fairly low so that is some help, but I have not seen any great bargains that would make me want to spend my money.
Anyway, another week or so left I think... something might appear!