How badly can you misconfigure a proxy server?

I’m composing this blog entry from my room in the Maldron Hotel in Smithfield, Dublin. After enduring a variety of bizarre and expensive hotel internet access schemes on this trip, I was pleased to find that Maldron offers “FREE Broadband Connection”.
However I’d happily pay extra for a service that actually works.
I’m not sure exactly what they’ve screwed up, but my guess is that it’s the DNS server portion of the proxy server they’re using. The first time I point Firefox at a new URL, it immediately fails, just as if the DNS server had returned a authoritative “not found”. If I hit “Reload” a few times, the page will eventually load. Or some of it will. On a moderately complex site, like My!Yahoo! or the Guardian newspaper, the first “successful” load will yield a mangled, unstyled page together with dozens (even hundreds) of errors, because every image, CSS, script, or iframe that refers to a different URL will fail to load. If I’m lucky, I can load the complete Guardian front page with no more than ten clicks on “Reload”. And the DNS entries have incredibly short TTLs: by the time I finish typing this piece, I can be pretty sure that the entry for geoffarnold.com will have timed out, and I’ll have to reload a few times. (Memo to self: copy the text of this entry to the clipboard first, just in case WordPress loses the plot.)
Add to this the fact that it’s impossible to use a VPN (I can establish the tunnel, but I never receive any traffic), and that the WiFi in the restaurant is completely non-functional, and you can understand why I won’t be returning to this or any Maldron any time soon. (I stayed here before when it was part of the Comfort Inn chain; I don’t remember it being this bad.) And if any Maldron employee picks up on this, please fix your service.

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