415 posts • joined Friday 26th June 2009 20:45 GMT
I like the idea of a common connector - though micro-USB doesn't seem ideal. Can it handle 2A or more, for bigger devices to charge at a sane speed? I hope the next version of the plug doesn't care which way up it's inserted, and delivers decent current when needed.
Perhaps if the adapter options remains, we'll be OK: the future phone with a superconducting 10A nano-USB socket can still be charged much more slowly from micro-USB to keep compliant until the legislation is updated.
I would guess the shorter lifespan comes from cycling the spindle speed up and down more often: it's virtually always when a drive is power-cycled that it dies, rather than while it's sitting there spinning at a constant speed for days. Just like a laptop, slowing or stopping the drive will save power, but shorten the drive's life.
Lower power/heat would be appealing for a big array: a smaller/cheaper power supply per drive shelf, less cooling cost per rack, a smaller/cheaper UPS/generator etc. It's not just shaving a few % off the electricity bill for the drive itself. I get the impression a lot of big installations have a lot of "cold" data where even a 7200rpm SATA drive is excessive, but the latency of tape would still be a deal-breaker.
I wonder if they could do a bigger version, like the old Quantum Bigfoot 5.25" HDDs? Pack 10 or 20 Tb in a single unit, with slower access times - we've moved the other way, to 3.5" and now 2.5" drives to get faster and faster access times, but in some cases a slower bulk HDD is just what the doctor ordered.
"the social network needs chips with screaming fast CPUs to deliver dynamic web pages and perform similar tasks"
No, not really. What they need is lots and lots of CPU capacity - but not individual speed-at-all-costs cores.
On the desktop/workstation, you can really only use a few cores for most things, so you need those cores to be as fast as possible. Intel are very good at that: the i7 and latest Xeons are packed full of really clever tricks to shave every microsecond off the execution time of individual instruction streams so you can get the next frame of your FPS drawn in time, or get that complex protein molecule calculated and drawn that tiny bit faster. Having more cores doesn't give you much benefit if any, for all the effort put in lately trying to make tasks multithreaded wherever possible. To double the speed, you can be quadrupling the cost - and if you need the speed, that's where you go.
Facebook, on the other hand, have millions of requests coming in each second. More and cheaper cores are a big win for them: half the performance for a quarter of the price means they can get twice as much throughput for the same money.
Intel see this too, of course: it's why they've been adapting their Atom core for server use, as well as portable. It'll be a tough fight, though: their biggest asset, Windows compatibility through x86, just doesn't apply to these big Linux server farms: a LAMP stack should be just as happy on ARM as on x86.
I wonder if/when Intel might get a big Atom sale to the likes of AWS or Azure? Or, conversely, when Microsoft might get round to offering ARM builds of Windows Server...
Unlimited with lots of limitations
I'm really growing to hate "unlimited" offerings for exactly this reason. Barring illegal use, what does it matter to my ISP whether that gigabyte of data I just sent was going to visitors to my home-hosted website or me uploading a batch of photos to Flickr? Why do they pretend "server" use somehow matters?
Of course, it's all a dodge to try to clamp down on (some) heavy users. I'm very glad to be with an ISP now which does have traffic charges, but no arbitrary BS prohibitions: I have a static IP, no filtering. If I want to move my personal website onto my home connection, or be able to VPN to my home LAN, or do my own SMTP and DNS service, they're quite happy - I'll just have to pay a bit extra if it uses more bandwidth, because that's the bit that actually costs money.
Even Google can't offer a truly unlimited-usage gigabit pipe to everyone: it just doesn't work. Instead of trying to pretend it matters which end sends the TCP SYN packet and which is replying with the SYN|ACK, why not accept this and charge, say, $1 per 10Gb? Heavy users cost more, and pay more accordingly - and priced at a level that actually reflects costs, it's fair and cheap enough not to deter anyone sane.
Not in Chinese hands, he left it in .. China?!
Leaving information in Hong Kong doesn't seem like a very effective way of keeping it out of Chinese hands to me. Now, maybe those journalists did quickly get it out of Hong Kong again, to somewhere safe - but his confidence in that seems a little optimistic to me.
Of course, the NSA thought they had technical precautions in place to stop Snowden getting most of the information he's been leaking, up until it was too late. How can Snowden be so sure his own precautions are better than theirs - or that he's the first to breach the NSA's own? People have been speculating a lot about NSA-inserted backdoors in other products: what about PRC-inserted backdoors in the NSA itself? Were the holes Snowden exploited to get his haul of information all accidental or his own, or was he following in the footsteps of others?
It just seems a bit far-fetched to me that if one lone idealist could do this just as a matter of principle, the Chinese, Russian and other intelligence services wouldn't have gone the same route too. If they did, would the NSA know it (they didn't spot Snowden in time!) and would they admit it if they did?
Re: Enjoy testing.
That may be an unexpected benefit of the "fake capacitor" fiasco of a few years back - remember all those bulging/bursting electrolytics which used a (badly) copied formula? I've seen a few motherboards lately (like Gigabyte's "Ultra Durable" range) bragging about using solid polymer capacitors, rather than traditional electrolytic ones with liquid electrolyte vulnerable to the problem you mention.
Besides, when you're buying on Facebook's scale ("We're thinking of filling our new datacentre with your motherboards, will you help us get them working in liquid coolant?") the suppliers have a rather bigger incentive to help than if you or I asked the same question about a home system: I'm sure they'll know, or investigate, what it takes to do this properly. Running a few test systems for years wouldn't bother them, and the component manufacturers probably have a fair idea already: immersion and liquid cooling's not just for PCs, after all.
He might have a bit of a point, given Google being caught illegally snooping on people's electronic communications recently - they do seem to have been getting off far too lightly with that, as the extent of their antics slowly becomes known.
It's disappointing to me they seem to have focussed more on the reporters illegally buying information, rather than the police illegally selling it to them: both crimes, but IMO the latter is the worse. Selling drugs is much more serious than buying them, the police breaking the law is much more serious than 'ordinary' people doing so.
None of that's a defence, of course: if you break the law and point out someone else committed a bigger crime, the correct answer is to prosecute both. Jail the bent journalists, their police sources, and whoever at Google thought it was OK to go poking around everybody's WiFi network and harvesting all the data.
It's funny to see IBM having had the *lower* bid, by a substantial margin: one word that has never been associated with IBM is "cheap". For Amazon to be 50% more expensive yet better overall, there must have been something quite strange going on: were IBM only doing half the job, or had Amazon got some wonderful extra to offer that was worth a huge extra fee?
I could imagine the positions reversed: Amazon beat IBM's price by a third, IBM get upset and challenge. For Amazon to win with a much higher price, though? Maybe IBM's last bribe^Wcampaign contribution check bounced, or went to the wrong side, or maybe Amazon had something really clever on their side. Or IBM's had big vendor lock-in risks? Getting shackled to a proprietary hardware+software platform might be worse than the initial 33% saving, after all.
Amazon office offering
So far, it's Google Apps v Office365, and Azure v Google Cloud v AWS: Amazon haven't shown an interest in the office side, just cloud services.
It's not hard to imagine them offering some sort of e-mail service, though - they're already added static web hosting, DNS and e-mail sending facilities; putting inbound (MX), spam filtering, POP3/IMAP wouldn't be a huge departure. Trying to offer their own office suite, though? That would be a huge leap for them, and a strange direction to move in, too.
"European readers will be looking slightly smug at this point, after the EU's digital tsar 'Steelie' Neelie Kroes forced telcos to cut roaming charges to a pittance"
Misplaced smugness in this case: Kroes is making a fuss about *reducing* the roaming charges *within the EU* - T-Mobile eliminates them for a much larger number of countries. Rather like greeting news of an international airport with "yeah? We've already got a BUS STOP, so there!"
I like the idea of scrapping roaming surcharges, but T-Mobile are going a lot further here than Kroes has even contemplated attempting so far. I hope they're starting a trend here!
Rejected for acting under duress?
Given the NSA's status, I doubt it was a case of the NSA asking nicely for their help in snooping and all the companies rolled out the red carpet for them - more a case of "we're going to connect these boxes up, and you're not allowed to peek inside or monitor them or we'll make you disappear in secret".
Right now we know these companies are fighting in court over it, despite ongoing gagging orders: is the EFF really attacking the right people here?
So ... like cookies, but Microsoft can see and control them, users can't necessarily delete or even view them, being on MS servers? I'll be rushing to implement that ...
For individual sites/domains you can already achieve this for free, with session state stored on your own servers. Presumably, this is all about sites sharing data across domains, outside the user's control - no thanks. I see the appeal there for advertisers, of course, but for users?
Google's ISP ambitions
Given Google's plans to build gigabit-per-user fibre services, how can they of all people now be struggling with congested WiFi? Presumably, a backhaul issue - did they cheap out and try to use wireless mesh, instead of running fibre or copper to each AP?
Re: $100,000 worth of equipment...
By some tragic coincidence, the arc just happened to pass through the box temporarily storing all the team's government-issue crappy mobile handsets, which due to budget constraints will only be replaced if they break...
(Having had a user "accidentally" slam his laptop shut with the plug sitting on the keyboard, prongs upwards, the week after his office-mate got a shiny new Apple thing, it takes a lot to surprise my inner cynic...)
"Definitely. If it's good enough for a home network NAS, it's good enough for multinational industries."
Seems to work pretty well for Google, Backblaze, Netflix... All the really big public screwups seem to revolve around 'enterprisey' storage going bad, not commodity clusters.
Having worked in one university and studied at another, the one using commodity hardware clustered gave far, far better results than the big-budget SAN managed, even at multiples of the price. (OK, not colossal installations: a few petabytes of storage, a few gigabits of traffic: enough to run most big businesses, though.) If an architecture is good enough to run Google's business but not yours, you're either doing something very special, or you're doing it wrongly - probably the latter.
Cisco need QNX, which is the obvious target for them, being the basis of the top-end IOS (not that one!) platform. Maybe the odd wireless patent or something relevant to their VPN offerings, too, but that's probably all.
SAP - maybe the BES document handling? They're the odd one out in this list to me.
Google ... mobile patents to use against MS/Apple in protecting Android, of course, and probably BBM: a good way to one-up Apple's iMessage and open things up, if they want to go that route.
Apparently, BB owns 130 encryption patents they bought from Certicom 4 years ago, which presumably Cisco, Google and SAP would all have an interest in. The handsets, though? Hard to see anyone buying that up now: it's coming fourth in what is barely a three-horse race now, Android/iOS/WinPhone.
Re: Maybe I'm just too old a fart and remember things that should've been forgotten...
How is a Windows server any better suited to that than a Unix one? Cheaper hardware, thanks to the higher volume, but a less reliable OS with restrictive licensing? (We were a mixed Solaris/NetWare shop in those days; NW was pretty good at the file/print handling, Solaris did everything else very nicely. Windows really didn't have anything to offer on either side.)
With hindsight, I really wish the Linux/BSD push had come that little bit earlier - a much more sensible migration path from proprietary Unixes. Still, it's doing pretty well these days...
Too little, too small
It's been irritating me for a few years now that laptop monitors suddenly leapt backwards. After two decades of progress, from crummy VGA (and lower, sometimes mono) up to 1920x1200 17" or larger becoming a standard option at the top - now, Apple drop 17" entirely, the other manufacturers downgrade to 1920x1080 and brag about this being "full HD" as if that somehow makes it OK to be a step down.
Retina does sound nice, but I want more screen area on my laptop dammit! Start by giving the 2" or 120 pixels back, then try making some progress again...
Which current level?
If they're all to be the same, is that the half-amp (2.5W) of regular USB? The 1A (5W) of the higher-power option, or c 2A/10W for some tablets?
I like the idea of a standard connector, and micro-USB is adequate for that (though like other posters here, I much prefer mini) - but demanding the charger itself be the same seems too restrictive. Why not just take the sensible route of stipulating the charger must have a regular USB port? That way, everything's fine: just need a USB to micro-USB cable, which everyone will have anyway for syncing etc, and it actually makes the charger more useful too (can use it for non-phone purposes too: tablets, charging those external 'emergency' batteries, etc).
Now, if they were to push for a standard, say 48V at 1/2/5 amps with a standard plug, for laptops, I'd be very happy. (Lower voltage means more current, and high-end laptops can be drawing insanely high current which is why the plugs are getting thick and prone to failure. Manufacturers probably love this, given the prices they charge for current power supplies...)
Heck of a broad problem scope
So, not a problem with, say, "Intel's 2012 mid-range AHCI controller" - but "AHCI". As in, "pretty much all SATA controllers from the last decade" - and like the first two comments here point out, since everybody else has figured our how to work with AHCI perfectly well by now, it does sound as if VMWare have done something very dim. Apart from anything else, a problem with all AHCI controllers seems to rule out specific implementation issues on the controller side.
Still, just as well it's been caught in beta: they'd be in a whole world of pain if their SAN got caught eating production data in a full release.
Trust our security precautions, they say...
They claim it's safe to trust them with all our data, because their security systems stop people snooping on things they shouldn't. So ... where was that security when Snowden was downloading what is starting to resemble their entire stash of secrets? If it's not good enough to stop him grabbing every classified document under the sun, how on earth are we supposed to believe it's good enough to stop all his thousands of colleagues looking at my email or phone records?
There is something rather absurd about the boss saying "trust our security precautions to keep you safe from our staff", when we only know those precautions are needed because their security was so comprehensively breached by one of those same people!
"Limited availability phase"
Sounds like it's still a beta to me - which would explain why they haven't got the documentation polished up properly. If a client has paid to become a beta tester, though, I'd expect a much more pro-active response to their problems - apart from anything else, because that's the whole point of the beta phase, to find these problems before you release it fully!
Re: 'Whiff of octogenarian media lord sends 1 in 5 running'
I use Be for the office line - no changes yet, beside a few messages saying "you have now been assimilated, but nothing is changing yet besides the name on the invoices". It certainly doesn't help that they've done such a lousy job of communicating with customers about what they have planned - assuming, that is, that something IS planned, beyond "let's buy this ISP, it's got lots of customers we could have".
I would have said the recent network congestion problems could be a much more potent reason to switch - after all, we generally picked Be for the performance in the first place - and still no sign of IPv6 either. Moreover, there was a disruptive network upgrade being rolled out; I had a few emails from Be amounting to "at some point in the next year your line will stop working, at which point you will have to upgrade your router firmware and do a funny dance to get it working again". Being the sole broadband service in that office, carrying two VoIP trunks as well, that was almost reason enough in itself to switch ISP (at least that way, I'd know and have some control over the switchover date!)
It's a shame, in multiple ways: Be were a fine 'power user' performance ISP, and somehow I doubt Sky will do a good job preserving that. Still, it could be worse: I was a Nildram customer once, and watched in horror as they got Borged by TalkTalk and their Chinese censorship machine, of all people.
Do as they say, not as they do?
Google.com? No DNSSEC there. Google.co.uk? Same. Likewise OpenDNS.com.
It's depressing: when even the DNSSEC *advocates* aren't actually enabling it themselves, who will? (FWIW, my personal domain has DNSCurve and DNSSEC, as well as IPv6 - it's truly disappointing that Google don't!)
Anonymous nuisance calls
One thing I'd like to see changed is a bar on non-personal use of 'number withheld'. EU rules give individuals the right to make anonymous calls free of charge - but does and should this apply to businesses too? I don't think so. That, and make anonymous call rejection a no-cost option to be offered to all customers at installation time, along with being ex-directory etc.
The £90k fine is a welcome first step, but nothing like enough: disconnection from the phone network - no more phonespam - would be better. The US approach of charging hundreds/thousands of dollars per illegal call documented would be good too.
Maybe grab their outgoing call records (from the telco; should go back at least a few months for billing purposes anyway), check against TPS; for every hit, require them to provide proof of the 'pre-existing business relationship' or specific consent required for that call to be legal or pay £1000 for the illegal call.
Anything less, they'll just shrug it off as a cost of doing business - hell, they probably pay more than £90k for their electricity each year!
The idea of needing to pay for "title and excerpt" of a web page sounds alarming to me - all too close to the shake-down news companies have been trying in Germany with Google, demanding that Google pay for the privilege of including their pages in Google's search results.
Maybe Meltwater's "excerpts" were too big, but it still worries me in that context. If they were copying whole articles, fine, that's a clear-cut violation, but ...
"whoops, we lost £21m down the sofa" ... I can imagine getting 10k, maybe even 100k adrift on a big company (depreciation calculations, things like that) - but even on an NHS/government scale, £21m is a big accounting hole to explain.
I got quite worked up enough when the last quarter was about £300 out (couple of misplaced expenses forms)!
Nice to be quoted in a Reg article there*! From their later updates, it seems the original problem was excess route entries overflowing the TCAM (fast lookup memory in big routers), which makes them fall back to a much much slower routing approach - which can't keep up with the level of traffic you see on an ISP backbone.
That was problem #1: the lab stress-test leaked out and flooded the live network, bringing it to its knees. (IPv6 itself was unaffected - it's routed separately anyway - but since the line is authenticated over IPv4, as soon as you disconnect, your authentication packets get lost, stopping the PPP link coming back up.) Like their autopsy says, filtering out the routes then re-booting the routers cleared the problem - then they discovered a Cisco line card was still misbehaving.
The wonky line card seems to have been problem #2: it seems to be working again now, but they're keeping most traffic away from that card until Cisco can figure out why it misbehaved in the first place.
* Apparently the router problem took out their VoIP lines and access to their own status system - downside to "eat your own dogfood" as an ISP, when your own services are down, you can't use them to communicate about the problem - normally, I've found Entanet to be very helpful and responsive. In this case, the live traffic graphs on noc.enta.net were enough to tell me it wasn't just my line that was dead - how many other ISPs give you that kind of detail?
Re: Not flashy but owns a market...
Apple were in on ARM from the very first steps out of Acorn, using ARM's first (post-Acorn) CPU in the Newton. The *financial* resources, back in the very early days before ARM had a revenue stream to support them, probably made a lot more difference than Apple going on to join Nokia and co in using ARM cores in mobile phones.
Strategically, it looks to me as if ARM's in a pretty good place right now: pretty much owning the smartphone/embedded sector, with solid backing behind a push into the low-end server market (for colocation in particular, all those LAMP systems could move to ARM very easily; I wouldn't be surprised to see Google, Facebook etc making that jump in the next few years). Intel's great strength is "we can run all your existing x86 code unmodified": great when you want to run Windows with all those ten year old legacy applications, but a waste of silicon for running MySQL, PHP, Node, Java...
I wish they hadn't leaped at the chance to remove encryption support from Freeview STBs when they took control; if the BBC encrypted the TV output and issued decryption cards/keys/whatever on payment of their subscription, they could abolish the whole "enforcement" setup: no payment, no BBC services, so you're not getting anything without paying for it.
For the tiny amount of output from the BBC I watch, they represent atrocious value and I'd cancel in a heartbeat (I don't care that the content is ad-free, since I have no interest in it anyway!); £1 an episode for Dr Who would be much better for me. I'm happy to pay for a Sky subscription, because I actually get value from that: I watch those channels. Lose those, I'd get rid of the TV too, or just keep it for DVDs and the odd console game - for some odd reason, my house doesn't even have a TV aerial. (It was pre-wired for cable, in the early days of the cable build-out; my inner cynic suspects the cable company persuaded the builders to skip fitting an aerial...)
Like others have mentioned, studios were quite happy using massive reels of expensive single-use film stock to store their footage; compared to that, even the top-end 3-6 Tb/hr is trivial: the equivalent of 1-2 big SATA HDDs per hour. Throughput's much too slow on a single drive, of course, but make, say, a 12 drive RAID 6 and you're fine, with better fault tolerance than film stock had even before you make a backup.
@Duncan Macdonald: from your own link, "4K" is 4096x2160 for cinema purposes, 3840x2160 otherwise; your 66 Mbyte/frame is for 8K not 4K. Divide by ~3 and you have 200-odd Tb to archive, not 700. Probably LTO not disk for archival and backup - but bear in mind another relevant figure above: Superman II, weighing in at six tonnes of film. Does it really cost much less to store that weight of delicate material in secure, climate-controlled space than to store a hundred LTO-6 tapes? (They hold 2.5Tb without compression, weigh 200g and have a rated life of 30 years, 1,000,000 passes, meaning you replace six tonnes of film with 20kg of digital tape. Store with something like RAID6, re-scan and checksum all the blocks annually, regenerating any damaged blocks as needed: nothing like £40k/yr.)
If only multicast were available with wireless IP... (For that matter, it won't work as well as it could with ADSL or VDSL, because of multiple ISPs: if I and my neighbour are both watching a multicast video stream at the same time, we'd still have to get separate feeds from separate routers, down the same BT fibre as far as the street cabinet, unless we both happened to be using the same ISP.)
In terms of fairness, though, if mobile phone companies have to pay Ofcom "rent" for their spectrum, why should TV companies get essentially the same resource handed to them for free? (Personally, I'd think prefer if spectrum *were* allocated free, or for a cost-based handling fee to cover running a small office somewhere to track the allocations, but charging one group an eye-watering price then giving the other a freebie is clearly unfair.)
Location, location, location...
I remember Microsoft refusing to disclose the location of other bits of their cloud in the past, though the Office 365 service they provide to the university I work for is definitely located in Amsterdam, i.e. within the EU, which should avoid most protectionism about "data protection".
Pulling the plug on China would seem fair play from one angle - they get awkward, just go home - but unfortunate for businesses caught in the middle of such a dispute. Of course, they should be used to that by now...
People move on...
The 15 m won't all become unemployed overnight, it'll happen over the course of years. The 50 year old drivers will just work on and retire, the 20 year old would-be drivers won't get hired as drivers in the first place so they'll train for and find other jobs.
It won't mean 15m unemployed, any more than cars meant millions of unemployed horse riders/breeders/farriers etc - just a drop in hiring with the number doing that job gradually declining.
Of course, if the delivery robots are ParcelForce-based, they'll just fire the parcel at your house as they drive past at 20. CityLink will do less damage to your house, since they'll just fire a piece of card saying "come and collect the parcel from a sink estate three cities away, because we're the only outfit without a depot in your city".
I wonder if unmanned vehicles could usefully use the rail network for faster inter-city travel? Easy enough to form up batches of 20-100 small cars/vans into a "train", no issues with other traffic getting in the way since the rail network's already fully monitored/controlled...
There was a message "looking for the free comics? Click here" after I finally got logged in ... but it gave me a PHP error message. From Daniel B's comment above about the promotion being suspended, presumably that's supposed to be a message "sorry, our servers were flattened in the rush, back once we have decent hosting" - but they don't even have the hosting horsepower to deliver that message, let alone the promised comics.
It finally loaded - very slowly - just now: apparently "a number of technical issues have arisen", further updates to come. I hope they figure out how to get it working in the end, rather than give up on the idea entirely.
Third time lucky
I got FTTC last October. At the first attempt, two nice guys from Openretch (apparently a roving team of FTTC installers) showed up - with the wrong paperwork, and despite getting confirmation it was a BT error, they were told from higher up not to complete the installation, since a box not being ticked on the order form is something they can't fix on a same-day basis. They rebooked for later that week ... no-show: apparently, BT's ordering desk had booked the visit with too little notice for the paperwork to come through to the engineers, so nobody was sent. The following week, a local guy showed up right on time (calling first!), swapped the sockets round, hooked up and tested the new kit and went away.
BT wrote to me today to announce that FTTC's available here now. Having been using it for five months, I would certainly hope it's available...
Hardly "6 billion" making use of ham radio, TV's higher up the dial anyway ... are there really more radio hams than people wanting home networks? I doubt it. Just have an equipment buyback, trade all the ham gear in for a VoIP handset, problem solved ;-)
Personally, I'm interested in the G.hn coax option, running a gigabit or so up the disused drop of coax Vermin Media left between floors a while ago. (Yes, having cat 6 would be nice, but I draw the line at drilling through walls/floors myself. I'm guessing once I have a few hundred quid lying around I could get a local electrician to poke a dozen drops down from the attic and stick a GbE switch up there, but until then I'll stick to the Solwise powerline stuff.)
Apparently, thanks to the Internet use of contraception is no longer enough to stop me having to raise kids. Everything from busy roads, to newsagent top shelves, to the bleach aisle in the supermarket is dangerous to leave kids unsupervised - so parents are expected to do their job of stopping kids having unsupervised access. The minute they get online, though, suddenly it's everybody else's problem: we all have to put our own resources into keeping feral brats away from anything not child-safe.
If I left a 5 year old kid unattended in the park to chat to every passing stranger, it wouldn't be the strangers or the park getting investigated - and rightly so. Why is it suddenly different with a virtual park and strangers from all over the planet not just the local area?!
I quit Vermin back in September of last year. I was promised they'd send me a jiffy bag to return the STB and cable modem, but it never showed up. Not really a big deal, so I didn't bother chasing.
A while later, I pointed this out to their Twitter rep, who said to phone about it. This was in late December. Drone said "OK, I'll send an engineer round to pick it up ... how is next Tuesday afternoon for you?"
"You mean ... Tuesday, the 25th of December?"
"Yes, would that do?"
I was tempted to go for it to see what happened, but moved it back a few days. It's now February, and the kit's still sitting in a corner of the spare bedroom awaiting collection.
When I had it, the performance was fine - as far as the speedtest.net nodes. Complete junk for accessing real-life sites, of course: video streaming, software downloads, SCPing data to/from my colocated servers for work (probably tripping some anti-P2P measure?). As soon as I switched to a 60 Mbps FTTC product, the buffering disappeared.
"Netflix may need to build data delivery centers closer to consumers to alleviate these problems."
From a recent Reg story, it's clear Netflix *ARE* building out distributed delivery nodes - colocating with ISPs where they can, Akamai-style, peering directly with the rest so users are always served by local nodes rather than stressing a backbone.
I've just finished re-watching 24 day 2 from Netflix. The TV's built-in Netflix app can start playing an HD stream as faster than a DVD player can get in gear (Entanet FTTC, ~ 60 Mbps); even over Three's 3G to an iPad, though, Netflix generally manages to deliver decent streaming quality with about 3 brief streaming glitches out of about 15 hours of streaming.
No idea about Lovefilm, but I'm very impressed indeed with Netflix. Having been cynical about Net video for a long time, I'm stunned by the service they deliver now. I can see why even Sky are moving in that direction now, with 'Anytime+'; with decent bandwidth (i.e. not the over-contended wet string peddled by the likes of TalkTalk and Virgin) it really does work very nicely.
At the very least, there should be a pro rata refund: if I pay £30/month (i.e. £1/day) for broadband, and it's out of order for 3 days, I should get a £3 credit/refund, since I haven't actually received the service on those days.
Back when I was getting FTTC installed, BT screwed up and failed to install first time, then failed to show up for the second appointment. When making the original appointment, it was emphasised to me that if *I* failed to be there, I'd be charged £85+VAT ... apparently, though, BT failing to show up doesn't oblige them to pay me, though it really should do.
I wouldn't be at all troubled by this wiping out the bargain-bucket "ISPs", cutting every corner known to man; the world would be a better place without them, particularly the draconian traffic limits, shaping and port blocks with massive oversubscription.
What I want? Simplicity and honesty.
A nice clear price/contract. No more "unlimited (but only while standing on one leg, excludes use with applications we don't like and use between 9 am and 5pm)": cap it at 10 Mb if they must, but that 10 Mb contract should mean you can actually use that 10 Mb, whether it's for your smartphone downloading a few kilobytes of email every hour or two over a month or streaming a brief burst of HD video to your giant TV from a connected tablet.
Giffgaff's absurd contortions over "unlimited (we can't really afford to do it, but we want to pretend we can by adding other silly limits instead) data" really irritated me, as a long-standing customer. O2 charge them by the megabyte on a wholesale level - so pass that on. Don't claim "unlimited" then have to ham-string it to stop anyone being able to use "too much" - and don't slap arbitrary restrictions on what sort of device those bytes are going into, either.
No more discrimination between tablets, handsets, dongles or personal hotspots: a byte's a byte. No discrimination between applications, either: a VOIP call or video stream might not work well for technical reasons (latency, jitter etc or plain old speed limitations), but they shouldn't be allowed to attempt to restrict that.
Oh, and BAN sim locking (if I buy a handset with a contract to pay £20/month for two years, yes, insist on getting the money - but don't restrict the handset as a ham-fisted way of trying to force me to keep coughing up) and tethering restrictions (Apple/Giffgaff, I'm glaring at you here!)
0.1% still beats 0.0%!
So, right now the Dutch government is getting about 0.1% tax on the money flowing through. Not a huge wedge, but for just acting as a passive conduit, not a bad deal either. Ban this arrangement, they will get 0.0% instead: a net loss.
From a business point of view, they have a bunch of customers, paying them a little bit of money, so they make a little profit on the deal they wouldn't otherwise. Get greedy and try to charge 20%, they'll just lose the "sale" and get 0 instead - but tighten things a bit, they might get 1% or 2%, so everyone would be fairly happy: 1% of those trillions would make a heck of a big difference to the government's coffers, but losing the 0.1% wouldn't benefit either party.
Tried it - nice idea, poor implementation
I tried it recently - pretty poor call quality compared to Skype etc (using WiFi on a fast connection). The price for 08xx calls is very nice, but the lack of incoming call support along with using your mobile number rather than landline for caller ID are both irritating to me.
Allow me to answer calls to my landline on the mobile app (as I think Vonage does now in some form?), present my landline not mobile number for caller ID, get the call quality up, I'll be happy.
I can think of quite a few things I'd be happy to delegate to a machine were it possible and practical. Do you really enjoy doing laundry? I'd be happy just dropping dirty garments in an automated laundry basket and waking up to them clean tomorrow. Cooking dinner - yes, I do sometimes enjoy whipping up something tasty, but other times I just feel hungry: a Star Trek replicator would be great then (and indeed that's pretty much what home delivered takeaways offer now, and seem to make plenty of money at it).
If you're rich enough to have staff to take care of your laundry, cleaning, routine cooking (and cleaning up afterwards, which I'd very happily automate away!), your commute (again, I'd love a taxi/chauffeur user-experience with my car: get in, state your destination, get on with some reading/sleep/eat etc), yes, you have little to gain - but the rest of us will certainly benefit.
Tablets ... earlier today, I was going through email and making some schema changes on a remote database server. The email side, I find I DO often use a tablet already; the schema changes, a tablet would have been fine for since I was using a web interface (legacy app, the one SQL Server instance I still babysit; the rest's MySQL).
Everything I've done on this laptop today could quite easily have been done on a tablet right now, if I wanted; I spent a while SSHed into some colocated servers, moving data around, which would be slightly less convenient without multiple side-by-side windows, but nothing major - and nothing that couldn't be fixed quite easily in time. There are already developers with similar setups to mine making increasing use of tablets quite happily.
Re: "Plugging in" is perhaps the wrong image
This is weird: I can certainly understand Netflix wanting settlement-free peering, rather than having to pay for transit into heavy customers like TWC; offering Akamai-style colocated edge cache nodes also makes a lot of sense for both parties.
Are TW currently charging Netflix for transit? That would explain their resistance to moving to settlement-free peering or edge caching; "better service for your customers who use our services" versus "revenue stream" is all too easy a choice for most cable outfits!
My experience - customer since the age of eight, when it got me a cuddly toy squirrel; family, customers since my great-uncle was a branch manager - is very similar. As soon as BoS collided with Halifax, the wreckage started decaying: features started getting dropped from online banking, things became less reliable...
Even now my mother's credit card balance isn't visible in their online banking fiasco! Mine is, oddly (though I never use it, keeping it around just in case of 'emergencies'; Amex gives me spending rewards, Barclaycard works well enough for the places that don't take Amex).
I was actually bitten by this outage: my own Amex payment went through (from my BoS account) in about an hour, my mother's BoS card payment was relegated to the next-day route, as was a small transfer to my brother's Royal Bank of Scotland account (paying him for some tickets he'd bought me). Until reading this article I didn't know it was a service outage ... which says something about the quality of BoS communications.
"Sky already have Easynet's network which is an actual collection of cables and things. O2 don't actually own anything except the DSLAMs (they rent capacity off other companies like BT) and a few core routers so where's the synergy?"
Migrate those Be DSLAMs onto Sky/Easynet's backhaul network, boosting capacity as needed on the way? I got the impression there was at least some actual network behind Be; O2 referred to using some of that for their mobile backhaul too, which was one complication with spinning out the ISP business again.
I get the impression Sky's bottleneck is mainly the connection between BT's equipment and their own network: BT charge the earth for that bit (partly so they can make the per-line charge look cheap); Be using their own DSLAMs bypasses that. Someone posted (on another Reg story I think) that Sky have been running out of ports on their own kit and using BT ADSL ports instead, which also gives a worse service in various ways.
My gut feeling is that Be+Sky/Easynet could give an improved service. Just pooling DSLAM ports would help a bit (the exchanges Sky have run out of ports on probably aren't exchanges Be are out of ports on too), and just combining links to give a single 200 Mbps hop instead of two separate 100 Mbps ones will give slightly better peak performance (peak on one link won't exactly coincide with peaks on the other), even before using the greater volume to get better prices.
My brother went with Sky at home ('too good to be true' offer when he switched the TV service over from Vermin); I went with an Entanet reseller (Vivaciti) for home (FTTC) and Be (ADSL - no FTTC on that exchange) for the office. He regrets it, I don't regret either of mine.
I just wish we could get past the "100* (* actually 0.01, but we lie, because the ASA don't understand technology or numbers) Mbps for only 5p* (* plus oxygen usage surcharge, first-born child and a weekly kneecapping) per month!!!" nonsense. Be actually deliver pretty good speeds; Sky/Easynet apparently did until choking up the network, and having admitted there's a problem it sounds like they will do a better job fixing it than the worst bottom-feeder ISPs, who would just say "yep, we cram 100,000 customers on one piece of damp string ... what do you expect for 50p a month?"
Like another comment here says, people who wouldn't even think of buying Tesco Value bacon or cornflakes still jump at "Crappy broadband, half the bandwidth for 10% less money!" every time. Sad.
4% up, with a dead competitor?!
To me, only getting a 4% boost when their biggest competitor imploded sounds pretty disappointing at best!
I've never been impressed with Dixons/Currys/PCWorld, but I suppose they must be doing something well to stay afloat this long, and they can occasionally be handy for very urgent trivial needs like a new cable or toner cartridge. Amazon's next-day delivery beats that these days unless you really need something RTFN though...
Maybe I'm too cynical, but I'm inclined to suspect it IS about "inadequate" payments ... the journalists and their police sources broke the law. Even while the story itself was breaking, we kept having reports along the lines of "someone has been arrested ... police haven't officially said who, but we bunged a plod some cash to find out that it was (this guy)" - exactly the crime people were being arrested for, but apparently they got away with it this time!
Did we really need a "public inquiry", rather than arresting and prosecuting the culprits like for any other crime? What's the point in new laws, when the acts that caused the problem were already illegal and the culprits known to the police for it?! Enforcement, people!
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