* Posts by Ben 5

18 posts • joined 18 Sep 2009

TfL wheels out digital bus info upgrade

Ben 5
Stop

Please stop...

...saying that town 'x' has a similar system to this. So what? The fact is that this is on a *much* bigger scale and massively more difficult to deliver on. As the article points out, it's piss easy to deliver a system out in the country or in a small town. However, to do the same on a huge network with the environment of London is a reasonably impressive feat, and I've not heard of anything on a similar scale and difficulty anywhere else in the world.

I only wish it had come earlier - but at least it's here ahead of the fabled October snow :-) I find it reasonably accurate; if only it could predict the odd customer still paying by cash and delaying the bus for a minute :-)

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Be chums offer 1Gbit/s fibre-to-the-premises in London

Ben 5
Happy

Read the FAQs

It's worth reading the FAQs (http://www.hyperoptic.com/web/guest/faq) - which state:

Q: Do you "traffic shape" or throttle your connections?

A: No. We don't restrict the flow of our online traffic at all.

Q: Do you have a traffic management policy?

A: We prioritise our voice service over other data traffic to ensure a consistent and reliable voice service.

So it's an unthrottled, unshaped connection but VoIP traffic gets a higher priority.

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Ben 5
Go

According to the FAQs on their website (www.hypersonic.com) the 20Mb product is 1Mb up, but the 100Mb and 1Gb products are symmetrical. Not sure why they bother with the bottom rung product given the other two; I guess it helps get lots of subscribers onboard in a single building which makes putting the fibre in viable.

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London bus timings mobile beta site spotted

Ben 5
Go

Works perfectly

Used it this morning to catch bus to work and it worked perfectly.

I did notice once when refreshing that a bus disappeared, but it was back when I refreshed again. Given it isn't actually a service that has launched yet, it would be unfair to criticise it for this at the current stage.

Been waiting so long for this - I can leave the house just in time to catch the bus, avoiding waiting around at the bus stop in the freezing cold, rain, snow etc.

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Lightning strikes cloud: Amazon, MS downed

Ben 5
Flame

I've said it once, I'll say it again...

Amazon EC2 provides the *infrastructure* on which you can build a redundant service.

They are virtual instances running on physical hardware, not much difference to any other machine running virtual machines.

The difference is that Amazon have availability zones in the same location, and other data centres around the planet that have exactly the same setup, and they provide a single supplier to deal with. So it's much easier to build something that has redundancy built-in. However *you* have to do the work for that.

The services that they offer themselves that do have redundancy (eg. S3) were not affected. To me this is a minor incident as it only affected one availability zone - the other was running fine. So the sites that are well engineered were unaffected. It's the people running just a single EC2 instance against all advice that were affected.

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World IPv6 Day fails to kill the internet

Ben 5
Holmes

Good Microsoft Strategy?

I doubt MS need all those IPs, and may not want to sell them. If they buy up all the ones for sale then they will hasten the move to IPv6, pushing people into upgrading to newer versions of Windows with better support for IPv6.

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Amazon cloud fell from sky after botched network upgrade

Ben 5

Re: An architectural error

@Jim - You are confusing the EBS service with S3.

Amazon's S3 service was completely unaffected by this; that is the service that stores data in multiple locations (zones) within a region. You don't 'choose' those locations - that is taken care of automatically.

The affected service was EBS which is just a standard drive with mirroring onto two devices. Therefore an EBS volume has some redundancy, but it is all within the same zone. You should never, ever rely on an EBS volume not failing completely.

Architectural best practice (whether in the cloud or not) is where possible not to rely on a single device or server. Those that had well engineered setups were unaffected by this outage as their EBS volume(s) that already existed in their secondary zone continued unaffected. Yes, you couldn't create/attach/detach/snapshot volumes in the other zones due to the common control plane overloading, but the volumes that already existed went on just fine.

The biggest problems here are:

(a) Communication - everyone has universally commented that this was poor.

(b) Some people (2.5%) with RDS (database) services running in multiple zones were affected. This shouldn't have happened, and Amazon have admitted this was part network traffic related, but part due to a bug.

(c) The control plane overload affect other zones.

(d) This was caused by human error.

The fact that a whole zone failed? Not good, but not unexpected. I've never met a data centre that hasn't had some sort of power or network failure that affects multiple servers. Normally something causes the power to failover to UPS/generators (eg. testing!) and it doesn't :-)

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Cable vendor slapped for unproven claims

Ben 5
Headmaster

It's not an IEC lead either!

If we're being pedantic over not calling it a kettle lead, at least get it right. The IEC is a standards body, so an IEC lead could describe any of the standard connectors they define. Really it should be called a C13 lead as that is the connector on the end - the assumption being the other end has a country-specific plug on it. A kettle lead has a C15 connector on it for comparison.

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Amazon invites 5 terabyte mondo-files into the heavens

Ben 5

Re: pretty cheap, unless you store it with amazon

You make a good point, but to be fair I think there are some other factors that should be included:

1. If you use multiple budget servers, you need to find a way to reliably propagate updates between them. That's not difficult if you always upload to one server and replicate to the others. However Amazon achieves high availability by spreading uploads over a number of servers automatically. It doesn't matter if half their servers fail; you can still upload and access your files. Amazon have a proven, reliable setup that is ready to use.

2. You miss out any sort of administration costs. Amazon's service includes the cost of 24x7 monitoring and support of the application. If you put together 3 or 4 budget servers you need to have someone around to support them. Most ISPs just support the hardware, and even then won't monitor it or take action to fix it without you contacting them first.

3. Amazon S3 is fast to access from Amazon's other services, such as EC2. If you are using EC2 a lot then, the S3 cost is relatively small.

It depends what you want to do, and who you are. As you point out, it's possible to put something together, but Amazon does have a place in the market. As their charges are proportional, they are very cheap for small amounts of data compared to building your own.

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Angry Birds tweet fury at Redmond

Ben 5
Grenade

Microsoft not worried

Face it, what are Rovio going to do? They can sue Microsoft, possibly win a large payout. Microsoft aren't going to care compared to the importance of making Windows 7 Mobile a success. I'm surprised Microsoft haven't plastered their entire publicity with the logos of all sorts of software.

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GCHQ imposes Whitehall iPhone ban

Ben 5
Black Helicopters

Doesn't say much for the Blackberry

Clearing the Blackberry for just RESTRICTED material doesn't say much for the security of the device. It's the lowest level of classification used for material that you don't really want to go waving around, but wouldn't be a major issue if it got out. Based on that assessment, I'd only just about trust it with my address book :-)

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Rutland Telecom offers local internet for local people

Ben 5
Thumb Up

Customer Service

"Is your technical support and customer service outsourced to a call centre abroad?

No. In fact we are unique amongst ISPs in having offices in the high street. If you are not happy with the service then we cannot hide! We'll make you a coffee and get to the bottom of the problem. "

Wish more ISPs were like that.

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Save DAB! Send FM radios to Africa

Ben 5
FAIL

DAB is already obsolete

The problem with DAB is that it's already obsolete. A few years ago DAB+ was standardised which offers far more efficiency, better quality audio and more robust error correction. It is far better to forget DAB and adopt DAB+ as indeed a number of other countries already are. Unfortunately a DAB receiver cannot receive DAB+ unless it was designed to or designed to be upgraded to DAB+.

I imagine in a few years the UK will adopt DAB+ and anyone who bought a DAB receiver that cannot be upgraded will simply be left behind.

Interesting article on how the rollout of DAB was so badly handled:

http://www.digitalradiotech.co.uk/dab/incompetent_adoption_of_dab.htm

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Nominet appoints itself web policeman

Ben 5
FAIL

No legal protection

Nominet are opening themselves up to legal action here, with no obvious benefit to themselves. Can't wait.

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Google moves tanks onto property market's lawns

Ben 5

Re: Similar to what someone has already tried...

ononemap.com was great. The site that replaces it (http://www.dothomes.co.uk/ - there is a small link to it on the front of ononemap.com) has preserved some of the functionality though. If you search for an area, then in the results click on 'MAP' it does show you a Google Map with the properties, and you can refine your search criteria on the right.

Not as good as oneonemap.com was I grant you, but all it not lost. Still looking forward to when Google launch their version.

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UK webhosts in champagne throwing cat fight

Ben 5

Recommend Poundhost

As an existing customer, I got the Poundhost email.

Poundhost made a mistake. It was followed up with an apology and they have changed their procedures to make sure it doesn't happen again. I actually believe that has happened as I've met Mathew a few times and I know that where they find they have an issue with something, they do actually fix it. They once had an issue with their support phone service - they changed systems and it hasn't happened again. They respond to tickets so fast that you don't need to call anyway.

I don't know much about RapidSwitch other than by reputation; they are probably a similar firm in a lot of ways. However they did send an unsolicited email to a list of addresses obtained by dubious means, some of which are likely to be personal email addresses (rather than business ones). Under UK law that is a clear and knowing breach of the Electronic Privacy and Communcations Act. The fact that they have not apologised or withdrawn their offer indicates to me that this was officially sanctioned at the highest level. I would therefore think twice about doing business with RapidSwitch.

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Sony and BBC clash over PS3 problems

Ben 5
Stop

@Mike Bird

> Sony's contention that they can get away with a one year warranty is facetious.

> You should note that any claim you may have with a defective unit is with the RETAILLER (ie. the shop you purchased it in) and not the MANUFACTURER.

As you say, the claim is against the RETAILER, not the MANUFACTURER. So Sony are quite correct in saying that they don't have to repair/replace the product after one year. They didn't sell it, so have no legal obligation in that respect.

Any product (and especially one as complex as a PS3) will have faults. Watchdog have messed up by impling that Sony should be liable after one year - the retailer is.

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Ben 5
Stop

@Mike Read

> Sony's contention that they can get away with a one year warranty is facetious.

> You should note that any claim you may have with a defective unit is with the RETAILLER (ie. the shop you purchased it in) and not the MANUFACTURER.

As you say, the claim is against the RETAILER, not the MANUFACTURER. So Sony are quite correct in saying that they don't have to repair/replace the product after one year. They didn't sell it, so have no legal obligation in that respect.

Any product (and especially one as complex as a PS3) will have faults. Watchdog have messed up by impling that Sony should be liable after one year - the retailer is.

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