* Posts by Grail

15 posts • joined 23 Oct 2008

Review: Nokia Lumia 720


Re: Almost perfect

What's wrong with the OS, BigYin?

I've had a Nokia 620 for a month now, and IMHO in terms of productivity and ease of use it is much better than Android or IOS and works well with Windows, Office and Skydrive.

If, however, you want a phone that works well with Linux or Apple, then I'd agree that you'd probably not want to go the Windows Phone route.


BBC Freesat tech switch zaps HD channels from 'old' boxes


S2 for HD


DVB-S2 is part of the Freeview HD spec, but until now they were using DVB-S successfully.

The BBC did have a SOD saying they were going to switch HD to DVB-S2 in the future, but they never announced a date so that we could have a chance to purchase replacement hardware/software/receivers at a suitable time.

Instead that just gave 1 working days annoucement via a blog which is just totally insufficient.


A few Clarifications...

1. You do not have to have a Freesat HD box to receive BBC HD Channels. Other HD receivers and PC cards work for the unencrypted service and the BBC have accepted this. It is, AFAIK, only Freesat HD systems that need to have DVB-S2 - not Freesat or Sky+ non-HD systems.

2. BBC One HD and BBC HD together with unencrypted ITV HD and NHK World HD transmitted until last weekend using DVB-S. Unencrypted CH4 HD was the only one using DVB-S2. I believe all encrypted HD did use DVB-S2.

3. The BBC did have a Statement of Direction about migrating to DVB-S2 but no date was given. The BBC announced the switch on Thursday evening to be taking place early Monday morning - leaving 1 working day to make any changes required.

4. Although the BBC allegedly worked with Freesat and BskyB prior to the switch there was, apparently, no formal testing and some manufacturers were unaware of the change was taking place.

5. As well as us poor sods who had DVB-S PC Cards and were planning to upgrade when needed; it was a some, not all, of Freesat kit that did not work with the "novel" parameters that the BBC had chosen.

6. Whilst the DVB-S to DVB-S2 switch was made to increase capacity, the reason for the sudden implementation has not been announced yet. It was allegedly done to free up capacity for an experimental Wimbledon 3D service - later (I guess) to be used for 3D with the 2012 Olympics.

The BBC needs to have much better notification of and testing of changes - perhaps providing overnight testing for vendors. If they are making changes that makes kit obsolete then they should give sufficient notice (perhaps 6 months) to allow people to make necessary changes. An undated Statement of Direction is not acceptable.

For all of you in IT, the concepts of change management (user notification and signoff); user acceptance testing; system testing; alpha and beta test seem to have been totally ignored.

This is the third such badly implemented change by the BBC affecting HD service. We had the halving of the BBC HD bit rate and new encoders in 2009. Last month they introduced dynamic 1080i<>1080p switching on Freeview which caused audio dropout on some TVs.

I won't go into all the details of why I had to use DVB-S (rather than DVB-S2) when I built my Media Center PC in 2008, or what my plans had been for migration to DVB-S2 and how they have been scuppered by this change, but if you are interested head over to the Digital Spy Forums.

I'm very pleased for all those who did not have problems with the change and kindly told us all about it!


BBC One HD to go live tonight


Can not get Freeview HD?

Then like everyone else awaiting Freeview HD; either get Virgin Media, Sky, or Freesat if you want HD. Were you similarly upset when BBC HD, DAB, or 625 line TV started? Or do you want a special extra HD license charge like happened when colour TV started?


Welsh hospitals to allow mobile use


Time to consolidate?

Yet another example of the total waste in people and resources from having devolved power from Westminster to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. So the Welsh are so pig headed about devolution that they never bother to look "over the wall" to see what the others are doing.

Perhaps follow standard IT management practices and now consolidate all the various functions back into a single United Kingdom government.

Who was the genius who came up with the idea of devolution in the first place?


BMC reveals 'free money' mainframe and DB2 tools


Mainframe Benefits


Firstly, I agree that mainframes are very reliable but they are not totally "rock solid", If you want a system that provides this then you need to go to clustering - either Sysplex or multi-site Parallel Sysplex. Once you do this then the inherrent reliability of the individual box is not so important as the plex can cope with individual box outages. TPF has been doing this for decades.

Once you move to clustering you can now use much cheaper commodity technology. Staying with a single "mainframe" and assuming you will be able to get 100% availability is risking it!

How do Google and Amazon survive without running their systems on mainframes?

Secondly, regarding the companies that failed to "replace the mainframe" and wasted money, time and effort - I've also seen lots of companies who have successfully done the migration and are making considerable cost savings from "ditching the mainframe".

The key is how well the migration is planned and managed and making sure the "what" and "how" is well understood before starting. It also depends on what vendor you are moving to and what architecture.

If you are moving from IBM mainframe to another IBM architecture you may find that they have reasons for not wanting the project to proceed.

Not casting aspersions but, IMHO, those that most support staying with mainframe are the "grey backs" currently employed to look after them.


When will customers learn?

Why does anyone stay with IBM mainframe?

The amount of time and money that must be wasted by customers trying to reduce the cost of running workloads by jumping through IBM marketing loops (i.e. zIIPs, zAAPs, etc.).

They are being forced to upgrade to newer hardware with minimal price/performance improvements and then installing new software or updating applications for no real business benefit.

They should use the time and money to ditch zSeries and move to a more competitive environment - without the IBM lock-in.

Even worse, why would any customer in the right mind consider a proprietary IBM mainframe for a new application when they see things like this happen?

IMHO the IBM mainframe is dead - except for companies with deep pockets (esp. bailed out financial institutions).


Grundig 500GB Freesat+ HD DVR

Thumb Down

Looks a fine box but where is all the HD?

Based upon the article this does look an excellent box.

Unfortunately with only the BBC HD and ITV HD channels available FTA it does limit the box significantly compared to SKY+HD and Virgin V+.

Where are the other "free" HD channels that are offered on these other platforms - especially C4 HD and E4 HD?

Even terrestrial Freeview HD will offer 4-5 FTA channels including a proper ITV HD.


Freesat talks up a year of HD sport


re ITV-HD ?

Ray ,

ITV-HD is (AFAIK) restricted due to access restrictions - see http://www.astra2d.com/freesat.htm for background.

Rather than "talking up HD", I'd prefer Freesat to be "talking up" when they will deliver more FTA HD channels available in the UK (such as C4 HD, E4 HD which Sky HD have already) for owners of Freesat HD kit?


IBM punts Linux-only mainframes


Re: Don't Get It

I never understood (Linux on Mainframe) either from when it was first announced. I always had the feeling that this was developed as a solution looking for a problem rather than the other way around.

The only possible situation I thought could be if you have a super high-availability environment requiring extreme mainframe class reliability / availability and could take advantage of z/VM to allow multiple copies to run on a single box.

Otherwise there are now many logical partitioning / visualization options on alternative (low cost) architectures with fail-over capabilities available at much lower cost and that do not lock you into the (very expensive) proprietary architecture that has seen minimal price performance improvements since the PCMs went away.

The only companies that seem to want to use "Linux on Mainframe" are those that already have a large investment in "IBM Mainframe" (esp. the banks) and they want to make use of the skills they already have.

Of course the (hardware and software) vendors think it is a wonderful solution - if you can find punters willing to pay the high costs, and they have not really looked at the alternatives.


Same Old Story

Linux only zSeries mainframes are nothing new - the first ones were introduced back in 2002 with the z800 and IFL-only configurations. This is just the same old story as IBM tries to punt their 40-year old computing concept to another generation.

The mainframe (and especially IBM zSeries) is really dead now - only really considered by companies where money is no object (like financial institutions before the 2008 crash).

IBM have to try to make the mainframe a cost-effective solution versus alternate technologies in the Linux space, whilst still charging exorbitant premium pricing to customers who continue to run z/OS with exactly the same hardware.

Companies looking at Linux on mainframe want to make sure they validate all the IBM claims and ensure they understand all the cost implications (esp. maintenance and feature costs and upgrade costs).


Freeview HD goes live


Reason for drop in Freesat BBC HD Bit Rate?

"Video for each channel can range between 3Mb/s and 17Mb/s."

So now we can see why they dropped the BBC HD bit rate - average channel will be 10 Mb/s ((3+17/2)) so that the HD picture quality on Freeview HD will be the same as on satellite.


IBM boasts Sun-HP server pact pillaging


IBM Gains vs. Losses?

And how many server deals do IBM admit losing to Sun & HP? They say they gained 150 mainframes, but how many went away?


IBM chills mainframe New Coke


Re Terry and Performance

Re Terry and Performance, I agree a lot with what he says, but a few points/questions...

1. Does 1 mainframe = 1000 blade servers apply to the purchase price? You can indeed replace 1000 blade servers by 1 mainframe as long as the blade servers are mainly idle (or peak at different times). If they are all running flat out (or peak at the same time) then the mainframe would have a problem.

2. The engine speed versus throughput comparison for mainframe versus PC is really important – however neither side (AFAIK) has ever done a real comparison. This applies to both mainframe and PC manufacturers!

3. The offload of functions from the mainframe engine to other elements is really a result of the original architecture (going back about 50 years now) when processing speed were measure in KIPS and installed memory was measured in Kbytes. The offload functions were to reduce the CPU load when the cost of CPUs were in $1ms per MIPS range (i.e. with I/O and channel processors). Now that MIPS are so (relatively) cheap this is not so much an issue for PC-like architectures (although GPUs still have their place). For mainframe, where customers still pay frightening amounts for software, any offload of function (such as zAAP or zIIP) where normal software charges do not apply are very important.

4. IFLs, again, mean that the capacity is not included in the “z/OS” bucket – however these engines are technically all exactly the same at normal engines – they are only there for pricing reasons. If there were no mainframe software pricing issues, then you would not need them.

5. z/OS is a really a wonderful high-availability operating system. When linked with long-distance clustering (i.e. Parallel Sysplex and GeoPlex) it can provide the non-stop environment second-to-none. The problem is whether customers really require this level of availability and what other options exist. What is “good enough”?


IBM defers New Coke financing


Why the Special deal?

As stated in the article, this is not a free trial – the customer has to commit to the purchase now (so this is just a simple deferred payment). If the technology doesn’t deliver the expected benefits, then the customer is stuck with the additional hardware (IFL, zAAP or zIIP). Can the customer use the special low-priced memory for anything else?

The saving is only on speciality engines and associated memory. What happens about the rest of the cost – physical frame, channels, real engines, other memory and maintenance costs?

And why would any customer want to migrate onto Linux on a proprietary mainframe technology?

Even with the special deals, the mainframe is still only really usable a Linux consolidation platform where you want to consolidate hundreds of low utilisation servers or workloads with dissimilar peaks. If you have a workload with high utilisations at the same time then mainframe is a very expensive solution.

The Linux on Mainframe advocates are very careful to make sure that engine speeds are not compared between mainframe and other architectures. The reason is simple – the mainframe is excellent for “data” processing – it is not so good for highly-computational workloads. Compare a 2098 mainframe with an Intel or AMD “PC” processor and see what has the best “MIPS”?

The key comment from Red Hat and Novell is about “uniqueness of the mainframe and the relatively small customer base”. How many real, live, Linux on Mainframe customers are there?

It must be about 10 years since the first “Linux on Mainframe” offering. How many customers are really running large amounts of IBM mainframe capacity for Linux? I am not talking about single IFLs – but large n-way systems. Whenever sales start dropping IBM starts banging the old “Linux on Mainframe drum”.

So I see this as just another joint marketing effort from IBM, Novell and Red Hat. I would recommend that any IBM customer wanting to really go Linux on Mainframe could negotiate a better deal themselves (IBM used to give IFLs away for nothing to increase the “notional” install base).

Alternatively customers looking for Linux on mainframe for consolidation should also look at other options that do not necessarily require a Linux conversion?



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