* Posts by AndrueC

3621 posts • joined 6 Aug 2009

UK's BT: Ofcom's wholesale superfast broadband price slash will hurt bottom line

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Well this will be fun

the planting date of a lot of the poles round here is mostly pre '70s and they are starting to go.

I get the impression that a lot of Poles want to go :)

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AndrueC
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AndrueC
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Re: Whaaat...

If BT can wholesale at (currently) between £88 & £89 per annum, WFT do they provide by way of "added value" for their retail customers, given what they (which includes me!) have to pay?

You should take that up with your communications provider. All the CPs have been steadily increasing rental prices while openreach has been steadily reducing them.

There's nothing special about BT Retail here. All the CPs are doing it. They all charge us significantly more than openreach charges them for line rental.

In this case it appears Ofcom are trying the same wheeze that led to FTTC. They are trying to make current xDSL offerings so unattractive to BT that it accelerates FTTP deployment in order to move it's customer base to a product with better returns.

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Amateur astronomer strikes it lucky with first glimpse of a Supernova

AndrueC
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Amateur astronomer, Victor Buso, struck lucky in September 2016 when he decided to test out a new camera attached to his 16 inch telescope.

Not so lucky for anyone living on a rock orbiting it (back when it happened). Not too great for anyone living on rocks orbiting nearby stars either :-/

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Capita data centres hit by buttload of outages

AndrueC
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Re: I can see their point

60 isn't a high number.

61 is a high number.

62 is right out.

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If this laptop is so portable, where's the keyboard, huh? HUH?

AndrueC
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Have you had to explain something extraordinarily obvious to a user or client? If so, write to On-Call and we might use your story in a future column.

Our customer support staff often have to explain how to use a web browser. Sometimes it can hilariously bad.

1. Explain what a browser is. Cue helpful suggestions like "It should be called Chrome, or Explorer". "It's what you use for Facebook"

2. Explain the difference between between the Google search box and the address bar.

3. Explain how to type 'start.com'. Hint: Type a '.' not 'dot'.

4. Repeat the access number several times until they type it correctly.

5. Ask them if they could go back to their desk where the problem is actually occurring instead of some other desk 'because it has a working computer'. Start again from (1).

It's a good job I do software development and never have to speak to anyone outside my team. I don't have the patience or tolerance to do tech support.

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Astro-boffinry world rocked to its very core: Shock as Andromeda found to be not much bigger than Milky Way

AndrueC
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Damn. That totally destroys the credibility of the Blake's 7, "Star One" episode.

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Home fibre in the UK sucks so much it doesn't even rank in Euro study

AndrueC
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WTF?

Re: The biggest cause of inertia

As true as this is, it boggle the mind why BT are still doing new-build copper installs. A BT engineer friend tells me it's just whatever the developer wants to pay for - they'll do copper (VDSL), or Copper+Fibre or pure fibre as requested.

Yup. It's entirely down to the developer to request the infrastructure they want. And for a couple of years now BT have been doing FTTP for the same cost as twisted pair copper. Frankly if I was in the market for a new build I'd refuse to consider a property if it wasn't FTTP. Unfortunately it seems most people just don't care so builders just keep on doing things the way they always have. I think that FTTP should have been the legal requirement for many years now.

Unfortunately there is one possible reason why it isn't. FTTP was installed on some sites in the early 00s. Unfortunately it didn't support data (presumably only video) so the developers and/or residents had to pay for a twisted pair overlay so that they could use DSL.

Maybe that burnt enough fingers to put some developers off the idea completely.

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AndrueC
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Re: The biggest cause of inertia

10 year return? You should be so lucky. It's probably more like 20 years. And for the 'final 10%' it could be never.

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AndrueC
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Re: Better in Hull

One thing KCOM have got right is in its monopoly area is that it has installed FTTP/FTTH.

It's easier to fund when you know that you're going to get 100% of the profits. Both TalkTalk and Cityfibre also have a wholesale product but - as far as I know - it's unregulated so they can continue to charge whatever they feel they need. BT has no such luxury. If it's lucky Ofcom might give it a few years of freedom as it did with FTTC but sooner or later it will be told what to charge other CPs.

It's quite right that BT should have Ofcom breathing down its neck but that must be a significant discouragement to investment.

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AndrueC
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Re: Investment in fibre

So how will the total cost to the country be less if we have two or three or four companies digging up the same roads and sending different blokes up poles?

Agreed. The trick is reconciling the needs and desires of the multiple companies involved so that they don't overlap each other. The cost of major changes to infrastructure varies a lot around the country as does RoI.

About the only way out of this is to force a monopoly onto the industry. But that provider still has to justify its existence so it will still target cities first to be seen getting the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. But as it moves out from cities to smaller communities the cost will increase and the number of connections per £ will drop. Will its backers be prepared to continue putting in the same amount of money to provide connections to the last 2 million properties as they did for the first 30 million? Will they be prepared to increase their payments to keep the number of connections created per unit of time constant?

No matter how you do it 100% FTTP coverage includes at least 10% that is going to be a loss at least within normal accounting time scales. In fact the hardest to upgrade 10% will probably require going on for half the total budget.

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AndrueC
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Re: False advertising!

Well technically even BT's DSL solutions are 99.9% fibre if you include all of the backhaul. It's only the last few hundred metres that are still copper ;)

But yeah - I wish the ASA had stamped that out when VM first started it but instead they let it slide so BT joined in.

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AndrueC
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Re: Investment in fibre

I'm not so sure about that. TalkTalk do already have a wholesale service as does Cityfibre.

Neither have to operate under Ofcom regulations like openreach does, though.

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AndrueC
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People in the UK order primarily by price. Speed is of secondary interest and only has to be 'enough'. On FTTC only a minority sign up for the top tier, even amongst those close enough to the cab to get a benefit. VM see the same thing - only a minority bother with the 300Mb/s service. A lot of people only move to something higher when VM decides it's time to close their slowest package and upgrades them for free.

So yes, FTTP take-up is likely to be lower than availability in the UK simply because most people can get all they want from more 'traditional' media.

This isn't to say that FTTP is a bad idea or not needed. It's just that it's needed more for the future than for the now..for most people. It would also be the most sensible way to address the minority of people who don't currently have an adequate service of any kind. Unfortunately those people are in that situation because they are not cost effective to provision. But if we want to jump up the FTTP league table then start rolling it out in the areas that are currently struggling on ADSL. But that will be expensive :-/

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Hyperoptic's overkill 10Gbps fibre trial 'more than a clever PR stunt'

AndrueC
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Go

Re: Venn diagram

Sadly, it's beginning to look like Ofcom are going to allow that to happen. I really feel it should step in and somehow get all the CPs to work together. Maybe form a single company that the CPs have to buy shares in and prevent them laying fibre independently. They make their money back in the same way that shareholders do - as a %ge of what they put in.

Unfortunately that seems very unlikely to ever happen.

The CPs aren't going to be happy just handing their money over to someone else to invest 'where they see fit' with returns being 'whatever they feel like this year'.

Ofcom probably won't be keen to create an absolute monopoly.

But at the moment it looks like we're at real risk of having multiple fibre providers in the large urban areas and nothing outside. That's crazy. For better or worse the UK is only just starting a fibre roll-out. How about we try and do it the right way from the start? Just this once, eh?

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Vodafone boasts 200Mbps with 4G mini mast in Cornish trial

AndrueC
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Hmmm. How did they measure that speed and what are they using for backhaul? Sticking a 4G mast in the middle of a field isn't too difficult and I'm sure you could get decent speeds to/from it. The question though is what does the mast talk to? Most people want to talk to the wider world, not just a mast ;)

"Sam Barker, senior analyst at Juniper Research, said its likely the mast will need to connect to a standard base station, 40-50 miles away"

Well..quite :-/

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Wow, MIND-BLOWING: Florida Man gets an earful from 'exploding Apple AirPod' bud

AndrueC
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Happy

My golf trolley has a lithium battery. I've often wondered what that would be like if it ever let go. Doesn't stop me playing golf though :)

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Wish you could log into someone's Netgear box without a password? Summon a &genie=1

AndrueC
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Re: Name me one home network device maker we can trust nowadays

Why are all home network devices designed by idiots(?) / compromised three letterer paid employees.

Because they are built down to a price.

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A Hughes failure: Flat Earther rocketeer can't get it up yet again

AndrueC
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Re: Free ride available

He can make broom-broom noises all the way.

That's fine by me. I'm wishing Mr Musk well and hoping for a clean sweep.

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Here's why online social networks are bad for humanity, the nerds who helped build them tut-tut

AndrueC
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Re: provide resources to parents to help cut down on their kids' device use

And the huge number of poor bairns being pushed along in a pram with only the back of a phone to focus on. Sad.

Yeah. I don't have kids and have never wanted them. The best thing I can say about kids is that they eventually become taxpayers and some will even pay enough tax to help fund my retirement. But I find the sight of someone pushing a pram with one hand while the other holds their phone to the head disturbing. I feel sorry for the poor kid and wonder a)do they feel neglected? b)if so what impact is that going to have on their personality?

What is the kid learning from a parent that would rather talk to someone over a telephone than the child alongside them?

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AndrueC
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Re: "Teach children to understand themselves better and have empathy for others"

Easy to say, very hard to to do, and even harder to obtain results - especially since usually most "successful" people around are exactly narcissistic jerks - in any field, including philosophical arts.

And perhaps that's why they exist. If we eradicated that particular personality 'feature' from our species maybe on average people would be less successful.

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Morrisons launches bizarre Yorkshire Pudding pizza thing

AndrueC
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WTF?

Well, as a child I used to like honey and Marmite sandwiches. I don't think they'd go particularly well with this though. Forty years later I'm not sure they'd go with anything.

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AndrueC
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That looks gorgeous. Would be better if the lip around the top was deeper though to help prolong the gravy soaking. Yummy.

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Who can save us? It's 2018 and some email is still sent as cleartext

AndrueC
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Re: email is so last century

K-9 does an OK job, once you go to the device settings menu and put it on the list of apps that shouldn't be bothered by this "doze" mode.

Not for me. It was okay for a while in conjunction with an app called 'Disable Doze' but every couple of days it would give up and stop noticing emails. My current setup is working somewhat better and at least my battery life is decent again.

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AndrueC
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WTF?

Re: "Set it up for POP as I want to work locally and store emails locally"

I definitely don't enjoy performing edge-of-the-seat pucker-factor-eleven acrobatics just so I can keep doing exactly what I used to do, only imperceptibly differently and with one more sword hanging precariously above my head.

As another poster wrote I'm referring to the difference between POP3 and IMAP. With POP you have to restore data to regain access to old emails. With IMAP you don't have to do anything other than enter your server credentials.

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AndrueC
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Re: "Set it up for POP as I want to work locally and store emails locally"

It also means that if you have to replace a computer (like I had to replace a laptop I broke) your email client is up to date almost instantly. No need to recover anything from the defunct machine.

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AndrueC
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Boffin

Re: email is so last century

I still use Thunderturd and POP3 via my own domain. Tried Gmail but it was a pain in the arse.

I use a combination these days. Android seems determined to Doze no matter what I do and IMAP just isn't Doze compatible. I managed to get it working most of the time but never completely reliably. And when IMAP timed out that was it until I manually restart it. My attempts didn't really work and my phone barely lasted two days between charges.

I now have my mail server set up to treat my GMail account as an assistant that gets copies of all my emails and have stopped my phone trying to keep up to date with my server. GMail still isn't always instant but at least it eventually notices new emails regardless of how long it's been Dozing.

And now that I'm allowing Doze to do what it wants my battery only drops .5% an hour and easily lasts five days (currently on day four with 62% charge left).

So sadly Google wins that battle. But the war is not over, yet :)

My phone is a Samsung S7 Edge.

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AndrueC
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Re: email is so last century

TheBat! is still being developed. Things were a bit quiet last year but in the last two months there have been three updates. Sadly their IMAP engine has a bug that means it occasionally refuses to pull the body down and they've investigated and said they can't fix it. But other than that it works well and it's what I eventually settled on after many years of trying alternatives.

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Openreach ups investment plans: Will shoot out full fibre to 3 million premises

AndrueC
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Re: Openreach's "ultrafast" broadband means 100 megabits.

..no it doesn't.

"Ultrafast is the collective name for fibre technologies that enable connection speeds of over 100Mbps.

We’re piloting and delivering Ultrafast in two ways;"

And the article goes on to talk about up to 330Mb/s and up to 1Gb/s. In any case this whole 'super, 'ultra', 'hyper' stuff is just marketing idiocy with very little agreement from anyone what any of the terms mean.

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AndrueC
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Re: FoD (not FUD)

The cost of FTTPoD is going to change significantly this month. It doesn't look like it'll save much money but is supposed to make it a lot more attractive for groups of people to order together (or for a CP to order for multiple people in the same area) to spread the cost.

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AndrueC
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Alert

Other CPs are already in some of those cities. I do hope they aren't going overlay their own fibre. Please, for pities sake Ofcom, get them working together to build one physical network.

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Well done, UK.gov. You hit superfast broadband target (by handing almost the entire project to BT)

AndrueC
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Re: 24mbps wasn't even superfast in 2008.

Now imagine if they'd been rolling out FTTP for the last 10 years like they should have been.

Indeed. Those of you still not on FTTC would probably still be on analogue modem. It's very unlikely that BT could have afforded to roll out FTTP and xDSL at the same time. So the choice is you either wait twenty years while FTTP is rolled out or (as they have done) accept that the upgrade will require multiple steps with most people seeing a significant improvement every five or six years.

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AndrueC
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Re: Legal Right to Broadband !?

Nobody because the legal right will include some kind of provider cost cap. You'll have the legal right to ask for broadband and the provider will have the legal right to ask you to chip in.

If you choose not to pay £10k in excess construction charges the law will consider that you have made your choice and there is no case to answer.

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AndrueC
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Re: Where?

Business owners can get a leased line installed. There's almost nowhere in the UK that can't have a leased line. It can be expensive, yes. But hey if you're running a business you should be prepared to pay for the resources you need to operate effectively.

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AndrueC
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Re: Uptake

Any how many of those 95% have actually decided to have it? ~20%, IIRC.

No, it's higher than that. I think it's approaching 40% now. The problem with the original roll-out is that it targeted areas that were most valuable which is/was exactly what all CPs do. As a result those areas already had a lot of choice so take-up was relatively low. Now that BDUK has extended the reach into the less valuable areas take up rates are improving. Last I heard they were over 34% and heading toward 40%.

Was it a good use of taxpayer money? Dunno. Taxpayer money being usefully used is a pretty rare thing anyway. I think I'd be happy to say that it was one of the better things that's been done with it. On the other hand it took a long time to get started whereas the BT+EU endeavour in Cornwall went much more smoothly and I believe was ahead of schedule.

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F-35 flight tests are being delayed by onboard software snafus

AndrueC
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Can’t talk to bombs, can’t properly use decades-old missiles

Britain’s 14 F-35Bs are all thought to be running Block 3F software of various sub-versions. Yet the all-singing, all-dancing jet still can’t talk to its guided air-to-ground bombs properly, even with the latest patches installed.

Talking to a bomb is only the first step. Convincing it to do what you want can be harder.

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Death notice: Moore’s Law. 19 April 1965 – 2 January 2018

AndrueC
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Re: Two words...

Last time I looked at it it was fine. Do you want me to take another look?

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HMRC dev support team cc blurtfest: Over 1,400 email addresses blabbed

AndrueC
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Re: The CC error

Maybe just get rid of CC or at least have it hidden by default. As somone who relies on a DEA system I'm particularly irked when my email address gets spaffed out to random people.

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Hospital injects $60,000 into crims' coffers to cure malware infection

AndrueC
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Re: First rule of animal training:

Agreed completely. If no-one in the history of humankind had ever paid up kidnapping, extortion and blackmail would be of purely academic curiosity. Not only are those paying up rewarding criminals for their actions they are also encouraging them to go for another victim.

Criminals only do it because it's profitable.

Unfortunately I would imagine that if you're a victim that's easier said than done :-/

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China's first space station to – ahem – de-orbit in late March

AndrueC
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Re: Coming home

Swindon is real. You're thinking of Slough.

Anyone thinking of Slough probably needs to seek medical advice.

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Next; tech; meltdown..? Mandatory; semicolons; in; JavaScript; mulled;

AndrueC
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That didn't work with SQL programmers. What makes them think that JavaScript programmers are more likely to adhere to such a rule?

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Self-driving cars still do not exist even if we think they do

AndrueC
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STD Free? Whoah, the lack of a hyphen there is worrying. Are you asking me whether I am free of infection or offering to give me a sexually transmitted disease free of charge?

Maybe they are offering you a free telephone call.

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Game of Thrones author's space horror Nightflyers hitting telly

AndrueC
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Re: Sounds interesting

I actually liked Ascension. It was a cool idea to start off with. The idea that there could be hundreds of people in a spaceship right now who are the descendants of people who left Earth in the 1960s. Then they ruined it by revealing the truth about the 'space ship'.

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AndrueC
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Re: Dark Matter cancelled

Cancelling something is how they advertise the good stuff to non-mainstream audiences.

Can I drop in a mention of Better off Ted and Dead Like Me at this point?

Both sorely missed - and US comedy that I like is rare as hens teeth :-/

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Woo-yay, Meltdown CPU fixes are here. Now, Spectre flaws will haunt tech industry for years

AndrueC
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Boffin

Perhaps you can enlighten us why it would've been too tricky to figure out the flags enough to realize where this "jump by return" was going.

The problem as I remember was that the instruction appeared to be part of a state engine. I doubt I'd have called it that back then but that fits my adult memory of it. I think I found two maybe three branches that kept coming back to this block of code which performed several calculations against the accumulator and then the PUSH/RET. So the target address was the result of a serious of calculations and the flags thereof where the values being used depended to some extent on where the CPU had come from.

I should also point out that debugging machine code on a microcomputer was not an easy task. There was no protection mechanisms because the CPU just didn't provide them. This meant it was quite easy for clever code to crash the debugger. Indeed some code seemed designed to do exactly that - although mainly that was around the custom loading code as an attempt to thwart pirates. I remember for instance code that used LDIR to overwrite the stack. I remember code that used the interrupts to jump to somewhere that the debugger was using. There weren't many debuggers available for the Sinclair Spectrum so the game developers knew the choices available and their weaknesses. Without virtual memory they and the game had to share the same address space and although mine could be told to relocate itself on loading it couldn't do it on the fly. And most games were tight fit in memory anyway so even getting the debugger to run the game code was difficult.

So most likely I was just looking at the dissassembly listing. Figuring out the various possible flags from an assembly listing isn't easy. Not when you know the code is being called from several places.

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AndrueC
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Boffin

Personally, I'm going to stick to my old faithful Z80

Speaking of Z80s and retpoline..

Way back in the mists of time I used to reverse engineer games to get myself infinite lives and occasionally a mention in a magazine tips section. I remember one time being thwarted by this gem:

PUSH AF

RET

That was one of those 'Put the debugger down and slowly walk away' moments :)

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Amazon: Intel Meltdown patch will slow down your AWS EC2 server

AndrueC
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Boffin

So it only impacts processes that do a lot of disk and network I/O?

Bugger server problems. That's gonna take a bite out of my productivity - Visual Studio isn't exactly greased lightning at the best of times :-/

I wonder if it can be mitigated by marking folders as compressed(*)? NTFS compression doesn't require much CPU so perhaps the time lost there can be offset by less time spent context switching in and out of the Kernel. That used to be the case with slower hard disk drives in computers with good CPUs.

And I think that if you copy a compressed file between Windows computers where both copies are going to end up compressed it is transferred in its compressed state thereby saving time spent on the NIC.

Maybe. Might make for an interesting study.

(*)Though I think that SQL Server at least won't let you compress a database file.

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Microsoft patches Windows to cool off Intel's Meltdown – wait, antivirus? Slow your roll

AndrueC
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Re: McAfee?

I'm still using the free copy of Kaspersky Barclays let me have. So I'm safe from everyone except the Russian government.

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Honda pores over in-car navigation software with Alibaba – report

AndrueC
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Re: Give me a car with

Have had current (both were a Jazz) for almost a year and it's 1000 times better. (Roughly speaking).

You must have missed the early versions then and bought from a dealer that updated the software. For the first eight months of my Jazz(*) ownership I had to put up with the infotainment unit often crashing on startup and then taking a couple of minutes to reboot. Just what you expect after spending £17k on a car - no audio for the first couple of minutes of driving :-/

I even resorted to getting an illicit(ish) image from the XDA forum because my dealer couldn't update the firmware for me. Amusingly (not really) it eventually turned out that an OTA fix for the infotainment application in August 2016 finally solved the issue. Good to know - my car's infotainment unit can be crashed by the top level code :-/

The technical side of owning a modern car :-/

(*)It affected all 2015+ models in Honda's range.

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