* Posts by AndrueC

3386 posts • joined 6 Aug 2009

Vodafone reports sliding revenues but customers don't hate them as much

AndrueC
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Unhappy

Really? I don't hate them as much? Hmmm. It's true that I haven't had to contact them recently so perhaps that's it.

Mind you it was good to see last week that the signal around Brailles in Warwickshire is as non-existent as ever. They are consistent, you have to give them that :-/

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UK regulator set to ban ads depicting bumbling manchildren

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: The era of pointlessness

It's not often you get Donald Trump mentioned in the same breath as Bikinis and, speaking frankly, I'm hoping that it doesn't happen again.

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Set your alarms for 2.40am UTC – so you can watch Unix time hit 1,500,000,000

AndrueC
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Headmaster

Damn right. GMT and UTC can be up to 500ms different.

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Sleuths unearth 'Panic Mode' in Android, set off by mashing back button

AndrueC
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Joke

I thought this was going to be about a bug that causes a kernel panic if you press the back button too many times in short succession. I'm kinda disappointed.

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OMG, dad, you're so embarrassing! Are you P2P file sharing again?

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: re: pay for the good/services

surely if you pay, you *shouldn't* be seeing adverts ????

That depends on the provider. It's up to them to decide how to balance the two revenue streams (adverts and subscription) in a way that achieves their goals. They've probably all found that a subscription high enough to offset the complete absence of advertising revenue puts off too many people. Sky is expensive enough as it is - pay to get rid of all the adverts and it would be out of reach of most people. And even those that could afford would probably not consider it worthwhile.

It's also unclear how they could get rid of all the adverts on their platform. Most of the channels are owned by other broadcasters and Ofcom prohibit Sky from interfering with those channels. There would have to be an industry-wide agreement not to show adverts and how you move everyone from an ad-based revenue stream to a shared subscription model I dread to think. It might not even be possible.

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European MPs push for right to repair rules

AndrueC
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Re: Re : "and LEDs that likewise can't be replaced"

Bring back replaceable phone batteries. Not just for longevity but also so that bigger capacities can be installed.

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Dead serious: How to haunt people after you've gone... using your smartphone

AndrueC
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Happy

I created a delayed email to myself when I had a CompuServe account. I think it was to congratulate myself on my 100th b'day. Sadly I no longer access that account and suspect that it's all gone anyway. But I did like that feature - I wonder how many other people used it?

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London suffers from 'sub-standard' connectivity - report

AndrueC
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Meh

"claiming that average speeds were low because only one-third of people choose to take up superfast broadband"

Or because

It's probably a combination of both but looking at the UK as a whole he's probably correct.

Availability remains an issue in some areas (both rural and urban) but lack of (or limited) interest in superfast broadband is keeping the UK average artificially low. Take up of FTTC where it is available is not universal. It's improving but I think it's still less than 50%. Even amongst those that have taken an FTTC based service most are opting for the lower speed packages. Some of that is because they are too far from the cabinet to benefit but even amongst those who would gain significantly from the top tier FTTC package only a very small number are bothering.

The same is true with Virgin Cable. Most people opt for the slower, cheaper packages. From time to time VM has to close the bottom tier and shunt everyone up a tier (for free).

Money talks it seems and most people with a choice seem happy with a couple of dozen Mb/s. Quite a lot still seem to be happy on a few Mb/s. The number of people that actually feel the need to go for speeds above 40Mb/s appears quite small.

More information here.

And here.

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Concorde without the cacophony: NASA thinks it's cracked quiet supersonic flight

AndrueC
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UK parliamentary email compromised after 'sustained and determined cyber attack'

AndrueC
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WTF?

Re: If it did not have 2FA or certs it was asking to be hacked

there is a constant trickle of brute force attempts in my logs.

Same here although I wonder at the intelligence of some of the script writers. A quick check shows attempts to log in to my server using the user names:

xdfrieortu

cbmoiwueu

xbvwtywefo

pjkiuyl

qwkoud

..before my server put the source IP address on the naughty step.

If they at least cycled through the character set it might make sense. But random sequences of characters? Is this some clever hacking trick I have missed?

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Research suggests UK consumers find 'fibre' advertising misleading

AndrueC
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Meh

The confusion was started by VM using the term 'fibre broadband'. BT referred them to the ASA and the ASA said 'fibre broadband' was okay because most of the connection was fibre. On that basis BT decided to join in since the same is true of FTTC.

It always was a poor decision by the ASA. Even with an analogue modem 99% of the data connection runs over fibre (from the exchange to/from the ISP).

The problem the ASA faces is that advertising is generally targeted at everyone. It's national. Or maybe regional. But the issues that impact quality of connection are customer specific. I can watch the same advert on TV as my neighbour. But my telephone line could be in a good state of repair whereas their junction box suffers water ingress. Same advert, different actual results.

The only real solution to this conundrum is the same as it's always been: Customers should do some basic research before signing up. ISPs have been giving out speed estimates for years now. They are pretty well tailored to your line. All anyone has ever needed to do is understand what 'up to' means and from that it becomes obvious that a personal estimate is required.

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Tesco Online IT meltdown: Fails to deliver THOUSANDS of grocery orders

AndrueC
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Meh

It took their servers nearly an hour to send an order change confirmation email last night. Don't know if it was related or not but it makes me wonder if they started doing some maintenance yesterday evening and today we're seeing the consequences.

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'OK, everyone. Stop typing, this software is DONE,' said no one ever

AndrueC
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Joke

Re: Definition of Done

It's all down to your Definition of Done. i.e.. do you have one?

I'm still working on it :)

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AndrueC
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Meh

Agreed, poor analogy.

You don't rent the shower off the plumber. Nor does the plumber operate it for you, clean it and ensure that it has electricity and water supplied to it.

A better analogy would be:

If you paid me to use my shower because you don't want to have one in your house and I choose to relocate the shower to my kitchen because it makes it more convenient for me. That's a reasonable choice and you just have to live with it or find another shower.

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You wait ages for a sun, then two come along at once: All stars have twins, say astroboffins

AndrueC
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Headmaster

Re: Seems difficult to accept

Who is 'Bernard' ?

The name is Barnard's Star

But it's an interesting possibility I suppose.

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ICO fines Morrisons for emailing customers who didn't want to be emailed

AndrueC
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Good news! I only wish it was a bigger fine. I've suspected a few companies of re-enabling opt-in after a certain amount of time has elapsed so you have to keep switching it off.

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Wi-Fi Dream Home Of The Future™ gets instructions for builders

AndrueC
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If it is a laptop then use a bloody cable, you will get much better throughput than sharing a wifi link with half a dozen other bits of kit.

Probably, although I was surprised to note recently that my new(ish) laptop manages around 64Mb/s using wifi just as it does using Ethernet. And there are still over a dozen competing WAPs in my neighbourhood. No idea when that changed as it used to struggle to get above 30Mb/s on wifi.

I prefer Ethernet when throughput matters but having to replace the cable every year or so because the end is cracked and falling off (ooh er missus) with the laptop being picked up and put down is a bit tedious.

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Voyager 1 passes another milestone: It's now 138AU from home

AndrueC
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Re: What's that work out to?

Vogons. El Reg must have one on the forums.

Well there's me. I used to work for Vogon International many years ago. I wrote data recovery/forensic software for them. Also did a few data recoveries. Oddly enough I happen to be wearing one of the T-shirts they gave us today.

Lol! Their old website (or parts of it) are still around :)

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AndrueC
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Joke

Voyager 1 has just ticked off another milestone: on Tuesday it reached 138 astronomical units from Earth, or about 20,600,000,000km from the planet on which you're (presumably!) reading this story.

..and is probably still wondering whether it locked the front door before it left.

Way to go, l'il fella :)

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BT considers scrapping 'gold-plated' pensions in bid to plug £14bn deficit

AndrueC
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Facepalm

BT, a pension scheme with a telecommunications provider attached to it.

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BA CEO blames messaging and networks for grounding

AndrueC
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Joke

Perhaps they've just been winging it for too long.

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EU axes geo-blocking: Upsets studios, delights consumers

AndrueC
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Happy

Of course no one wants to upset US studios

Citation needed.

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Your job might be automated within 120 years, AI experts reckon

AndrueC
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Terminator

Re: Dark days to come

Or yet another way:

"Surprise Me, Holy Void!"

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Life is... pushing all the right buttons on the wrong remote control

AndrueC
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Happy

I bought a Harmony Remote many years ago. Bloody expensive but it controls everything and even better it's 'activity based'. So if I get home tonight and want to watch Sky I just select 'Sky' on its screen. My receiver, TV and Sky box all switch on. The receiver input switches to Sky (TV doesn't need to change inputs as it always gets it from the receiver). The remote screen changes to show numerics and a swipe left gives me the Sky functions I use.

Now if I select 'Music' the Sky box is switched off, the TV is switched off, my Logitech Touch switches on and the receiver input changes to be the Touch.

When I'm all done I just press 'off' and whatever equipment is currently on is powered down.

I've owned three Harmony remotes now and one thing I really like is that they've all automatically programmed themselves once I connect them to my account. That was great when my first one got sabotaged by budgie excrement. And neat when I upgraded to a completely different hub based model (so now I don't even have to point the remote at anything - it uses radio to talk to the hub which then sends out the IR).

Now having come across like a Logitech groupie I have to say that they are stupidly expensive and the programming utility (when you use it) is aimed at the lowest common denominator and trying to do anything complicated is difficult. So it's not all great. Oh and the cheaper hub remote is poorly designed.

But it works and we only have one remote to hand. The rest are shut away in a drawer somewhere.

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IT firms guilty of blasting customers with soul-numbing canned music

AndrueC
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Happy

Way back in the mists of time when I was young and stupid (I'm not young any more) Borland used to play jazz music while you waited. Apparently one of the founders played jazz but I just thought it was intended to keep the queue lengths down.

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'Tabby's Star' intrigues astro-boffins with brief 'dimming event'

AndrueC
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Happy

It's probably just an old, wandering AI that came in from the high beyond and will not function properly again until it gets back out there. Just watch out for spiders - they are cleverer than you think :)

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Bye bye MP3: You sucked the life out of music. But vinyl is just as warped

AndrueC
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Happy

But to be fair, they certainly minimised the amount of plastic being wasted on the project :)

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AndrueC
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Yeah, can't say I ever had any actually jump out of the groove but I do remember I had one that was off centre by at least half a centimetre and warped to the point where the stylus arm attachment point nearly hit the surface.

Anyone else remember the single of "I am The Beat" by The Look? Clever bit of mastering at the end there. For those who don't know the song didn't have a normal lead out (where the track normally veers toward the centre to trigger the head to disconnect from the disc). Instead the music just went into an infinite play of "the beat!...the beat!...the beat!"

And if you don't know The Look have released two albums since the turn of the century. They aren't bad either.

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AndrueC
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Meh

I know that the CD has a greater dynamic range than vinyl. That was one of its great strengths. No I'm referring to the fallout from The Loudness Wars. A lot (all?) modern pop is recorded with a fairly flat range. It's not as bad as it was but a lot of albums still sound compressed to my ears even the ones I've ripped myself.

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AndrueC
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Meh

Or you could buy the CD, rip to some lossless format (I actually favour WMA simply because it has nearly universal support) and enjoy the quality of CD audio with the convenience of modern streaming technology.

Then again you can listen to a modern CD recording, sigh at the poor dynamic range and decide that, really, you might as well just buy the MP3 and save yourself the bother of ripping and the inconvenience of storing CDs.

But speaking of vinyl one of the most impressive recording feats I ever came across was (and I'm not saying how I came across it). A greatest hits album by Olivia Newton-John. It was nearly 100 minutes long. So nearly 45 minutes per side. Of course it was a real bugger trying to position the stylus for a particular track but whoever mastered it deserves some kind of award :)

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Self-driving car devs face 6-month backlog on vital $85,000 LIDAR kit

AndrueC
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Boffin

Re: I wonder...

(Old cartoons with two guys carrying huge sheets of plate glass also spring to mind)

I suppose that depends whether LIDAR can penetrate glass or not. The answer seems to depend on the frequency. That could be quite confusing for the computer. It might (or might not) see the pane of glass just as it might (or might not) see objects inside glass fronted buildings. Hmmm.

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Leeds cops issue appeal for man-sized todger

AndrueC
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Joke

Are they going balls-out to find the man?

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While Microsoft griped about NSA exploit stockpiles, it stockpiled patches: Friday's WinXP fix was built in February

AndrueC
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Meh

Fixing this programming blunder in the Windows codebase would be been easy to back port from Windows 8 to XP.

An experienced programmer knows that there's no such thing as 'an easy back port'. Nor indeed even an 'easy fix'. Just like golfers know that there's no such thing as 'an easy tap in'.

It's possible that the patch was built in February as part of the general build process but not pushed through QA because it was unsupported code. Or perhaps it was only available to those paying for extended cover but MS chose to make it publicly available because the attack was severe. Dealing with legacy 'unsupported' products is a minefield of complicated decisions. Personally on this occasion I'm prepared to give MS the benefit of the doubt and even a little praise for choosing to push the fix.

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DSL inventor's latest science project: terabit speeds over copper

AndrueC
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Boffin

Interesting stuff. I wonder if it fits in with the document that Ofcom published a couple of years ago? I think it was a (very theoretical) review of how far twisted pair could be taken in the future.

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Italian F-35 facility rolls out its first STOVL stealth fighter

AndrueC
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Coat

Re: Judgemental

But you can judge a population by how easily they roll over and let nut jobs seize power.

So, on that front how are we doing? Or should I ask again in June?

Mine's the one with the emergency passport in the pocket.

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Virgin Media scales back Project Lightning target in first quarter results

AndrueC
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Boffin

Re: Smoke and Mirrors

Bandwidth may not be the problem, or not in the 'expected' sense. Cable is also often limited by the number of properties that a particular cable services. If a cable happens to pass a lot of properties or several of the properties it passes are particularly heavy users it will adversely impact the performance of all the properties on that cable. The only solution in that instance is to split the cable by installing additional nodes. Unfortunately that requires relatively costly civils so cable companies don't rush to do that.

Cable was originally intended for multicast use - TV services. As such its topography is ideal because just one TV signal can feed multiple properties. But internet use requires unicast and there cable suffers somewhat. A single coax cable has way more bandwidth than a single twisted-pair telephone cable. But a telephone cable only has to service one property. Sometimes (not often) that can lead to a good FTTC connection offering a better experience than a cable connection at peak times.

The biggest issue though is in upstream speeds. Cable has to use TDM to synchronise the user modems. This causes various issues that together explain why cable upload speeds are often a bit poor compared to xDSL.

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Is Britain really worse at 4G than Peru?

AndrueC
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Joke

If true, it would be quite allaming.

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ISPs must ensure half of punters get advertised max speeds

AndrueC
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Meh

Re: @Lee D, re: price.

I like the $/MiBps concept

The trouble is it doesn't reflect the ISP's costs. Although there is a charge per MiB/s it is always 'chunked' - you buy it in fixed amounts. Furthermore you don't get a discount based on how much you use it. If you're paying for a 1Gb/s link it will cost you the same 24/7. That's one of the big dilemmas of an ISP. If they have enough capacity for peak hours it means that most of the time they have spare capacity which is wasted money.

Residential ISPs are all about sharing. Fitting as many people down a single pipe as possible. That's why they love web browsing. It's bursty and short lived. While I'm digesting a web page you can be downloading one. It's why they hate downloaders because while they are running their connection flat out no-one else can use that bandwidth.

A faster connection all else being equal tends to mean more bursty usage. For a typical user it's hard to fully utilise a 100Mb/s connection for any length of time. Hence why an ISP will prefer a 100Mb/s user to a 20Mb/s user.

They could advertise "up to" all they want after that, but if all they ever deliver is far less than advertised

Not really. You'd first have to prove that they were the slow link. You can't blame your ISP if the problem is with the remote site's host. The internet is one giant game of pass-the-parcel. It is not technically feasible for anyone to guarantee the speed between any two points.

If you did a speed test to my FTP server you'd find that it was slow. 2Mb/s at best. But who's fault is that? Your ISP? One of your ISP's partners? One of your ISP's partners, partner's? LINX (the London internet exchange? One of my ISP's partner's, my ISP? BT who operate the backhaul?

Actually no. It's just that I've configured it with a 2Mb/s throttle :)

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AndrueC
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Meh

Re: Money talks

I only used ADSL as an example of how bandwidth availability does not directly correlate with cost. Instead of ADSL think 'very slow VDSL' if you prefer. My point was simply that having more bandwidth available to a customer doesn't automatically mean that customer will cost the ISP more. What you cost an ISP is mainly influence by what you do with your connection during peak hours. This is why ISPs that still have allowances often relax them overnight. And bursty traffic like web browsing is a lot easier to cater for than streaming.

Given 2 customers one of whom lives right by the street cabinet and one who lives at a distance from the same cabinet which one is going to get the faster connection and which one's line is going to cost more to install initially and then to maintain?

Probably not much difference on installation but the longest (and therefore slowest) line will probably cost slightly more to maintain. There are gross cost differences and hence different packages but within a package the cost is fixed. A line that can only carry 30Mb/s will cost less to provision and run if the customer chooses a 40Mb/s package (BT will charge a lower port rental). However it will cost roughly the same as another line that only manages 10Mb/s on the same package.

Thus the only cost saving available to an ISP is the package the customer chooses. If the customer's line cannot achieve the maximum speed of the package they have chosen it makes no difference to the ISP's costs. Thus reducing the price for those customers presents a dilemma.

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AndrueC
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Facepalm

Re: ASA - 'making life easier for morons every day'.

Looking at you Virgin and those offering shitty 40/2 FTTC services.

Yah, Plusnet are nasty in that respect. You have a choice of 80/20 or 40/2. They don't mention upload anywhere except on the T&C page. And you can only order 80/20 if their systems indicate that you can get more than 40 down.

They used to offer a technically bizarre product '40/20''. This was the 80/20 package limited by plusnet to 40 down. It sounds great for a certain kind of customer but paying BT to supply an 80/20 connection to a customer then only charging them for 40/20 was weird. Anyway they closed it last year. They moved the remaining customers (most of them, some got forgotten for a while) to 55/10.

They also used to offer the more traditional 40/10 but they closed that even longer ago.

Now you might think you could order 55/10 from them instead off 40/10. Nope. The only way to get on 55/10 is to have originally ordered 40/20.

Thankfully my line easily qualifies for an 80/20 connection so I can ignore the silliness.

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AndrueC
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Meh

It seems to depend where you live. Have a look at the images in this blog. In particular this one.

Compare it to the equivalent FTTC image.

Also the latest round-up review. As the article says VM are finally showing some improvement after many months of large variations.

"The differences between off-peak and peak time performance appear better for Virgin Media this month when they had -35.9% and -28% as the drop offs in throughput, so it may be that capacity upgrades are being noticed by people, a single months results though do not represent a complete turn around in performance, we will need to see if the trend continues in future months."

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AndrueC
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Meh

Re: "up to" in ads

I've got an email address a bit like that. I blocked it on my server over 10 years ago but it's still gets the most spam sent to it. A decade of my mail server saying 'No such address' and still the spam comes. I sometimes think that's going to be my lasting legacy to the internet :-/

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AndrueC
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Happy

Re: Money talks

OK, not for the ISP, but for the company that provides the actual cabling, in most cases the cost of putting the connection in is probably inversely proportional to the speed you get.

Actually, no it isn't.

The cost of actually carrying the data is more dependant on how much is being sent and when. An ADSL user running their 10Mb/s line flat out during peak hours costs more than an FTTC user browsing the web over a 60Mb/s connection during the same period.

The cost to whoever is sending the signal down the telephone line is usually higher for slower lines:

* There is a (possibly marginal) increase in electricity consumption as the signal probably requires more power.

* Slower lines incur higher maintenance costs on average because they are more likely to require engineer call outs either to fix dodgy jointing or because their greater length just makes them statistically more likely to suffer damage.

But these variations aren't that great and any way would be difficult to market so for practical purposes the cost is taken as being the same. And there's the problem: I am going to tell you that I can provide a DSL port on my cabinet to anyone in the country for £10 pcm. That's it. One charge for all.

How much are you going to charge your customers that can get 70Mb/s over their line?

How much are you going to charge your customers that can get 40Mb/s over their line?

How much are you going to charge your customers that can get 70Mb/s over their line but only want 40Mb/s?

The last one is a further complication.

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AndrueC
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Boffin

Since they are talking about comparing on-peak and off-peak variation they must be talking about throughput not connection speed. There'd be no point comparing connection speeds over a 24 hour period because there will be no change ;)

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AndrueC
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Stop

Re: Money talks

Forget tweaking the advertising of 'up to', just introduce a policy that if you get sold '40 Mbps for £30' and you get 20 Mbps you pay £15.

Since the cost to the ISP of providing both those examples is the same all that will do is cause providers to refuse to provide the slower service. Or else raise the prices so that it becomes £30 for 20Mb/s and £45 for 40Mb/s.

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AndrueC
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Thumb Up

Finally, they are including peak/off peak variation in their tests. That at least is under the direct control of the ISP. Mind you that's going to suddenly put Virgin Media in a poor light. It'll be interesting to see how they respond if that goes ahead.

The issue of '75% of customers not getting the advertised speed' is less clear cut. The nature of the technology means that technically anyone getting any kind of connection from xDSL is getting what they pay for as it has long been a rate adaptive service. You pay to get 'whatever your particular line can carry'. The problem is that most ISPs have no control over that as they don't own the telephone line. The most telephone-line based ISPs can do (the soul exception being KCom in Hull) is ask openreach to improve its local network. openreach in turn can say that they are working on it.

So a thumbs up for me this time. It's just a shame they've taken so long to tackle the one issue that ISPs could have been fixing all along.

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Don't waste your energy on Docker, it says here – wait, that can't be right...

AndrueC
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Holmes
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Booze stats confirm boring Britain is drying

AndrueC
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Happy

Re: Non-drug distractions

And a lot of video games don't pair well with booze.

Back in the day I used to find that a glass or two of wine helped me on Formula 1 simulator games. I think it relaxed my inhibitions enough to 'really give it some welly' whilst not impairing me to the point of being unable to handle the consequences.

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