Apocalypse Then

by Kory Kessel on Thursday, 17 April, 2014

I will start with a question, and feel free to answer simply by raising your hand. Have any of you out there who have read this far ever felt a near-overwhelming bloodlust with regard to a PC, wanting to hoist it over your head and smash it at your feet (or, even better, on the pavement or sidewalk or other surface of sufficient unforgivingness many stories below an open window)? Or harbored visions of a cataclysmic reckoning descending upon the good folks at Microsoft who develop, market, and directly financially benefit from the Windows operating systems? Ever fantasize about the painful and public (oh-so-public) limb-from-limb rending of someone somewhere who in some way had nth degree of responsibilty for your facing the Blue Screen of Death?

OK. Hands down. Really, I was just asking rhetorical questions. Enthusiasm is always nice, though. And appreciated.

PCs running some flavor or other of Windows. Man. I distinctly recall entering that world back in 1993, and begrudgingly doing so…for money.

As a first-year technical writer just starting to dry off the space behind my ears, at the time I was working my first post-entry-level contract for Apple Sales and Support in Austin, working solo to document the company’s PowerBook Problem Resolution Process (really, it was called that)…for $10 an hour. I had visions — Heck, I had plans! — to save up enough dosh to take the following year off to live/work/travel in Europe, and yet in June of that year I was working a gig that was just managing to cover rent and gas. But it was Apple! PowerBook-era Apple! At-the-precipice-of-cratering Apple, but still Apple! And I felt comfortable and warm and safe in the Mac OS and that clanky Claris software (MacWrite! MacDraw!). For $10 an hour.

Around that time a programmer type with whom I had some acquaintance (and who really liked my cooking) told me that he could help me latch on at the Texas Education Agency for a great deal more than I was making at Apple. He didn’t quote numbers, but he was sure the rate would be at least double the amount of pennies I was yanking down at Apple. And the TEA offices were just down the street from my my digs at the time (small unshared detail up to this point: Apple’s Austin campus was out in the sticks), too. Government contract! Double the money! Wicked-short commute! One caveat, though…I would have to work in…Windows.


And so I instigated a personal sea change in my day-to-day. For a 150% income bump my cyber soul was bought and paid for. From The Beatles to the ‘Stones. And that is the way it was for the next 15 years, through the year I did end up spending in Europe (London Underground Limited, Safety Directorate, in 1994…a Windows shop), through career stints at Dell and IBM, the first Internet bubble, and the first 7 years of my freelance career. Windows this, Windows that, nothing but Windows (OK, a little Unix on the side, but that was just for fun and profit), and nary a thought paid to Apple and their Mac OS whatever-number. Was I “happy” in the Windows world? Did it matter? Being adept at Windows was essential for my work…necessary to ensure my income. Lucrative, baby! [click to continue…]

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Future Broadband Planning Requirements

by Lindsey Annison on Thursday, 17 April, 2014

It seems to be one of those weeks where UK broadband stories are coming thick and fast. Not only that, but more and more people are pitching in with considered opinions on stories and, in fact, the comments are beginning to make for far more valuable reading than the original articles! And perhaps that could be the case here too. ;)

I want to follow up today on two stories that have broken this week on new build and broadband.

The first story was on ThinkBroadband, regarding a new build housing estate in West Yorkshire and broadband availability for the new homeowners in Calderdale. ThinkBroadband believes that this new estate will have a reasonably good chance of achieving that oh-so-elusive “superfast” connectivity from cab 106 — approx 93% chance of greater than 30Mbps. (Bear in mind that this is only in reference to download, so anyone looking for a reasonable upload should hold their horses before buying!)

The ThinkBroadband article makes the point that though this is not a rural cab it has been funded by BDUK, which if you recall was for the Final Third and rural properties, so questions probably ought to be asked as to why taxpayer money is being used to fund what should have fallen into BT’s commercial rollout in Halifax.

Oh look, in the comments! Questions *are* being asked!

John Popham notes:

This is all good news for the people who live in this area, but….. this is a relatively new housing development built well beyond the point when most of society realised that broadband was an essential component of life. And now, the taxpayer is having to subsidise their connections. This does not make any sense at all.

Can it be that difficult to put planning conditions into new developments that they must make provision for fibre-to-the-premises connections? From the developers’ viewpoint it would help the properties to sell.

Popham makes an extremely valid point that should be raised over and over again. Why have planning agencies, housing developers, and the government not yet cottoned on to the importance of building homes that are broadband enabled? Isn’t that like building houses that from the moment the architect gets involved are not legislated to be environmentally friendly, cheaper to heat, with a reduced carbon footprint and so on? Ah….no, we have not yet mastered that either.

So whereby countries other than the UK can 3D print a whole house out of recycled materials for less than £1500 in a couple of hours, we have not yet quite gotten around to enforcing environmental standards on new build, let alone tech requirements? [click to continue…]


My name is Andy and I work for Tesco

by Trefor Davies on Wednesday, 16 April, 2014

Walking to the station this morning en route to an ITSPA meeting in Town I noticed a young suit staring into his phone.

As I got closer I saw that his name was Andy and that he worked for Tesco. His name was displayed on a badge on his lapel. I’m not sure what font size Tesco use but it did the job. I could see it clearly without having to stop and peer.

Don’t ask me why this stuck in my mind, other than the fact that I made a note of his name using my voice recorder. I do that sort of thing.

Continuing with the thread, I used to attend dinners thrown by Dell. A guest speaker entertained and we would have an after dinner debate on the theme of the evening. They were good dinners fair play to Dell.

My only gripe was the size of the font on the name badges. It was far too small to be able to easily read the name, especially considering these dinners were held in private dining rooms dimly lit for atmospheric effect. Clearly labelled badges are important if you are in a room full of strangers with lots of wine flowing. How do they expect me to remember names after all that wine. After one of the dinners I completed the assessment form and said all was good except for the badges.

At the next Dell dinner the badges were the same. No change in font size. Far too small to read. I’m sure it was the usual excellent evening but at the end of it I refused point blank to provide feedback. What was the point? They obviously didn’t read the feedback. Either that or they didn’t consider my feedback worth responding to.

Taking feedback to the extreme one of the readers of this blog was at a trade show in London looking to buy a server. He hung around the HP stand waiting to be sold a box. No sales pitch came forth and in due course, after having his badge scanned and informing HP of his enquiry, left serverless and bought one off IBM just down the aisle.

A few weeks later he received a phone call from a HP sales person following up on the exhibition lead. He related his story, told them they were too late and considered the matter closed.

Wind the clock forward another few weeks and HP were back in touch again. The PA of the VP running the HP server division wanted to know if he would have lunch with the VP to provide feedback of his experience at their trade show booth. Sure said my friend. Anytime.

Only problem is the lunch was to be at HP’s Corporate HQ in California!!! They flew him out a couple of days early and he had lunch with said VP in their company canteen. The whole thing lasted 90 minutes and then they flew him home. I’m sure he had a good time.

One wonders what effect his feedback may have had. I’m also sorry the VP must remain nameless. That’s because I can’t remember his name – nothing to do with the  font size of his badge.

Other server posts:

2 out of 7 Lloyds Bank servers down
Cisco UCS with 96GB of RAM
Telegraph and UPS DNS servers hacked

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Memorable Gigabit Broadband Day

April 16, 2014

What with all the kerfuffle over poor broadband in the UK (read: BDUK, BT’s superfarce rollout…and possibly superfalse advertising, too?), it was quite nice to wake up yesterday to good news from the fibre broadband world. There have been far too few of these days over the years, as in actuality the believed-to-be good news […]

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Google Can Kiss My Glass

April 15, 2014

The netwaves have been humming for about a week with the news that Google would finally open up their Glass Explorer Program to the general public, albiet for one day only — today, 15-April — and only for the suckers…er, buying public who can claim to be a “US resident” (though not in a legal […]

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The barcode tattoo

April 15, 2014

First day in the office for over a week and on the way in had to wait at the railway level crossing because the barriers were down. A bloke stood in front of me had what appeared to be a barcode tattooed on the back of his neck, just below the hairline. I wanted to […]

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Gaining Focus

April 15, 2014

As readers of last week’s Conscious Uncoupling already know, I am making moves to unhitch myself from my iPhone 4 of the past 3 years and start anew at some point in the near future with an Android KitKat device. And as I am always looking to put the latest tech into my hands when […]

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Easter is a coming

April 15, 2014

Easter is a coming and the goose is getting fat. Don’t know why I said that. I’m not aware that goose is a fowl traditionally served1 at Easter. Very rarely served at all in our house anyway because you don’t get much meat on one and there are six of us when the full team […]

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Cisco SPA303 phone at @harbour_lights < the photographic evidence

April 14, 2014

As a wrap up the the name the IP phone competition here is the photographic evidence – taken on Sunday morning before leaving the Isle of Man for the mainland. Also a hot chocolate as served up at the @harbour_lights – spot on I say.  

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IoM Ferry WiFi – the return journey

April 13, 2014

Sat in the lounge on the IoM ferry Manannan. Using the free WiFi. In fact 5 out of 6 of the family are using the free WiFi and I’m using my droid and the Chromebook so that’s 6 devices. Most of us are listening to TalkSport – Liverpool v Man City. Crucial top of the […]

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Saturday Snapshot (12-April-2014)

April 13, 2014

All week long the focus for the coming Saturday has been easily described: “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”. The film was released in France on 2-April and circumstance and scheduling conspired to keep La Famille Kessel from taking it in over opening weekend, but that would be rectified on Saturday. No doubt, no question, no […]

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