Nominet precautions for Nuclear attack on .uk #uknof28

by Trefor Davies on Thursday, 24 April, 2014

Vint Cerf with Trefor Davies at the Nominet Internet Policy ForumJust heard a nice talk by Brett Carr on Nominet’s transformation of its infrastructure. For the lay people amongst you Nominet is the organisation that runs the .uk suffix. All domains ending in .uk. eg were I to be the owner, which I’m not because Trefor happens to be a small town in Wales and all place names went very early on in the domain name land grab.

.uk is considered to be a strategic resource for the United Kingdom. The wellbeing of our country depends on it – commerce etc. Nominet therefore has to be run very professionally. Whilst being a not for profit organisation Nominet is well known in the industry for being cash rich and in all fairness donates a lot of its surplus to charity through the Nominet Foundation.

The availability of cash also allows Nominet to use enterprise grade systems in its internal infrastructure. This is different to most of the internet which is run on open source software which by definition is free apart from the cost of support which tends to be managed using internal resources. Nominet’s use of Enterprise grade software is consistent with the strategic nature of its remit.

What is interesting is the extent to which Nominet goes to maintain uptime of its infrastructure. It has two data centres in the UK linked by resilient and diverse 10Gbps connections. Most servers are virtualized using VMware. A problem with one  and the system fails over to the other. Problematic resources can be rebuilt very quickly. This is all standard stuff.

The interesting bit is the third data centre in Geneva. In the event of a catastrophic event happening to the UK, and not just to one of the UK data centres, the Geneva DC will continue to work supporting at least some of the .uk functions. We are talking nuclear strike type scenarios here. Data on the infrastructure design and how to rebuild the service is kept in a locked safe “somewhere in the UK” for later recovery.

This did raise a number of questions. If the UK has been hit by nuclear attack who will be left to rebuild the infrastructure? Will anyone care at that point? Where do you buy a nuclear bomb proof safe? The answer to the latter is apparently that there are four nuclear proof locations in the UK. Presumably the safe would be kept there. I dunno.

This post is beginning to drift here but as a kid we lived in the Isle of Man. My dad was the Director of Education there and as such he was guaranteed a place in the IoM government nuclear shelter. The cold war was still going strong during the seventies. Dad told them where they could shove their nuclear shelter. Why would he want to be “safe” inside with his family dying on the outside.

That hopefully is a threat of the past1. Nuclear bunkers seem to be used as secure data centres nowadays. It is at least good to know that in the event of a nuclear attack your .uk domain name will still work. You now just need to make sure your website is dual homed so that you have something for your domain to point at when the balloon goes up. I recommend Geneva.

Other posts featuring Nominet:

Vint Cerf photocall at Nominet Internet Policy Forum (yes I did have my photo taken with the great man)
Global Domain name growth
Nominet – judge and jury of the www?
A brief history of .uk domain names

PS the pic is of me with Vint Cerf at the Nominet IPF – why not? :)

1 Apparently we have moved on to worrying about cyber threats these days although there are plenty of nutters around to keep an eye on.


Contagious Chromebook Ardor

by Kory Kessel on Thursday, 24 April, 2014

Yesterday morning found me doing the usual, staring at my monitor and rubbing the sleep out of my eyes, catching up on all of the whats and wheres and whos that took place while I lay me down to sleep. I slid on over to this website to put one last tweak on my piece scheduled to post a couple of hours hence and noticed that Tref has put up not one but two posts featuring Chromebooks, Second Hand HP Chromebook for sale £199.99! and New HP Chromebook for £170 with voucher code save30est. Now being well aware of Tref’s enthusiasm for Chromebook technology, philosophy, and hardware, seeing these two postings didn’t surprise me, but they were enough to give my own somewhat-dormant Chromebook interest a nudge. A nudge that as the day wore on started to feel more and more like a good hard shove.

I bought a Samsung Chromebook when they were first released in the U.S. in November 2012, driven by the same curiosity that pulled me back to Apple in 2008, the sharp design, and the remarkable pricepoint. From the get-go I was delighted with it, too, so much so that I deemed it “KoryChrome” (fellow Paul Simon fans will smile at that), had a protective sleeve made, and declared it good.

KoryChrome 1And KoryChrome was good. It opened me up to the possibilities of the Chrome operating system, turned my attention to Chrome apps and the Chrome Web Store, provided plenty of configuration itches for me to scratch, and on more than one occasion it helped me out of a business communication bind (with AppleKory, Google Docs + Google Hangout = Beachball). What KoryChrome didn’t do, though, was transform my cyber-life or work practices, and once I figured out how everything worked and had login environments set up for me, My Missus, and The Boy…well, there just wasn’t much use or fun to be had, as all three members of La Famille Kessel have MacBooks that are already quite light and which go mobile with no discernible difficulty. Despite this, though, KoryChrome held its spot in our household for well over a year, until I finally steeled myself up and put it up for sale on eBay this past February. Purchased for $249, sold for $150 just 15 months later, and I got to keep the 100GB of Google Drive storage that came with KoryChrome through to November next. All in all, I dropped $99 to improve my knowledge, increase my marketability, and satisfy my curiosity.

All of which leads me to ask…what is it about the recently-announced Samsung Chromebook 2 that has my eyes lighting up, my fingers tingling, and my thoughts racing to justify making a pre-order in time for one my May visitors from the U.S. to make delivery (got my crosshairs on you, Marcos Campos)? It must be the stitched faux leather finish…yeah, that must be it.Faux Leather Stitching!

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UKNOF 28 wifi at DeVere Wokefield Park

by Trefor Davies on Thursday, 24 April, 2014

uknof28 wifi devere wokefield park

At the DeVere Hotel, Wokefield Park, Reading for UKNOF28 (Google it). The hotel is huge. This does cause a problem. My room is in the Mansion House which is a good half hour walk1 from the Executive Centre where the meeting is being held.

There has been a slight kerfuffle before the meeting starts as the UKNOF WiFi kit wasn’t exactly late arriving but certainly making the organisers a little nervous. Meetings such as UKNOF, LINX et al need to bring their own kit because that provided but hotels and conference centres is only designed to be used by “normal” people. ie not internet geeks and techies (it would be worth aggregating the home broadband bandwidth use of this community to see how it compares with the average).

You will be pleased to know the kit is now here and an announcement has been made alerting us to a short break in service whilst wires are switched over.

The object of this post however is to praise the WiFi service offered by the DeVere. It has worked brilliantly everywhere in the hotel. I used my mobile VoIP client last night because there is absolutely no mobile signal here. The bandwidth  wasn’t perfect for VoIP but I imagine 7pm is pretty much peak time for hotel internet usage as folk get to their rooms, check email etc.

The lack of mobile coverage is an interesting situation for a venue that is filled with suits at corporate offsite meetings. Every open door you pass has a meeting table with overhead projector and people sat around doing stuff. Yesterday the Mansion House bar was filled with besuited-open-necked-shirted-enthusiastic salesmen clutching bottles of champagne awarded to this month’s top performers (etc). Filled me with dread.

As I walked to check out the conference venue yesterday afternoon there was even a bloke sat on his own around some “team building” equipment laid out on the lawn. He was waiting for the punters to turn up. Some time later it was absolutely chucking it down and I saw him packing up the stuff. Presumably his clients had abandoned that part of their offsite meeting and adjourned to the bar. Rain needn’t stop play – just changes the game :)

So well done DeVere on your WiFi. The screenshot in the header is the speed I’m getting inside the conference room. Presumably everyone else is now using the UKNOF kit.

More from UKNOF28 as it happens. Read it first on :)

1 Ok I’ll admit to a slight exaggeration here but it is a long way.


Apple, Do Us a Solid

April 23, 2014

Late one Saturday afternoon in the spring of 2009 I lived out a fantasy, one that I know is shared in one form or another by just about anyone who has ever sat down in front of a computer keyboard. On that unforgettable day I placed a Dell laptop computer that had caused me no […]

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New HP Chromebook for £170 with voucher code save30est

April 23, 2014

Hot on the heels of my last post about CashConverters trying to sell a second hand HP Chromebook for £200 Gavin Lewandowski dropped me a line on Twitter saying he’d just bought a brand new one for £170 using a voucher code save30est. Link is here though it is likely to be a time limited […]

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Second Hand HP Chromebook for sale £199.99 !

April 23, 2014

CashConverters in Lincoln are selling a second hand HP Chromebook for £199.99. Caught my eye in the window as I was walking home from work yesterday. Second hand Chromebook for two hundred quid?! When you consider that I paid £180 in VAT for the Acer Chromebook I’m using to type this post makes you wonder […]

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Buyer beware – 50% off kids at Easter

April 23, 2014

50% off kids at Easter! Sound too good to be true? You can bet your bottom dollar it is. Take it from me. 50% off might sound like a good deal but get those kids home and the magic will soon wear off. They will want feeding, clothing, educating etc etc etc. That 50% will […]

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How to avoid twitter spam from O2

April 23, 2014

O2 are encouraging you to sign up for spam tweets. The above promoted tweet might seem innocuous enough. Chance to win a super new HTC One M8. Good stuff. However buyer beware. Once signed up I can’t see how there can be an unsubscribe mechanism. O2 are hardly going to waste some of their 140 […]

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Funding Broadband

April 22, 2014

Recently, I was part of a very interesting discussion on TechQT about funding broadband, particularly for areas where there has been (or where it is perceived that there will be) a level of failure in the superfast roll-out. Whilst many will argue that both the commercial deployment and that associated with the BDUK funding are […]

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Sandy, Baby, Our Two Worlds Will Be One

April 22, 2014

Anyone who has ever spent more than 5 consecutive minutes using a Windows PC knows well the hourglass, that ubiquitous symbol that the cursor morphs into when the system is processing and cannot take further input. Users of PCs loaded with various other operating systems know the hourglass, too (a buncha different flavors of UNIX, […]

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Reality is a concrete slab off eBay

April 21, 2014

I ordered some concrete slabs off the internet. Bought them on eBay actually. 21 off 600 x 600mm for £57. Had I bought them from a shed they would have been something like £120. They are going to form the base for the playhouse that I’m converting into a shed. We are using the patio […]

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