Categories
Cloud End User media video

BBC iPlayer growth – tablets shifting our viewing habits

Richard Cooper runs the BBC’s online platforms. He was guest speaker at the ISPA Conference last week and his subject was naturally iPlayer which with 245 million requests in September has enjoyed 23% year on year growth.

bbc_iplayer_request_growthI took pics of some of his slides – this first one shows the increase in requests. The step function in January is interesting. The BBC have labelled last Christmas as the year of the tablet. The growth in traffic is largely down to the increase in people getting tablets as Christmas presents. Apparently you could almost plot the rate of opening of presents based on the growth in the traffic on the day.

bbc_iplayer_trafficnov13The second pic shows the exponential month by month growth in iPlayer streaming traffic expressed in TeraBytes. Impressivo. Apparently, according to Richard Cooper, the perceived wisdom is that this rate of traffic growth is set to continue until 2025, based I think on the continued development of Video quality and usage until the point comes where the human eye can benefit no more.

bbc_iplayer_timeofdayFinally we have a chart that shows how TV viewing habits are changing now that people are watching programmes on more than just the TV. Internet usage peaks at approx 5pm – this includes all web browsing. TV watching peaks just after 9pm and iPlayer requests peak around an hour later. People are taking their tablets upstairs and watching in bed.

A few observations spring to mind. People are starting to do everything online. Music listening is moving to streaming, movies are moving to catch up TV and video on demand and why would you bother with physical copies of games? The time is rapidly approaching where people won’t bother with hard copies of anything (me excepted – I’ll be a book buyer until I pop my clogs – I am of a certain generation and won’t buy an eBook). On this basis there’ll be hardly anything left for people to open on Christmas Day – it’ll all just be brown envelopes with gift vouchers & subscription codes for downloads. The frenzied throwing of paper around the front room will become a thing of the past. Sad really.

The other snippet is that apparently with 4k video you need to be sat 8 feet away from a 10 foot diagonal screen to get the benefit. Screen tech is getting better than our own eye tech. Not sure I completely understand this one but it’s all to do with pixel counts of screens versus what your eye can interpret. Maybe someone can elaborate. Just maybe (I think that’s an advert for something – not sure what).

Whatever happens it’s going to be some time before traditional broadcast TV is replaced by streaming video – there just isn’t enough bandwidth available. Bring it on.

PS pics aren’t perfect soz – better than nothing as you can see the data.

Categories
End User gadgets virtualisation

Update on Chromecast story – chrome literally being cast

Chromecast is now working for my browser. Yesterday I mentioned that I’d found the icon for using Chromecast from my chrome browser but hadn’t had time to test it. I’m working from home today so I’m sat in the TV room having a play testing.chromecast in browser

The pic shows my Google screen on both the Chromebook and the TV – it’s a Doctor Who special Google doodle if you’re interested.

Interesting thing is that I can be in one window on the Chromebook whilst another window shows on the TV.

Also interesting is the fact that the cursor that appears on the Chromebook doesn’t appear on the TV and there is understandably a lag between when I type and when it appears on the box. This isn’t a big deal. It’s just interesting (I think I may have mentioned).

The whole experiment with the Google environment does point towards the need for good quality high speed connectivity to make it all work. The photo in this post was taken with the Samsung Galaxy S4 and uploaded to Drive. I used online photo editing service pixlr.com to edit the photo fetched from Drive, subsequently saved to a specific blog images file back in Drive and then uploded to WordPress on my server at Timico (running VMware instance fwiw).

There was a little delay with each process step but not too bad – certainly bearable.

Ciao.

Categories
Business chromebook Cloud phones

Samsung Chromebook special offer not very customer friendly

Samsung chromebook offerI bought my Samsung Chromebook via Tesco.com. What particularly attracted me to the deal was the offer of a free Samsung Galaxy phone. The model of phone wasn’t specified so my expectations weren’t high.  The Chromebook was only £229 so it wasn’t going to be a high end phone but I figured it would be ok for one of the kids.

The Chromebook itself came very quickly – Anne collected it from our nearest store (400 yards from our house!). The phone however didn’t materialise. Hmm. The Tesco portal told me that the order was only part fulfilled so I assumed the phone would follow. It didn’t.

Categories
Cloud End User fun stuff Weekend

Fireworks in Lincoln for Bonfire Night #GuyFawkes

This is a simple post with a short video showing the fireworks that were on display at the Lindum Sports Club in Lincoln on Sunday night.

Simple as that really:)

PS I’ve categorised this post under cloud though as I recall it was a fairly cloudless night 🙂 Also I know that Sunday night wasn’t actually bonfire night – tonight is. However it is sensible to have it at the weekend and not a school night. Oooooh, aaaaahh.

Categories
Business Cloud hosting

WHD.local event in London – free Samsung Galaxy Tab

Earlier this week Lonap agreed to promote a WHD.local event that is being held in London next week. It’s the baby brother of the big one in Germany in April. Lonap Director Will Hargrave is doing a very interesting talk that you should all go along to. Also there is a free lunch and free drinks at the post conference networking event.

The old adage has it that there is no such thing as a free lunch but on this occasion it needs to go further because they are also offering a free Samsung Galaxy Tab!!!!!????? wtfwtfwtf (that’s a NLA).

The only thing is you have to visit every booth on at the trade show and get a stamp on a card. So you do have to do something but in my mind that’s a gift horse you definitely should not look in the mouth. I’ve not looked to see who is exhibiting or how many there are (ok if it is hundreds of companies I’d look that horse in the mouth but I doubt there are).

Other than the fact that I am a Director of Lonap I have no vested interest in promoting WHD.local, and all Lonap is getting really is some exposure unless enough Lonap members sign up in which case we get a private room in which to have our own private lunch.

The reason I have posted this is because I’m not sure I’ve ever heard of a trade show giving each of its attendees a Tab before. Is this a first?

Click on this link if you want to go. LWGVWE4 – Click here to sign up for WHD.local 2013!

Also let me know if you do sign up. I’m not going to be there due to other commitments but if enough people get in touch I’ll arrange the private get together.

html of the official invite is linked to here – Mailing_LONAP_EN.  There’s some more photogenic stuff in there including a picture of Will. I couldn’t be bothered to work out how to embed it so you just get the link.

Hasta la vista baby…

PS my signoffs are getting somewhat off the wall. I must be going crazy hahahahahahahahaaaaaaaaaaaaa.

Categories
Apps Cloud End User gadgets media

Google #Chromecast in the UK – review 5 days in #YouTube

Terry Hughes has just got himself a Google Chromecast dongle. In Google’s own words “With Chromecast, you can easily enjoy your favorite online entertainment on your HDTV—movies, TV shows, music, and more from Netflix, YouTube, Hulu Plus, Google Play Movies and Music, and Chrome.” Must have been Google’s spiel because I wouldn’t spell favourite like that.

Anyway I spotted on Facebook that Terry had gotten (just pulling your leg) a Chromecast and he agreed to do a review for the blog. Not being much of a TV buff myself it’s the only way it was gonna happen (there I go again) in the near term.

Here is what Terry has to say on the device:

Google ChromecastI’ve used various media steaming devices for several years, Apple TV, Android MK802, etc, all with various results. Today, I am a UK owner of a Google Chromecast device, purchased from Amazon.com, as one of a limited number of purchasers who got it for £34 including shipping and handling. This a quick review, considering I have only owned it for 5 days.

This device is a $35 streaming dongle that plugs into your TV’s HDMI port. You can use it to stream online videos from YouTube, Netflix, and Chrome browser, and use your tablet, mobile phone, or computer, as a remote control. (PC or MAC)

If you use your phone to start it off (Samsung Galaxy S4 in my case) it doesn’t stream videos directly to your Chromecast dongle. Instead, it just tells the device which video it should stream from the cloud. That means that you can use your phone for something else, once the stream starts. I even rebooted my phone whilst streaming to test this.

Simple Setup

It really is as simple as plugging in the device into a spare HDMI socket, and connecting power via the supplied adaptor, or from a TV USB port if you have one.

Now Google doesn’t currently allow Chromecast in the UK Play store (October 2013), so I had to get it via other means to setup the initial way in which the Chromecast device know about your router details. I expect this to change quickly during the next Google Event at the end of the month.

Once plugged in, enter the password of your local Wi-Fi network, and you’re all set to run. The device has Wi-Fi built in and doesn’t need Wi-Fi on your TV.

Streaming YouTube

My main use for Chromecast right now is YouTube, and I have now streamed my fair share of videos from that site in the last few days. Overall, streaming worked really well, simply by clicking an icon that appears in the YouTube menu, and choosing where to stream too. Why Choose? Well, you could actually have multiple Chromecast devices in each room. I don’t as yet 😉 I have now successfully got this to work from the above phone, Nexus 7 Tablet, and Asus notebook, all with wireless connection to the same router.

What other Apps work?

In total (so far) I have managed to get working:

Google Play for movies and music

Netflix

Chrome browser (with extension) for desktop and video playback (mp4, m4v, avi and mpeg)

BBC Iplayer via Chrome browser

What do I think?

I love it! After using Miracast, long HDMI cables, small PC under the TV and more, it’s now my main device for streaming YouTube, Netflix and more in High definition, with good sound and obvious lip-sync for movies.

FOR

Streams Android to a big TV

Works with MAC, PC’s, Tablets

Easy to setup and transport

Cheapest media adapter

 

AGAINST

Early days, so limited apps (Pandora, Hulu Plus, and HBO Go are all expected to be next )

Mirroring limited to browser tab

Windows Phone not supported

Chrome is the only supported browser

Can’t store files directly on the device.

THE END

Thanks Terry – I owe you a beer

Footnote – this post is getting quite a bit of interest. Google Chromecast seems to be available to buy in the UK at Amazon.

If this review was useful you should also check out these other Chromecast reviews on this blog here and here.

Update 17th March 2014 – Google Chromecast to become available in the UK – leading to lots of visitors to reviews on this site.

Categories
Business Cloud datacentre virtualisation

Joe Baguley of VMware is guest speaker at CTO Lunch

trefor davies with joe baguleyVMware CTO EMEA Joe Baguley was the guest speaker at my monthly CTO Third Thursday lunchtime discussion session yesterday. These are hugely useful debates over lunch on a subject relevant to today’s IT Director. We have a guest speaker and on this occasion it was Joe Baguley, CTO of VMware.

We heard about developments at VMware and the strategic direction in which the company is going. This isn’t good news for everyone. VMware are currently pushing out software defined networks and software defined data centres. The idea is that all the smarts are provided by VMware and all the end user IT Director has to do is provide low end commodity hardware. Not what the likes of Cisco, who are VMware partners, would want to hear.

The lunch lasted from 12.30 until 5pm so we covered a lot if stuff. I’ll leave you with one interesting snippet. Apparently Googler uses laptops for its cloud services. In this way if the power to the datacentre goes down the machine itself provides the UPS via its own battery. Innovative I say. I don’t know any more detail than that but it certainly sounds plausible.

The header is of me and Joe at the Timico Cloud launch earlier in the year. I forgot to take pics yesterday!

PS very personable bloke Joe 🙂

Categories
4g Business Cloud mobile connectivity

4G remains impressive

Using up the last of the battery on this Chromebook from my garret at a Travelodge in London. I’m hanging off the Huaweii MiFi with a 4G sim. I’m sure I’ve said it before but I have to say it again the experience is terrific. Seriously useful for business. Pages load up almost instantly. It’s as if I was using my home WiFi and my FTTC line. Fair play:)

Categories
chromebook Cloud End User

Chromebook just crashed

samsung chromebookMy Samsung Chromebook just crashed. Just like that. Fortunately the recovery process was like lightning – even restored the browser tabs. Most of the time taken to recover was downloading the web pages. How many times have we all gulped when realising that we are about to have to reboot the old Microsoft PC. It would have been time to stick the kettle on.

Categories
Business chromebook Cloud

Samsung Chromebook test #3 – writing presentations

samsung chromebookIs the Samsung Chromebook any good for creating presentations? I’m about to find out. I have one to finish and am now off out to London for a couple of days – IPExpo and a dinner in Westminster ce soir. I also have to finish a presentation I’m doing next week on behalf of NewNet so it needs to be done whilst travelling.

I have my old Dell laptop out but the weight difference between it and the Chromebook is making it a no brainer. The Dell stays at home. I guess it is possible to buy thin, light laptops but not at £229.

I’ve moved the original presentation, started using Microsoft, onto my Drive. I’ll let you know how I get on.

Categories
Cloud End User gadgets hosting

Bluetooth speakers for your mobile & consumer personal clouds Western Digital

Bose bluetooth speaker

bose_bluetoothIt was chucking it down on Saturday so no golf and there was no rugby on so I wandered down to Currys on Tritton Road in Lincoln for a bit of a browse. I wasn’t after anything in particular but found myself in front of a portable Bose speaker system that allowed you to hook your phone up using bluetooth. So I did.

The sound quality was mind blowing and it was really easy to get set up. I got chatting with a sales assistant and mentioned the fact that at £249 the price was a bit rich. “You’re paying for the label” he said so I asked him whether there were some equally good but cheaper systems where I would be just paying for the quality. He pointed me vaguely at a Sonos system so I went along to look at that one.

Standing in front of the Sonos I did a bluetooth scan and took a guess as to which was the right kit to hook up with. Playing Queen’s Another One Bites The Dust nothing seemed to be happening. Then I realised the sound was coming through a different Sony product a few feet away. Someone was standing in front of it talking to the sales guy so I whipped up the volume:)

samsung bluetoothThe Sonos didn’t work using bluetooth – it’s WiFi apparently. What struck me, apart from the fact that it was so easy to set up and the quality of the sound was the number of devices in the shop with bluetooth connections. The screen shot shows loads of Samsung TVs. I’m a bit of a luddite when it comes to TVs & simlar but was astonished to see how thin they are these days.

Wandering round the shop I also noticed they were pushing your own “Personal Cloud” from Western Digital. This looks like a solid state hard drive with a WiFi connection – no resiliency. It doesn’t matter. It recognises the fact that people need to store data away from their pc or mobile device. I’m still more comfortable with having lots of resiliency in a backup though I guess two WD devices would do the job. The Smart Home app is working brilliantly btw. I made a donation.

The fact that Currys was using the term cloud is pretty significant. It supports the whole move of operations into the cloud. It wouldn’t surprise me to see sales of Chromebooks shooting up this Christmas. It’s the way ahead.

PS might ask Santa for the Bose speaker for Christmas.

 

Categories
chromebook Cloud End User

Touch pad on Samsung Chromebook locks up

In the interest of fairness, whilst I have been raving about the Samsung Chromebook it does occasionally have the odd glitch. I’ve already mentioned the wifi disabling itself. Well the touch pad also sometimes locks up so that you can’t click it. You end up trying to get it back by pressing esc and other keys. You can see where the cursor notionally is by areas of the screen being highlighted but you can’t click. It isn’t a huge problem but is definitely a glitch. It shouldn’t happen.

Categories
chromebook Cloud End User

Chromebooks, backups and crackling open fires

samsung chromebookSat in front of the first roaring open fire of the season tonight. Well it’s more of a nice crackling sound than a roar but you get my drift. I’ve got my Dell laptop back but I’m still using the Chromebook. I’ve been using it all day and still have 1hr 13 mins left on the battery. It’s now ten past seven in the evening.

I’m going to be announcing #trefbash2013 soon and in preparation did some photo editing using the Dell. Only because I had my Western Digital 2TB drive plugged in to restore some of the files onto the repaired  machine and the photos from last year’s bash were on it.

I used pixlr.com instead of irfanview which was

Categories
End User mobile apps storage backup & dr

Photo backup to #NAS box solved #SweetHome Android

Photo backup to ReadyNas problem solved.

You may have been following my attempts to back up my photos from my Samsung Galaxy S4 Android to my NAS box. This has become an issue since starting to play with the Samsung Chromebook which doesn’t recognise the phone when it’s plugged in via USB.

I tried a few methods including downloading from the Dropbox folder to the Chromebook and then dragging the folder into the relevant share on the NAS. This is very inelegant and you end up with a zipped file.

The answer was an app. I tried a number of them including Netgear’s own ReadyNAS Remote which doesn’t generally get good reviews. I got ReadyNAS Remote one to work but found that I could only upload single files manually which wasn’t going to be good enough. No response from the ReadyNAS forum on that one either. I also tried Airdroid with no success.

I got excited with “Upload 2 NAS Lite” last night when it appeared to be successfully uploading the files. However it was very slow and I left it running overnight. This morning the app told me it had finished but there were no files to be found on the NAS box. Looking at the forum for this app I can see others having the same problem with no apparent resolution. Using Upload 2 NAS Lite looked as if it was going to be a complicated job so I looked elsewhere.

Lying in bed this morning I then came across “Sweet Home“. This one worked like a dream and did the job far more quickly than Upload 2 NAS Lite. The User Interface was also by far the easiest to use. I am a happy chap. I am actually going to buy the pro version it is that good. Very easy to use.

The only thing left to nail is the fact that I usually backup to both the ReadyNAS and a separate 2TB palm drive that I keep in my desk. I’ll have to see if the Chromebook can see that drive and then look at backing up from the NAS box. The alternative is to have two separate NAS boxes which is somewhat industrial strength and over the top for my personal needs or to run with only using Google+ and the NAS.

Ve shall see…

Categories
chromebook Cloud End User

Chromebook on the move

No science here but I’m using the Samsung Chromebook hanging off the Huaweii MiFi with an EE SIM whilst on the train to Laandan. The Chromebook didn’t like the on-board WiFi so I’m not using that but the MiFi works well so no probs.

Although I’m accessing WordPress on what is essentially my private cloud it isn’t particularly sensitive to the bandwidth available so I can’t say I’ve noticed whether it is affected by the speed of internet access provided by the cellular connection. If I was using YouTube I suspect that would be a different experience, unless in a 4G coverage area.

As I continue to use the Chromebook it does occur to me that it is strange that every screen I look at is a browser window. Other than that it is very much business as usual. Expecting to be able to give you an update on the photo uploading tomorrow. Meetings in town today.

Read other posts on Chromebook – there are loads:
Just bought an Acer Chromebook Ash – review to follow.
Samsung Chromebook crash fix and print drivers – who needs em?
Footnote to Samsung Chromebook Free Galaxy Phone offer
Samsung Chromebook offer not very customer friendly
or search chromebook for lots of useful articles

Categories
chromebook Cloud End User

Samsung Chromebook

Just ordered a Samsung XE303 Chromebook from Tesco. £229 inc VAT. At Timico we run a Microsoft environment so this will just have to be the platform for my Google account which is fair enough.

A few things have struck me during the process of making the buying decision. My work laptop died this morning, or at least the hard drive did. Most of my stuff is backed up so that isn’t a major worry. Had I been using a Chromebook all along, aside from the cost of the online storage,  I wouldn’t have even had to give the backup issue a second thought.

The second thing that struck me is anti virus. We have 6 laptops in our house, all protected by a variety of anti virus solutions.  Keeping track of what is up to date and what isn’t is a bit of an effort. If the family were all using Chromebooks then that problem would go away.

Only problem is that whilst the Chromebook would be fine for most things there are some games and programmes used by the kids that are currently only available for Apple and Microsoft platforms. This will change in time.

One bemusing thing about buying the Chromebook from Tesco was that when I’d finished the website suggested that I might be interested in buying Microsoft Office or Office 365. Suspect the Tesco product managers don’t really know what a Chromebook is.

PS I bought the WiFi only one. I think the day of an additional SIM for your laptop are numbered.

Categories
Business datacentre

Timico gets Royal Visitor – Duke of Kent

Coat_of_Arms_of_Duke_of_KentJust had a bit of a Royal visit from the Duke of Kent. He came over specially for a butchers’ because he’d heard of our growth/work with apprentices/new datacentre/NOC/awards etc etc etc.

I was a bit disappointed to see that his car didn’t have a flag. The last time I came across the Duke was at the Farnborough Air Show where I was his guest for lunch. At the time I was on the Exec of the Parliamentary Space Committee. Lunch was on the roof of the Society of British Aerospace Companies pavilion – the spot where the Harrier jump jet used to bow to.

I was there with a group of British and French MPs – members of their respective Parliamentary interest groups. We had an extremely informative and enjoyable afternoon at the end of which we all piled into the Jaguar courtesy cars to go back to the bus for onward ferrying to Westminster. All that is except me. There was no room!

“No problem” said an able assistant. He whipped the flag off the Duke of Kent’s Bentley and drove me to the bus himself. All of which is why I was disappointed the flag wasn’t to be seen anywhere. I guess the Bentley will be knocking on a bit now and his 7 series will be far more comfortable…

Categories
Apps Business Cloud mobile apps storage backup & dr

When automatic backups work

bread_smallI’ve been having some problems with the “Gallery” app on my Samsung Galaxy S4. Actually I wasn’t sure whether it was the app or the hardware that was giving me the problem. Sometimes a photo would come out as a 1GB file (ish) and sometimes when copying files from the phone to the PC the process would stall and I’d get “file format not recognised” or some simlar message.

The problem happened to me again last week and it prompted me to change the SD card to rule out that as the cause. In the process of doing so I lost a few photos I had taken that morning. Not a big deal really though this problem did result in the loss of some photos and videos I took of the kids on the first day of the Ashes series at Trent Bridge so it was something worth sorting out.

Yesterday we had a family day out at Skegness and last night I noted that the pics I had taken had been automatically uploaded to Google+. Cool. I went on Google+ to share the photos with the wider family. To my very pleasant surprise the photos I’d taken the other morning but had lost were on Google+.

That’s what I call a result.  The loaf of bread, if you’re wondering, is one of the lost photos. It was baked by my very talented wife Anne and didn’t last very long at all:).

Note that the instant upload function on Google+ works far better since I got my fast FTTC connection. The upload is the difference. I don’t know whether that photo would have uploaded quickly enough with my old ADSL connection.

Categories
Business Cloud datacentre social networking

First #bloggade a big success

We held the first #bloggade at the Timico datacentre in Newark yesterday. A bloggade is as you may know the collective noun for a group of bloggers.

This first event was highly successful covering a range of blog related subjects:

1 The type of infrastructure used to host blogs (led by Timico hosting tech guru Michael Green) followrd by a guided tour of the Tiico NOC and datacenre.
2 A lengthy discussion on Search Engine Optimisation for your blog conducted by @phil_kelsey of Spiral Media and @mattdrussell of WebbHostingBuzz.
3 A general discussion about plug ins and which ones worked for people.

There was a great level of audience participation and a definite interest in holding another event, sometime in the run up to Christmas perhaps.

For a bit of fun we decided to have a go and see if we could get #bloggade to trend on twitter. Despite our intensive efforts it didn’t seem to be working. Then one of the bloggers suggested that if we tweeted that members of the currently in the news boy band “One Direction” had turned uo for #bloggade it might go viral. We did this and at the latest count have had a grand total of two retweets from (pre-pubescent?) OD fans. 🙂

Gotta say I’d never heard of em before this week!!!

Big thanks to all who came especially @mattdrussell whose original idea this was together with @phil_kelsey @jangles and @AndrewGrill for their major contributions.

All in all considering we organised this from scratch to execution in 4 weeks I have to say it was a great success.

Catch ya later.

PS this post was typed by thumb on my Galaxy s4 en route to a customer meeting in London.  I’d be amazed if the formatting is spot on – I’ll make any necessary adjustments when I get back to laptop land.

Categories
broadband Business datacentre

Calling OnLincolnshire businesses #godigital2013 opportunity to visit the cloud

an original picture of a cloudSuperfast broadband Lincolnshire – can your business afford to be without?

If you are a business in Lincolnshire you might well have noticed the noise that was created back in March with the announcement of the Superfast Broadband contract with BT. Well network rollout has been moving along and there is soon going to come a time when some of you will have to decide what to do with your shiny new broadband connection.

On Thursday 26th September Timico is holding an event at our Newark datacentre. A datacentre is basically where all the internet action happens. The types of service that you will access as a  business using your superfast broadband are all “manufactured” in one. You might have heard of the term “cloud” in respect of accessing online services. Well the Newark datacentre is part of the cloud.

The Timico event registration starts at 4.30 and will have three seminars/workshops covering

  1. what you can do with the datacentre/cloud,
  2. taking advantage of your superfast broadband with emerging phone technology (inc hands on demos)
  3. what you can do with online marketing and social media.

We will finish at 7.15. If you are a business about to get superfast broadband for the first time, attending this event will be time well spent at the end of your business day. It isn’t restricted to Lincolnshire businesses. Anyone can come.

To register your interest you can drop an email to [email protected] or get in touch with [email protected] Sandra runs our business “centre of excellence” and is a top source of information in this space.

The Timico datacentre is at the Brunel Business Park, in Newark. Bit more spiel here.

Superfast broadband Lincolnshire – how will your business use it?

Categories
Cloud datacentre End User social networking

We interrupt this vacation with a public service blog #bloggade

Trefor Davies (@tref/Timico/trefor.net), Matt Russell (@mattdrussell/WebHostingBuzz), Neville Hobson (@jangles/Neville Hobson/For Immediate Release) and Andrew Grill (@AndrewGrill/Kred) cordially invite you to Bloggade, Newark, 21st August.

Bloggade, the collective noun for a gathering of bloggers, is a meeting of minds where you will learn tips and tricks about blogging and WordPress.

The focus of this first Bloggade is on the underlying technology that powers many WordPress blogs. You’ll experience a tour of Timico’s £5m Midlands datacentre that opened in 2012, and see at first hand the technology that powers the web including many WordPress blogs hosted with WebHostingBuzz at the datacentre.

We have round table discussions planned on WordPress hosting, hardware, search engine optimization and more, all addressing the topics from a non-technical perspective, but in the true round table spirit – anything and everything to do with WordPress is up for discussion.

Bring your questions, comments and experiences!

After the discussion, we’ll migrate to a top class local pub where light snacks and drinks will be provided courtesy of Timico. We hope to continue the WordPress-oriented discussion and share tips/success stories/ideas.

Agenda:

12.30 Arrive at the Timico Newark Datacentre – intros & coffee

13.00 Blogger round table – hardware, servers, hosting and more including a look at the latest WordPress release 3.6

14.00 Data centre tour

14.30 Blogger round table – SEO and how to your WordPress blog a highly effective business tool

15.15 Panel discussion – experiences and best practices for getting the most from the WordPress content management system

16.00 Migrate to pub for light refreshments (pub name/location tbc)

18.00 Refreshments finish, event ends.

Tickets, which are totally free of charge, can be found here

Travel Guidelines

The event is being held at the Timico Datacentre in Newark, NG24 2AG. If you are driving then you should come directly to that location where there is ample secure parking.  If you are coming by train – Timico’s HQ (NG24 2TN) in Newark is a 15 minute walk from Newark Northgate railway station (1hr 20mins from Kings X). This is an easy walk alogn a footpath that runs parallel to the railway line or a 2 minute taxi ride. The Datacentre and HQ buildings are next to each other.

There are trains every half hour or so from Kings Cross – the 11.08 will get you in at 12.30 which should be perfect timing unless you wanted to get there earlier and take in a little of “Historic Newark” beforehand.

Categories
Cloud datacentre Engineer

It’s too darn hot… not really

I’m sat in the pleasant luxury of my air conditioned office looking down at the melting tarmac in the car park. In the tenements of Newark the residents have all the windows open trying desperately to catch a breath of air. Most people don’t move though occasionally we see groups of street kids running in and out of a fire hydrant that is spraying water into the street. Heatwave!!!

You know the scene. You’ve seen the movie. It applies to Newark Nottinghamshire just as much as Newark New Joisey. Except as I say, I’m all right Jack. My aircon is working perfectly and I take an occasional sip of a cool drink filled with ice to add that perfect foil to the temperature outside.

Letting the imagination flow a bit here. The weather got me thinking about the cooling system in our Newark datacentre. It’s based on free air cooling which means that it uses the ambient outside temperature to cool the inside of the DC when it is lower than the spec for inside. At this time of the year the air conditioning units are kicking in on a regular basis whereas for a big chunk of the year they lie dormant. They kick in when it’s 22 Degrees Centigrade outside.

I was hoping to show you a graph of the power consumption of an ac unit relative to outside temperature but I haven’t got one handily logged. What I do have are graphs showing the liquid temperature in the outside cooling units compared with the controlled inside temperature.

We expect to see wide swings in outside temperature as we go through 24 a hour period but the inside temperature needs to stay nicely within a narrow band. Interesting to see that you can probably identify the cloudy and therefore slightly cooler days in the Newark area from the lower peaks in outside temperature.

Outside temperature:

outside_coolant_temp

Inside temperature (different, narrower scale):

inside_air_temp
I can’t go out with my baby tonight cos it’s too darn hot… except I can 🙂

Categories
Business Cloud hosting

Meet Tom Moores – expert in cloud and hosting

tom mooresTom Moores is a new starter at Timico. He is a market specialist in cloud hosting and part of a wave of investment we are making in this space. It’s a pleasure to meet people who are driven to succeed and I look forward to working with Tom.

You will notice that Tom is holding the Network Operations guitar. Every now and again when I have a visitor to my office I take a picture of them with the guitar. Usually they can’t play it.

Tom can play the guitar. Looks like he is putting some soul into that song:)

People buy from people.

Welcome aboard Tom 🙂

Categories
Cloud Engineer storage backup & dr

Data storage strategy #cloud

I’m back from my hols. The news is my hard drive has 4.5GB more data on it than it did before I went on holiday. All videos and photos. In June I added 17.5GB worth of media. That’s 54GB ytd and if I extrapolate that to the year end that means I will have added 108GB to my laptop in 2013.

I’m sure I’ve recently had this conversation on the blog but I now have less than 20GB of space left on my laptop, after cleaning it up. I can’t realistically expect to get a new laptop. Mine is relatively new and I can’t expect the business to provide more storage for my personal photos. They will have to go.

So I have to come up with a strategy here. I still want easy access to the photos but it isn’t worth forking out the small fortune that the likes of Dropbox and Google Drive will charge for that level of storage.

The charts below show my own usage growth. By the end of this year at the current rate of growth my photos will take up around 330GB of space. The annual growth rate since 2004 has been around 50% a year – roughly in line with Moores law and also in line with an EMC study of storage capacity trends from 2011. Extrapolating the number forward to 2020 I can expect to be consuming almost 2TB a year of storage with a total accumulated requirement of 5.5TB.

added-storage

accumulated storage

Remember data beyond mid 2013 is extrapolated/forecast.

Does this make sense I ask myself? Well the video formats in use by 2020 are quite likely to be approaching 8k which at 350Mbps streaming data rates will produce a storage need of 44MBps or 2.6GB a minute. That’s only 13 hours of video storage. All these are approximate calculations and do assume that I am onto 8k by 2020 but the 5.5TB by 2020 sounds very plausible to me.

It’s interesting to note that whilst I am discussing my own personal data usage here the rate of growth very much reflects what we are seeing as a business. We have all heard the term Big Data bandied around. Businesses are gathering far more data than they used to. Information is power. The decisions I am facing are therefore similar decisions to those seen by businesses of all sizes. What do I do with my data?

Let’s look at my personal choices first. Currently I back up my laptop to two separate external drives. Frankly this isn’t going to be good enough for our family going forward. If I’m taking media off my laptop I want it to always be available at a click of a button. It has to be Networked Attached Storage or NAS. Because I am going to be using it more and more for lots of different family storage needs the NAS also has to be resilient so it either needs to have two mirrored hard drives or be a multiple RAIDED box such as the Drobo box shown in the pictures inset. (Box shown has 3 out of 5 slots populated with 1TB drives giving 2TB usable capacity).

Drobo box with front cover on

We use Drobo boxes (1st pic with front cover – 2nd without) to send to some of our cloud customers to seed their online storage. A small business will not have a fast enough internet connection to upload a couple of Terabytes say in a timely manner. If they were lucky enough to get 10Mbps upload then it would take them well over 400 hours to upload the data. Even though Timico provides that customer with free bandwidth to perform the upload that isn’t a practical proposition.

The Drobo box is going to cost me knocking on a grand even if I just put in three drives and though by my current calculations as an infrastructure it would do me for the rest of this decade, taking into account the fact that I could easily upgrade the hard drive capacities, Mrs Davies wouldn’t want me to spend that kind of money. We need a new freezer and the dishwasher is about to pack up.

Drobo box with front cover removed

So I’m going to go for a cheaper option such as a dual ReadyNAS which with a couple of mirrored 2TB hard drives will probably cost around £300. I will still want to have a separate backup for this but will in the short term stick with the 2TB SSD I currently use. With that setup I reckon I will be good until mid 2018 and could probably also upgrade the hard drives at that time. Rather than have the hard drives switched on all the time I will also probably go for a power switch that I can control over the LAN. In effect it will still be instant access.

It still makes sense to have a cloud option and I should be able to go for a cheaper solution such as Amazon Glacier which costs 1cent a month per GB. This would cost me $3 a month for 300GB, just over two quid say or about £25 a year (mixing formats :)). Amazon Glacier is much cheaper than the $20 a month that Google Drive would charge me but isn’t a comparable service. Being a “deep storage” service the recovery time from Amazon is very slow versus “immediate” from Google depending on your internet download capacity. $240 a year isn’t a practical proposition for home use. I don’t need the recovery to be fast. I just need it to work as it will be the line of last defence.

The observation that springs to mind here is that the costs discussed here are insurance policies that I have not hitherto had to pay. Our use of technology is driving the change. According to my calculations by 2020 I would be paying Amazon $55 a month for the storage based on current prices. It is reasonable to expect prices to plummet but this is obviously a nice growth market to be in.

The needs of a business are similar but different. Firstly a business will typically have a lot more people generating the data. The amount of data being generated per person however is not wildly adrift of the numbers I’ve been discussing for my own usage. There’s a good chart over at NetworkWorld that tells us the average storage need per employee ranges from 160GB for small businesses up to 190GB for mid-sized companies. You can do your own calculations for forecast storage needs based on the size of your own particular business and assuming 50% a year growth.

The other issues affecting businesses relate to skillsets (overhead), security (life and death of the business) and recovery time (revenue and opportunity cost). It all revolves around money.

The numbers I have looked at for my own home use therefore don’t copy across to business. Businesses are willing to spend more for additional security, ease of use and speed of recovery. A business may also think it important to know where their data is stored – for UK regulatory requirements for example – and want to have someone to call if something goes wrong. Personal support is not something that the big cloud providers are known for.

Check out example services here and corporate services here.

Categories
Business Cloud hosting

Meet Colin Bell – Director of Hosting and Cloud Services

Colin Bell of TimicoNine days ago one of our customers dropped me an email saying he had read in the London financial news vehicle City AM about our appointment of Colin Bell as Director of Hosting and Cloud services. “Seems like a high level good recruit!” was his specific comment.

That customer, as the customer always is of course, right. Colin’s pedigree is as EMEA Sales Director for Rackspace and subsequently as Managing Director of business-critical managed hosting provider NetBenefit.

It’s really important if you want to succeed in business to be one of the best in your market. That means you have to have top people. It’s a joy to work with Colin and clearly he is already making an impact if customers are sending me emails patting us on the back.

Other than to say it’s nice to know we are able to attract more top talent into the business I’m not going to gush on any more about this. You will be able to see the effects of his appointment in the months and years ahead (on our march to global domination nyahahahahahahahaaaaa).

I will say that Colin likes motorbikes and keeps bees. People do business with people, not automatons. Drop me a line if you want to meet Colin or buy some hosting services (or a copy of my book:) ). Copy of press release here.

Ciao…

Categories
Business Cloud internet online safety piracy scams

Should we regulate the cloud?

Today I am at a CIO event in London discussing the topic “Too important to be regulated and too important to be left alone” (Forbes) – Should we regulate the cloud?

You could extend this question to encompass the whole internet. Really there is no difference between the internet and the cloud.

When you think about it, as the whole world drags its living and breathing self into the cloud, it is natural that we should expect laws that exist on terra firma to apply to the cloud. There is no reason why they should not. What is illegal on earth should also be illegal in the heavens. The notion of being robbed or assaulted is just as unattractive in cyberspace as it is in the high street.

It is reasonable therefore that regulations should apply.

Categories
Business Cloud datacentre

cool customer – hosting.co.uk

It’s quite nice to to talk about successful customer wins. I love the fact that we have big names like Honda, The Savoy Hotel, St John Ambulance, Murco, Travis Perkins and Informa on board.

These days as commerce moves onto the web the name of the company becomes more and more important because you have to be looking at optimum SEO performance.

So when a new customer comes along with a name like hosting.co.uk it is easy to get excited. It’s easy to guess what hosting.co.uk does. What’s more Google likes it. Search for “hosting” on Google and hosting.co.uk comes up on the front page. This is despite it being a new entrant to the market and up against established players like Rackspace, Godaddy et al.

I’ve met the guys at hosting.co.uk and they are real pros. It is a pleasure to host their equipment and I’d like to think that the fact that a business such as theirs has chosen the Timico datacentre is an endorsement of our own product. Check out their services. I think you will be impressed.

That’s all.

Categories
Cloud datacentre Engineer Net

Connectivity envy

It wasn’t so long ago that  I wrote a post asking who had the biggest home network. The winner was @NeilMcrae  see here for a reminder. So yesterday I was wandering through the corridors of the Timico Development Engineering building trying to find my way out when I came across Paul at his desk doing stuff.

From nowhere a stack of pizza boxes had appeared with enough ports to service a small ISP. “Setting up in business” I asked. Actually we have just decommissioned a couple of cages in Docklands and saved a lot cash in the process and some of the kit has appeared on Paul’s desk temporarily.

When I say a lot of cash I mean £100k a year. The equipment has all been moved to our Datacentre in Newark. Customers are paying less, it is costing us less. Everybody is happy (all clap).

If you want to move some of your kit out of docklands get in touch and perhaps take a look here. You know it makes sense. While we’re at it there is a really cool Timico cloud umbrella, with pictures of clouds inside it when you open it up, for the person who comes up with the photo showing the most switch ports on his or her desk. No cheating now.

connectivity envy

Categories
Cloud datacentre Engineer virtualisation

The Timico Virtual Datacentre #cloud #DCrevolution

I’ve had time to recover from the Timico Virtual Datacentre launch in London on Tuesday night. It was a great evening with a fantastic mix of people there from the IT Director community.

After the talks we had an “unconference” panel session where we discussed the issues of the day in the cloud. One of the things that came out of the discussion was the fact that whilst advantage of the Virtual Datacentre is massive scalability that can quickly be turned on, most standard enterprises don’t need these huge bursts of capacity.

What was interesting is the large increase in servers being used over recent years. One attendee said that he had increased server usage in his business fivefold in as many years. That’s 300 up to 1,500. The beauty of the virtual game is that it is easy and cost effective to do this.

So the question then arose “why not use AWS?”. The simple answer is “throat to choke” and service levels. With Amazon there is nobody to call when it goes wrong and no guarantees. Also AWS does not provide connectivity and the “embedding” of the server infrastructure in the connectivity infrastructure brings real performance benefits.

Another point that came out was the advent of the Platform As A Service. The Virtual Datacentre represents Infrastructure As A Service but starts ups these days don’t want to have to maintain infrastructure. They just want functionality. Office 365 and Google Apps are examples. PAAS is increasingly the domain of both very small and very large organisations whilst the mid-market likes to manage its own services and is the ideal candidate for the IAAS play.

The Virtual Datacentre is another key step for Timico in our onward march in the communications world. It is a sign of continued progress and investment and a recognition of the needs of our growing customer base. If you want to know more check out the Timico landing page here. Press release here. Thanks to Joe Baguley of VMware for his usual terrific talk.

Categories
Business Cloud datacentre

Timico launches Virtual Datacentre #DCrevolution

icetankGreat Launch event for Timico’s Virtual Datacentre last night at the Ice Tank in Covent Garden. There is a lot to say about this but I’m somewhat strapped for time today so I thought in the meantime I’d just share this video of the barmen setting up their cocktails before the guests arrived. You know it makes sense.

There is quite a lot going on generally at the moment including tension building up with the Snooper’s Charter (I refuse to call it by it’s real name, partly because I can never remember it and also partly because people are more likely to know what I’m talking about when I call it the snooper’s charter) in the run up to the Queen’s Speech.

I leave you with an invitation to click on the header photo. It’s the modern day equivalent of the whole school photo where one kid runs around the back and appears in the shot twice. On this occasion we have used the panaorama feature on the Samsung Galaxy S3 to create a very artistic effect:)

Thanks to all who came along to make the evening a great success and to Suzie Hodges for the camera shot:)

Ciao