End User media

Storage space growth forecast bang on the money

Storage space in line with forecast

Just realised recently that I get 5GB free cloud storage space with Amazon Drive. I also have two Google drive accounts with over a TeraByte of storage space available plus a small amount of storage space on both Microsoft SkyDrive and Dropbox.

I don’t need all these but they have occasionally been useful, specially the Amazon space where I’ve had to resort to the Kindle Fire for my mobile browsing and photography. It’s a slow device with a poor camera but it’s a port in a storm.

It was whilst figuring out how to export the pics from the Kindle that I realised they were all automatically uploading to Amazon Drive. Not sure I set this up but I’m ok with it on this occasion.

I also have a ReadyNAS which is going to need some attention. I can see the folders but not individual files within them. Hmm. I suspect the folder sizes are getting to be too large. Before I lost my phone I’d used 13GB of mobile data – mostly just in the day I went to Wimbledon. It was 36GB in the first two weeks of May with Coast to Coast.

The backed up images are definitely in the NAS – it just needs more processor oomph and memory to properly manage/display them.

Will spend a little time looking around. Also need to upgrade my very old Fast Ethernet switch. Says something when you can get faster wifi than your fixed ethernet connection although that is more reliable. I have some time over the next couple of weeks before I head for the Isle of Man and other exotic locations.

Before I go I thought I’d take a peek back at a storage growth post wot I wrote almost exactly 3 years ago. In it I forecast the amount of storage I would need by year.

accumulated storage space

Amazingly I was right on the money. In July of 2016 I have used a TeraByte of NAS storage. Will have to start thinking about the upgrade soon. I used 100GB of storage for photos in just the April – July period this year. The NAS box can take 4TB drives so it is either a case of swapping the drives out or going for something with a bit more oomph anyway.

End User media

1080p versus 4k video

How much space have you got – 1080p versus 4k video?

Simple post really. Kid 3 is home briefly from uni as he has a gig on Sunday. At the same time I took delivery this morning of my new Weber rotisserie. There is no correlation between these two facts.

The link is that as regular Facebook pals know I have a habit of sticking videos online of me talking about everyday things. Today I took a video of the new rotisserie in action. The main difference is that in stead of me being in shot I used my higher quality forward facing camera. This uses 4k video format.

Kid 3, or Joe as he is more commonly known, sat with me and gave me a lesson in iMovie production, fair play. Having played around with the footage, added intro and credits I proceeded to the rendering stage. iMovie gave me options. I initially chose 4k but was quite surprised to see that this would consume 6.5GB of storage for 1min 24 seconds of video. Wow.

1080p was expected to be around 1.6GB. Still hefty but more manageable. I rendered it using 1080p, ended up with 1.4GB of movie and uploaded to Facebook. Now doing the same to YouTube. It’s going to be interesting to see how Virgin Media react to this because I’m fairly sure I’ll be breaking their “fair usage” policy even though I am on their top package.

It doesn’t seem that uploading two lots of 1.4GB is anything out of the ordinary today though does it?

Just checked. The 1 hour threshold for uploading (at which point they throttle you) is 2.25GB but it doesn’t start until 4pm so I might be ok:). They only throttle you by 50% though which seems a bit daft. I’m still going to upload the same amount of data. It will just take twice as long. I accept that it is reducing peak usage but hey…

Its a 15 minute upload but tbh that is pretty acceptable for a 1.4GB file. The limitation might even be the server limiting hte upload – can’t be bothered to work it out. Ok I will

1.4GB is 11,200,000,000 bits ish. I’m uploading at 12Mbps or 12,000,000 bps (lets assume no packet overhead) so it should take 933 seconds or 15 .55 mins – hey bang on.

Movie below – volume is a bit low – I’m a novice.

couple of pics here

rotisserie4k rotisserie1080

Business media UC Tech Marketing lunch # 2 Building communities of interest Tech Marketing lunch

Had some great feedback on the 1st Tech Marketing lunch that took place last month. Despite the tube strike we had almost 100% attendance and a very useful session.

Thought if anyone was interested in coming along to the next one which is entitled “Building communities of interest” you might like to see some of this feedback:

What people said about the first Tech Marketing lunch

Kate Stolworthy, Marketing Exec, Provu Communications

Great afternoon meeting marketing minds within the VoIP channel. There was plenty of useful advice and the chance to share thoughts and ideas.

Wayne Mills-Kiddals, Head of Voice Services, Metronet

Attendance at these events is invaluable, Tref is someone who knows the industry inside out and brings a wealth of knowledge to the table along with like minded people from the industry​. Great way of networking and well worth the money.

Karen Adams, Director, Express Telephony

I found the Tech Marketing lunch to be a really great use of my time and has given me plenty to think about in terms of what to do with our own business

More details on the next tech marketing lunch can be found on the events page here. We have in Helen Jeffrey great guest speaker who you will find extremely engaging and have invaluable insights into the world of building communities using social media. also produces Executive dinners. These are occasions where C Level individuals from the internet communications world get together to discuss issues of import to our industry. if you want to hear more about these dinner please do get in touch. You can do so by leaving a comment on this post – it won’t be published. tech marketing lunches – makes sense for your business for you to attend.

End User media

Telegraph reads reach limit

This is your final free article this month

That’s it. I’ve reached my limit on Telegraph reads this month. Henceforth I will have to read in an incognito window. The telegraph doesn’t stop access via incognito window because they depend on cookies to count page reads.  Cookies are blocked in incognito mode.

I tend to hop between the BBC, Guardian and Telegraph to home in on what is actually happening with a specific news item. I also read the cartoons on the Telegraph.

Part of me feels bad about this. It isn’t unreasonable to pay the Telegraph for the service they provide. On the other hand this kind of stuff is available free from lots of of places online. It’s the classic online media business model dilemma.

The pop up is somewhat bemusing. It comes up every time you surf the site in incognito mode. I only decided it was a good idea to write this post after I’d dismissed the box the first time so I closed the window and started again. Same box came up innit.

I never read the Times online btw because of the paywall. Dunno how they are getting on.

So there you go. If this is your final free article this month then there is another way…

Screenshot 2015-07-15 at 23.00.56PS as I write Australia are 104 for 1 in the second Ashes test. You can see from the screenshot that I am interested in this. Not watching it on the Telegraph though, or the BBC for that matter. Cricinfo is the place. Cricinfo is free though I pay for the Beeb through the license fee.

PPS I am happy to make the commitment that will probably never implement a paywall. Fill yer boots.

PPPS I’m going to see day 2 of the third ashes test on the Friday at Trent Bridge. See you there?

Business media travel

Another glorious summer day

It’s another glorious summer day in the shire but I am up early and off South to the oven that is London. I have a good day ahead with the first Tech Marketing lunch and the Political Intelligence birthday party. 7.30 am train down and 9.30pm t5ain home. Urgh. A long day.

Should be enjoyable though. There will be a gentle stroll from Kings Cross station to Kettners in SoHo, the lunch venue. It is an enforced gentle stroll as the tube workers are once more on strike. It’s a democratic right.

I’ll walk off the lunch with another gentle stroll of around an hour or so to the City for the party. All this exercise…

I employ an element of poetic license in the title of this post as the nearer I get to London the cloudier it gets. This is probably good. A gentle stroll can be onerous in the glare of the midsummer sun, high up above the lowering skyscrapers of the capital. I have not brought a hat.

En route to town it is noticeable that as we race through the countryside the fields, last week totally verdant, are now turning gold. The harvest will soon begin. The larders soon to be stocked up again for another winter ahead. We should feel good about this:)

I am wearing shorts and a Lonap tshirt and have a pair of stout walking shoes to assist my passage through the streets of town. There is a change of clothes in my knapsack (thought I’d use that word instead of “my Osprey day bag” – more in keeping with the flowery nature of this post).

I quite like the odd day out in London and the 7.30 am from Lincoln central gets you off to a good start with a full English breakfast as soon as you leave Lincoln. I’ve usually finished it by the time the train gets to Newark half an hour later – it’s a slow branch line.

The featured image of this post is today’s breakfast. Have a good day and if you are coming to the lunch I look forward to seeing you.

Business End User media

Will Premier League TV deal drive up cost to punters

Premiership TV rights see 70% cost increase

In the news is the fact that BT and Sky have paid 70% more for the next chunk of Premiership TV rights than they did the last time around. In one sense this doesn’t affect me whatever. Although being a sportsman I do take a passing interest in all sorts of sports, the Premier League strikes me as a vehicle that attracts bad sportsmanship and a poor example to kids. Such is the money at stake.

We have a very competitive broadband market in the UK. ISP’s have been trying to layer services to squeeze more cash out of us and TV certainly brings more margin. BT recognises this which is why it’s dipped its toe in the TV market and why it has been going head to head against Sky for sporting rights.

For Sky this is almost a life or death matter. Sports have been Sky’s Unique Selling Point for donkeys years. Without this USP their offering is significantly diluted.

So in a market where it’s been a race to the bottom for some years now this sizeable increase in the cost of providing TV sports services is likely to squeeze margins further or result in price increases that wont go down well with punters. Over at we saw high levels of complaints when ISPs had to increase their analogue line rental costs, even though these increased were in the region of pence not pounds. Virgin saw even more negativity when their TV pricing shot up again.

Where I’m getting to is that whilst normally a competitive market drives down costs, in this case it’s driving up costs because the key bit of content, football, is sole sourced and has no incentive to roll over and play ball with lower prices (sorry).

There is no indication as yet as to how this might affect end user prices for Sports TV packages but Sky and BT need to show a decent return to shareholders and they can’t always absorb this kind of cost increase. I guess we will find out soon enough, for what it’s worth.

That’s it for now. Ciao amigos.

broadband Business media Mobile

The future UK telecoms landscape

Future UK telecoms landscape – UK telecoms in period of massive change.

The twittersphere is going wild following the news that BT has tabled a bid for EE. Mostly with messages like this one:

I’m not commenting on the tweet itself, just reporting. I’m also assuming that the deal will go ahead. I’m further assuming that Vodafone will buy Virgin Media, or its parent company Liberty Global. Last week a reliable source told me that Voda has already tabled a bid although I don’t think this is yet in the public eye.

So in the UK that leaves us with two giant telcos – a red one and a purpley bluey green one, a content provider (Sky) that rides on the back of the purpley bluey green network and TalkTalk (mostly purple with yellow tinges) who coincidentally have recently teamed up with O2 (blue) having ditched Voda as their mobile provider.

Word has it that these manoeuvres have been going on for a while with the protagonists delaying to see if someone else moved first in order to get around the tedious Ofcom process that will inevitably ensue. Once this concept of market consolidation has been accepted as workable it will ease the passage of the second and maybe third mergers/acquisitions.

Sky may be able ride high and operate as a content provider that all the other networks will want to work with. BT however has been after a piece of Sky’s pie and has been buying up sporting rights left, right and centre. One wonders what will happen to the Murdoch machine if it gets to the stage where it’s TV packages no longer have the best content deals.

All good stuff. Here’s an interesting one for you. In the future UK telecoms landscape Sky, TalkTalk and O2 merge… Not so stupid an idea. TalkTalk is talking about building out a UK wide fibre network. That would give us three completely separate networks and some serious basis for competition.

The future UK telecoms landscape – you heard it first on, maybe.

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What I Did On My Summer Holiday (Digital Issue)

Recounting a (digital) summer holiday, well spent.

I didn’t intend to take a break from writing during this year’s La Famille Kessel summer holiday in Normandy. No, I had plans to regale stalwart readers with missives on the nature of my vacation from the digital perspective, intending to carry the content flag for anyone out there hungering for fresh pixelated meat during these dog days of August. Of course, I also planned to put sugar in the Latte Cannelle that just arrived to the left of KoryChrome here at Paris’s RROLL. Not salt.

Offering up the Yiddish proverb my departed mother used to wield easily and quite often, “Man plans and God laughs.”

Failures aside (gee, that was easy), in an attempt to backwards-engineer satisfaction of the aforementioned hunger I will recount five (5) areas of computer-based fun I indulged in around the edges of my mostly unearned R&R over the past four weeks.

<OK. Everybody take a breath. Here we go.>

  1. As an R.E.M. fan(atic) dating back to the 1983’s “Murmur” I was thrilled to learn in May that the band was finally making good on their long-held promise/threat to issue a rarities collection. And in typical R.E.M. style the boys over-delivered, kicking out not one collection but two — Complete Rarities: I.R.S. 1982-1987 (50 tracks) and Complete Rarities: Warner Bros. 1988-2011 (131 tracks). 181 tracks, the equivalent of 18 albums of “new” material. Of course, the fact that I already had 98% of the tracks didn’t make this treasure trove any less interesting, oh no! These two digital “boxsets” represented an UPGRADE opportunity supreme, as well as hours and hours of artwork foraging and data tagging and reconciliation amusement. Just my kind of BIG data.
  2. It seems that every summer for going on who-knows-how-many years I have on some late night or other sat down at my computer determined to finally get a definitive handle on media information delivery. Or, in other words, figuring out how to configure RSS feeds in a way that not only brought links across from my favorite resources in a great many areas, but that did so in a way that allowed me to spend more time benefitting from the deluge than managing it. I hesitate to whether I succeeded this time, but with RSS Notifier in place and tweaked pretty darn well I can say that my hopes are high. If next summer I find myself NOT re-attacking this project, at that time I will know that “Paid” has finally been put to this bill.
  3. The new site that you hold in your hands, dear reader, has been praised far and wide, end to end, and in between the cracks (yes, I am the reason the store is out of clichés until next Tuesday). And on the surface it rocks far and wide, end to end…well, etc. Behind the scenes, though, quite a bit of work remains to be done to really get the thing humming. One major effort taking place is SEO (Search Engine Optimization) enhancement/reconciliation for legacy posts going back six-plus years, an ongoing task that represented pretty much all of the work I did on the site during August, between opening my throat for copious food and drink intake, forming a marvelous first-impression of Guernsey (the result of a brilliant 4-day holiday-within-a-holiday excursion), and doing whatever-the-heck-else constituted a holiday well taken. Regular visitors to the site will likely not notice any changes to their experience, save perhaps for greater crowds milling about the more popular attractions therein.
  4. 38+ rolls of film. In the four weeks stretching from 27-July to 24-August I shot over 38 rolls of film. “Holy Shutterbug, Batman!”, you are no doubt thinking, because presented like that the feat sure sounds impressive. And expensive. Leyna the Leica is quite the digital camera, though, so please temper your awe accordingly. Still, I do shoot in RAW and that necessitates that I “develop” the photos into .jpg files, adjusting various photo attributes as necessary (exposure, contrast, shadows, highlights, white and black clipping, saturation, sharpening, noise reduction, and perspective correction, to name far too many), so if you want to let your awe (awe for RAW?) run rampant then by all means please do.
  5. The “La Famille Kessel” cookbook project continued during summer holiday 2014, with 10 recipes added, the appendage of notes and photos to existing content, and even some scant thought paid to eventual production. The collection, an ongoing concern, is an amorphous beast of a thing that will bring together pass-down family and friend recipes and a wealth of those found in key cookbook/magazine/whatever over the years. Promises to be quite the tasty thing when version 1.0 is finally completed…sometime in 2022 or thereabouts, coinciding with the kicking of The Boy out of his broadband-enabled nest.

So in summing up my digital meanderings for summer 2014, it is apparent that it was all about data and databases (about as surprising as water flowing out of the spigot when the tap is turned on). And naturally, we at are curious to know what you did to wile away the long days and short nights of summer — nobody will laugh — and thus invite your prolific Comments input. C’mon…have at it!


Engineer media peering

Netflix Germany launch to use ECIX instead of DE-CIX

Netflix Germany launch uses ECIX instead of largest player DE-CIX

Netflix, in case you didn’t know is a company that streams TV to your home over your broadband internet connection. In fact in markets in which it operates Netflix is responsible for a big proportion of bandwidth usage. Last year Netflix was reported to have 29% of all USA ISP traffic. Netflix Germany is a new venture.

There are all sorts of issues to take into consideration before Netflix can launch in a new country. Content licensing rules and local regulatory rules for example and what the competition looks like. Some countries may demand investment in local content.

From a technical standpoint Netflix also has to make sure their network can deliver the content to local endpoints. They do this through a number of methods including placing a cache inside an ISP’s own network providing that ISP is large enough and its traffic levels sufficiently high to justify the cost of the equipment. For the most part your ISP will likely carry Netflix content through its peering arrangements.

Peering in internet terms is the sharing of traffic between service providers. I’ll carry yours if you carry mine. It is by far the most cost effective way for an ISP to connect to “the internet” which is of course just a large global collection of individual ISP networks. To make this easy the industry has spawned Internet Exchanges (known in the game as IXPs). In the UK we have a number of them including LONAP, of which I am a director, LINX, London’s largest and the UKs oldest, IX-Manchester, IX-Scotland and IX-Leeds. The regional market for IXPs is an emerging one. The IXP model is that of  mutually beneficial not for profit.

Netflix Germany has put its peering arrangements in place and there is a shock in store. The natural thing for Netflix would have been to join Frankfurt based DE-CIX, the world’s largest IXP. However instead Netflix Germany has opted to join ECIX, also based in Frankfurt but much smaller than DE-CIX. In Frankfurt ECIX has 34 members compared with DE-CIX’s 580. Logically you would opt for DE-IX as doing so would make it a lot easier to connect to many more ISPs and thence to their end users.

However the Netflix entry on industry resource peeringdb shows the following message:


Netflix will not be on DE-CIX Frankfurt. We encourage you to join ECIX and will also allow PNI from any network that desires to interconnect with us at Equinix FR4 & FR5

This announcement has sent shockwaves around the IXP world. It’s great for ECIX as it will encourage new members. The alternative of Private interconnect through Equinix would probably come at a cost as Equinix is a commercial, for profit data centre operator.

Word has it that the decision was taken because DE-CIX pricing was far too high.

This is quite interesting as there is a tendency for the larger internet exchanges to add overhead. The internet is growing so fast that IXPs are growing almost automatically along with it. With growth comes new members, bigger ports able to handle more capacity and also more cash.

The relatively easy availability of cash is what makes the scenario interesting. It is easy to understand how an organisation with lots of cash might look around at ways of spending it. The purely mutual model might suggest that this cash is returned to the members in the form of lower operational costs and membership fees. However the European IXP market is also becoming quite competitive as organisations fight to attract new members moving into the area. For example LINX, DE-CIX and AMSIX (Amsterdam) might all be competing to be the first European peering point for North American and Asian networks. This competition demands marketing resources. With the growth of traffic over an IXP network also comes responsibility to maintain uptime and this also costs money.

Getting the balance right of where to spend the cash is not an easy one and one wonders whether, if we are hearing right that this is a pricing based move,  this is now reflected in the Netflix Germany decision to choose ECIX over DE-CIX.

Netflix Germany end users will be oblivious to all this but it does go to show that underneath it all the internet is a complex organism with lots going on to make it work. It’s also an industry that is highly interesting to work in and gets more so with each passing year. If there is anything more to report I’ll get back to you. You heard it first on etc…

broadband End User H/W internet media piracy

The Hump Day Five (9-July-2014)

In line with Broadband Week on, the Hump Day Five either benefits, suffers or remains mind-numbingly inconsequential…you decide.


Need for Speed HubFourteen years have passed since I arranged my first broadband Internet service in Paris with France Telecom, and yet it is no effort whatsoever to recall that first setup. Is this because I have an elephant’s memory? Well, it could be (because I do), but it is far more likely due to the utter ridiculousness of the Alcatel Speed Touch USB ADSL modem that came with that subscription. I remember when the box arrived, modem and instructions inside, and opening it to find…an aqua-green jellyfish-serpent cyborg!

Holding that creature in my hands — and there really was no way to think of it in any other terms — I could not help but think, “Man, these French people really do have a different way of doing EVERYTHING!” By this point I had been in the country for nearly a year, so this was not an uncommon thought for me (more like one I tripped over at least once a day), and yet…well, I laughed because there really was no other possible reaction. Then I connected the darn thing up — one end of it kchinged via standard RJ11 cable into the T-plug ADSL filter that plugged into the phone jack, the other connected via USB cable to my Dell Inspiron 3700 — and got to work.


Not long ago my ISP in Paris (Bouygues) informed me that my 100 M/ps service was being upgraded to 200 M/ps at no additional charge, which would’ve been cause for celebration if the service had actually changed moved out of its actual speed range of 20-40 M/bs.


As an American male born in and partially raised in Chicago and later seasoned in New York, I am fortunate to have what is doubtless the top U.S. sports fan’s pedigree (offer arguments to the contary in the Comments if you must, but…well, come on, really?). I can more than hold my own in any beery statistics-laden conversation, am a rabid fan of both the Chicago Cubs and the New York Giants, bask in having seen Michael Jordan ascend to the position of Greatest and Most Influential Team Sport Athlete of All Time (and also recall easily the days when Muhammed Ali held that position), am able to maintain the “High Road” in the face of any so-called sports fan from delusionally-skewed Texas or rant-before-they-think Philadelphia, and really don’t take it all that seriously while managing to be dead-serious about it all at the same time.

All of the above accepted as unshakeable truth, when I resolved to move to France back in 1999 I did so knwowing that the whole sports thing would be one of the hardest points of separation. The 5-8 hour time zone difference was something of a factor — though I am a scar-branded member night owl — but by far the biggest obstacle to maintaining my U.S. sports culture was to be the near-absolute lack of interest U.S. sports in France, and thus the complete lack of game-viewing options and opportunities. Horror! Still, in for a penny in for a pound, I let it all go…that is, until I became broadband-connected (see aqua-gree jellyfish-serpent cyborg item above in the first slot). First I got back baseball, via an Internet radio broadcast product called Gameday Audio (and baseball really is at its very best over the radio, anyway, as any true fan will tell you), and that just in time for the Chicago Cubs epic 2003 season which saw them…no, it’s just too painful. Broadband and broadband-connected technologies continued to improve, of course, and just a few years after I got baseball back via radio the floodgates opened with streaming video and — the coup de grace — the introduction of the Slingbox.

So for me, courtesy of a Slingbox I have set up in south Florida (thanks, Dad), broadband means the NFL on Sunday, the World Series, and all of the U.S. sports punditry (and idiocy) I can stand, all just an application click away. To paraphrase Warren Zevon in closing, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”


Evey morning upon sitting down with AppleKory, one of the very first things I do is check for torrents of the television programs I keep up with broadcast the night before. Of course, I won’t say here what I do when I find those torrents. Before broadband, though, this daily exercise was not even possible (though before bittorrent there was KaZaA…and Helllllloooo Skype!).


And with that “Helllllloooo Skype!”…

Like 98.6% of the readers looking over these pixels, I am bound to at least one telephone line. Anyone with one of my telephone numbers can pick up any telephone and call me, and if I am not blocking the incoming number for some reason the odds are good that I will pick up. Landline, cellular…I have both (two landlines, in fact). If I do pick up, maybe I’ll even talk for a short while, though with the dovetailing advent of widespread broadband and instant messaging my career as a prodigious telephone talker came to a shockingly fast halt. Why talk, after all, when I can type nearly as fast (and when I am so much more well-written than well-spoken)? And if I do want or need to have a verbal exchange, why use up one of my hands holding a phone when I can instead make the voice connect over my broadband connection using Skype, or Google Hangouts, or whatever-whichever VoIP-driven service I can push my utterances through (and, yes, receive utterances back from) at little or not cost and without having to leave the comfort of my keyboard?

Broadband, baby…it just works.

Bad Stuff End User gadgets internet media

Superfast Broadband This…

Is it too much to ask that Virgin Media provide the broadband service paid for, or at least something much closer to it than is currently the case? welcomes “Broadband Week” contributor Gary Hough, Regulatory Manager for Zen Internet and ISPA Council Member. Gary has worked in the ISP industry for the past 18 years and is convinced he is growing old disgracefully, Regulatory Management Post Punk.

Superfast Broadband this and Superfast Broadband that…it’s all you hear these days as ISPs and others bang on and on about needing to have the greatest and fastest internet service that money can buy. I often criticised those ISPs, who dropped leaflets through my door trying to get me to switch to their service under some headline speed that would somehow transform my internet experience. Then one day it all got me thinking, about my own personal use of the internet and how it’s changing so fast that it’s not always easy for me to keep up (even though I work in the internet industry), let alone really know if I will get a truly transformed and faster experience if I did change providers.

There’s no doubt that by 2016 the majority of UK households will have access to a Superfast broadband service, be that Fibre to the Cabinet (FTTC) or even Fibre to the Premises (FTTP)…but do they really need it? I was unconvinced for quite some time, however I’m now finding it ever more frustrating that my home service provider (Virgin Media) is struggling to give me a superfast service, despite the fact it’s advertised as such and for which I’m certainly paying a lot of money per month. For example, for the princely sum of circa £125.00 + a month all in I take Virgin Media’s TV package, phone line rental, and 60Mb Broadband service. This Broadband service was sold to me as fttp, this despite the fact they use coax cable into my home (check out what Adrian Kennaird at Andrews and Arnold has to say about that on his blog), so I expect to get what I’m paying for…a Fibre to the Premises service. More often than not, though, that 60Mb service is struggling to keep up with the usage at home, especially at peak periods.

It is only my partner and I using our broadband connection, and most evenings we will typically be doing what most couples do these days (or at least I assume they do): fart around on Facebook via our respective iPhones/iPad/laptop, and perhaps listen to some music (Killing Joke, Magazine, Buzzcocks) streamed via YouTube or iTunes to a Bluetooth-connect Bose speaker or similar, etc. Or I might connect into work via VPN to do some last-minute blogging, download the latest meaty tomes from Ofcom, or whatever. Or sometimes we simply use iPlayer to catch up on a missed TV show (I say sometimes because more often than not Virgin streaming can’t cope with the strains of streaming an episode of America’s Next Top Model, and I have found myself wondering if they somehow think this is a feature they are providing, filtering and protecting us from ourselves and our obsession with mediocre TV). Anyway, my partner typically watches funny or surreal video clips posted in FB groups that she is subscribed to, or casually browses topics of interest, so nothing so intense that a 60mb connection can’t or shouldn’t be able to cope with. And yet, in my mind — and especially during peak times — our connection is just not holding up under the strain. Also, we’re only using the Virgin Media home hub (and it’s correctly set up), so I am certain it isn’t a wireless drop out or a technical hitch, though if I use wireless on the standard 2.4 GHz frequency it’s slower than switching to the 5 GHz frequency. The devices we use can handle the higher frequency (with the exception of one laptop), and as all of our devices are in the same living room we aren’t being restricted by any barriers to the connection.

So given all of that, I think it comes down to the connection being artificially manipulated by Virgin Media, due to the contention they face in my particular footprint from which I am served. Of course, as a highly valued customer — their words not mine — Virgin Media is promising me a free* upgrade to 100mb at some point in the future as part of their planned network upgrade, so we may in fact obtain 45Mb at best (given current performance and based on the current delivery track record).

Am I expecting too much, though? I don’t think so. In fact, I don’t believe it’s too much to ask that Virgin Media give me what I’m paying for, or at least something much closer to it than is currently the case.

And where’s the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) when you need them? Lacking bite and teeth from my viewpoint. In truth, I often wonder why they even exist, given some of the clearly exaggerated advertising I’ve seen from some providers as well as the lack of enforcement that occurs when such is pointed out to the ASA.

So what’s the alternative? Should I switch to another ISP? This slow connection is happening far too often as is, and it will only get worse the more services and household gadgets rely on the Internet to function.

*In this case, “free” likely means another line rental increase on the phone service to pay for it all.

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Watching the Football

Yesterday a friend of mine in the UK asked me if I was “going to watch the football”, stating his own excitement over the soon-upon-us 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil (the official label of the event, if the website is any indicator), and then asking “Have you converted a little? Soccer to you, I guess.”


I actually converted 20 years ago as a direct result of the excitement surrounding the 1994 FIFA World Cup. Of course, the football punditry out there will immediately assume that this American finally clued in that year due to the tournament being held in the U.S. for the first (and so far only) time, however that assumption would not only be disingenuous but wrong too. No, my sports imagination was finally captured by International football in 1994 not because I was swept up in host country hoopla, but because I was living/working/traveling Europe that year and found myself instead swept up in the remarkable national enthusiasm and spontaneous celebrations I encountered in England, Scotland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany as the tournament played out. Walking around Namur, Belgium, for instance, on a Tuesday night in early July, seeking out a priced-right-for-a-backpacker dinner, I was left aghast and delighted by the string of cars going by with horns a-blarin’, people hanging out the windows hooting and hollering and waving the Italian flag. The people of one country so unabashedly showing their colors, whooping it up on the streets of another country…what is this International sporting thing, anyway? And then five days later, being fortuitous enough to be in Germany to witness first-hand the crashing out of the Germany team1…I was hooked!

1994. The world turned its eyes and ears to the most commercial country in the world to watch “The Beautiful Game” on television and radio, and only on television and radio. And not a single URL in sight.

When my pal asked me whether I was going to tune into the 2014 FIFA World Cup my knee-jerk first thought was “Will it be available via the Internet?” to which my second thought instantly responded “Are you kidding? Of course.” Sure, I know the games will be broadcast on television, and I am relatively sure the one we have in the main room still works (The Boy watches it from time to time…I think), but it wasn’t until long after I answered my friend’s oh-so-rhetorical question that I even paid a thought to the idea of actually using the device to watch a match.

Football TV

Naturally, the picture the Chez Kessel television delivers is plenty sharp (as so many are these days, we are Triple Play kitted), and something prompted me long ago to wire the sound to come through our stereo speakers (think it was the 2006 FIFA World Cup that prompted that…friggin’ Marco Materazzi, sister-and-mother-insulting classless b*stard), so it isn’t a poor viewing option that had me defaulting to the Internet as my top-of-mind football entertainment resource. It’s just…well…you see…c’mon, you know…it is so much easier to simultaneously Web-out with ⌘+Tab (Alt+Tab for the Windows-fettered readers out there, and whatever-equivalent for UNIX deities and whichever others) than it is via some lap-bound or hand-bound device supplementary to the television.

Addiction. Always lurking, eminently humanizing, and available in oh-so-many forms.

1994. When to the layman “Internet” meant email and bulletin boards and nothing more. The World Wide Web was just starting to poke its head up, and “streaming” was a word relegated to tape data backups.

Without admitting to anything (and there will be no Q&A), I will cagily say here that a long time has passed since I last watched a television program at the time of broadcast (other, that is, than hypnotized channel-surfing-and-staring borne of jetlag). This is not to say that I am accomplishing the impossible, foregoing television entertainment in what is unquestionably a golden age for the medium (too many programs to list, but suffice it to say that I can speak “The Wire”, “The Sopranos”, “Breaking Bad”, “Mad Men”, and this Millenium’s “Battlestar Galactica” reboot with anyone…buncha great UK-produced programs, too!). I do, though, manage to forego the starchy advertising that comes with all of the good TV meat on offer, and without littering my shelves and floorspace with DVD sets gathering dust.

Yes, packaged up nice-and-digital and stripped of its impurities, television for me has come to mean the Internet. And I find it a richer and far more satisfying experience for that, too.     ==>Twenty-three minutes into the sixth episode of Season Two of “The Americans” a reference is made to an earlier plot point that I skied past. Pause. ⌘+Tab to Google Chrome. Type “The Americans episodes ” into the Address/Search field. A quick click and read. ⌘+Tab back to VLC. Un-Pause. Good to go.<==     Of course, certain television events practically demand in-progress viewing — cannot-turn-away news events and, yes, some sporting events (though "condensed" recordings can now be acquired after the fact, such as three-plus hour American Football games boiled down to 58 minutes!) — but these have not kept that really big monitor in our flat's central room from looking more and more novel with each passing season. 1994. Televisions were definitively three-dimensional, whereas the scripted programming they delivered to the quivering and drooling masses was two-dimensional at its very best. Which inevitably brings me back to "watching the football". I imagine that as was the case the last time around, La Famille Kessel will ease slowly into 2014 FIFA World Cup action, eventually ramping up interest as the meaning of the games increases (and if France makes a move, as in '06, getting downright rabid about it all). And as that happens our somewhat dusty black Samsung-emblazoned flat-panel Living Room window into the Global Village (clichés flowing thick and furious here at the end) will no doubt once again find its purpose.   1Is there anyone who isn’t German that likes to see Germany win at anything? 🙂

Related posts:

Bad Stuff End User fun stuff media obsolescence travel

Two Hours and 55 Minutes

I have 39 versions of the song “April in Paris” in my digital music library. The earliest recording is an Artie Shaw track from 1940 and the most recent is by Wynton Marsalis from his 1987 “Standards, Volume One” release, with many seminal versions threading in-between, delivered by a staggering array of artists that range from Frank Sinatra to Ella Fitzgerald to Nirvana (OK, that isn’t true…just checking wakefulness out there)…er, Blossom Dearie. Of course, considering “April in Paris”‘s status as a 20th Century classic and the size of my jazz collection, I shouldn’t be surprised that I have 39 versions of the song, and yet seeing them all before me on my monitor (the result of an iTunes search) is really just a couple of steps shy of astonishing.

April in Paris x 39

If 14+ years ago someone had asked me when I first moved to Paris in 1999 (August — not April) “How many versions of “April in Paris” do you have in your music collection?”, I could not have answered the question with any kind of accuracy or authority. Not without taking hours to thumb through my 2000+ CDs with a notepad and pen at hand, anyway.

I never knew the charm of spring
I never met it face to face
I never new my heart could sing
I never missed a warm embrace
End User media travel

Parking Mad

Proper winters on trefor.netIn a moment of bonding with Kid4 we decided to watch some TV together. Unfortunately there was absolutely nowt on the box. We settled on a programme called Parking Mad.

This has to be extreme desperation in TV programming. We wouldn’t have had the problem when there was only BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. In those days we settled for just having to watch repeats rather than total non-programmes. In fact I still like watching the same repeats these days – Dad’s Army for example.

There is an element of local interest in Parking Mad – some of it is filmed in Lincoln. There’s a bit where the mayor is seen cutting a ribbon around a ticket machine in a new car park. Rent a mayor. A mayor will turn up anywhere there is a bit of ribbon, scissors and a camera. It forms part of their balanced scorecard.  KPIs. How many ribbons have been cut in any given month.

The role of mayor is very competitive. Each mayor is measured against his predecessors. How many schools visited, care homes etc. They put a premium on car parks – it’s not often you get a new one opening. Some years you don’t have a single new car park and I can tell you the mayor that year feels really hard done by.

I wouldn’t want you to get the wrong message about Lincoln. It is quite a good place to live really. There’s more to it than car parks though we do of course have our fair share. When we bought our first house it was on Greetwell Gate next to a free car park. As soon as we moved in it changed to a Pay and Display!  Swines.

We used to park on the road in front of the house anyway. These was usually never a problem with this because after we had driven off to work other cars belonging to people working in town would arrive and take our spots. The same thing happened in reverse every evening so we always got the same spot right outside the house.

The one time of year we had a problem was during the Lincoln Christmas Market. All weekend visitors would cruise around looking for a free spot trying to avoid paying. Tight gits. We got to the point of arriving home from work on a Friday and just leaving the cars parked for the whole weekend. Christmas Market weekend is quite boozy anyway so a car is of no use.

We began to have guests coming to stay for the weekend to see the market. On these occasions on the Friday night we would park our own cars really inefficiently so that there wasn’t quite enough space between them to park another. It was fun watching motorists pull up along side the gap and curse the fact that we had parked badly thus depriving them of their spot. When our guests turned up I’d nip out and reverse my car just enough to make room for them to slot in. Saw ted.

Come to Lincoln. We have some nice parks and some good pubs and a mayor who likes to cut ribbons. There’s a lovely cathedral too. You should visit.

Other Lincoln posts

Eleanor Cross for Lincoln – a project of national significance
Eleanor Cross – choosing the stone

Header photo – a bit of Lincoln cathedral.

End User gadgets H/W internet media Mobile mobile apps phones

Gaining Focus

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 the time comes to upgrade (or as my Apple-inebriated friends would likely put it in this case, “mistakenly change”), I have been looking quite fervently at both the HTC One and the Samsung Galaxy S5, both of which have just recenlty seen release and both of which are racking up impressively high numbers with regard to NRP (Number of Reviews Published…my statistic, my acronym, and no amount of search engine pounding will turn it up).

Two weeks ago (week of 31-March) HTC brought their blitz of HTC One M8 promotion to a crescendo that rolled over and straight through the technologically inclined and/or curious, and which resulted in a quantity of review inches more than adequate enough to ensure informed options would set in time to counter the Samsung Galaxy S5 wave that followed last week (week of 7-April). Now, of course, I cannot and will not make such an important relationship decision without first establishing a level playing field upon which I can hinge it, so I have resolved to wait a few weeks…a couple of weeks…at least a week to let all of the new information foster (fester?) within.*

So all of those reviews. Essentially, they boil down pretty straight across party lines (yes, that is a telephony joke…a groaner of a telephony joke but a telephony joke nonetheless).

HTC One M8
Pros: Gorgeous build and design (actually it is more accurate to go All-Caps on GORGEOUS, as this is the overwhelming first-notice feature cited in every one of the product reviews I have read or skimmed or found myself subjected to). The expected high level of display, speed, and functionality. GREAT speakers! “Motion Launch”, which allows the user to perform specific commands with the display off via tap, swipe, or gesture. Better than expected battery life (and a power-saving mode that can be configured to set energy amount parameters).
Cons: Lousy camera. Just awful. Won’t anyone say something nice about the camera? Or, at least, not be so enthusiastic in dinging it?

Samsung Galaxy S5
Pros: Waterproof! Yup, the Galaxy S5 is waterproof, up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1 meter. Terrific screen, camera kudos all around, noticeably great battery life (and the battery can be swapped out as needed, too), storage expandability up to 128GB, health features (a heart rate monitor as part of the on-board hardware won’t keep me from drinking a single Cola-Cola or eating a single chip) significant reduction in the amount of Samsung TouchWiz bloatware from its S4 predecessor, speed and functionality to beat the band, and light.
Cons: Perhaps TOO light, as every reviewer critisizes the S5’s “cheap” feel (at least in comparison to the heavy and shiny smartphones in the arena, all of which suffer phone reception for their metal-enwrapped goodness), the fingerprint scanner is not as smooth as Apple’s Rolls-Royce-aspiring iPhone 5S, and though the TouchWiz bloatware is less than it was on the S4 it is still a proverbial fish-in-a-barrel target for criticism.

So pushing cost/plan out of the equation, I find I am leaning hard towards the Samsung Galaxy S5. I cannot say that I have spent much time wishing I could use my phone in the sea, pool, or shower (and I haven’t found my phone doing a toilet tumble since the days of the Nokia 3310), but what I can say is that I cannot imagine spending ANY time with a smartphone that is camera-lacking. The (at the time) industry-leading camera is what put me in my iPhone 4 back in 2011 to begin with, and as criteria go that function is even more of a decision-maker for me in 2014.

Get the picture?

Yes, there are tens of other KitKat-able phones that warrant consideration along with thes two new goliaths now stomping around, however I did lead with my propensity for grabbing up the latest tech and it doesn’t come any “latest” than the new flagship products from HTC and Samsung. Of course, the fact is that “With Great Popularity Comes Not Only Great Punditry But Great Amounts of Shared Opinion and Technical Insight.” (humblest apologies to Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, both of whom are thankfully still with us as of this writing), so there is that, too.

Engineer media servers

BBC website down – Error 500 – Internal Error

bbc error 500BBC website down

It ain’t often you can’t reach the BBC. They have 700Gbps of connectivity1 to their servers. As one of the world’s foremost media organisations their website will rank as the most robust going.

It comes as a mild surprise therefore to see the error message on the screen in front of me -“Error 500 – Internal Error”. Is the BBC website down? The little clown icon is quite cool and totally in keeping with the creative nature of the BBC. You can almost hear the clown laugh as if this is some macabre late night feature. The audience is spellbound, silently gripping their seats.

The hiccup was over in a moment. It’s one of those glimpses of an event in life that you think back on and wonder if it really happened except that here I have the screenshot.

It isn’t as big deal but my curiosity is aroused and I think to myself it would be quite nice nice to understand what actually happened. What architecture does the BBC use for its website and what caused the error message? It’s one of those things that in real life is not worth wasting time drilling down to a root cause. Still if anyone can chip in it would be nice:)

Note added 20th July. I’m guessing this happened again yesterday as there was a huge spike of visitors to this site with people reading this post around 11am.

Other great Beeb reads:

Tablets shifting our viewing habits
A visit to Broadcasting house
BBC promo int

1 last time I asked.

End User media

BBC drop-in

1xtra_664radio1view_250In at Radio1 the other day, as you do. It’s where all the kids hang out. Not a sign of a suit or tie. It’s on the top floor of Broadcasting House. There’s a helluva view down the middle of the building.

That’s the newsroom at the bottom there. You see those desks through the glass windows behind newsreaders. The newsroom has to be at the bottom because the news is always so heavy. They should have a separate edition where only good news was read out. Life is short…

At Radio1 they have a bit of a display highlighting their good bits. I went round it the wrong way so it didn’t quite flow as perhaps it should have. Ah well.

Whilst I was there I had lunch at the BBC canteen. Gammon, chips and veg with gravy. The mustard dispenser had nearly run out so I had to shake it upside down quite a bit to get the last bit. I didn’t bother letting them know although I should have. Someone else will have done it after me. You can’t have gammon without mustard can you? Also had a bottle of sparkling water. Fwiw.

The reception area wasn’t how I imagined it to be. In my mind it was a small space with a settee and an uniformed porter looking me up and down asking who I was there to see.

Instead it was a large reception area with many settees and lots of people milling round. Lots of programming hours to fill need lots of people. Innit? Can’t keep using the same ones in different shows can you even if they do use wigs and lots of make up? It’s a problem of their own creation. Had they kept the test card  they would have had fewer hours to fill and there are enough repeats is it is. As far as I know.

The people in reception looked normal enough. Nobody in fancy dress. Maybe they didn’t get changed into their outfits until they got to their dressing rooms. Obvious really.

I don’t listen to Radio1 meself btw. It’s gone downhill since my day. They’ve moved all the good stuff onto Radio2 for some reason:).

Didn’t spot any celebs. Expect they were all in the green room guzzling back the gin and champagne. It’s also a problem that I probably wouldn’t recognise many celebs anyway. Not my problem. Love.

Had I seen a celeb I wouldn’t have a picture to show you. That wouldn’t have been cool. I leave that sort of thing to the Japanese and American tourists who not being from round ‘ere may not have recognised them either but wouldn’t have let that get between them and a good photo opportunity. “Dear Hank/Yoshi1 Here’s me with an A-Z2 lister. Love Mildred/Sushi3

That’s it. Got a few more pics especially a long one like the one on the right but of the outside showing the famous BBC sign. However I don’t think I can sustain enough of a dialogue to run the length of a second long photo so I’ll hold that back for another idle moment when I’ve woken up early and popped downstairs to do stuff.

Ciao amigos. Pinch and a punch…

PS Why was I there? Keep watching:)
PPS That’s my new Osprey bag on my shoulder

1,2,3As usual delete as you see fit.

End User media

Radio – Sitting In

“Lily Allen sounds crap and uninterested”, said my wife as she listened to BBC Radio 2.

A few weeks previously I’d heard Dermot O’leary saying that Lily Allen would be sitting in for him while he went on a filming trip, “or she will be,” he said, “if she ever answers the phone to my producer!” Maybe an early sign that this whole thing might have been a hindrance for her, rather than a privilege to be broadcasting on the most popular radio station in the UK.

I’ve listened back to that program on the mainly brilliant, yet occasionally frustrating BBC iplayer Radio Android App, and I don’t think it was as bad as my wife made out. Sure,

broadband dns Engineer engineering internet ipv6 media Net peering

Experiences of Launching a Broadband IXP in North America #peeringweek @LINX_Network

LINX Head of Marketing and Business Development Ben Hedges shares his experiences launching a broadband IXP in a Peering Week guest post.

The opportunity to co-host the 24th Euro-IX forum in the UK has come along at what is a very exciting time for LINX. It’s our 20th year and this event comes shortly after us opening two brand new IXPs; IXScotland in Edinburgh and LINX NoVA in North Virginia, USA.

With LINX NoVA being our first overseas exchange there has been a lot of attention worldwide for what we’ve been building in the States. In this blog I will look to explain the background as to why we’re doing what we’re doing and why we believe this is an important development for LINX and its members plus the peering industry as a whole.

End User media

Not So Madchester

I’ve just caught up with the inaugural BBC Radio 6 Music Festival, held last weekend at Victoria Warehouse in Manchester, a city that is to music, what London is to making money.

I hope that next year they hold it somewhere else because something didn’t work and it wasn’t the bands. It was the audience. They didn’t turn up. Not that it was empty, just that those that were there appeared to be stood around in a contemplative stance with folded arms. Was this really the city that inspired rave culture?

You might argue that this is

Engineer media

Snowflakes, snowdrops and YouTube streaming formats – signs of spring in deepest winter

Worked from home yesterday. Weather was pants. Didn’t really matter. I lit a nice coal fire and sat in the front room doing stuff.

Here’s a vid of the snow falling in my back garden. It didn’t stick. The noise is water falling off the tree above the conservatory roof.

This morning I went for a swim and then walked down to the office. I vary my route and today’s took me past the old graveyard in Park Street. It was bitterly cold though that didn’t matter moving along at a briskish pace.

The graveyard was covered in snowdrops. Most of the gravestones have lain flat for years and are covered in moss or lichen. The prominent exception is the one in the  photo which is more of a tomb-like structure.

snowdrops in graveyard

Very poignant I thought. A symbol of death in the depths of winter surrounded by new growth and optimism.

That is all.

PS Good word, briskish.

PPS YouTube was playing up a bit this morning – had to load the video twice. Also the video was taken using an Android phone (SGS4) but YouTube told me processing would be quicker if the file format used (mp4) was compatible with their recommended streaming codecs (mp4!).

I know someone is going to come along now and tell me it was a specific flavour of mp4 with green spots and chilli spice topping.

YouTube message re streaming format

chromebook Engineer media video webrtc

Bandwidth use for Google Hangouts #WebRTC

Was on a WebRTC conference call this morning. I was calling from the Chrome browser in my Chromebook. Volume could have been slightly louder but the quality of the call was terrific. All I did was click on a link and hey presto. I’ll tell you more about it in due course.

We chatted for over half an hour. It wasn’t video as the other participants were using standard SIP phones. We were hooked up through a WebRTC gateway in the (good ole) US of A.

One on the subjects that came up was bandwidth use of video streams when making WebRTC calls. Using a gateway minimises the amount of processing that you have to do locally and also cuts down on the internet bandwidth you need.

Google Hangouts apparently use your laptop/local device to do the video mixing and thus you need more i/o bandwidth. Google tells us that for person to person video hangout the min bandwidth required is 256kbps/512kbps (up/down) and ideally for the best experience 1Mbps/2.5Mbps).

For calls with more than 2 persons the ideal scenario changes to 900kbps/2Mbps. This means that many people living with poor quality ADSL connections will not be able to properly experience the power of Google Hangouts.

It also explains why calls at weekends (that’s when we hangout) to my daughter at Durham University are also poor quality. It has been known for four of us kids to be on the hangout – one in Durham and three in separate rooms in the house in Lincoln (me and the two lads still at home).  We have 7Mbps up in our house but in Durham it is an ADSL connection shared between four in a student house.

Shame really. For the want of a few quid more on the broadband line it could be much better. Students however are always skint and conserve the cash and we should recognise that they are representative of many people in the UK.

With time everyone will be on a faster broadband connection but for the moment, and I know I’m quite likely to get noises of agreement (or maybe just the occasional assenting nod) from readers in rural areas, many still have to live with limitations of their internet connection.

Mind you I’m all right Jack:)

That’s all.

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.

End User gadgets media Weekend

Sony 4KUltra HD TV KD-55X9005A and XBox1 Console sales

Sony_4k_UltraHD_TV_KD-55X9005A4k_Ultra_HD_TVContinuing with the weekend posts I swung by PC World and Currys. Looking for a speaker system to add a bit of richness of experience to the Chromecast we installed last week. PC World hardly has anything – they are moving back to their computing roots.

Currys is where it is at for thispricing for Sony 4K Ultra HD KD55X9005 kind of stuff. I was unnaturally thrilled to come across this Sony 4K Ultra HD TV (the good old KD-55X9005A). A snip at £3,299. OK it is a nice TV. The picture quality was great. However £3,299 puts it in the more money than sense bracket. Since when has that been a problem for the multi-millionaire looking to impress the bloke in the next mansion.

I imagine that the promo video it was playing on the loop was one of the few bits of content you could get for it. Apparently you get 8 “free” Blu-ray discs to watch when you buy the TV.  I managed to find 10 movies available in 4K format on one site and 11 on another – all Blu-ray. I’m sure there will be more.

It is early days for 4k TVs. Of course prices will come down. However I may be wrong but I can’t imagine that Currys will sell many this Christmas. If you are going to blow the dough you might as well buy the Bose sound bar for three hundred quid. Great offer.

xbox1 console sold outThe XBox1 console on the other hand is a different kettle of anchovies. If you ain’t planned ahead on this one you’re not going to be taking it home from the Lincoln Currys store, nosireebob.

Currys look as if they were caught by surprise with the rush because they have had to scribble a quick sign guaranteed to disappoint the eager gamer looking to upgrade his or her experience for the festive season.

Can’t understand why you’d want it meself but I don’t think I’m representative.

I leave you with a video taken of the TVs in Currys Lincoln. I am easily impressed and thought that the splendid array of colour was very nice.

Ciao beb.

Apps End User gadgets media

Chromecast – a second review

chromecast setupHaving read Terry Hughes’ Chromecast review I eventually got round to rushing out (metaphorically) and buying one from Amazon. It was forty two quid or so ($35 in the USA) but the cheaper ones involved longer shipping from the States or an additional postage charge so ripped up the budget and clicked.

The Chromecast is now installed and in use. I have some observations:

  1. You have to actually physically switch on the Chromecast dongle – it doesn’t just power up in the “on” state
  2. Installation from Chromebook didn’t work. I don’t know why. I moved on to do it from the S4.
  3. Installation from my Android was very simple. I guess this is it’s core use market/scenario (if that’s the right phrase)chromecast ready
  4. The dongle sits nicely and unobtrusively at the back of the TV and is powered by the USB port of the TV (didn’t realise I had one but now I do – phew – Anne would have complained if there was another dangling cable)
  5. It is very easy to use. In my case I just selected HDMI2 input and hey presto…
  6. It is also easy to “cast” content onto the TV from your phone – there is a small icon to select inside the app view.
  7. Now this is where it starts to get interesting. You can use Chromecast to stream movies, music, YouTube and Netflix. I only use YouTube to store the occasional vid for use in embedding in this blog – as in this post for example. I have no interest whatsoever in Netflix content – though many others must be as it takes up a significant chunk of ISP bandwidth. I have no movies to stream (and rarely watch them anyway – 90mins?!) and all my music is on my phone.
  8. chromecast musicThe latter point is definitely interesting. This is all about driving traffic into the cloud. In moving operations to Google Apps, Chromebook and cloud storage I began the process of shifting my music to Google Music (or whatever it’s called) but I stopped for some reason. I think it might have been because it involved entering my credit card details. Obviously Google wants to make it easy for me to buy more music.
  9. Currently any music I buy is in CD format and I then upload it to my phone. In my new cloudy ecosystem I may have to rethink this. Although I like having a CD in its case to touch and feel this might be because I’ve grown up with that experience. My kids think nothing of buying music from iTunes and never having a “hard copy”.
  10. Chromecast is likely to change my habits here. I had already been thinking of buying a surround sound system for the TV room and this may top the balance in its favour.
  11. I will also say that I was astonished at the quality of HD streaming on our TV. Although the TV is HD “ready” we have never had an input source to supply the HD – no Blueray, no Sky, no Virgin etc. The HD footage I took with my Samsung Galaxy S4 – this ride on Stephenson’s Rocket for example, was really good quality full screen 1080p on our 42″ box (flat panel).
  12. It was also very easy for multiple users to take advantage of the Chromecast. One of the kids came home from a music rehearsal and had downloaded the App and got it working in seconds. The kids are much bigger users of YouTube than I and he was streaming jazz videos in no time, (until his mum wanted to watch the news).

In conclusion – Chromecast – very easy to set up and use, obviously aimed at delivering content from the cloud, and could well move my music listening to streaming from that cloud. It’s all driving bandwidth use. Onwards and upwards.

I note Phil’s comment re waste of space. It does need to support more apps. I didn’t try seeing if I could surf using it but I suspect not – it would have been more in my face. Rewind – just noticed this icon in Chrome – not tested it but looks positive.

Update on casting from Chrome browser here.

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

Engineer media

29% of USA ISP traffic is Netflix

Interesting talk from Nina Bargisen of Netflix. What surprised me was the chart she showed of the main traffic drivers on ISP networks in the USA. Netflix comes out top, representing 29% of all traffic carried by ISPs in the US. YouTube is only 15% of traffic with http coming third at 11%.

The thing to consider here is that as people move to higher quality video -3D,  Super HD, Ultra HD (4k) and ultimately 8k format the percentage of traffic that is video is clearly going to grow. Also clear is that this move to higher bandwidth video is going to seriously drive bandwidth requirements – both in operator networks and at the home broadband level.

Netflix recommend that you need 12Mbps bandwidth to carry 3D and between 5 and 7 (optimally) for Super HD. In the UK you would therefore be able to stream one 3D video or two Super HD, assuming an average download bandwidth of 14Mbps. 4k video will need 15Mbps per stream.

If for the sake of argument we assume that Netflix and YouTube represent all the video traffic in the USA then as 4k comes on stream and the bandwidth required to support it therefore doubles then video could well end up at almost 90% of all internet traffic. I realise that other applications will also grow their bandwidth needs but I don’t think I’m a million miles off the mark.

It’s coming folks. Better get your broadband speeded up. Pic below is of the chart shown by Nina at the conference.

PS no idea why people watch TV – the only good stuff on is Time Team and Storage Hunters and I’ve already seen Mary Poppins quite a few times.

USA ISP traffic statschart courtesy of Netflix and Sandvine


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, 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


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.


Streams Android to a big TV

Works with MAC, PC’s, Tablets

Easy to setup and transport

Cheapest media adapter



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.


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.

Engineer media

Atmospheric problems with radio this am – DAB & FM noise

I woke up this morning, my radio sounded bad, oh yea! It’s true. Radio4 DAB sounded very crackly. I switched to FM and it was OK. I tweeted about it.

By return of tweet I found out that others had the same problem. I’ve just slotted in the tweets below. They aren’t necessarily in the correct chronological order because different people were responding to different tweets at different times but it certainly shows that there would appear to be a problem. Radio4 FM was also noisy in the car on the way in to work.

We periodically have problems with DAB which on reflection I would never swap in preference to  FM. It’s only benefit is that you can get more channels. If anyone can explain what is going on in the airwaves then please feel free to comment.

Rural Broadband @RuralBroadband_

Large amount of radio disruption in West Norfolk this morning. Woke to a German radio station rather than the local one! #Funkstörungen

tref @tref

@RuralBroadband_ DAB rubbish here in lincoln. Wonder what’s occurin

Adrian Wooster @awooster

@tref @RuralBroadband_ Oxfordshire also – Radio 4 & 5 impossible to listen to in the car

Rural Broadband @RuralBroadband_

@awooster @tref Time to get radio apply and listen on 3G and mobile phone.

@RuralBroadband_ @tref Except I’m now on a train with no wifi and very limited 3g but the FM in my phone still works

Business media online safety

Maria Miller ISP Safety Summit

PortcullisThere’s been a lot in the news about the Government’s Safety Summit where a number of consumer  ISPs and online entities (such as Google) have been asked to attend a meeting to discuss how they can do more to prevent people accessing illegal online child abuse material.

Sometimes when this kind of news hits our screens I don’t bother to comment. It seems like every man and bonzo gets their word in.

It is worth however emphasising a point made this morning by The Today Programme on BBC Radio4 which was that there are two issues here. One is accessing illegal child abuse material and the other is preventing children accessing legal pornography.

Access to illegal online child abuse material is totally wrong and the ISP industry already works to stop accidental access to this stuff via the Internet Watch Foundation which produces a list of sites to be blocked. Most of these sites reside outside the UK and really it needs a concerted global Government effort to take them down. They should discuss it at this week’s G8 Leaders’ Summit.

Consumer ISPs have measures in place to block access to these sites where they are known. However the nature of the internet being what it is all that these measures do is to prevent someone accidentally landing on an illegal page. The determined sicko will easily find a way around the blocks. Interesting to note the BBC report that the Government has actually cut funding in the area of online child protection (CEOP).

There may be a discussion to be had with Google and other search engines (are there any others?) re how they themselves prevent illegal material coming up in search results but it seems to me that the real issue here is how we identify the sites so that they can be included in the IWF list and ultimately taken down.

The issue of how to prevent kids accessing porn is totally separate.

Business media

The changing entry level job market

My oldest offspring Tom yesterday joined the ranks of the employed. He is working as a traffic announcer on BBC Radio Oxford. It’s what he has wanted to do since he was 15. Not announce the traffic on BBC Oxford. Work in the radio business.

The trigger point came when he went on a school trip to the Lincolnshire Show. The BBC tent had a competition for kids to do a sports commentary. He won. He was hooked. I was in London at the time. He rang me up and told me he was no longer interested in becoming a vet but instead was going to do a degree in media studies and go to work for the BBC. The idea of having a media luvvie as a son took a bit of getting used to although it did have the side benefit in that he lost interest in keeping hamsters, gerbils and rabbits that were a pain to look after.

So since the age of 15 Tom has spent all his waking hours working in radio. He had various shows on Lincoln local community radio station Siren FM and helped out at BBC Radio Lincolnshire where at the age of 18 he broadcast his own 1 hour show on yoof matters in which he interviewed Feargal Sharkey about music piracy.  At Warwick University  all his free time, and there was a lot of it (History & Politics), was spent working on media projects.  Working with uni radio station RaW FM  he won a number of National Student Radio Awards.

Tom has lived and breathed radio for six years and his hard work has now earned him the reward of a first step on the ladder in the real world. I am a proud dad.

Next up. I am on the Industrial Panel of Bangor University School of Engineering.