It’s hotting up here at UKNOF30 in Bishopsgate. We are deep the heart of the City of London and the place smells of money. Witness the scene that meets you as you walk into the local Tesco express: a large display of champagne – see the featured image. Times are clearly not hard around here.
Anyway I’m going to serve you with the occasional ad hoc snippet live from the meeting. We’ve had the intros from Keith and now it’s Tim Rossiter from Sky talking about their new core network.
It’s interesting how people that don’t work in the technology business just have no idea about a lot of the buzzwords we use. It takes years of experience to get to grips with some of the acronyms. In fact my very first
I was writing something yesterday (keep your eyes out on Monday) and dropped CLI into the text. One of the developers in the office proof read what I had written and asked what CLI meant.
Well I told him and resolved to modify the text to mention Caller Line Identification. It felt I was really dumbing down but actually most people don’t have a clue what most tech acronyms mean.
Line card, CLI, VOIP, even ADSL. Most people will call ADSL traditional broadband as opposed to fibre broadband. People do call a router a router although they have no idea what a router does. It’s what the ISP calls the box they send their customers.
Tech has to be dumbed down big time for people to even come close to understanding it. This is evident from the fact that when someone complained that the use of the words fibre broadband to describe FTTC was misleading as the term gave people the impression that it was fibre all the way to the house whereas we all know it isn’t.
It was either Ofcom or the ASA (another acronym) who threw it out saying that it didn’t matter that fibre broadband was part copper because people just associated it with a certain speed of broadband.
We don’t all agree with this of course but there again most of us, and most readers of this blog, probably understand all the tech terms to the extent that I often don’t bother explaining things. I just say “google it”.
Anyway in answer to the question what’s a network card? It’s usually a physical interface and a MAC function. Simples really…
The aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo murders has lead to goverment and opposition calling for more internet surveillance. Here are a few points for your consideration.
Storing this data will inevitably result in it being hacked, left on a train/taxi on a laptop/memory stick and details of a government minister affair with another MP being made public. Example here (29 Jan 2015)
The overhead associated with having to gather and store the data in a secure way will be proportionally huge compared to the size of the business and to the number of customers for smaller ISPs. This will result in the government deciding not to force these businesses to store the information and settle just for the biggest 7 ISPs aka the Digital Economy Act. The consequence will be that potential terrorists will just use these smaller ISPs for their internet services leaving a big hole in the “surveillance net”
The resources required to make this happen will be huge. The French government already knew about the Charlie Hebdo killers. They just lacked the feet on the street to keep tabs on them. Diverting staff to managing the data gathering project will mean even fewer feet on the street or divert cash from adding more feet.
The technical challenges with managing sender and receiver data for email clients is not small due to the hundreds of different clients out there with non standard formats.
Most email is in any case encrypted these days and is run on platforms that are not necessarily owned by UK businesses. The difficulties associated with extracting these data will not be small (if not impossible). Ditto social media platforms.
Forcing these platforms to provide a back door into the encrypted data (assuming it will be doable) will erode trust in areas of the economy that also rely on such encryption such as banking and ecommerce.
Businesses will move away from the UK. It will be the start of the rot and leave us with a reputation akin to China et all when it comes to “surveillance society”.
Terrorists will move deeper into darknets and continue to kill innocent people.
On balance I’d spend the money on more feet on the street.
The rush to call for the snooper’s charter to be implemented would result in a bad law that will not have had adequate scrutiny. My wife and one of the kids were in the audience during last night’s BBC Question Time filmed in Lincoln’s Drill Hall. I watched despite it being well after my bedtime.
None of the panellists or the audience really had a grasp on the issues which reflects its highly complex nature. It’s very easy for MPs to support this type of legislation. Most right minded people will agree that it’s a good thing to stop terrorism. It’s just that they don’t understand the implications.
You will all be aware that society publications such as OK Magazine, Allright, Hello and Hiya major on publishing photos of as many people as they can to guarantee that someone buys them. They at least get as many sales as people in the pics.
Well we’re a bit like that at trefor.net, the Xmas bash being an example. This is not always the case though. Sometimes we go for sheer artistic merit.
On this occasion the background for said art is the Court Room 7 St Andrew Street and the venue of the Lonap AGM 2014. In 2015. St Andrew Street is so called after the church of that name and the Court Room looked as if it might be the vestry or simlar. Very nice room it was.
I only have two pictures for you. One is of Warwicknet’s Steve Glendinning praying. Those of you who know Steve will attest that he is a very spiritual man. Steve, Steve, Steve, praying isn’t going to stop that network problem 🙂 Note the LONAP phone chargers and biros on the tables. No expense spared us.
The second photo is simply surreal. Paul Thornton is sat in a highly meditative pixiesque position in the fireplace. What goes Paul? Course I might have suggested he sat there – for the art and the subsequent publicity:) (fwiw).
If you want to know what goes on at a LONAP AGM and the subsequent social why not sign up. It’s a terrific organisation to be part of with serious engineering and business benefits for your own company.
Last Thursday night the UK internet industry got together in London for trefbash2014, the 5th Annual trefbash. This one was better than ever with Radio2’s Alex Lester putting in a personal appearance and the Adforesight photo booth being a real hit (see live picture gallery).
I’m sure there is lots more to be said but for the now I’ll just leave you with the output of the official photographer. Note the colours. Most people really entered into the spirit of the beach party theme and the only exceptions were where the shirt hadn’t been delivered in time or people had afternoon business meetings to attend
IXLeeds 4 is on this Thursday – that’s the day after tomorrow
If you’ve been umming and ahing about going umm and ahh no more. The IX Leeds people are a great crowd and they put on terrific meetings. They do of course have the benefit of AQL’s conference centre at Salem Chapel which again, if you haven’t been to you need to go.
These meetings are attended by a wide range of engineering types including people who are real experts in their subject. Their beauty lies in the fact that everyone is very approachable – you could be sat having coffee with someone who turns out to be very handy for advice when it comes to solving your latest problem/pointing you at suitable suppliers etc.
Having spoken at a previous IXLeeds I can tell you that the audience is very receptive and asks highly intelligent questions so you’re going to learn stuff you hadn’t considered before turning up.
The other great aspect of the meetings is the post conference social. These are usually very generously supported and the pubs around the Salem Chapel are great. Moreover they are a short walk from Leeds train station so it is easy to get in and out. IXLeeds 4 is an afternoon job – the agenda is here.
I was last at the Salem Chapel for EuroIX earlier this year. The output was a load of guest posts which can be viewed here:
I expect quite a few of the guest authors to be at IXLeeds 4 so tap them on the shoulder and say hello.
That’s the plug for IXLeeds 4 over and done with. I guess we are coming up to the party season with conferences supplemented with socials. I will be at the ITSPA Christmas Lunch this week and of course next week is the culmination of the season with #trefbash2014. If you’re coming see you there. If not there is always next year:)
Deceased, kaput, no longer of this world – dead Chromebook motherboard
It is with a tinge of no real sadness that I present to you an image of a dead Chromebook motherboard. The Samsung Chromebook too is dead, on account of the non functioning motherboard.
It wasn’t a huge loss because these things are so cheap they are almost disposable. And disposing of it I am indeed doing. The dismembering of the Chromebook, I hesitate to call it a computer because that makes me think Microsoft, has been done for two reasons.
Firstly out of simple curiosity to see what it looks like inside. Secondly although I didn’t keep much data on the 16GB solid state drive there would have been some files of I know not what provenance and so it seemed to make sense to permanently delete this memory. Just what you would have done in the old hard drive days but slightly different.
As you can see the ssd now has a nail in it, driven firmly in by my handy Leatherman Multi-tool. No one should be without one.
The dead Chromebook motherboard itself is worth dwelling on. It’s diminutive nature represents beauty and the plastic shell in which it was mounted, consisting mostly of screen, keyboard and a couple of speakers, evidence of how cheap these things really are to churn out.
It is the future. Low cost, disposable computing resource and User Interface.
I include an earlier photo of the dead Chromebook motherboard for comparison together with
IXScotland4 is happening on Monday 1st December, in Scotland. If you’ve never been to Scotland it’s a great time of year to go. Whisky tastes a heck of a lot better when it’s ‘orribly cold and wet out there. Oh and dark.
Only joking. 55 people from 36 organisations have so far registered to attend. Its a good level of interest considering IXScotland’s membership currently numbers 13. It’s also fair going for what is still a nascent operation carrying on average below 40Mbps of traffic. At that level of bandwidth there’s a long way to go.
However go it will. The policy of opening regional exchanges is a good one. What’s the point of hauling traffic hundreds of miles and back again when a short cable under (or over) a corridor will do. Peering exchanges are all about the customer experience. Speed. Adjacency. Networks connecting at IX Scotland will be providing their customers with the best possible internet connections. People do notice these things1.
Traffic will grow and having the exchange there will also encourage this. The UK has a number of regional exchanges, ie those outside of London. IX Leeds is independent but LINX operates IXPs in Scotland, Cardiff and Manchester. A regional IXP will normally need some kind of support to get it going be it from the membership, local government or as is the case in Scotland, LINX.
The model doesn’t necessarily work everywhere. It really needs a carrier neutral POP. A town where there are lots of independent datacentres would have each datacentre wanting to host the IXP with the others reluctant to participate as it would look as if they were supporting their competitor.
You can find the agenda here. An interesting afternoon in prospect. LINX tell me there will be more on their recent pricing announcement plus “A major provider of anycast DNS services is about to set up a node at IXScotland.” Oo. Wonder who it could be:).
Of particular interest is the panel debate:
How do we improve connectivity in Scotland? Panel will consist of representatives of Scottish government, commercial and community broadband access provision in Scotland, content provision in Scotland.
This is an universal question that could be the subject of discussion anywhere. Scotland of course probably has a significantly higher proportion of beautiful open countryside that is the root of the problem connectivity problem. It’s a dilemma.
Anyway if you fancy a trip to bonnie Scotland in December this is your chance. See you there? Also read loads of great peering contributions in our peering category here. Och aye.
1I had occasion to look up a website in Liberia recently. Took minutes to load a small 90 seconds promo video. I subsequently found out that the only connectivity in to Liberia were 16E1s vi satellite link. It’s an extreme comparison but people fast connectivity is becoming increasingly important.
Openreach engineering visit fixes one fault and finds another
The doorbell rang yesterday just after lunch. It was an Openreach engineer. Good news. He had come to fix our phone line. I wasn’t expecting him but there again wasn’t going to turn him away.
Out phone line has been jiggered since Saturday. It’s ok as the broadband was still working fine and the only persons that call us on our home phone are scammers and my mother in law. In one sense that was a bit of a result although funnily enough that was not my wife’s view on the situation.
The fibre to the cabinet connection only needs one wire but the phone needs a pair so it is quite possible for one to continue working without the other.
So the engineer turns up and does a few tests both inside and outside the house and proceeds to find two faults. One is the one on the ticket which turns out to be a short circuit somewhere in the house (hoover bashed the socket!?). We fix that by just disconnecting that socket.
The other, which was a bonus, hasn’t been fixed yet and relates to a mismatch between the impedance profile on the two wires, or something along those lines. I wasn’t totally listening.
Our telephone wiring has been butchered about no end of times over the years so it comes as no surprise that there is a fault. It all started when I got so annoyed with BT that I ordered a second line and had a second ADSL line installed with a different provider. Funnily enough after getting the second line put in I got a sales call from BT trying to sell me broadband.
Having two lines coming in to the house has confused things from time to time especially when one of them was no longer in use. During one Openreach engineering visit a couple of years ago the engineer reused one of the spare wires from the second line to fix a fault in the first. This I think is where this current problem lies.
I’m not getting involved. Just leave it to the Openreach engineers who are actually quite a competent bunch of lads. Their (openly stated) problem lies in the fact that the whole copper network is just a pile of cack and it’s a difficult job to stay on top of the faults.
BT do from time to time make announcements to the fact that they are taking on more engineers (go to BT jobs pages here if you are looking around). The time may well come that the cost of maintaining the ageing network will outweigh the cost of rolling out fibre everywhere.
It’s gonna be a while. The only way I can see it happening short term is if we all go out and steal the copper lines. If the whole network was pinched then it would probably make sense to replace it all with fibre. Glass is cheaper than copper. Please don’t try this one at home though. It was merely a throwaway jocular remark intended to raise a smile. It was not intended to be genuine guidance for the frustrated home owner looking for reliability and genuinely high speeds in their broadband connections. Also it would be illegal. You have been warned!
Anyway back to my outstanding fault and the Openreach Engineering visit. My broadband speeds have been a bit up and down of late. I’ve been reluctant to raise a fault as I’d be getting in to a maze of engineering no shows and the possibility that they wouldn’t find a fault anyway as the problem is intermittent. Also it’s not helped by the fact that whenever I do a speed test using one of the network ports in the kitchen it runs at the correct speed. I just didn’t fancy wasting hours trying to improve the home wifi performance.
So I’ve been burying my head in the sand and avoiding the issue. Now thanks to the inadvertent discovery during my other Openreach engineering visit the problem may get sorted. Yay.
Don’t forget you are all invited to the trefor.net xmas bash. When the tickets are gone they are gone.
With only 24 days to go until #trefbash2014 the excitement is building.
Well it is in the trefor.net offices anyway. #trefbash2014 is the culmination of the business year, after which it is very hard to get much done. Usually the next few days are a write off.
This year we have pro teams on the photography and on video production. We also have a fantastic interactive “facility” which you can only find out about on the night. Sgonna be good though.
We are also for the first time having a fantastic one off charity auction and I hope to be in a position to post a photo of the prize this coming Friday. It’s something you will be proud to have on display in your company reception:) We will also have a special guest star there to present the prize to the winning bidder. Tune in Friday to find out more.
122 people have signed up so far which is roughly par for the course with three and a half weeks to go. Last year we had around 180 turn up. All the Surf Bum tickets have gone. This ticket seemed to strike a chord with people. Cold Beer Billy tickets are about to sell out and then it’s neck and neck between Lifeguard and Coconut Delight. Beach Bartender seems to be least popular. Don’t worry. You won’t be expected to serve drinks.
The accessories have now been ordered. Well it is a beach party. What will the best dressed beach party goer be wearing this year?
If you still want to get your brand up there on the night it is still not too late. We have commissioned a special video that will be running all night, interrupted only by our special interactive feature. Lots of exposure and recognition opportunities.
We now have a menu:
Main Course Hot Fork Buffet
Hot and Spicy Jerk Chicken
Steak and Black Pepper Burger
Creole Fish Curry
Ian the chef at the Phoenix Artist Club is a top operator. Knows that engineers have sophisticated tastes but also like a few carbs to soak up the champagne. I’m ordering the champagne next week. Last year we went though over 80 bottles!
If you are planning on coming but haven’t yet signed up get yer names down here. More deets here on the blog.
Just had a quick phone call from my mate Terry that almost gave me a mild orgasm. Years ago we worked at a company called Marconi Electronic Devices (MEDL) in Lincoln. I ran the radiation hard components product line and Terry was the chief designer. Terry reminded me of the Rosetta spacecraft parts manufactured in Lincoln.
We used a technology called Silicon on Sapphire (SOS). This was manufactured just like a normal silicon chip/semiconductor except that the substrate was Sapphire, an insulation material. SOS was extremely resistant to the effects of the radiation that satellites encounter in space and was therefore in great demand for many projects.
They were halcyon days. I’d get trips to glamorous locations all over the world working on exciting projects. These projects still come back to roost from time to time as they are all long term missions – Space is a very big place.
The last one to surface was the Cassini mission which landed a probe on Titan, one of Saturn’s moons. We made the spacecraft processor for the Titan lander. It was a 3 MIP 32 bit processor called the MA31750 – used the old Mil Std 1750A software instruction set.
Although the company is now long gone and wasn’t really a great employer the people were terrific. I still have some SOS wafers containing 31750 die at home. If I remember I’ll take some photos. They’re in the attic somewhere.
We also made memory chips (64KB) and other peripherals – the idea being that you could design the whole processor board using our parts.
It opened doors all over the world. I met astronaut Buzz Aldrin and even went along to Moscow by invitation of the VP of the Russian Space Agency to give a talk – in front of Russia’s top space scientist. Also did a talk at CERN for scientists working on the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) project which has been in the news of late.
Now we have Rosetta. It’s hugely funky to be able to say I was part of that project. I have loads of stories from that time but I feel as if you’ve indulged me enough.
If I can dig out more on the Rosetta electronics I’ll share it.
Purely coincidentally Terry and I went to see the Rosetta Stone in the British Museum on Tuesday morning after the Albert Hall Pylons Gig. Cool stuff 🙂
Using Slack Instant Messaging for our LONAP communications
Just trying out Slack Instant Messaging for now. My first reaction when one of the boys suggested it was “oh no, not another IM system. Why can’t we just use hangouts, or messenger, or anything we already have.”
I’ve changed my mind. Having a system that is essentially private for one company is great. I get notifications on my Android when a Slack IM comes in. Normally I check my mail for LONAP messages but only do it periodically. We don’t use gmail which is my normal platform for everything else.
I also have slack for my Chromebook. It’s a web based service so no plugin. At least not one that I am using. I can enable desktop notifications but have happily left this switched off as I prefer the notifications to come in on my phone. I do like the fact that you can choose keywords for alerts.
It’s generally early days for us with Slack but the omens are good. We are expecting it to turn us into a more responsive organisation. It’s all about serving our members 🙂 We are a very distributed team all working remotely so good comms are essential.
If you don’t know or haven’t been following recent posts, LONAP is an Internet Exchange Point that connects eyeball networks with content providers. We have some major global names as members: Twitter, Google, Netflix etc.
There is a good chance that if you are using social media in the UK you are reaching it via LONAP which has a great reputation as being a network run by engineers for engineers.
As far as Slack goes I have been a user of Instant Messaging almost from the start and have grown sceptical as to whether anyone needs a new service. There seem to be loads of them all over the place.
My mind has been changed, by Slack. I’ll still use Facebook to chat to the kids and Hangouts for the trefor.net businesses but where LONAP is concerned, Slack Instant Messaging it is.
RIPE69 social sponsored by LINX on their 20th birthday
Whoever said the conference game is a nice little cushy few days out of the office has clearly never been to one. RIPE69 is in London this week and has an action packed schedule. There is very little downtime.
This is partly because as soon as the day’s official business is over the official unofficial business begins, in the bar. These events are big budget gigs and most evenings there is a social of some kind. A social for the 600 people attending RIPE69 is no small organisational challenge and comes with no small price tag.
Last night’s social was at the Jewel Bar in Picadilly Circus. Jewel directly opposite the tube entrance and was a very easy hop from the conference venue at the Novotel in Hammersmith. RIPE69 also coincides with LINX’s 20th birthday and LINX last night were very generous sponsoring the evening. The internet runs on beer and LINX have done a very good job in organising a number of parties during the year to demonstrate leadership in this space.
Last night was such a big event in the London party calendar that it attracted a number of A-listers. The featured image shows me with Prince Harry. You can see he was surprisingly bashful about having his photo taken with me. Don’t worry. I was able to keep the conversation going.
Being a quiet living type I left before the end to make sure I caught the last tube home. Not everyone was as sensible. A number of walking dead have been seen around the @lonap sponsored coffee station injecting espresso directly into their veins.
I don’t recommend this method of revival. Far better to make yourself get up early and go for a 5 mile run. Clears the head in no time. Never done it meself but I do hear it works wonders:).
Today is only Wednesday. There are three more days of RIPE69 to go!!!
As we are talking about working hard and playing hard I’ll take this opportunity to remind readers that they are invited to #trefbash2014. Link here password is “friendoftref”.
You have to hand it to our industry. Whenever I go to a conference the WiFi internet access is usually terrific. On this occasion at the Novotel in Hammersmith we have 600 or so engineers crammed into a meeting room. That’s a lot of folk using the internet whilst listening to the talks – most people have their laptops open, just like I have when typing this post.
600 people needs quite a hefty network. In this case you only have to look under the tables to find out how they do it (see featured image).
I’m currently getting 50Megs down and 62 Megs up. Happy days. RIPE69 is my first RIPE meeting. I can’t see it being my last!
An overview of consumer ISP traffic management policies
ISP traffic management in which some types of traffic may be prioritised over others has been the subject of an ongoing debate. This is particularly the case amongst the Internet Telephony Service Provider (ITSP) communities but also elsewhere. NetNeutrality is the issue (look it up) and is extensively covered on this blog.
This post is a simple one. It takes a look at the biggest six ISPs, tells you if they traffic manage and provides a link to the ISP’s own pages on the subject.
It is generally the case that if an ISP does traffic manage they generally prioritise time sensitive packets such as VoIP and gaming. Traditionally this has been done to save bandwidth costs at peak times. However I will say that if TalkTalk who are traditionally seen as a pile it high sell it cheap ISP who you might think would need to conserve bandwidth costs, can manage without traffic management, so to speak then there should no reason why all the others can’t follow suit. BT and Sky (mostly) do.
It could be down to their having older core networks that require investment but I can’t say for sure. Whatever the reason, bandwidth is cheap and ISP traffic management needs to be seen only in the rear view mirror. It is outdated.
This does to a certain extent come down to scale. The bigger your network the cheaper the bandwidth on a per unit basis. 1Gig connectivity is more expensive per gig that 10Gig etc etc etc
If you need more details on ISP traffic management click on the links in the table. Lots more stuff also on this blog here.
LONAP members and prospective members are invited to a LONAP lunch at WHD local London in the Strand on Friday 10th October.
This is a rescheduling of one I wrote earlier. Following on from LONAP director Will Hargrave’s talk at last year’s WHD local London I am heading there myself (fwiw) on Friday October 10th to do a talk entitled “Under the hood of the internet – how peering helps with your end user experience”. I’m on at 11.35.
Tickets for the show are free and there is what could be quite an interesting line up (see below – some are salesey but there is enough interest there I think).
This is a bit of free publicity for LONAP but if we can get some members there I’m proposing to have a LONAP lunch (after all I’ll have finished my talk !:) and invite one or two of the speakers talking about cloud services to join us for a round table discussion. If you don’t want to come for the whole day one option is to just come for the morning and leave after the lunch. It is on a Friday after all.
I think this could be a worthwhile use of time. If anyone fancies coming along use this sign up linkhttp://www.worldhostingdays.com/de/whd-local-registration.php?code=MLOLMKLX (code is MLOLMKLX).
Also let me know if you are coming as I will make arrangements to book a table for lunch – it’s at the Melia Hotel on the Strand (Conde Nast Traveller Hotlist) so there should be something appropriately nice on offer.
Admittance and Registration
“Digital disruption: 5 steps to accelerating customer adoption of your cloud services”
David Ednie, President and CEO, SalesChannel Europe
“Don’t lose customers to public cloud providers”
Markus Galler, VP of Sales, RushFiles
“Do you want a Mobile with that?”
Ivo Meekel, Business Development Director, dotMobi
“Email Security 2.0. Integration and Automation ”
Sam Renkema, CEO, SpamExperts
“Under the hood of the internet – how peering helps with your end user experience”
Trefor Davies, Director Lonap & trefor.net, LONAP
“Putting the cloud to work for real businesses. Proven models for success in a true multi-service world.”
John Burke, Account Manager Mid-Market, CEE, Parallels
“Global Trends in SSL Protection and Future Challenges”
Arkadiusz Szczurowski, CEO, SSLGuru
“Any Data, Any Where? Localizing the Cloud”
Christian Diderich, VP Cloud Service Providers, Acronis
“The new chapter of EU e-Commerce Qualified Trusted Services in the Cloud”
Marcin Szulga, Head of Research and Development, Unizeto
“Simplifying server memory and SSD storage ”
Miriam Brown, Business Development Manager, Kingston
“Black Lotus Communications DDoS Protection Services”
Frank Ip, VP of Marketing and Business Development, Black Lotus
“Securing uptime while maintaining network neutrality”
Johan Schuijt, CTO TransIP, TransIP; NSFOCUS
“Hosting companies are dying. Is yours next?”
Nikolay Nedev, Senior Account Manager, reseller.plusserver
“Panel Discussion: The DOVECOT Story – how a one man open-source IMAP Server project is now powering most ISPs of the world and serving Emails to over 2 billion people.”
Mikko Linnamäki, Co-Founder, Dovecot OY
Soeren von Varchmin, General Manager, WorldHostingDays
After a week with the iPhone 6 Plus Dan Lane endorses the bigger screen after using it instead of his laptop on a day out in London.
After a week with the iPhone 6 Plus Tref asked me to write up my experience with the behemoth, but I’m not going to do that. There are hundreds of reviews out there which tell you it’s too big, it’s too bendy or it’s just right. No, I’m simply going to tell you about Tuesday.
After receiving the device on Friday I’d spent the weekend fumbling with it thinking I’d made a mistake buying this comically oversized phone but then came Tuesday. This was the day the iPhone 6 Plus really shone and I realised I hadn’t made an expensive mistake.
I was due to install some equipment in Telehouse so I threw my kit bag into the boot of my car and made the 2 hour drive from Winchester to Docklands using the TomTom app on the iPhone 6 Plus as my satnav (having purchased a new iOttie windscreen mount because my previous one was too small!). Even though the TomTom app has yet to be updated to take advantage of the larger screen it looked fantastic in the zoomed mode and I much preferred it to my previous iPhone 5s.
When I arrived at Telehouse I lugged my kit bag containing my Macbook Pro and iPad to the rack, I pulled the information I needed to locate and get access to the rack from Evernote and started to install the kit. As well as the equipment I was installing there were various tasks that were documented in Basecamp which loaded nicely on my phone.
I used the camera to upload photos of the cabling changes I’d made to Basecamp for future reference and the photo was so clear and detailed that you could read the circuit number from the cable’s tag. I also used the Slack app to communicate back with the various members of the team who had logged the work. I probably spent about three hours at the rack and my phone was on for most of the time, the battery read 97% when I left having been fully charged by the drive over.
Next, since I was in London I had a customer meeting scheduled. I drove over and met the customer (keeping the phone in my pocket and using my car’s built in satnav this time) and through the meeting I took notes using Evernote on my 6 Plus. Ordinarily I’d use my Macbook or my iPad and at one point I did feel like I needed to place my phone down face-up showing the Evernote screen so he didn’t think I was busily texting someone.
After the meeting I had an hour or so to kill before meeting my girlfriend for dinner so I found a coffee shop and got down to some e-mails and support tickets, again I just did them on the 6 plus using the Gmail and Zendesk apps. This is where it occurred to me that I hadn’t opened my laptop all day not because I made a conscious effort to only use my iPhone but because the iPhone was all I needed – I probably pulled it out of my pocket to check Facebook and noticed there was a ticket that needed my attention and got carried away with some emails.
If I had been on my old 5s I’d have seen that ticket and reached for my laptop but with the bigger form factor and bigger keyboard it was no hassle to tap out reply after reply while my laptop remained unopened in my bag. I was in the coffee shop for just over an hour and a half and I didn’t put my phone down once – by the time I left my battery was still over 65%.
While I was in the coffee shop I needed to do some field testing for our new mobile service – this involved an iPhone 5s I use as test device. I was immediately surprised at how minuscule and cramped the 5s felt after only 4 days using the bigger device and this really cemented my appreciation of the larger screen and form factor.
The phone pretty much stayed untouched while I had dinner with the girl and then served as satnav and MP3 player (via Spotify) for the 1.5 hour journey home – as an experiment I didn’t plug it in and the phone was down to 14% when I arrived home which considering it’d been using GPS, bluetooth, streaming data and had the display on for the whole journey was pretty good in my book.
Could I have done everything I did on the iPhone 5s or the regular sized iPhone 6? Yes, of course! but when I had that device I never did. For me the bigger screen turns it from a phone that happens to do smart things into a small tablet that happens to also be a phone and this encourages more use in that fashion. It’ll never replace the laptop in the datacentre visit as I’d need to pull that out for ethernet or serial access but for the tasks I did on that day it was more than adequate and performed admirably.
Of course your tastes and requirements vary but if you’re undecided between which size to go for and you think you’d prefer a small tablet that happens to be an oversized phone then you’re going to love the iPhone 6 Plus.
trefor.net is teaming up with ITSPA, the Internet Telephony Service Providers’ Association, to produce a twice yearly VoIP security workshop. The first one is during the Convergence Summit South show at Sandown Park on October 8th, Read on to find out more.
Announcing the ITSPA/trefor.net VoIP security workshop
Telecom Fraud – Part 1 – A Case Study for the Channel by a Paul Taylor from Voiceflex @ 2.30pm
The Part 1 talk which is part of the main Convergence Summit South programme nicely sets the scene for the ITSPA/trefor.net VoIP security workshop colocated at the same venue. The ITSPA/trefor.net VoIP security workshop goes into the main types of fraud perpetrated on VoIP service providers and their customers and discusses how to stop it happening in the first place.
Telecom Fraud – Part 2 – Prevention is Better than the Cure by ITSPA (the UK VoIP trade body) & trefor.net @ 3.15pm
This VoIP security workshop is intended to provide attendees with an overview of the current fraud threats facing the Telecoms/VoIP industry, outlining its scale and discussing the ways to mitigate against these problems before it is too late. Looking from all angles (service provider, reseller and vendor perspective), there will be short presentations from various industry players, outlining their experiences, followed by a panel and Q&A session to discuss the best methods of combatting fraudulent activity and best practice tips. Nibbles and drinks will follow to continue the discussion.
The format includes:
1) Telecoms/VoIP Fraud – the current state of play and how bad is it? – Simon Woodhead of Simwood
2) An outline of three specific types of fraud and what to do to tackle it
a. PBX Hacks David Cargill
b. Accessing SIP credentials Steve Watts of Yealink
c. Identity spoofing Colin Duffy of VoIPfone
Simon Woodhead will also do a slot on general protection against non-specific threats.
3) Audience Q&A – How to prevent fraud, spot fraudsters and adhere to best practice.
This week is also going to be VoIP week on trefor.net. We have a gang of regular contributors providing posts but if you have an idea for an interesting VoIP posts let us know. You have to be from the VoIP/ITSP industry and it should not be a blatant sales pitch for your company’s products and services.
Finally on the 8th October, the same day as the VoIP security workshop, we are having the 5th trefor.net UC Exec Dinner. This time the speaker is Dean Elwood, CEO of Voxygen. Dean is coming to talk to us about what is happening with OTT VoIP services in the big telco community. This is only open to senior execs in the UC industry. More details here.
ECIX free 20Gbps Netflix bandwith Frankfurt. More news from Deutchland as Netflix announce a deal with Frankfurt based commercial internet exchange ECIX.
ECIX free 20Gbps Netflix bandwith Frankfurt. I posted quite recently that ECIX had won the right to host Netflix traffic in Frankfurt. This was a surprise as DE-CIX, one of the largest internet exchanges in the world (universe!) would have been the favourite to win the business.
This latest announcement is all about an offer that ECIX are offering in conjunction with Netflix. Netflix have launched their services in Germany today. For internet service providers this is significant news as in other markets Netflix traffic represents a significant proportion of the total bandwidth used on networks with particular spikes in the evenings when consumers are more likely to be watching movies.
ISPs therefore need to be geared up to carry this traffic which is where ECIX come in. For anyone wanting to peer with Netflix in Frankfurt, ECIX are offering 20Gbps of bandwidth free of charge for the first year. According to the ECIX website this is worth E22k in the first year. As a promotional aside the cost of the equivalent offer at LONAP, where I am a board member, would be £6,500 for the year but this is a different market and ECIX is a commercial venture as opposed to the “mutual” not for profit nature of LONAP.
Netflix will also provide a free ECIX port for up to three years for all networks that qualify for and install a Netflix Open Connect Appliance. This appliance is installed in an ISP network to cache Netflix content and improved the quality the delivered service to the end customer. It should also cut down on the amount of peering bandwidth used.
It would be interesting to understand the business case here which will be based on the cost of the Appliance versus the value of bandwidth saved.
This ECIX/Netflix offer is quite innovative. In the German peering market it will generate a lot of publicity for both parties. Also it’s a fair bet that ISPs will take more than two 10Gig ports and certainly the traffic after the first year isn’t going to go away. The only way is up in this game.
ECIX free 20Gbps Netflix bandwith Frankfurt – you know it makes sense:)
UKNOF29 live day 2 – as it happens straight to your connected device wherever you are.
Welcome back to a beautiful late summer’s day in Belfast. Or is it early autumn? Anyway it’s a nice one and we have another great day in prospect. UKNOF live day 2 action is again brought to you from inside the Presbyterian Assembly rooms in downtown Belfast.
Today we have UKNOF in the morning with DNS action followed by a feast of IPv6. After lunch the ION conference kicks in. Stay with us for all the action throughout the day.
Don’t forget you can also follow the action on Twitter at #UKNOF29 and watch the live webcast on the UKNOF website.
btw if you missed UKNOF29 day 1 you can catch up here.
UKNOF29 live blogging from Belfast – stay tuned for live updates as they happen – the best snippets brought to your desktop from inside the room
UKNOF29 is co-located with The Internet Society ION conference at the Assembly Buildings in Belfast. follow the conference on Twitter at #UKNOF29 or #IONConf and watch the live webcast over at www.uknof.org.uk . Alternatively stay with the UKNOF29 live blogging action by following the frequent updates here.
Look out for live blogging from UKNOF29 and the Internet Society ION conference in Belfast next week.
UKNOF, or the UK Network Operators Forum have really interesting conferences three times a year. I’ve often thought one could fill the blog for week or two with posts based on the content. The problem is that it takes a long time to write a post based on an individual talk at a conference and at the same time you need to be listening to the talks. it is therefore impossible to write enough posts in a timely manner to do justice to the job. Getting the speakers themselves to turn their talk into a post is also like getting blood out of a stone. Next week at UKNOF29 I’m taking a different approach.
One of the things I’ve noticed about conference talks over the years is that you can probably choose one or two decent slides from each talk and get the gist of what it is all about. The rest is mainly filler. If you had a digest of all that was good at the conference it would save a lot of time and effort. I’m not suggesting that you shouldn’t go to conferences because a big chunk of their value is in the networking opportunities the bring. However there must be a way to summarise the conference, an exec or engineering summary maybe.
The answer I think is the live blog, The live blog is what they use to provide updates for sporting events.
GOOOAL 1 -1.
Davies strikes the back of the net after a great cross by Evans from the corner post.
Penalty missed – still 1 – 1
You get my drift. Next week therefore at UKNOF29 in Belfast I’m going to try out new plugin that provides this functionality. I’ve had it since the design of trefor.net was changed, around the time of the Pissup in a Brewery, but not used it yet.
When people go to these engineering events a lot of the action is on the IRC back channel. I don’t user IRC because it gets too busy although it can provide some interesting insights. I can only cope with so many means of communication. Also I’ve not identified a suitable plug in for the the chromebook yet. The other channel, which is pretty constrained due to its character limitation is Twitter but hashtags don’t seem to have that much effect at these technical conferences. I think it is more the domain of the marketing luvvie.
So I think the live blog could well work for this sort of event, if properly done. The beauty is that It almost only needs a line or two about each talk. Maybe cut and paste of info from twitter, an occasional pic of a slide etc.
It must be said there’s some great looking stuff being talked about next week:
“What went wrong with IPv6” by Dave Wilson of HEAnet (Ireland’s Janet)
“IPv6 only data centres” by Tom Hill of Bytemark
“Broadcast editing and delivering over IP” by by our old friend (he’s knocking on a bit:) ) Brandon Butterworth of the BBC.
Just a snapshot really of what is on offer. UKNOF29 is colocated with The Internet Society ION conference. There is more IPv6 stuff in their agenda which you can check out here.
At the time of writing there are 142 people registered to attend UKNOF29 . This is pretty good going considering you have to get to Belfast to be there.
More UKNOF blog posts here. Check em out. See you at UKNOF29? Come up and say hello.
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:
***NOTE ON FRANKFURT, GERMANY***
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 trefor.net etc…
IPv4 leasing offer from broker but uses gmail address.
Got an email at my LONAP address yesterday asking if we had any spare blocks available for IPv4 leasing. I used to occasionally get them when at Timico as I think did most of the industry. This time it’s prompted me to look a little deeper into the issue. After all it is over 3 years since the exhaustion of the IANA IPv4 address space – you may remember the Move over IPv4 Bring on IPv6 party which was a huge success even if I say so myself.
I looked at the google keyword stats for “IPv4 leasing”. The UK averages only 10 searches a month for this term. Doesn’t really smack of an industry getting desperate. The “brokers” of IPv4 addresses do appear to exist in somewhat of a twilight zone. For example the email I got was from an Adam Green with an address of [email protected] If he was kosher he would use a proper business address. It isn’t a kosher business model anyway.
These guys swipe email databases from the likes of RIPE. The one I got didn’t address me by name which in the gmail world normally leads to automatic spam labelling. In November we have RIPE69 coming to London and I’ll be looking for guest posts on the subject of IPv6. The subject of IPv4 leasing will almost certainly come up at the meeting although to be honest people should be focussing on moving their infrastructure on to IPv6, something that still isn’t particularly mainstream.
It would be interesting to hear from anyone with an IPv4 address space problem although I doubt anyone would put their hand up to admit it.
Taking a look at some LONAP stats, out of 152 connected networks 113 or 74% of them have registered IPv6 blocks with the IXP. At the LONAP AGM we ran a little exercise with prizes for those who registered using an IPv6 address. Of the 50 or so attendees and excluding LONAP staff we had 8 people register using an IPv6 address. Suggests that use of IPv6 is still somewhat limited even amongst the network engineering community you would think would be early adopters.
Taking the exercise a little further we looked at the websites of LONAP members. Of the 149 checked 74 of them have no IPv6 enabled site. If you have no idea what I’m talking about with IPv6 this info will be of no interest whatsoever. However those in the game should find the stats v interesting and probably not a surprise.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more IPv6 stuff as it hits my screen…
Lonap held its regular board meeting on Wednesday at Will Hargrave’s house. These are very long days but worthwhile. We have a lot of stuff to plough through. LONAP operates a BYOD strategy. The IXP is very leading edge especially when it comes to HR and IT.
The featured image illustrates the byod strategy at work showing Will, Andy (Davidson) and Rich (Irving) sat around the board table in front of the various notebook computers. Andy is a Microsoft guy. He has a Windows computer with a touch screen Needs to be to get the most out of Windows 8 or so I’m told. Will is an Apple fanboi. He is actually sat in front of my Chromebook but you can see his Mac on the table next to Rich. The various makes of notebook have a white letter near them to denote flavour.
Rich has a letter T next to his. That’s because his notebook is made of tree. It’s quite nifty. Comes with its own advanced carbon based stylus which has a neat way of erasing mistakes. The stylus has a soft plastic top to it which when moved back and forwards across the lines on the page left by the carbon erases the carbon marking, or most of it anyway.
Tree based notebooks aren’t perfect but nobody expects the finished goods so early on in the product lifecycle. The stylii for example still have some way to go. The sharpened front end does have a tendency to break although Rich seems to have mastered the art of applying just the right amount of pressure to avoid damaging the tip. These stylii do represent a marketing opportunity to sell accessories. The product team must have all worked at Apple at some point in the past. They seem to know their stuff.
Available for purchase are a sharpening device (v handy in the post 9/11 security conscious world of the global internet executive) together with a nifty case that can hold multiple stylii. Rich pointed out that you can get them in a huge range of different colours. They also sell storage containers known colloquially as bookcases. These are also made of carbon although like in any market there seem to be cheap imitators on sale made of something called MDF.
Being a fan of cloud technology myself I did ask Rich whether there was a virtual version of his Tree technology. He mentioned something about Carbon offset which I didn’t completely get and not wanting to look stupid in front of the others I kept shtum. There’s bound to be a cloud version available or at least coming soon.
Readers looking to implement their own byod strategy should at least take a look at Tree technology when considering notebooks. The one at the LONAP meeting certainly had a nice feel to it. They have the weight just about right and Rich says it is totally customisable. You adjust it by simply tearing out pages until you get to the weight that suits you. I should warn you that this process is irreversible so you do need to take care. If in doubt consult a qualified Tree surgeon.
That’s in regarding the LONAP byod strategy. Lots happening in the Autumn. Stay tuned for loads more useful tips’n stuff though not necessarily anything to do with LONAP’s byod strategy.
LONAP is a Global top 20 Internet Exchange. Read about them here. Also loads of LONAP content on this site – check it out here.
Google translate Ukrainian offer is v odd reports reader @tonyhatfield
Today, using my Nexus 7 running KitKat and the latest version of Google Chrome, I clicked on a link to the Huffington Post. A page appeared asking me if I wanted to translate from Ukrainian. Here’s a screenshot. V odd considering the page is clearly in English. Not sure if the Huffington Post has an Ukrainian edition!
Then I tried accessing the page using my Vaio Win7 again using the latest version of Chrome browser. This time no translation request.
As a tiebreaker up to my Dell desktop again running Win7 and latest Google browser.Again the Google translate Ukrainian offer appeared. This time with no reference to ‘Ukrainian’.
Seems very odd!
Can anyone enlighten us on why this may be happening. My first thought when hearing about the Ukrainian translation bit was that maybe his ISP was using a block of IP addresses originally allocated to a provider in the Ukraine. Sounds like some Ukrainian mobster has latched on to the black market for IPv4 I thought.
I recall a few years ago seeing the Swedish version of the Google search page when travelling on the Eastcoast train to London. This was because the train’s satellite link connected to a ground station in Sweden. Not seen that since so whatever that glitch was clearly temporary and is now fixed.
However when hearing that it only happened on 2 out of 3 devices that seemed to rule that scenario out. The mix of Operating Systems also seems to rule out an OS related issue.
Anyone out there got any thoughts on why this might have happened? Something to do with the Huffington Posts page maybe? Answers on a postcard, comment (pref) or tweet. I’m sure there will be a few people interested in finding out what was happening.
Google translate has other useful uses – check out this post about bypassing Virgin Media web filters to access Pirate Bay.
Update Sunday 27th July: Just surfing Majorca related subjects on my droid and found myself at an olive oil related website (fwiw – off there on hols in August). To my delight I was offered a translation from Ukrainian. I thought this screenshot would serve as a worthy update to this post.
Just deleted 33 plugins. These deleted plugins were amassed over 6 years of blogging. I didn’t need any of them. The new site still contains too many plugins but they were expedient in getting us up and running with the new design.
Over the next few months we will be changing how trefor.net works under the bonnet. This will be done in tandem with a few other projects that will hit the aether between now and Christmas (aargh only 163 shopping days until Christmas & I haven’t even booked a summer holiday yet!). Most plugins will go. Chief Developer Rob writes his own code instead. In the meantime there are a few niggles we will have to smooth over and a few features we will want slipping in. More on all this anon.
I just wanted to share with you the list of deleted plugins. I just deleted 33 of them. Took a metaphoric scythe to the software, pushed the red button and it was gone. The button wasn’t really red but it should have been.
Many of the deleted plugins came with various themes I’ve used over the years. None of the ones in the list were active and just cluttered up the site. It was especially annoying that I had to occasionally update them even though they weren’t being used. “Hello Dolly” came with the original installation of WordPress and I’ve never used it. Just kept it for old times’ sake. I’m a bit of a softie really. Also Hello Dolly is one of my fave jazz numbers.
As I sign off from this post I’d like to take the opportunity to thank all the plugin developers listed below for their support over the years. If we ever get to meet up there is a beer in it for you:)
That’s all folks.
Hasta la vista baby!
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All-in-One Event Calendar by Time.ly by Time.ly Network Inc. (will also delete its data)
Comment Rating by Bob King
Easy Twitter Links by Josh Jones
Hello Dolly by Matt Mullenweg
IPv4 Exhaustion Counter by Geert Hauwaerts
Light Social by Alden Torres
OmniGallery by ColorLabs & Company
PHPlist by Jesse Heap
Polldaddy Polls & Ratings by Automattic, Inc.
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STC – Comments by Otto (will also delete its data)
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England v India highlights – Root & Anderson 10th wicket world record, I am nearly knocked out by a cricket ball, Pamela Anderson gets cricketer autograph & I spot a Yealink VoIP phone.
England v India at Trent Bridge was the backdrop for great day out with the kids yesterday. There are two ways to “do” the cricket. One is with your mates. This is a boozy day out beginning with a pint and “full English” at 10am in the pub followed by a steady day’s cricket watching and a curry to finish off. The other is with the kids.
It was with the kids yesterday that I was nearly knocked out by a cricket ball and saw Pamela Anderson getting an autograph from one of the English players fielding at the boundary.
Arriving early we took our seats and settled in to watch a bit of net practice. Sat at square leg the nets were just in front of us but after a while the kids wandered off to look around the ground. There I was minding my own business, not particularly watching anything, when suddenly I heard a cry and I was hit by a cricket ball.
The ball glanced off the side of my head, hit my shoulder and plopped down beside me. It took me a moment to realise what had happened. One of the batsmen in the net had hit it over the top of the side netting. A couple of inches to the right and it would have landed squarely on the top of my bonce with potentially lethal consequences.
Without thinking I picked up the ball and threw it back. I should have kept it as a souvenir. There is evidence of the incident however. My hat – pictured in the gallery below was somewhat damaged as you can see.
Test match cricket is a great day out. The entertainment is not just on the pitch. The crowd provides just as much fun as the players. In the gallery below you can see a steward trying to confiscate a “beer snake” which is a stack of empty plastic beer glasses. Much beer is drunk at these events. For some reason the stewards want to confiscate the stacked glasses. The snake gets handed around the stand, growing in size as more glasses get added on the journey. The steward trying to confiscate the snake provides great sport as each time he gets near the snake is passed along to someone else.
In the gallery below there is also a photo sequence where “Pamela Anderson” gets the autograph of one of the England fielders. Pam was there with a party of lifeguards sat quite close to us in the New Stand. Also look out for a couple of horses sat amongst the crowd.
As far as the actual England v India cricket match went we were treated to a world record tenth wicket stand of 198 runs between Joe Root (154 no) and Jimmy Anderson (81 and no relation to Pamela afaik). The game now looks like being a draw and the rain forecast for the last day will hopefully provide some respite for the English team, now fielding, who have another test starting in a few days time.
There is, as is often the case, a technology slant to this post. Hanging around the boundary at lunch I couldn’t help noticing a Yealink VoIP phone nestled in amongst the equipment of one of the cameras. I love spotting little things like this. The kids have got used to it. The Yealink VoIP phone is not dissimilar to the Cisco I spotted at the Harbour Lights cafe in Peel in the Isle of Man. I’m not sure what the Yealink VoIP phone model is. I’m sure someone out there will know:)
Attempting to explain some of the mystique surrounding broadband connections, (mostly) in layman’s terms.
I will attempt here to clarify some of the mystery surrounding fibre broadband connections while also offering suggestions for how to overcome some of the more confusing aspects of obtaining a faster service.
Virgin Media (mainly in urban areas) and BT describe their products as Fibre Broadband, although they both only use fibre-optic (glass) cables up to the street cabinets. Virgin then have a single coaxial cable t provide a reliable connection up to 150 Mbps to many properties along each road, whereas BT’s broadband delivers their services by sharing individual aging twisted pair telephone lines.
The BT solution is crucially dependent on good quality short lines (around 300m) between your new green cabinet (where the faster equipment is located) and your property, to achieve their fastest speeds, though sadly, many have quite long telephone lines that are often in a poor state of repair and some longer lines are not offered any service improvement at all. Poor installation practice complicates matters, and often fails to achieve optimum broadband performance. Note also that the faster services are usually available at an increased cost, with additional costs charged by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) sometimes hidden by low monthly usage limits.
The BT Group are responsible for the delivery of both phone and broadband, although you can pay for those services via a number of different service providers to which BT Wholesale offers the services (all of which rely on BT Openreach to maintain and install new services). Repairs are inevitably required, so the quality and ease of fault rectification is an important factor when selecting an ISP. Unsurprisingly, there is reluctance to replace the ageing line plant, and BT along with others’ lower cost options sometimes suffer with “customer diversion” tactics.
Surrey CC publishes lists of all the postcodes where their subsidised services are usually available, but exclude the so-called commercial deployment areas. The postcode data includes all properties regardless of quality and sometimes even availability. BT Wholesale offers an estimate for those lines where they currently provide a service, however if you use other suppliers such as Sky and the Carphone Warehouse group (TalkTalk, AOL, Tiscali etc.) you must rely on the BT Wholesale Availability Checker (although the figures are often identical).
There are a number of quite serious errors within the BT Wholesale database, so it’s important to verify the estimates where practicable. Checking both phone number and address is useful, as is checking neighbours’ addresses as well. If you are unfortunate enough to have bad substandard lines, the checker hides the fact that your green cabinet is available but useless; although the estimate page does contain the phrase “Fibre multicast” (for sport, etc.) is available”, so you can detected that you are excluded. It’s a good idea to measure the distance between your property and the green cabinet, too, taking account of the line route if it is known. Surrey CC’s valuable interactive mapping utility includes a distance measuring tool.
BT Wholesale Broadband Availability Checker
The speed estimation is based upon existing line quality and distance from the Distribution Point (DP). This is the point on the cable where multiple services separate down to smaller or single lines fanning out to individual houses. The compromise is reasonably satisfactory where the houses are all grouped a short distance away from the DP, but it is notoriously bad where several kilometres of single cables continue to a small cluster or a single house.
There are strong indications that BT Wholesale recently increased the threshold, to prohibit the poorer lines from obtaining any faster service at all. As well as line distance to the green cabinet, there are large differences in line quality, depending upon the conductor thickness and the number of joints sometimes damaged by water ingress (and, no doubt, many other causes). Also, line routings do not always follow the most direct route, especially if there has been property development since original phone lines were installed, and though it may be very frustrating for the end user, it would be quite impossible from a cost viewpoint for BT Openreach to re-wire even a fraction of the UK. If the UK, though, is to prosper the entire country must somehow install true fibre to every property. Of course, this is almost impossible within the current Political and Commercial climate, except for a few tiny commercial ventures and some quite remarkable rural Community efforts like www.B4RN.org.uk.
It should be noted that the BT Wholesale Broadband Availability Checker figures are not used to justify repair activity by BT Openreach until the actual speed has deteriorated well below the lowest estimated speed. In some cases, the estimate is dropped when repair activities have not met with full success, presumably to avoid a repeat site visit.
If a property does not have any BT phone line, the BT Wholesale Broadband Availability Checker won’t provide any estimate at all. In such a case the unfortunate resident may have a lot of bother and obfuscation to obtain a faster service as without a BT Wholesale estimate it can be near impossible to obtain a faster service. One approach is to contact BT Care via twitter, even if you have no intention of selecting a BT retail offering.
As a last resort you might ask for a helping hand from your MP.
BT Openreach often employ subcontractors to install new faster broadband services, personnel who for the most part are not equipped with any expensive test instruments nor trained in their use. A subcontractor’s remit is to observe the DSL (Digital Subscriber Line) connection light that indicates that the modem has synchronised (i.e., connected) to the green cabinet at any speed. The modem and cabinet equipment then observe the line performance over a period of at least one day. up to the 10 days “training period” BT Wholesale quote. Unsurprisingly, line speeds rarely improve over time without a BT Openreach repair visit, which must be arranged by your chosen Internet Service Provider (ISP) after you have completed your own investigations.
Importantly, subcontractors do not examine the end user’s house wiring (it isn’t BT’s property), which can leave the end user ignorant of whether their house wiring may be causing severe line performance problems. Of course, BT Openreach do offer a line improvement service…at some cost.
Optimising House Wiring
Many houses have quite complicated line extensions, some of which can be wrongly connected. As the faster services are much more fragile, it is imperative that the new modem be connected directly to the master socket, possibly with a new extension socket, but without any other house wiring involved. All extensions must be connected AFTER the new master socket integral filter, which should be provided as part of the installation. It follows, naturally, that many problems are best avoided by optimising house wiring BEFORE installation day.
BT Openreach Maintenance
Even a casual observer can see that the Public Switched Telephone network is not being adequately maintained in some cases. The BT Group only have a “Universal Service Obligation” for a phone line; all domestic broadband services are only provided on a best endeavours basis.
Modem Speed Operation
Discovering how a broadband modem operates is not an easy task as there are many complex factors involved. Some aspects involve the Dynamic Line Management (DLM) function, which attempts to maintain an optimum speed but that can be confounded if an intermittent line fault is present. DLM will then reduce the line’s performance in an attempt to maintain a stable connection.
Matters are made even worse as BT Openreach lock their modems down so the end user is unable to monitor the line condition in sufficient detail. Most users are probably limited to recording speed tests at various times of the day and night. A specialist, though, can unlock one modem giving access to vast amounts of data recorded continuously. The BT Group also has access to similar data available for every line connected through one of the new cabinets. Finally, BT Openreach engineers have test instruments that allow them access to some of the parameters, but not usually over the long periods necessary to investigate intermittent noise-induced problems.