Category Archives: Life

This will be Blogs about general Life.

UK Internet with BT 21CN

Well, I’ve not posted for a while. and there’s good reason too. I’m always a big fan of Technology, the way it’s moving and what it brings with it. The Internet is one of those things that has been moving relatively rapidly (though maybe not so much for the normal home-user). However with my ISP, I do get to test some nice connections (sometimes) and connect to test networks, with test routers and so on. I even run a router that I have written a bit of code for, so that I can run my IPv6, VPN links, Fail-over connections & some customised routes (including a tunnel system to have IPv6 on my laptop no matter where I am in the world).

Anyway, For those that don’t know, In the UK most of the lines are supplied by BT, This means if you want internet you can choose any supplier you want, but many of them will be using BT lines to your house, and BT equipment to hook it all up. This, however isn’t too bad, or rather, Wasn’t. BT have been rolling out their 21CN network, which I am connected to, this is supposed to be next generation ADSL, when it was first installed, it was OK, and around a month ago it became unusable. My ISP (AAISP) has been attacking BT regarding this problem, and I’m not alone with the problem, there seemed to be a number of people on my exchange that had the same problem. this is what I get on my line:

Jason Line Graph

The Green bars (going up) ar latency on the line, the higher that bar, the slower things are to respond.
The Red bars (going down) are loss on the line – the lower this bar the less things that get to you
The White is a line disconnect
and the green dots are download (from the internet), and reddish-brown is upload (to the internet)

As you can see, if I tried to download anything I got latency (went slow) packet loss (things just didn’t get to me) and line drops. not to mention my download speek was around 50K if I was lucky on a 4mb line. BT have access to these graphs, and persisted for a very long time that there was nothing wrong with the line. Anyway, a couple of nights ago, they admitted there was a problem, and nailed it down to a Cisco IOS bug in some of their routers, and they did some test work on my exchange / BRAS last night, this took them around 45 minutes and all of a sudden my line was alot better. and I could download at my full speed.

This problem with BT (along with a few others) that seem to show just how incompetent BT are at times has pushed my ISP to look into other  wholesale LLU providers, as an extra option on the BT infrustructure. Although I’m not exactly a fan of some LLU providers from what I’ve seen of BT, could they possibly be worse? probably not.

just to note: this isn’t the case that this problem existed, I can deal with that, technology has it’s problems. What I can’t deal with, is companies like BT that have sole control over fixing them, saying there isn’t a problem when they have been given the evidence to show that there is a problem.

I will be looking forward to the FTTC rollout, and will be testing it. Lets hope BT can do a better job with that than they have done with 21CN

———————–
edit:
BT Have finally fixed my line (actually they did this last week) and everything has been working again, and of-course I’m getting my full download-speeds again. still – I’m waiting for FTTC and my ISP have signed up for Be* LLU wholesale – so I may switch to this to get away from BT for a short while. – This turned out to not be a bug in the code, but they had over filled the pipes from Basingstoke…. Thanks BT, Nice going…

The First flight

well, almost a month after getting the Nexus 30 Heli, I have finally had a flight. Well, a Hover, but it’s close. Unfortunatlye because of the age of this particular heli, finding parts has been somewhat of a challenge, it’s now unbeleivably close. and here’s me setting it up ready to fly.

DSC00248

So far, it has had a new rotor head, various replacement screws, a new battery, new Gyro, a complete engine rebuild, new rotor blades and a cable tidy up. after all this, it is now much better than it was, however there is still a slightly uncomfortable wobble, coming from the main rotor grips, it seems these have not been machined properly and there is around 2mm of play in them, this by the time it gets to the end of the rotors is quite alot of play (these should not move atall). so I’m now hunting around for Kyosho blade grips – this is a hard task.

Anyway, aside from the blade grips, it is able to fly, though it’s probably not a great idea to do it for very long, as it will damage the rotor head with the wobble, but here it is.

DSC00253

I’m hoping over the next few weeks I will be able to source the blade grips, and get rid of the wobble so that I can actually start to fly it properly (that is, hover for 6 months, then nose-in hover for another 6…)

Yes it’s a toy, but it’s also an expensive one, it would be nice if this was done right.

Toys and Hobbys

Overtime, People go through lots of hobbys, and I’m no different. However, I rarely find a cheap hobby to do. I have done juggling and now everytime I’m in Camden I spend £100+ on things for that, though you don’t need to service them, that’s ok. I’ve taken to playing computer games, Guitar hero (mostly the drums) on the Wii and racing games and flight sims on the PC. The equipment to play games properly is also not cheap, you need a nice fast computer, plus the racing games I have a £180 steering wheel set. The Wii is pricey, the drums for the Guitar hero (with Guitar hero) was around £130 and before you know it you’ve spent a few thousand pounds on…. stuff.

Well, some years ago, I took to flying Model Helicopters, started with small ones, and sort-of worked up, I flew someone else’s helicopter, but not for very long, this one was a couple of feet long. I haven’t flown one for a while now, and I was talking about buying one again so I could go flying with it again. However the need to buy one has been shunted out. and here’s why…

DSCF1304 Yep, That’s right, I now have a Nexus 30 Helicopter, this has a petrol engine, and no, I won’t be flying this in the house. It did however need some work, This was my fathers, and he…. well…. crashed it. :-) This week has been delivery after delivery of very small parts and the rotor head has been re-built, it has new rotors, and is about ready to crash fly.

Basingstoke Model Flying Club have a field, that I will be at on Sunday, at least trying to fly this. though, it does still need some setting up, testing of the servos, the engine, and a few other checks too, it looks like I will have help in getting it through the checks, and air-born, hopefully some help trying to fly the thing too (I need a trainer).

I’m not scared of flying this. I am, however, scared of landing it, that’s the bit where it all goes wrong. This is going to A) be an expensive hobby, and B) going to take a very long time. I’m pretty sure I’m not going to get bored of this one very quickly, and even if I do, I’ll probably have a helicopter to build again.

Well, wish me luck on sunday for getting this thing off the ground, and safely back again.

Changes in life

I remember during my teen years, if you wanted a BBQ, you rang people a day before and they would most likely turn up. No one really had anything better to do. If you wanted to goto the pub in the middle of the day, there was normally someone to go with. However, recently I’ve noticed this is no-longer the case.

I wanted to arrange a BBQ with some people, but everyone seems to be doing things all the time now, so the earliest can happen is next month, and even then some can’t make it. Still, the nice weather is now upon us, and I was admiring the temperature this morning as early as 5:30AM thinking the sun was quite warm enough at that time, for a day stuck in the office. It’s BBQ season, and I’m sure I’ll have at least 4 between now and when the arranged BBQ is. As for the pub in the middle of the day, does anyone know anyone that’s available for such a thing anymore?

While the warm weather is here, I fully intend on spending most of it outside in the sun, with BBQ’s going and Cider drinking under-way. Is this Summer? I hope so. as I don’t like the cold.

So, for all you readers; if you’re having a BBQ, I’m available for attending. :-)

J

Online Role Play Gaming

I have played Online RolePlay games for many years, from well known games like World of Warcraft and Guildwars to games that are not so well known like PlaneShift and Auteria. All of these games have good points and bad points, however, these points also change often.

This is mostly about the 3 I have played most of all in the last few years. Firstly, I didn’t play World of Warcraft for very long, because I completely disagree with going to the shops to buy a game, and then having to pay to play that game every month aswell, (note, I wouldn’t mind getting the game for nothing, and paying a small fee to play online, I understand there are maintenance costs). Guild Wars you pay once for, and then play online when and if you feel like it, Auteria and PlaneShift are both free (but not the same type of free). Here’s a short run down of things that I did and didn’t like about the games (I’m not including World of Warcraft on here, as I didn’t play it for long enough to have a real opinion)

PlaneShift: http://www.planeshift.it/

Planeshift is Open Source (though you may not use the Art-Work from Planeshift) this is a good point, because it’s already “community” based. some very nice graphics, though the animations could do with some more work. There is always something to do in Yliakum, and many skills to learn. Planeshift is very heavily orientated around the Role Play, including spending hours in the Tavern, though they have recently added a second server that is for the people that don’t really want to do the Role-Playing. You can very easily just run around and kill creatures in Planeshift, but I think most would get bored of that relatively quickly. Training skills, selling items, and Role-Playing brings this game to life. I, Myself am a blacksmith in Planeshift, Mostly because Tailoring wasn’t an option when I started (I’m not sure it’s implemented yet, I would have to check)

If you want to learn to do some very good Role Playing, I would recommend Planeshift, with lots of role-playing going on here, and Jobs for people to do as well as killing the creatures. There are also many quests here, and some of them are quite tough with riddles and longer answers than just a “yes” or “no” which require communicating with other players, finding your way around the maps and learning where different NPC’s are. (Though you must be in-character when asking for help if asking in the Main channel out-of-character conversations don’t go down very well here).

Pros:

Free
Excellent story line with individual (Role-Played) stories from other players / characters
Great Role-playing
Challenging quests (yes, this is a good thing)
Many skills and levels to learn
Ability to purchase guild/safe houses
Grouped Role-Play world events

Cons:

Server can be a little unstable under load
Some area’s of the maps are sluggish due to trying to load too many items (even on fast systems)
Some listed skills are not yet implemented
Sometimes a little overly concerned about the Role-Playing
Some skills take a long time to learn and can get a little boring.
Character movement can feel sluggish

Score 8/10

Auteria: http://www.auteria.com/

So far, this is my favourite to play at the moment, Despite the lack of “Role-Playing” when in the game, the community is very good, and the developers have worked hard on making the game work. The Chat section of this game is a separate server, as is each map area. this mean when one of them goes down for some reason (very rarely happens, but I have seen it once) the rest of the game still works. However, if your character is in the area that has crashed, or you try to travel there, you end up in a timeout loop, and have to wait for the server to come back.

Like Planeshift there are many skills to learn here, and maybe more here than there is in Planeshift. Almost everything you get that is not a form of raw material you are able to make with the appropriate skills, some Items require multiple skills, for instance some armour will require you to do some Blacksmith work, as well as some tailoring. Though the skills are not tailored around the community making and selling to other players, this does happen a lot still. There is also many things to do here, it’s very hard to get bored, a lot of skills to learn, a huge amount of quests, and when all else fails, there’s probably some pig-racing going on somewhere.

At the moment, the game is still very quiet, it doesn’t have many players yet, but it’s also still quite new and not very well advertised. I’m sure this will change over time, and new players are always well greeted with other players offering help and items to get them started.

Pros:

Free
Excellent Community
Great fun to play
Lots of quests (some easy and some hard)
Events happening pretty much weekly (sometimes more)
Lots of skills to learn
Endless levels

Cons:

Not many players yet
not a lot of Role-Playing

score 9/10

Guild Wars: http://www.guildwars.com/

Guild Wars is a good game if what you want to do is run around and kill things, that’s about all there is to do – really, you have missions which can be challenging but the point is really to progress by attack. however, the “community” in Guild Wars was not so great in with my experience of the game, people rarely talked to each other, and there was never more said than “do people want to join my team” (to go out and attack). This said, it is fun to play when you want to ignore the world, and just run around killing things for a bit. It has a very large map, and takes a lot of time to get through the game.

In Guild Wars you only see other players in Towns, when you are running around the maps outside of the towns you don’t see any other players unless you are grouped with them. I think this has a big effect on the lack of communication in the game, and does push people into silently playing the game.

Pros:

Good value for money
fun to play
outstanding graphics

Cons:

Poor story line
very poor community
no interaction with other players outside of towns
only has attack / defense skills

Score: 6/10

Conclusion:

For anyone wanting to try out any of these games I would recommend trying at least PlaneShift and Auteria. and of the 2 it would very much depend on your personal preference of games. If you prefer role-playing, Planeshift would come very highly recommended, if you’re looking for a good community and a good game, I would recommend Auteria. However both are very good games to play. I would only recommend Guild Wars if what your looking for is to ignore the world and just go and kill things.

Bare in mind, the 2 games that I highly recommend are both still under development, so there is quite often updates to the games, and things can change qutie dramatically without much warning. However, they are the most fun games I’ve played and both have kept me occupied for more than a year each. Guild Wars only had me glued to the screen for a couple of months.

If you try these out, I wish you the best of luck, and if you want to speak to me in game (mostly Auteria at the moment) then I am Mohero

— Comments disabled on this post due to too many spam messages in my inbox every morning.

World-Wide Programming Contest

Hi to all that read,

The company I work for along with a few other companies are now running a world-wide programming contest, with a nice prize to win at the end of $2000 plus a trip to our conference in Princeton, New Jersey in September. For those that don’t know, I work for a company called Dyalog LTD, they are a programming company creating an APL Interpriter.

This competition will be very good for anyone with a good mathematical mind, and for all people that would like to know more about the fantastic APL Language, be warned, it’s hard to get into, but very cool once you’ve cracked the code! For more information on the competition, you can look here, and for your copy of Dyalog APL to get started with the competition, you can apply for a student license here, or if you’re not a student and would like a non-commercial license, look here.

The competition requires completing some problems found on the Project Euler website These are very mathmatical problems, and must be completed in APL. Unfortunately I can’t enter it, (or at least not win) which is a shame, as it would be a good learning curve for my APL. I also can’t help any of you with the problems. but if you would like to enter, I can assure you the Conference in Princeton will be very good for anyone getting into APL. (and APL is a good thing to get into ;-) )

Enjoy, and I hope some of you that read this do have a look into the competition, and give it a go.

J

Simple Things, Simple Minds

It doesn’t take much to please me, infact, it takes very little. So, I guess I’m a simple person.

There’s various things you can do whilst bored on the Internet, one thing that crops up on occasion is searching for yourself on Google, and then picking one of the first 3 hits as your “double”

looking at the logs on my website, I noticed there was a google search for me, “Jason Rivers” and I thought, wow, how far did they have to search for that! so I had a look and searched me on Google. Turns out I’m 9th on Google so, hopefully not long before I am myself.

Well, nice short one for now, more later… when I can be bothered to sit at the screen for a little longer :)

J

A Lack of Internet

Ok, so over the past week I’ve been moving house, as some of you may know, However, what this means is there has been no or little Internet at home. I have been able to get online with a mobile “Broadband” dongle, but it’s speed has been varying between completely unusable and completely unbearable. And yes, there is a difference, one allows you to send a message once an hour…

Anyway, if you know me, you’ll also know that I spend my life online. So a week without Internet is like torture for me. One would think that it would give me time to sort some other things out, and to some extent this maybe true, as I now have DVB-S2 card in my media system, but other than setting that up, I really have just been going completely nuts without the internet. But the internet came online on Wedesday, and this is great, after updating all my systems with latest patches, and upgrading the media system, this has had some nice changes, that I’ll go into in another blog.

Not having the Internet for a few days has taught me 1 thing. That is, how much we have come to rely on it. The connection I now have probably costs more than most of yours, as I’ve opted for a business grade line that is with probably the most expensive provider, however, I chose them, because I know them, they’re fantastic, and I’m yet to hear a bad word about them. You get what you pay for.

well, enough for now, I think I have some work to be doing, oh and I need tea bags!

There’s no place like ::1

With the move of house, comes a lot of other movements of technology. At the old place, I was on Virgin Media’s Broadband, Although I did not have any problems with them, I do know people that had more than their fair share. I think in the course of 2 years my line went down for a total of 2 minutes, and I think that’s fairly acceptable. However, it lacks on some features. Dynamic IPv4 address (and only 1) means I had to write some rather complex scripts, due to my server blocking SSH access from anywhere unless it’s a “Known Location”. These locations normally consist of my place of work, my place of home, and my parents houses for when I visit them.

Although IPv4 is being exhausted, many people are still using it, in fact, pretty much everyone on the Internet is using IPv4 in one way or another. For me, my new connection has a /28 mask of address’s, call me selfish, but this does give all my machines external IP’s, and then I’m NAT-ing Wifi connections, because they don’t need external address’s. It also has Native IPv6 on the new line. there is still very much a case of “No one’s using IPv6 so we don’t support it” and also “many things still don’t support it, so I don’t have IPv6″. In my 2 years working at Dyalog, I have moved our internal systems to IPv6, and so far 50% of our servers are on IPv6. The interpreter received it’s required changes to support IPv6 in version 12, and some of these will be improved in 12.1, and this improvement will most likely be on-going.

So, to IPv6, and who supports it? well, Google have had IPv6 work going on for a long time now, and you have been able to access http://ipv6.google.com to run your web searches. however they only resolve www.google.com as an IPv6 address if your ISP has registered with them. I can understand this to some extent, but on the other hand, it might hold things back, as there’s alot of people beating their ISP’s to IPv6 with Tunneling over IPv4. Google here have proved that a move to IPv6 can be done without too much effort, providing you can release resources into the change, and you have a good firewall, Remember NAT is not a firewall.

What about ISP’s, what are they doing about IPv6? well Andrews and Arnold seem to be among the few ISP’s offering native IPv6 in the UK, I believe there is currently no more than 3 ISP’s offering such service. Why? maybe they don’t see the point because not many sites are using it yet. Well, here’s some news, every site I run, has IPv6, that is my personal sites and company sites, Google also have IPv6. so what are we waiting for?

Consumer devices is where my attention is grabbed, Can you name a single off-the-shelf Consumer grade router / modem that supports IPv6? I can not. and I can’t see someone at home spending thousands on Cisco gear to have IPv6. My solution to this was to buy a consumer-grade Asus WL-500gp router, and flash it’s firmware with Linux. This now gives me IPv6, along with IP4 and IP6 firewalls that I am personally comfortable with configuring.

Maybe the big problem here with ISP’s supporting IPv6 is that the consumer devices do not yet support such a thing, this means it is completely pointless having the ISP’s support it. IPv6 is moving forwards, and in the last year or 2 there has been some very big movements. unfortunately, these movements are no going fast enough, and until consumer devices support IPv6 this movement will be on a slow trickle. we only need one or two big ISP’s to start supporting IPv6 in the UK for it to take off like a rocket over here, so maybe this is a cry to the manufacturers of the consumer devices to support IPv6 so the ISP’s can also support it.

Get on the IPv6 bandwagon, this is a vote for IPv6 move forward.

A Monday Morning

Most people on a Monday morning don’t particularly want to do much, that’s understandable, 2 days of being lazy, or doing something fun, why would you want to go back to work, you already know that you’re inbox is going to be full of emails that you don’t want to read. By the time you’ve got through your emails it’s lunch, and lets face it, even if you got through your emails in an hour, it would still take a couple of hours more to get back into the work zone, by which time, it would be lunch… so Monday’s are really only a half-day, at least of real work.

However, my Monday morning is a little different, First into the office, having not even had a cuppa tea, first things first – Kettle on, then open up the server room and change the backup disk ready for tonights backup, open my inbox and start reading. Fortunately there wasn’t a great deal of emails that I had to pay attention to today, so I start my routine of checking the systems, which is an every day thing, but more important on a Monday, and why generally on a Monday I’m in so early.

When others started arriving, there were brief conversations about the weekend, top subject for me was the Formula 1, with Button winning and the whole pack order completely different from the last 3 seasons. There does however seem to be some interesting conversations today, Someone in the office wanted to see my Eee, and used the phrase “come-on then, whip it out” which, of course started a whole hour of stupid entertaining comments, including looking outside and saying “It’s nice out, I think I’ll leave it out for a bit.” It’s possibly worth noting that there isn’t a single female that works in this office, so some of these conversations, though amusing can be a little worrying at times.

Things I’m not looking forward to this week consist of the Dentist tomorrow, and Car service on Thursday, both of which manage to drain you out of any funds you should be saving, though I should still be able to save some of my income this month.

Things I am looking forward to consist of Wednesday evening (you’ll have to ask to find out why), and maybe the weekend is something else I’m looking forward to. Don’t get me wrong, I get up every morning and not only want to goto the office, I look forward to it. I enjoy the work, and enjoy the people, but sometimes weekends are very much needed, and I didn’t get much sleep the one just gone, due to the time difference to be able to watch the Formula 1, and no, I don’t want to watch the repeat, that means avoiding all forms of news, my brother and anyone else that might let anything slip, how a lot of people are with Football, is how I am with the Formula 1.

Anyway, enough from me for now. Time to get back to work…