Tech

11
Sep 15

A pint of Bitcoin

image

Just when I thought my workplace couldn’t get any cooler, the pub on site – The Royal Dick – has started accepting Bitcoin. I didn’t even really want a pint but couldn’t pass up this opportunity.

Very cool.


12
Aug 15

InterPlanetary File System (IPFS) and the (potential) future of the internet

I read an article called The Web We Have to Save recently. I really enjoyed it and it provided a lot of food for thought about the current state and future of the internet. I’ve already posted that link on Google+, but it seemed like as a good a time as any to start taking control of my own data on the internet again in the spirit of IndieWebCamp.

Somehow, I got to reading about IPFS (InterPlanetary File System), a new peer-to-peer protocol that looks like a really cool distributed file system. Decentralisation just seems like such a good idea – reduced latency, less centralised control and more much, much more permanence. Interesting and exciting stuff.


9
Mar 12

Finally fixing bufferbloat

I got a new server for the flat to replace my old, and long dead, Mini-ITX machine. It’s setup for various networking duties, the most important of which is the network routing. Now that I’ve got a real machine doing the routing I’ve been able to do some traffic shaping to mitigate the bufferbloat problem in the flat – something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now.

While the general routing stuff was pretty straightforward, the traffic shaping stuff in Linux scared me. Fortunately, Wonder Shaper exists and saves me trying to wrap my head around tc. It really is rather nice – simply alter a few variables and latency stays not-shit, even when the connection is under heavy load. Ah… :)

My ping times to some Google server on an empty connection are about 18ms. Once another machine saturates the uplink, by uploading a large file, that rises to around 320ms! With traffic shaping, they only rise by a few ms.

EDIT: Take note of Dave Täht’s comments below (he is a lot more knowledgeable than me on these matters), highlighting problems with Wonder Shaper.

For my own benefit as much as anything else, here is my “just got it working” routing script:

#!/bin/bash
#
# /etc/rc.d/rc.nat:
#

iptables -F
iptables -F -t nat
iptables -P INPUT ACCEPT
iptables -P FORWARD ACCEPT
iptables -P OUTPUT ACCEPT

iptables -t nat -A POSTROUTING -o eth0 -j MASQUERADE
iptables -A FORWARD -m state --state ESTABLISHED,RELATED -j ACCEPT

Now for the traffic shaping:

#!/bin/bash
#
# /etc/rc.d/rc.bufferbloat
#
# Wonder Shaper
# please read the README before filling out these values 
#
# Set the following values to somewhat less than your actual download
# and uplink speed. In kilobits. Also set the device that is to be shaped.

# Modem reports:
# DOWNLINK=21494
# UPLINK=2463

DOWNLINK=20000
UPLINK=2000

EIP="192.168.1.2/24"
IIP="10.0.0.1/24"
DEV=eth0

# low priority OUTGOING traffic - you can leave this blank if you want
# low priority source netmasks
NOPRIOHOSTSRC=

# low priority destination netmasks
NOPRIOHOSTDST=

# low priority source ports
NOPRIOPORTSRC=

# low priority destination ports
NOPRIOPORTDST=


# Now remove the following two lines :-)

#echo Please read the documentation in 'README' first
#exit

if [ "$1" = "status" ]
then
	tc -s qdisc ls dev $DEV
	tc -s class ls dev $DEV
	exit
fi


# clean existing down- and uplink qdiscs, hide errors
tc qdisc del dev $DEV root    2> /dev/null > /dev/null
tc qdisc del dev $DEV ingress 2> /dev/null > /dev/null

if [ "$1" = "stop" ] 
then 
	exit
fi


###### uplink

# install root HTB, point default traffic to 1:20:

tc qdisc add dev $DEV root handle 1: htb default 20

# shape everything at $UPLINK speed - this prevents huge queues in your
# DSL modem which destroy latency:

tc class add dev $DEV parent 1: classid 1:1 htb rate ${UPLINK}kbit burst 6k

# From server to internel network

tc class add dev $DEV parent 1:1 classid 1:5 htb rate 100000kbit \
   burst 6k prio 1

# high prio class 1:10:

tc class add dev $DEV parent 1:1 classid 1:10 htb rate ${UPLINK}kbit \
   burst 6k prio 1

# bulk & default class 1:20 - gets slightly less traffic, 
# and a lower priority:

tc class add dev $DEV parent 1:1 classid 1:20 htb rate $[9*$UPLINK/10]kbit \
   burst 6k prio 2

tc class add dev $DEV parent 1:1 classid 1:30 htb rate $[8*$UPLINK/10]kbit \
   burst 6k prio 2

# all get Stochastic Fairness:
tc qdisc add dev $DEV parent 1:10 handle 10: sfq perturb 10
tc qdisc add dev $DEV parent 1:20 handle 20: sfq perturb 10
tc qdisc add dev $DEV parent 1:30 handle 30: sfq perturb 10

# From server to internel network

tc filter add dev $DEV parent 1:0 protocol ip prio 10 u32 \
      match ip dst $IIP flowid 1:5

# TOS Minimum Delay (ssh, NOT scp) in 1:10:

tc filter add dev $DEV parent 1:0 protocol ip prio 10 u32 \
      match ip tos 0x10 0xfc flowid 1:10

# ICMP (ip protocol 1) in the interactive class 1:10 so we 
# can do measurements & impress our friends:
tc filter add dev $DEV parent 1:0 protocol ip prio 10 u32 \
        match ip protocol 1 0xff flowid 1:10

# To speed up downloads while an upload is going on, put ACK packets in
# the interactive class:

tc filter add dev $DEV parent 1: protocol ip prio 10 u32 \
   match ip protocol 6 0xff \
   match u8 0x05 0x0f at 0 \
   match u16 0x0000 0xffc0 at 2 \
   match u8 0x10 0xff at 33 \
   flowid 1:10

# rest is 'non-interactive' ie 'bulk' and ends up in 1:20

# some traffic however suffers a worse fate
for a in $NOPRIOPORTDST
do
	tc filter add dev $DEV parent 1: protocol ip prio 14 u32 \
	   match ip dport $a 0xffff flowid 1:30
done

for a in $NOPRIOPORTSRC
do
 	tc filter add dev $DEV parent 1: protocol ip prio 15 u32 \
	   match ip sport $a 0xffff flowid 1:30
done

for a in $NOPRIOHOSTSRC
do
 	tc filter add dev $DEV parent 1: protocol ip prio 16 u32 \
	   match ip src $a flowid 1:30
done

for a in $NOPRIOHOSTDST
do
 	tc filter add dev $DEV parent 1: protocol ip prio 17 u32 \
	   match ip dst $a flowid 1:30
done

# rest is 'non-interactive' ie 'bulk' and ends up in 1:20

tc filter add dev $DEV parent 1: protocol ip prio 18 u32 \
   match ip dst 0.0.0.0/0 flowid 1:20


########## downlink #############
# slow downloads down to somewhat less than the real speed  to prevent 
# queuing at our ISP. Tune to see how high you can set it.
# ISPs tend to have *huge* queues to make sure big downloads are fast
#
# attach ingress policer:

tc qdisc add dev $DEV handle ffff: ingress

# filter everything _from_ the Internet, drop everything that's
# coming in too fast:

tc filter add dev $DEV parent ffff: protocol ip prio 50 u32 match ip dst \
   $EIP police rate ${DOWNLINK}kbit burst 10k drop flowid :1


# This reduces the queues in the driver buffer:
/sbin/ethtool -G eth0 tx 20
/sbin/ip link set dev eth0 qlen 4

28
Oct 10

Stopping Android contact sync losing contacts

When I got my Nexus One, I setup a Gmail account to synchronise my contacts (I don’t use it for email). In the UK at the time all Gmail addresses were @googlemail.com. Sometime since I was given the option to switch it to @gmail.com, which I did because it was shorter to type on the rare occasions I needed to. Things still all worked, or so I thought.

After much frustration and experimentation, I finally figured out that this was the reason that my phone would mysteriously delete contacts or, sometimes, fail to save new contacts at all. Basically, the contact sync appeared to be treating my recently switched-to @gmail.com as a different account and nuking new addresses. Seems like @gmail.com wasn’t simply an alias to @googlemail.com, like it appeared.

The simple way around this was to switch back to @googlemail.com, but it seems strange (and it was really annoying) that I needed to do this at all.


30
Jun 10

HTML5 video codec support

Since Google and friends announced the VP8 codec stuff, I decided to throw together a simple page using the <video> element to test which codecs a browser supports. In order, your browser will try to play WebM (VP8), OGG (theora) and MP4 (H.264).


Me getting hit in the face with a water balloon

The video was shot by Gordon at 210 fps so it looks pretty slow. No attempt was made here to encode the videos in a very smart way – don’t use this page for codec comparisons!


18
Dec 08

Sansa Clip

I’m not a huge listener of music, but since my way to work usually involves a 30 minute walk through the center of the city these days, some media is nice to have. Graham from work spotted a SanDisk Sansa Clip 4GB for £35 at the airport. I’d never heard of the clip, but a quick play with his was enough to convince me to get one!

It’s very small, weighs very little, has a nice (if small) screen, an unnaturally good battery life and uses a standard USB cable for power and access. The developers also added OGG Theora support at the request of users.

Add to that an FM radio (not particularly great quality in limited my experience) and a voice recorder and it seems like a really nice little late Christmas present. Shame Sarah’s iPod was mysteriously resurrected.


24
Oct 06

Geotagging my Flickr photos

Tonight I finally got round to adding my photos to the Flickr mapping feature. I guess I got inspired by taking and uploading my first photo using Zonetags with my phone (Nokia 6680) and my Holux bluetooth GPS receiver.

Zonetags

Zonetags is a trivially easy-to-use beta-ish application for Series 60 Nokia smartphones that acts as a wrapper for the standard camera software. It can record the cell id (I think it uses the last known value if you’re not in reception) and attach it to each photo you take. You can also connect an external GPS device to add much more accurate longitude and latitude information to the photo. Once you have taken a photo you’re asked if you want to upload it to Flickr. If you do, Zonetags can optionally add action tags to do things like rotate your photos as well as suggestting extra tags based on your location and the tags that other people have given to nearby photos.

For example, when I uploaded a photo coming down from Snowdown at the weekend, “Caernarfon” and “United Kingdom” tags were added along with the geotagging and celltagging ones. Over time, this could get really smart.

Unfortunately, my camera can’t use my bluetooth GPS. I think as a workaround way of geotagging those photos, I might also take one with my phone and upload it with private permissions via Zonetags (to get the geotags into Flickr) and just replace the photo with the better camera shot when I get back to a computer. We’ll need to wait and see if that is too much of a pain in the arse to be practical when out in the hills though.

Flickr map

I’ve wanted something like this for a while now – being able to browse photos by location is nifty stuff. It’s super easy to get photos on the map (if you’re using a supported browser, of course…), but I find it is limited by the poor quality of the maps, at least for most of Scotland. Of course, Flickr can’t help this and it will improve given time, but it would all be so much cooler if the maps I use most were worth looking at! There are 3rd party apps that are more accurate or you can hand geotag the photos with the lat/longs yourself and import them instead, but I haven’t bothered looking at any of those options yet since my priority was to just get them all geotagged.

In some crazy alternate reality where I actually have some spare time, I will use the Flickr API in my desktop mapping software to give the same functionality in a faster and much more detailed environment. That’s after re-writing it so that it’s not just a prototype, adding in GPS tracklogging and a million other neat things… sigh.

The good

  • Flickr map is very cool, I like it
  • Zonetags is very cool, I like it

The bad

  • Yahoo! Maps isn’t as good as Google Maps
  • Yahoo! Maps is vastly inferior to Google Maps
  • Scotland has pish quality maps – ces’t la vie
  • Zonetags doesn’t allow you to change your mind and upload a photo you previously took with it – pretty poor
  • My phone/bluetooth/software combination only allows one phone -> bluetooth connection at a time

The ugly

  • The admin map interface doesn’t work in Opera – boo

From that list it looks like I’m not too positive about this stuff, but that couldn’t be further from the truth – it’s excellent and is going to keep getting better.

Update (26/10/2006)

I forgot to mention that I was a little annoyed that Flickr didn’t add geotag tags to my photos when I added them to the map. Last night I found this excellent bookmarklet which embeds Google Maps into Flickr, giving you much more accuracy. It totally rocks. Or, it will totally rock if it starts to work in Opera. For now it just rocks. It adds the geotags as well as giving your photos a link to Google Maps (you can see the singletrack!). There is a little discrepancy between Yahoo! and Google Maps (about 100-200m), but it is definitely preferable for me to use Google Maps for the forseeable future. Now I need to go back through my photos again…


22
Aug 06

My phone is broken

If I don’t reply to any calls or messages for the next wee while, I’m not being super-rude. Thanks to a combination of bad luck and me just being an arse, I managed to drop my phone on the road and have a car run over it this morning on the way to work.

What a donkey.

UPDATE: fair play to Orange – they got me a new phone within twelve hours of me reporting it to them. My numbers are backed up to my Mum’s computer, so I should be able to get them this weekend. I’ve only just noticed you can store the numbers to the memory card, which is much more useful than the phone memory.

I don’t spend much of my life crossing the road or dropping my phone. For both to happen at the same time seems a bit unlucky!


13
Aug 06

Fast forward in Opera

Fast forward is a totally wicked feature in Opera which allows you to use the forward button/gesture/whatever to navigate to the next page in a sequence. Something like the next lot of search results or the next page in a tutorial. You can also use the space bar to page down and it will automatically forward you to the next page when it hits the bottom. Pretty cool.

A file called fastforward.ini provides the config for this (in Gentoo it is in /opt/opera/share/opera/ini/). In order to make fast forward work properly with PHPBB based forums (I want fast forward to go the next page in the thread, not the next thread), I brought the weighting of the next <link> to below 100. This seems to fly in the face of the default setup which ranks it with the highest score. While this is understandable since the link element is for navigation, I’m not that convinced by some of the poor uses of the link element I’ve seen.


13
Jun 06

The hell of mobile phones

I upgraded my phone yesterday. Although I was due for an upgrade a month ago, it’s taken this long to muster the courage and enthusiam to go into the phone shop. To be honest, if my old phone battery could survive being on for a couple of days I wouldn’t have bothered, but it was becoming frustrating.

It was all going too well – I had decided what phone I wanted and I was totally happy with my current contract. No problem. Then I was told the phone I was after was only free if I was a new customer. Seems like Orange (or any of the others, I’m assured) don’t value their existing customers as much as new ones (although I ended up sticking with Orange, so maybe they’re onto something). The pain began.

The sales drone explained how keeping my old tariff was tantamount to genocide and proceeded to rattle off deal after deal – minutes, texts, magic numbers, traffic TV (WTF?), free photography (WTF?), this for 2 months, that for 6 months, something else for 12 months. Urgh – it was all too much to take so I bailed out to absorb all of this nastyness and sort out what to do.

I went back an hour later with a clear head and told the guy exactly what I was after – I wanted to sign up for the maximum 24 months. “Excellent, sir! Which part of the offer made you choose that?” he asked, surprised. “None of it.” was my honest reply. “I hate this experience. It’s horrible. I’ve spent far too long trying to work out the best way to give you my money and I realised that if I can delay it for another year I’ll be doing well.”.

He was a little stunned and apologetic, but it wasn’t his fault – he just works there. The entire industry stinks and I hate every second I spend dealing with any of it. I’m sure I’m not the only one. I remain convinced that there is a market for a phone company that is staightforward, honest and doesn’t make me feel like I’m getting marketed something for the sole benefit of making the salesperson some commission. That said, I wouldn’t take on the task.

Wicked – I won’t be dealing with this crap again until mid-2008.


27
Apr 06

Random flickr photos

Jonathan says

Man, it’s odd finding random pics of yourself on flickr.

I couldn’t agree more. Although it’s not a total belter like his one, I found it by just randomly clicking around.


5
Feb 06

Five days on Vim: Day one – code folding

Although loads of editors have the ability, I’ve never used code folding before. I’ve seen the point, but clicking little arrows or plus signs with the mouse always seemed just a little too annoying. Like most things in Vim, code folding is very customisable, which allowed me to get it just the way I want it. The default behaviour folds code too much (at least when coding Ruby) to be useful for me, so I had to chuck a couple of lines into my .vimrc file to sort that out and tell Vim to automatically define folds by syntax:


set foldmethod=syntax
set foldnestmax=5

Presumably, you need some Ruby syntax highlighting installed for that to work. I compiled in Ruby support when I built Vim.

This is all tickety-boo except that all the folds default to closed when you open a file. To make sure all folds are open when we open a new buffer, I added this auto-command:


autocmd BufEnter * exe "normal zR"

Sorted. The core folding commands for me are:

zo
Open the fold on the same line as the cursor
zc
Close the fold that the cursor is inside
zR
Open all folds
zM
Close all folds

As usual, the docs have way more.


1
Dec 05

New camera

Right, enough! Running in Snowdonia recently was the final straw – my current camera has been great but it’s pretty old now, which means that it’s bulky and poor quality by modern standards. I’ve had enough of not having a camera with me when I should, so I ordered a new one. Woohoo!

Waiting for things you’ve ordered sucks.


15
Aug 05

Port forwarding awkwardness

Thanks to Jonathan for pointing this out, it may save someone some frustrating hours.

When setting up port forwarding (to route traffic on a certain port from the public internet to a specified machine on your LAN), the port forwarding will not work if you try to access your public IP from within your LAN. I haven’t found a good explanation of why this is, only that the router is unable to loop the request back to the local machine. Actually, that’s not entirely true – some routers do loopback and allow the forwarding to work, but from what I understand, most do not.

Who can guess what I spent ages trying to get working over the weekend? To be fair, I was getting confused because SSHing from a shared webhost into my local machine would work, yet trying to access any Apache served pages on my machine wouldn’t work and would on occasion crash the router. This definitely counts as one of those ‘pokey’ problems.


16
Jun 05

Browser rant

Hanno Boeck moans about browsers. I couldn’t agree more.


16
May 05

Trashed iPod

Trashed iPod

Excuse the photo – it was sunny and Stuart and I had been drinking wine! The other day my iPod crashed quite entertainingly. I used a linux program that I hadn’t used before to add and remove some songs and it all seemed to work fine. Then I plugged it into Jonathan’s Mac to charge it up, but after a few hours iTunes popped up and told us that it had detected a new iPod. All a bit strange and we also noticed that the iPod was getting very toasty, so we unmounted it and pulled the plug. I had a quick look to make sure everything was still intact (you know, just in case), but it wasn’t! I couldn’t see any music and resetting the device didn’t help. The ‘About’ screen told me there was only 1.2gig free and (usefully) told me that the iPod had renamed itself from “Mark’s iPod” to “Trashe~1”, which I take to mean “Trashed”. I don’t know what caused this – the linux program, or plugging it into the Mac (I’d be surprised, even though it is FAT formatted) but I guess there may be a case for either. Maybe Apple have a sense of humour if nothing else.

Apple stuff really is as good as everyone says, it even knows when it’s screwed. </sarcasm> ;)


16
Mar 05

IE7 wishlist

Microsoft have asked for what standards we’d like to see supported in IE7. Seeing as I have been known to complain about IE standards support once or twice, it’d be wrong of me not to say what I want. It’s not actually that easy, because what you really want is stuff like full CSS3 compliance (which isn’t actually a standard yet, I believe), but you need to be realistic. Anyway, here is my top five, just like Stuart Langridge did:

  1. Complete CSS2 support and all of the CSS3 selectors. In particular, I would like bugs like margin:auto; fixed, min/max height and width and ALL the selectors – parent, child, sibling, pet, best-friend, deity, etc. Selectors are great.
  2. Complete CSS2 support. Again. Pretty please.
  3. Full XHTML 1.0 support, including the mime type application/xhtml+xml.
  4. Decent PNG support. I found this IE7 article after I had started writing this post, looks promising for this one.
  5. Full SVG support – potentially ultra-great, but I know I’m dreaming.

9
Nov 04

Firefox 1.0 is out

The Mozilla foundation have reached a stable version of their browser, Firefox. Personally, I’m much more of an Opera fan, but I realise that some people don’t really like the techy interface and features.

Although everyone seems to be have posted this news, frankly, the more people that aren’t using IE the better (at least until they release a more recent version). Don’t expect loads of Mozilla news from me, there are plenty of other people who are really into that sort of stuff.


7
Nov 04

iPod

Likes, dislikes.

Apple and its approach (shitty) Copying off iPod…

Cory Doctorow fan, lecture, book links

http://www.boingboing.net/2004/10/30/apple_to_ipod_owners.html


20
Jun 04

Nokia 7610

Another mobile phone post! Some people reading this might think I’m some sort of phone geek, which I certainly am not. However, this is one phone that looks superb. I’m backtracking on all my statements from about a year ago about camera phones being fairly useless gimmicks. I was wrong.

I think there is massive potential for a fairly decent camera in a phone. Basically anything that would let me publish pretty good quality photos on the web would be awesome. It’s impossible to count the number of times I’ve seen something and thought: “I wish I had my camera with me…”. Not sure about the lens quality or anything like that, but this phone certainly seems to heading in the right direction. Shame they cost about £400, I want one.

EDIT: found this in-depth review of the phone.


25
May 04

Some cool flash and animation stuff

Here are a few of the better ones I’ve seen recently:

  • Samorost – listed first because it’s the best. Awesome and beautiful, if only there were more like this.
  • Little flash playground – by the same guy as Samorost. Quirky fun.
  • Glasgow Survival – these flash animations are essential viewing if you’ve ever been to Glasgow. I was going to link directly to the flash section, but that is accessible in the ‘Toys’ section and the rest of the site is worth a wee look too. Fair play to the boy on the bike though, decent effort.
  • I love acid – very cool little video for the trippers. Thanks to Andy D for this one.
  • Switch Maestro penguins – cool advert from TV.
  • There’s always Coinbird, if you dare.
  • Just watch this one. Sound needed, thanks to Pedro for pointing this one out.

22
May 04

Sony Ericsson T610 problems

This was going to be a post all about the cool features of my new phone, but it’s not. Yesterday I ‘upgraded’ my phone as my year long contract was finished with Orange. The upgrade was a free Sony Ericsson T610 phone, which looked pretty cool feature-wise. I took this phone rather than another Nokia 6310i because I fancied a camera and a new wee toy to play with. I do know at least two people with T68i phones who have had no end of trouble with them, but decided that it was just a problem with that model. Oops.

Today my phone died, aged just 23 hours, most of which was spent charging or switched off! As I was editing a contact the phone completely crashed and completely froze. I removed the battery and reset the phone, expecting all to be well. However, while all of the number keys continue to operate, all the others were goosed. Further resets did nothing to improve the situation.

Using the phone up until that point had not been trouble free. I’m going to avoid getting into my dis-belief about the lack of thought that goes into phone operating systems (and some ATMs on a sort of related topic). Although I realise there are lots of things that need to be crammed into the software, the menu system was slow and hard to navigate and everything just seemed to be a wee bit more complicated than it should have been. Added to the fact that the signal strength was noticably weaker than my Nokia and I’m one pissed off bunny. I still fancy a camera, but at the moment I don’t think the trade off is worth it. Poor decision, Mark.

Tomorrow I’m off to the shop to try to get another Nokia. John was right – Sony make shit phones.


18
May 04

Movable Type vs WordPress

After all the furore over Six Apart’s announcement regarding the Movable Type 3.0 licenscing, I’ve started to consider other blogging tools. I quite like MT, but Mike and I both agree that there is much room for improvement. The need to re-build entries/templates is my major bugbear with the software (although with our current host’s crap MySQL server it can be quite handy!). WordPress appears to be the best alternative to MT for ‘power users’ (crap term, but you know what I mean). If you know of any others that are worth considering, please let me know.

Fortunately, I’ve got plenty of hosting, domains and MySQL databases to play with so I’ve installed a test version of WordPress and have had a wee shooftie. Here are some quick first impressions:

  • Installation is much easier than MT, in this case at least.
  • Importing MT entries was pretty easy, one error for me that should be easily rectified.
  • General feel of the admin panel is not as nice/finished as MT IMO.
  • The write/edit page in the admin panel doesn’t display correctly in Opera, grrrr. Still usable.
  • Multiple level categories look pretty cool.
  • Links management feature could have potential.
  • Templating system doesn’t seem as powerful as MT, but I’ve not checked it out properly.
  • Will definitely be more hackable, for me at least.
  • Uploading images is better in WordPress, assuming I can get rid of the error message.
  • I like the permalink settings, mod_rewrite is cool.

So, I think I quite like WordPress and will probably make the swap. It’s not worlds better than MT, some things are worse, but it does have more features and no damned re-building. Of course my current version of MT will continue to work just fine, but I do fancy a new thing to play with. For this site I think I’ll wait until I get round to doing a re-design before I do any swapping.


18
Jan 04

MP3 players and Jornada memorial

OK, I’d love a decent MP3 player, really love one, but am holding off buying one until one comes along that’s just right for me. So much has been written about the iPod that it barely seems worth bothering, but I might as well. It seems to me that Apple have so nearly got it right – by all accounts it’s small, really easy to use and sounds great. They are expensive, but so are all of the comparable players. The battery life however just doesn’t cut it for me. I’m sure most people would rather have a small unit than a better battery, but it doesn’t even last the length of a decent flight. So close Apple, so close…

Any suggestions for other MP3 players appreciated – ideally something like a 20gig iPod with a better battery.

All this thinking about MP3 players was sparked by the recent sad demise of my Jornada 720. I had previously broken one of the hinges on the screen and had it fixed under warranty in record time by HP. It had long passed out of warranty when I broke the other hinge though and HP told me it would cost £320 to fix – that’s half the cost of a brand new one! Thanks for really continuing to support the users of your old products Hewlett Packard, this is a really encouraging me to buy something else from you :(. What’s even worse is that nobody appears to be developing handheld PCs anymore which is a real pity as I really like the form factor (I don’t like the pen only ones for entering more than a few lines, I hate writing). It was especially good when travelling on kiting trips or the like and I even wrote a chunk of my dissertation on it when I was bouldering in Font. RIP Jornada.


22
Oct 03

26 Megs in Japan!

Jeremy Zawodny is visiting Japan just now and tells of a 26 meg DSL line costing the same as his (US) 3 meg line. The Netherlands too have 8 meg ADSL lines for about 40 Euros (where is the Euro sign on a keyboard?). Oh dear, poor Britain really is a long, long way behind. I recently suggested getting a 1 meg line when I move into a flat in town and was laughed at – “There is no need for that much bandwidth”.

I disagree. Britiain’s mass move to 512k ADSL is certainly a step in the right direction and is much improved over standard modem links, but is surely only a start. Higher bandwidth applications are appearing on the internet, and a connection only needs to be shared between two or three users before you can notice a slowdown. Mike recently noticed the bandwidth throttle on his cable connection was giving him 1 meg rather than 0.5 and really noticed the difference.