Archive for April, 2008

Apr 29 2008

Broadband Upgrade – Prices Published

Published by under General

So, I was a little out with my estimates in one of my previous posts.  Cable & Wireless has finally published the prices of their (still to be) upgraded broadband service. The good news is that the prices are lower than I thought it would be:

2Mb:  £24.99

4Mb:  £49.99

8Mb:  £79.99

The bad news is that this is still far more expensive that offerings from the UK.  Also, the standard that the Guernsey is being upgraded to should be able to support 8Mb download and 1Mb upload, however the 8Mb Pro service has an upload limit of 768Kb.  I make that 25% below what it could be.

I’m sure lots of people will be saying “better late than never” but is this really enough of an offering to keep us competitive in the current digital climate?  I wonder what the (not so) wonderful OUR has to say about it?

6 responses so far

Apr 23 2008

TeamCity Over SSL

Published by under Technology

Following on from my presentation last night on TeamCity, I’ve been trying to configure our installation at work so that it can be accessed by our developers in the UK.

The first problem is punching a hole in the firewall.  This was done easily enough by our network admin, however it had to be done a different port than normal as the default port was already being used.  Next, this port had to be configured in the Tomcat server.xml file.  One of the clear things I discovered whilst changing the port setting is that it is possible to have both HTTP and HTTPS access to TeamCity at the same time on different ports.  This meant we could keep the old internal HTTP port for local developers and set up the external port as HTTPS for our developers in the UK.

Setting up HTTPS meant creating a certificate for Tomcat.  It was easy enough to create a self signed certificate using the TeamCity documentation and the Tomcat documentation.  The Tomcat documentation also includes information about importing a third party signed certificate.

One thing to note about the self-signed certificate is that you can only import the certificate in Internet Explorer for future visits to the site if the value given to keytool for “What is your first and last name?” is the domain name used to access the site.  This one had me confused for a while.

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Apr 23 2008

GSDF Presentation – TeamCity – Review

Published by under General

Last night was my TeamCity presentation for the GSDF.  This was my first proper presentation since about 8 years ago at university.  I feel it went alright but I have identified some room for improvement for future presentations.

Hopefully those that attended will have an idea for the features that TeamCity offers and will go away and try and convince their companies that it is the way to go.  If not then it might at least get them looking into continuous integration solutions for their teams.

The presentations are now available online in various formats:

3 responses so far

Apr 22 2008

Broadband Upgrade – 6th May

Published by under Guernsey News,Technology

Could it possibly be that Cable & Wireless are almost ready to roll out the long awaited and delayed broadband upgrade in Guernsey?

Last week I heard from an insider at Cable & Wireless that they are due to be finished internal testing some time this week.  Today I have just received an email from a friend sent to him by C&W saying:

There will be a short break in service for all High Speed Internet Pro users from 5am on the 6th May 2008. The outage is expected to last less than one hour.

If this is the case we can look forward to a blindingly [not very] fast broadband service.  I must say that I’m not overly confident that either this will be the upgrade or, if it is, that the downtime will be limited to one hour.

I have heard from an inside source that the equipment that they have bought in to  facilitate the upgrade isn’t all it was meant to be and that maybe they are regretting buying it.  If this is the case I’m guessing (from the way the person spoke about it) that we can expect the reliability of broadband in the island to go down hill once the upgrade has been rolled out.

 

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Apr 21 2008

GSDF Presentation – TeamCity

Published by under General

Tomorrow evening, Tuesday 22nd April, I’m going to be giving a talk for Guernsey Software Developer Forum (GSDF) on TeamCity, a continuous integration system from JetBrains.  The talk will take place at the offices of Rawlinson & Hunter, Trafalgar Court, 3rd Floor, West Wing, St Peter Port, Guernsey at 6pm.  I have posted a map and plan of the office on the GSDF forum.

This is the first time I have done a presentation since my first year at university.  I’ve finished putting together my slides and I’m just taking a short break from putting together a demonstration on using the system.  Hopefully I’ve prepared enough and will be able to convince even just one or two people that this is a good system to switch to, or even that they should be using continuous integration in the first place.

After the presentation I will be making the slides available online and I might even record a screencast if I can find (free) software to do it on a Mac.  If you’re in the area tomorrow come along.  It’s a free event and open to all.

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Apr 21 2008

Spirits in the Wires

Published by under General

I’m about two thirds of the way though this book now having started it in February – I’m a slow reader ok – and I just wanted to make a few notes about it.  What I’m looking for in books at the moment is something that mixes together techie-sci-fi-fantasy set in an almost believable real world.  I’m not looking for futuristic sci-fi or fantasy set in another realm.

Having exhausted my stock of un-read books I turned to Waterstones, whilst I was in the UK, to provide my next read and what I found was Spirits in the Wires.  This book is definitely one that I’m enjoying reading, although it has taken me a while to get into it.  The author, Charles de Lint, has taken the approach of writing each chapter from a different characters perspective.  So through out the book you’re seeing the same continuing timeline from differing angles.

This is a new approach for me and possibly why I’m so slow at reading it, every time I pick up the book I have to flick back to the beginning of the chapter to remind me which character the current perspective is from.

The core idea of the book is about websites taking on a spirit & life of their own as more and more people visit (worship) those sites.  Whilst this is not something I believe in at the moment, I can one day see a time when system become intelligent enough and gather together enough information to become sentient and free roaming.  It probably wont happen in my life time but I’m certain it will happen one day.

Spirit in the Wire seems to me to be a cross between some of Cory Doctorows ideas and Tad Williams’ Otherland and his War of the Flowers.  If you like either of those you’ll probably enjoy this book.  And in fact, speak of Tad Williams, I’ve finally bought his second book in the Shadowmarh series.

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Apr 21 2008

Guernsey Election

Published by under Guernsey News

This Wednesday is election day for the Guernsey States of Deliberation – the government of the Bailiwick of Guernsey.  This year I’ve been following the election process more closely than I have in the past.  Partly because I think the current States have done such a terrible job and secondly because I think the next sitting of the States will have some difficult decision to make.

For the last election I was living with my parents in the Vale.  I knew of most of the candidates that were standing for election and I had a fairly good idea of what they were standing for.  This time, however, I’m living in St Martins and haven’t heard of many of the candidates before, so I have been reading their manifestos.  I meant to go to the area hustings meetings – where members of the parish get to question the candidates – but unfortunately it clashed with another meeting.

Being new to the area, I was looking forward to being able to speak to the candidates as they went door-to-door trying to solicit votes.  Unfortunately we have only had one candidate coming to the door and that was only to drop a manifesto through the letter box.  In this respect I am rather disappointed with the candidates.

Also, reading the manifestos I get the feeling that none of the candidates are willing to stick their neck out and say what they think really needs to be done.   All of them acknowledge that waste management, education, transport and health all need address but none are making any proposals as to what could be done.

One candidate in particular includes a list of the various sections of the States they have served whilst previously elected.  While this may look impression to the casual reader, it just cries out to me saying “I’ve got no area of expertise so I go where I’m told to” and that really doesn’t inspire me to vote for them.

I think I have come up with a short list of people I am willing to vote for on Wednesday.  One thing is certain though, I’m not going to be using all my votes.  I believe I have six votes I can use but I suspect I may use only three of them.

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Apr 13 2008

Broadband upgrade – a bit of context

Published by under Guernsey News,Technology

Following on from my previous blog post, about the continuing delays with the broadband upgrade in Guernsey, I have just received an email from C&W in which they give a bit of context about the upgrade, why they have made some of the choices they have and a bit of background of the commitment from C&W to the telecoms infrastructure of the island.

With regard to your technical questions, you are correct that the new faster services will be based on the ADSL standard.  Rather than being an out of date technology, in our experience standard ADSL is far less susceptible to noise and interference than either ADSL 2 or ADSL 2+ at speeds of up to 8Mb/s.  Both ADSL2 and ADSL 2+ are also extremely prone to problems arising from variations in wiring quality, and for these reasons we have opted to use standard ADSL as it offers a more stable service.  However the equipment that we have now installed is capable of supporting both ADSL2 and ADSL2+ in future.

It’s good to know that at some undetermined point in the future we might possibly get ADSL2 or ADSL2+.  However, my personal opinion is that I would rather have 12Mb/s or 24Mb/s that is occasionally dropped to a lower speed because of quality.   Is your average home user really going to know that they’re not getting full speed.  As a result of contention ratios you’re not always going to be getting 8Mb/s on ADSL anyway, so does it really matter?

The current project is a proactive £2.5 million investment by Cable & Wireless, as part of our ongoing plan to provide faster broadband services in the Bailiwick. That level of investment hopefully provides you with some idea of the scale of cost involved in providing broadband services in a market of just 24,000 households.  Comparisons with the UK, where the market is a 1,000 times larger, are often misleading. 

I’m not going to argue that these numbers sound impressive but I wonder how they stack up against the C&W annual profits?  And what is the annual investment per-capita in Guernsey compared with the UK?  I’ve no doubt that there are economies of scale coming into play but it would be interesting to find out.

The entry level price for broadband in Guernsey is just £14.99, and when you also consider that many UK broadband services require a standard BT line, which is around 50% more expensive than the local exchange line rental (£7.99 per month compared to £12.50 per month), then hopefully you can begin to see the overall cost this into context. 

These numbers are a little miss-leading.  For entry level broadband from BT is £15.99 (not including any current offers) but if you bring the C&W entry level plan up to the same level as the BT one it shifts the Guernsey one up to £19.49.  Also, the line rental from BT is £10.50 and not £12.50.   With these numbers I make it £26.49 for 8Mb/s from BT and £26.99 for 1Mb/s from C&W – I know which I would prefer!

Since 2001 Cable & Wireless has invested more than £35 million into capital projects in Guernsey as part of our commitment to improving the Bailiwick’s telecommunications infrastructure.  

Would C&W care to share with us what this money has been spent on?  Also, what real effects of this can the average end customer see?  Because to be quite honest all I can see is that I’ve still just got a basic landline, a plain old 2.5G mobile phone and I’m still stuck in the dark ages with 1Mb/s broadband.  I fail to see where the £35 million has been of benefit to me.

One response so far

Apr 11 2008

Broadband Upgrade Still A Month Away

Published by under Guernsey News,Technology

Yesterday C&W release a notice on their website saying that they are entering the final phase of testing the broadband upgrade in the island and that this should be complete within four weeks.

This upgrade will bring the whole island up the the old-school ADSL (8Mbit up / 1Mb down) standard.  None of this fancy-pants ADSL2 or ADSL2+ wizardry.

I emailed C&W several days asking about what was happening at C&W regarding the upgrade but he has so far declined to respond.  I think that may be due to the fact that I questioned why the upgraded speeds would be so low and why we wouldn’t be getting ADSL2 or ADSL2+ speeds, and wondering if maybe C&W was abusing it’s monopoly position to make sure that they can get the maximum profit from a minimum investment.

After minimal research (and a lot of guessing and estimation) I figure

the pricing of broadband will look something like this:

  • 2Mb – £24.99/Month
  • 2Mb Premium – £49.99/Month
  • 4Mb Premium – £79.99/Month
  • 8Mb Premium – £99.99/Month

Oh well, here’s me hoping I’ll get included in the upgraded speed trial.

One response so far

Apr 03 2008

Evernote Maintenance

Published by under Technology

This morning when I tried adding a new note to Evernote I was surprised to get a warning message saying that Evernote could not synchronise with my online account.   However, due to good application design this didn’t stop me from creating new notes, it simply meant I’d have to wait until later to get text recognition on images.

On checking the Evernote website it appears that some changes to the web application are being rolled out as visitors are greeted with the following message:

Ssshhh. The elephant fell asleep.

Actually, we’re performing some maintenance.

We’ll be back up and running very soon.

Please be patient and check back in a bit. This page will auto-refresh every 60 seconds.

Also the design is a little different.  Does this mean a mobile java version of Evernote is just about to be released?  Who knows but I’ll be watching and waiting with anticipation.

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