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Archive for May, 2011

The Future’s Bright, the Future’s THREE

As regular readers will know I’ve been struggling with Orange incompetence for years now, if it’s not been poor customer service, it’s been lack of signal (there is no Orange signal in my village, hasn’t been for the last decade and now I understand they have no plans to do anything about this – despite claiming they put applications in on more than one occasion for masts – I just don’t buy this).

Anyway having discovered that someone has already successfully won a legal case to get out of their contract because of lack of signal, I convinced Orange to let me go without a penalty.

Armed with that freedom I headed off to the THREE store. Why THREE? Well, I already use (and recommend) their MIFI units and perhaps contrary to what you might think, they have quite an impressive coverage in the UK, at least everywhere I’ve tried up to now. They are also FAR more realistic with data, offering up to 15GIG a month data on their MIFI units. Better, on their iPhone deals, the offer a flat-rate package at £35 a month that gives “all-you-can-eat” data.

Now, we’ve all heard that from the other operators who until recently claimed “unlimited” broadband then when you read the fine print it’s a con – they have “fair use” policies which means the claim of unlimited is really a downright lie.

So I checked – according to THREE, “all you can eat” means unlimited data with no fair use policy.  Further, unlike Orange who charge an extra TEN POUNDS a month to share phone data with a laptop, sharing with the laptop is INCLUDED in the deal.

For reasons well beyond me the fellow at the THREE store thought this did not include iPads which would not work – but I remember standing outside the store thinking “But if you share over WIFI how on earth would it distinguish an iPad from a laptop?” and sure enough I was right, the iPhone will take in 3G, spit out WIFI and share it with any device that works on WIFI AND yes it will handle VPNs for those who need to log into work.

So, armed with my new phone and new company I headed off from Hexham for a trip to Blackpool, Internet radio (the American BIG CHEESE radio station) running on the phone…  and in a trip taking over 2 hours, I lost no more than a couple of minutes of radio time. Bye Bye BBC!

Harold Camping–Totally Fruit and Nut

If someone makes a racial statement that could upset as few as one person – they get into trouble – and rightly so (though right now that often usually only applies to the good guys) – but if someone predicts the end of the world, gets  that message onto national media in the sure knowledge that thousands of mis-informed people will believe the message and worry about it– nothing happens. 89-year-old Harold Camping did just that and predictably he was wrong – even more predictably he’s disappeared.

With any luck his god has struck him down – more likely he’s worried that some of his former supporters are going to strike him down.  Perhaps some authorities somewhere might like to charge him with incitement to riot?

The only thing he has achieved, sadly is to further challenge young people to ignore the older generation! As for Keith Bauer who travelled thousands of miles to California because “I was hoping for it because I think heaven would be a lot better than this earth” – should this guy be watched as a potential terrorist if he has so little regard for his own life?

How many times are the claims of those who believe in imaginary deities going to be given this kind of credibility before the world wakes up.  All of these people would be far better employed working for our common future instead of sitting there waiting for the end that is highly unlikely to come. Far more likely we kill ourselves in civil breakdowns when we run out of fuel if we don’t get our act together.

Brain Control? Science Fiction?

 

This is so impressive. We might not have colonies on the moon but the 21st century isn’t doing so bad up to now… if only we could manage climate control as well…

Controlling Brains!

Testing Broadband Speed and More!

It’s not uncommon for people to read the headline figure on their broadband connection “8 meg” and think they have a good deal then wonder why SKYPE gives them problems!  Here’s a simple guide to getting wise.

Most standard Internet connections in the UK use what is called ADSL – all you need to know is that this means you don’t get the same speed in both directions.  When you’re told you have an “8 meg” connection that usually means the maximum DOWNLOAD (data coming to you). The reality is usually less than that and depends on CONTENTION (how many other people are sharing your connection at any moment in time) and UPLOAD (data going FROM you).

Also important is the PING time – i.e. if you send a bit of data out – how long before it actually gets to the other end.

Fortunately there are some free tools to help you get to the bottom of this without being a rocket scientist. These sites are easy to use and more or less self-explanatory. When I get a minute I’ll go into more detail but for now, consider this.. you have your sparkly new 8 MEG connection and Skype doesn’t seem to work well. In reality it’s your upload speed that is important together with any delays… you SEND video/audio to the other guy and he SENDS video/audio to you – the download speed doesn’t really come into it as long as it is faster than the upload speed.  Of course all of this assumes your kids are not downloading war and peace…

Have a play with these tools – out of interest the results you see are my own rural broadband results.

Testing Upload and DOWNLOAD speeds

Two excellent sites are….

http://www.speedtest.net/

image

and

http://www.mybroadbandspeed.co.uk/

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Testing PING and JITTER

Try this out – it’s pretty self-explanatory.

http://www.pingtest.net/

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