Archive for August, 2007

UK broadband sucks…

Posted in General Blah!, Web Development on August 30, 2007 by Shaun

I find it incredible that the UK lags behind much of the world in it’s broadband. This article on techdirt shows that it is possible to drive innovation through competition.  We’ve had local loop unbundling for a while now in the UK and we have seen faster broadband offerings as well as a boost in the number of companies offering broadband services.

What amazes me most though is the attitude these companies are adopting.  We are seeing more services that allow us to view videos or listen to music online, greater access to interractive online services and a general boost to the number of people taking advantage of this new found freedom.  The BBC recently started up a beta of their new TV on demand offering where viewers can watch BBC programs for up to 7 days after first airing.

This is of course all good news, except that many broadband providers seem to think that using your broadband connection is not good.  Lets look at Virgin Media for example.  I have a 4meg broadband account with Virgin Media and you’d imagine that although this is not the fastest available connection speed it is a pretty fast line.  And you would be right.  I’m also rather lucky as I do generally receive the full 4meg most of the time (albeit when I don’t use it).

I say most of the time because Virgin Media have an interesting policy.  They have opted to initiate a capping policy, this means that I am alowed to use the full bandwidth that I pay for only until I reach the cap.  This cap is set at 750MB.  So I can download 750MB of data @ 4Mb/s then my connection is halved to 2Mb/s downstream and 192Kb/s upstream.  The throttling apparently only lasts 2 hours and is supposed to only happen when you reach the cap during certain times but I have seen my connection throttled even at so called ‘off peak’ times.

Now, most broadband providers state that they have to introduce limits to their services as the technology simply isn’t available for them to do anything else.  Unfortunately Virgin Media are running on a shiny new Fiber Optic network that hasn’t been in place very long so you’d imagine this argument wouldn’t count.  Virgin Media have also introduced a new 20Mb/s service (though I don’t know of anyone who has ever seen a 20Mb/s connection reach more than 12Mb/s) so the network must surely be able to handle it.

The problem in the UK and certainly with Virgin Media is that companies don’t/won’t invest fast enough, preferring instead to rip of the customers.  Virgin Media halve my connection on a regular basis as I download patches for Windows or packages for Linux, ISO’s for Linux and other open source software.  I also get my emails, watch movie trailers, youtube video’s and play online games. 750MB is maxed out really quickly and considering I work for a living, I can only use my connection during peak times so I’m screwed! 

Virgin never offer me a refund though despite my connection remaining inert most of the day, every day… go figure.  Other people are worse off than me in the UK as there’s this great marketing technique where providers advertise services as ‘up to’ 4MB or ‘up to’ 8MB which means you can pay for 8 and get 1 and you can’t do a damn thing about it.

Maybe we should move to Japan, it looks like they have the right idea.

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Ruby on Rails…

Posted in Web Development on August 30, 2007 by Shaun

I really know nothing about Ruby or Rails but I’m adding this to my things to learn list.

I found these short vids on YouTube this afternoon and thought you might find them entertaining. If Ruby on Rails is anywhere near as good as the vibes being put out on the web, then it should be interesting…


hmmm… seems i screwed up and tried to link the vids incorrectly.

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Fantastic source for Ajax toolkits and tools

Posted in Ajax Links, Web Development on August 30, 2007 by Shaun

Thanks again to Ajaxian I’ve found a cool resource for Ajax tools and toolkits.  Ajax Rain has some neat stuff available.

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Incredible new image resizing technology unveiled.

Posted in General Blah! on August 30, 2007 by Shaun

As an amature photographer working in the digital realm right up to print; I am painfully aware of how awkward it is to resize some images without introducing artifacts, or cropping and losing a feature you thought might just make the picture work better.

I’m also a web developer and I know that image size is a crucial element for web pages too – Especially when you want your website to scale.

In todays world where almost every device we own has the capability to browse the web, page scalability is crucial.  Usually scaling your site means degrading it slowly until eventually the smallest device gets a text only rendering.  there are various methods to achieve this using some Javascript and a steady supply of different sized images.  Imagine a world where this kind of degradation wasn’t necessary because the picture scaled too without losing detail or becoming mis-shapen.

I found this post on Ajaxian today.  Watch the video, it really is pretty impressive.  Content aware image resizing… and Adobe just hired the co-creator, I’m already saving up for CS4 :0D

with some very smart application this could be one of the next big things to hit the web.

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Java administration tips for Ubuntu

Posted in Java on August 30, 2007 by Shaun

If you are an Ubuntu user and you use Java you would benefit from some cool tips I’ve found while browsing the Ubuntu forums of late.

By default Ubuntu comes with a version of Java (jgc) that isn’t Sun’s.  This isn’t a problem unless you are perhaps developing Java applications, in that case you might want to install the Sun JDK.  This is done easily via the package manager, just search for sun jdk ad pick your version.

Unfortunately despite installing Sun’s jdk the Java system may not be fully utilising it.

java -version in a terminal session will show you the current version in use, and this should be the one you installed from the package manager.

Now try sudo update-alternatives –config java in the terminal.
This should produce a list of installed Java versions and there will be a * by the default one in use.  Pick the number that corresponds to the version you want to use (or accept the current default and that will now become the default Java version for Ubuntu.

This can be handy if you want to check your app in different versions of Java or develop to a specific version, or even switch to a different version to troubleshoot environment issues you suspect are Java related.

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Fix available for debugging issue

Posted in Asp.Net, Software Development, Web Development on August 24, 2007 by Shaun

Scott Guthrie has posted details of a fix MS have released to repair an issue found with debugging in Visual studio 2005.  the fix attempts to repair an issue with a big delay between hitting F5 and the first breakpoint being hit.

You can get the full details and links from his blog here.  Scott has a couple of other links to hotfixes and a cool tips and tricks page in that entry too.

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Ubuntu Compiz fusion

Posted in Linux on August 22, 2007 by Shaun

There’s been a few links around to help get compiz fusion running on ubuntu, this one gets you to the simplest set of instructions I’ve seen so far.

These worked a treat for me.

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