Archive for December, 2007

Seasons greetings to you all.

Posted in General Blah! on December 24, 2007 by Shaun

Whatever way you celebrate Christmas I hope you have a great time.  I want to thank everybody who has taken the time read my ramblings this year, I hope I’ve managed to share something useful.

2007 has been an interesting year with many changes in the world of web development and I’m sure 2008 has many nice surprises ahead.  AIR is starting to gather pace, Silverlight is looking to be producing some interesting results in the web development community and Javascript is surely going to be reborn and revitalised, there’s life in the old dog yet.

I’m particularly excited about Ruby and Ruby on Rails, these are new finds for me this year and I am determined to get my teeth into them and produce something.

The Gaming community has been spoiled rotten this year The Orange Box offered us incredible value for money and some of the best games ever released as part of the bargain.
Bioshock sent shivers down our collective spine with it’s atmosphere, awesome gameplay, shadows of system shock remain but this is not an old game with a new face.
Unreal Tournament III finally made an appearance and though the same gameplay remains with a few tweaks and improvements it’s one fine looking game and hopefully will retain some of the popularity of UT2004 and the previous versions.
Call of Duty 4 shook off it’s 1940’s guise and took a giant leap into the 21st century and it made a big splash when it landed the multiplayer game mode is simply awesome and more than makes up for a very short single player campaign, a lot of work went into this release and it shows.

There are more games of course and more to come in 2008 but this is a blog not a novel so I’ll leave it there with room for comment and discussion amongst yourselves or on this post help yourselves.

I have many things planned for 2008 and if I achieve any of my goals at all I’ll be a happy man.  Lose weight and learn Ruby are top of the list, some other things are making their way along the pipeline and hopefully some of the seeds planted in 2007 will take root and bear fruit in 2008.

The year ended on a sad note for me after Duke (my faithful pet hound) was laid to rest, but a new year beckons and with all the challenges it will offer up I’m sure I’ll get used to him not being around.

So with no more babbling from me I offer you all my compliments of the season and hope that however you are celebrating, you stay safe, stay happy and I look forward to sharing with you in the new year.

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Oooops!

Posted in General Blah! on December 18, 2007 by Shaun

Y’know, Virgin have some talented people working on their engineering team, I’ve spoken with a couple who are happy to cut through the company BS and get to the root of the matter at risk of losing their jobs too so I mean no disrespect to them in any way shape or form when I critisize VM.
I thought that the news item on the BBC website today may entertain others who have a Virgin Media account, I got hit by the blackout last night, seems to have got them really good because all of their support lines were down as well 🙂

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Tem Fortress 2 detailed stats go live

Posted in General Blah! on December 15, 2007 by Shaun

Valve have just released some awesome new stats for Team Fortress 2.  these stats cover just about everything but one cool feature i like are the new death maps that show where most people die on a given map.

Some people don’t like this statfest but i love it and it just adds to the game.  Hopefully the new rewards coming up for medics will encourage more teamplay, and these stats can only help map designers and Valve improve an what is already the game of the year!

Get your stats here.

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Balancing the view.

Posted in Java, Software Development, Web Development on December 13, 2007 by Shaun

While I like Netbeans 6 and personally I am really happy with it having moved from Eclipse, there is, as always, a flip side to every coin so in the interests of balancing things, this post on the Java tutorials weblog is asking for votes to bring back the Beans Module that is missing from Netbeans 6.

There are some interesting comments made as people place their vote and I’d say the vote is overwhelming and we should be seeing the bean module in the upcoming update to NB6.

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“I’m not dead…

Posted in General Blah! on December 13, 2007 by Shaun

I will, of course, be dead at some future point, as will everybody else.”

These are the words of Terry Pratchett who announced recently that he has Alzheimer’s disease.  As the man himself said it’s an “Embuggerance”.  I have enjoyed reading his books for many many years now and am always itching to get hold of the next book. I’m glad he has a positive attitude about the whole thing, his character in life is seamlessly woven through all of his books.

I want to offer Terry and his family my best wishes. Thanks for many many years of joy Terry and I look forward to many more as you battle on.

I’m not caffeinated yet, I will be at some future point, as should everybody else ;0)

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Slovenia leads the way for Broadband speeds…

Posted in General Blah! on December 12, 2007 by Shaun

Following on from my post regarding Virgin Media yesterday I read this post from Miha over on the righthand blog.

Note to Virgin, this is how it’s done!  and this is the Slovenian equivalent of BT!

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Virgin Media update their Traffic Management policy…

Posted in General Blah! on December 11, 2007 by Shaun

…and make their Broadband package practically useless to most users.

Virgin have updated their throttling policy aparently making it fairer to everyone.  Except it doesn’t make it fair at all and isn’t any better than the existing throttling policy.

Size L customers (4MB) can download 800MB anytime from 4pm to 9pm before triggering the system to throttle their connection down to 1MB for the next 5 hours.  Currently the limit is 750MB from 4pm to midnight when you’ll be throttled to 2MB and this only lasts for 4 hours.  Bear in mind the upload spead gets reduced also and this has a big effect on the overall speed of an internet connection.

There’s one important thing to note here: if you hit the limit at 8:59pm you will be reduced right through to 1:59am unlike the current policy where you went back up to full speed at midnight even if you had only just been throttled.

This effectively stops Virgin Media customers buying software online (taking advantage of cheaper prices) or downloading legitimate software like Linux which comes on a CD or DVD image.
Gamers who frequently apply patches to their games at over 1GB for some patches or taking advantage of the Steam network where you buy and download whole games online will be screwed if they try and do it from 4pm to 9pm.

The original policy is here and the new policy is here. note that there is a restriction on upload as well as download. (these links may be updated soon please comment if you notice the change)

The story is on the register also here.

I’ve emailed Virgin for their comments as I’m interested to find out why they are putting a positive spin on this.  I’m certain that comments like ‘you can still download as much as you like just at a slower speed’ will come out but this is hiding behind the broadband providers definition of unlimited.  Virgin Media advertise all over the place that they provide an unlimited service yet this is blatently a limited service as you are limited to using the full speed you pay for only during off peak hours, unless you make sure you download next to nothing at all.

Don’t download the new Linux distro, don’t apply windows updates, don’t buy software that you’ll need to download and don’t update your games between 4pm and 9pm.  You may also notice that taking advantage of Virgins ‘awesome’ broadband plus service will not do you any favours, or watching BBC’s new online content, listening to the radio downloading podcasts… it goes on and on and on…

So, while many more broadband customers are doing all they can to encourage users to make as much useage of their services as possible, and the government themselves want bigger and better broadband for Britain I am gobsmacked that Virgin Media’s policy is to discourage the use of Broadband during the hours people are most able to use their service, especially if they have to go out to work every day.

Will virgin be reducing the charges for Broadband?  What about introducing charge throttling?  for example a customer on a 4MB (£25 per month) connection being throttled to a 1MB connection when reaching the 800MB has now dropped into the band equal to a customer on a 2MB (£18 per month) connection.

Lack of HD and Sky channels, more aggressive Broadband throttling, Higher prices for on demand movies and content is proving that Virgin Media are in big big trouble indeed.
Given the exodus of customers earlier in 2007 when the Sky channels were dropped I forsee another exodus as people move to a fairer and cheaper Broadband service of which there are a great many.

It’s going to cost me a lot of money to move but I think I am one of the people sick to the back teeth of Virgin Media’s constant reduction of value in the services they offer.  One day the investors are going to wake up and realise that Virgin had a lot of potential but they have no customers.

Customers = Money even Richard Branson should know this; I know he’s not the one in charge at Virgin Media (he just provides the brand name) but he better wake up and smell the coffee real soon as this kind of thing results in a lack of trust in a brand and that will hurt Branson more as it will ripple through all the other areas tagged with the same name.

I am the caffeine coder and I am pi**ed!

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