Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Where did the internet all go so quickly?

A further 4 /8's have been allocated in November it seems, so we are down to only 7 /8's left. I understand that when we get to 5 the RIRs get one last /8 each.

This could mean we are literally weeks from an empty IANA pool of IPv4s.

Whats the betting IPv4 will run out before Christmas!

Monday, 29 November 2010

LHR arrivals borked

So wife coming from Cologne...

Their departures web site says not left. Now 18:51...

LHR web site still listing arrival scheduled 18:40 !!!!!

WTF. How thick is that?

Come on guys, join the dots... It is after the expected arrival time *now*, so asserting on schedule for a time in the past is pretty brain dead.

At 19:13 LHR still list as expected 18:40. Who wrote that FFS?

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Time for a new DNS system?

What with proposals by SOCA to be able to shut down UK domains without any conviction, we now see this already applies to ICANN based domains. See article.

So, how long before we need a new type of DNS that is somehow designed to avoid any possibility of central control or censorship.

I am sure it must be possible, but it is hard to come up with a way of creating records that are unique without a central body or some sort of delegation. Mind you, we managed it for newsgroups!

I am sure it is possible somehow.

Clearly governments cannot be trusted.

Friday, 26 November 2010

Don't use Nominet .uk domains any more?

[update: my post below is a tad confrontational, and itself somewhat knee jerk. Alex Bligh has produced a much better worded article on why this is so wrong]

Well, we have always been very keen to promote .uk domains managed by Nominet. The contract was always very clear, the domain owner was protected from stupidities of the ISP they were using, the registration process was quick and easy, and the prices were sensible. We liked UK domains and supported Nominet.

But to be honest the extent with which Nominet are colluding with big brother is now making me very concerned.

The latest news suggests proposals that any .uk domain where there are "reasonable grounds to believe they are being used to commit a crime" such as "a request from an identified UK Law Enforcement Agency" could be instantly suspended.

This is mental!

Many popular .uk domains are used to commit a crime. You can guarantee that someone somewhere has used google.co.uk in some way to commit a crime. And of course, hotmail.co.uk will have been used to commit a crime every time anyone sends an email that someone in the country could find menacing (even if the recipient does not).

Bear in mind that many company web sites still fail to include all of the correct details as required by the Companies Act 2009 - that's a crime, so all of those domains could be instantly taken down stopping not only the companies web site but their email and any other services using the domain which could even include their phones these days!

You may think I am being silly here - but when we have a system that can convict someone of a joke on twitter, you realise that perhaps I am not. It's a good thing that twitter don't use a UK domain or proposed laws like this could have taken twitter down completely. You have the crazy situation where someone could complain that an email they got could have been menacing to some hyperthetical older couple and that means the domain used for the email could be suspended as it is used to commit a crime.

Bear in mind the police do not want to investigate and prosecute these frivolous crimes, so requesting Nominet take the domain down would be a quick and easy way of dealing with a complaint from the public.

It is like saying that BT should turn off a whole telephone exchange if anyone uses one of the lines to commit a crime. The implications of suspending a domain can be much more far reaching than just a web page.

Of course some people with no clue (such as many politicians) will wonder why I am ranting on this - surely this is a good thing as it helps stop criminal activity. If they really think that some web site that the establishment don't like will go away because their domain is suspended, they are totally round the bend. The fitwatch example given, using a UK domain to point to a US site would simply be on a .com domain, or a .cx domain or any number of other domains around the world - or better still on a direct IP address URL. I have already said how the whole concept of domain names is diluted now, with people using twitter and facebook namespaces as well as saying "search for xxx". So many people are not using domains now. Changing a web site from one domain to another has effect as fast as the search engines pick it up. So this suggestion is pointless.

Like so many uninformed knee jerk reactions, it has no effect on any crinimals but has huge scope to damage letitimate domain users and companies. Actually, no effect is not true - it creates publicity for the criminals.

If Nominet go ahead with this then we'll stop doing free UK domains with our DSL and start recommending customers use other registries. Nominet should be explaining the complete futility of such proposals not agreeing with them.

I'd love to hear Nominet's side on this one. Lets hope this is just bad reporting and I am wrong about this.

3D WoW?

You can get computer video cards which support 3D. These allow the game to set up two frame buffers for each point of view (left eye and right eye) from the same scene, and alternate frames to the monitor. They also drive 3D shutter glasses.

This does however mean an expensive video card and expensive high frame rate monitor. The good high resolution monitors tend not to have the necessary frame rate.

However, games could do something different. With just a simple software change they could generate a split screen where left and right eye are side by side on the display. This would work with any video card. If they do that, then you can play on your 3D TV. The TV will split the two images and drive the glasses just the same as a feed from Sky or BD. Many games on consoles already do split screen for multi-player - showing a different viewpoints for different players.

WoW, in 3D, on a 55" HD 3D would be moderately cool!
Even if only possible when my wife is away...

So, Blizzard, please can we have a 3D TV mode for WoW? It's a very simple s/w change...

Thursday, 25 November 2010


Hmmm... 3D TV and Sky TV, and now I see how some of it works.

First off, yes, the 3D effect works - there is depth. That is the plus point... I seem to be able to watch live football in 3D! (I don't watch football).

Now for the crap...

1. It appears that there is no signal to tell the TV that the feed is 3D - you have to turn on and off 3D mode on the TV. It is thankfully one button. And to be fair you have to put glasses on, so that is not so hard. I think this is a limitation in the Sky box not telling the TV it is 3D to be honest.

2. It appears that a 3D feed is just a squashed picture and another picture on the same frame. I.e. it is not actually two full HD pictures, but two half resolution pictures. Con or what?

3. It appears there is clearly no standard for that, as the TV has top/bottom or side-by-side modes. Sky seem to send side-by-side. So if you watch Sky 3D on a normal TV it is just two images width squashed, side by side on the screen. Seems you can get 3D for free too, so you can try that on a normal TV for a laugh. Arrg! The TV forgets the setting...

4. The TV, a nice (expensive) 55" Sony, is fine I am sure, but I can see the flicker with the active glasses. I expected that this might happen. I have yet to see if I can get used to that. We'll see.

5. This crazy way of sending two pictures for the price of one does have the side effect that existing kit will just work as it is not aware it is doing 3D, just a rather odd picture. So it will just work with a blue ray player, or whatever, that has 3D.

6. The sky box has no clue it is 3D (see above), which means the menus, and the pause logo, and so on, are all seriously screwed up. The sky box needs to know, and to display its menus half width on both sides. I am sure that would be easy for them to do, but they have not done it. Doh!

So, not entirely impressed yet, and shocked that 3D seems to be technically a bodge on normal HDMI.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Company bike

Well, we may not do company cars, but we do company bikes, and I have a nice new one now...

I have actually gone for the classic with 3 speed as I only use 2 gears anyway, and the 5 speed caused too many problems.

But I have gone for the non standard hub dynamo/brake set on the front as the rim dynamo was a pain.

So, well chuffed.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Two speed internet

Sorry, but WTF.

Quotes from BBC "It paves the way for an end to "net neutrality" - with heavy bandwidth users like Google and the BBC likely to face a bill for the pipes they use." make no sense.

I, as an ISP, can, right now, go to the BBC or google and say "we will not pass your packets to our customers unless you pay us". I believe ISPs have tried this before.

I, as an ISP, can, right now, go to the BBC or google and say "if you pay us some money we'll make sure your packets get priority over our network to our customers".

This has always been the case. It is a simple commercial decision.

It is also a simple commercial decision that the likes of BBC and google say "no problem, we'll stop sending packets to you". As an ISP it is simply not sensible for me to try and offer a service to my customers that does not have the BBC or google. They know that. I know that. So simple commerce works and we don't get paid by BBC or google.

Equally, if the likes of BBC or google came to us offering us money for priority access to customers, we could consider it. TBH, the way we run the network it would not help as we aim to have uncongested links, and so "priority access" for be the same as they get now - but that does not mean I would not take their money and mark the packets accordingly.

They say "It paves the way for an end to "net neutrality"", but I am not aware of anything that provides "net neutrality" now? So what is ending?

We already have people that pay money to join peering points, or pay money for direct links to us, and cases where we pay money for direct links to other people, so as to provide a better service for our customers. A prime example is direct links to VoIP providers as we sell VoIP to our customers and want that to work well. Someone doing VoIP with some other provider does not have the benefit of that direct link and so inherently gets a worse link (though not that it matters as we aim not to run any links full).

They say "In the US, President Barack Obama has backed net neutrality - treating all traffic equally - and regulators have threatened possible legal action against ISPs that block or restrict access to sites.". They say "Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are supposed to treat all web traffic equally". But I am not aware of any UK laws which insist on this. It would be interesting if there are such laws, after all, almost all ISPs are "blocking" accesses to all IPv6 only "sites" at present, and if laws say that is not allowed then we have legislation for IPv6! If such laws exist then the IWF would be outlawed for a start!

Maybe I have missed something - I am sure someone will post a reference.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

NAT Hit Squad

My son suggested that someone should start a fund that can pay for the hit squad to take out anyone that ever suggests NAT for IPv6 :-)

IPv6 and Trading Standards

Well, one of the fun comments at 6::uk launch was the idea that you cannot call yourself an ISP unless you route all IP protocols in use on the Internet, i.e. IPv4 and IPv6.

Well, that got me thinking. Read the box on the average router and it says things like "enables you to access the Internet" (I was reading a ZyXEL router box).

But what is "the Internet"? Well it clearly includes more than just IPv4 hosts now. There are parts of the world you cannot access if you only have IPv4.

One idea was an "IPv6 ready" or "Internet HD" type product marking to get router manufacturers to make it clear they handle IPv6, but maybe we need a stick as well as a carrot.

Would trading standards get involved in telling manufacturers that unless they clearly mark products as only able to access the "old Internet" then they will be taken to court for mis-describing their products?

Just an idea.

Saturday, 13 November 2010


Cross with myself today - weekends are one of the few times I can get some work done and I have wasted today watching TV...

Friday, 12 November 2010

Twits, again

OK, I wonder.

The logic is that someone (an "older couple") could happen on twitter the day before they fly, see the suggestion that someone will blow up an airport.

Apparently this theoretical case is enough to get someone convicted and lose an appeal. It is a criminal offence.

So I think I need to make a script to grab the re-tweets of this. After all they meet the criterial for criminal charge, clearly.

Then, putting details of each, I make a letter on a sheet of A4 to local police.

And put 1,000 of them, or maybe 10,000 of them, on the door step. All asking for a reply confirming action will be taken or an explanation of why not action will be taken.

If the original tweet is a criminal offence so I am only doing the right thing by telling local plod of other cases, after all. Being a responsible citizen and all that.

And as it is like a couple of reams of paper and ink, why the fuck not?


Actually - are the rules not that if you see a crime happening right now, i.e. in progress, you should call 999? So everyone go to go to twitter and search for the bomb threat (i think #iamsparticus) and if you see one call 999 - "crime happening now - someone is sending a menacing message via communications system".

Stupid software

I have to despair at the state of consumer software these days. Nothing "Just works" any more.

Gone are the days when a car just worked or a toaster just worked or even a fridge.

We have air-con here in the office that is just plain stupid. One has an "auto" mode, i.e. set a temperature and heat or cool as needed - except that (a) it must have huge margins as it will sit there heating until way above the set temperature. You have to manually change hot/cold. (b) It is not bright enough to just turn off when temperature is close enough - it just heats or cools and always blows air. The other has no auto mode, but seems to turn to "hot" even when set to cold some times.

And the alarm system at the office is just mental beyond belief...

The latest really annoying thing is my camera at the house. After a s/w upgrade it is finally recording events and videos properly again (via NFS) but has randomly started emailing me to say storing images is taking too long. Well, it is very comprehensive software and has settings for this - and I turn them off, and yes - it still keeps emailing me every time a cat walks passed the house or some such.

WTF can people not make stuff that "just works"?!?!

Our favourite telco at it again

Well, a warning to other ISPs - check the burst charge billing!

We have a link to our favorite telco which has a "commit" level. I.e. what we agreed to pay. If we go over that level, even once, then we pay extra for the whole month!!! Yeh, fair?!!

So we run shapers to manage the level carefully, and specifically buy more committed capacity when needed. We have complex systems to ensure that if we do ever hit the commit level (as can happen occasionally) services like VoIP work well, and customers paying for premium service get better throughput, and, importantly, that we know it is happening so we can order more. We even publish how well we are doing!

Now, just to be on the safe side, and avoid them shaping traffic in a somewhat cruder way, we also request they cap the service at a level 5% above the commit. They charge if we exceed the commit, and charge an even high rate if we exceed 5% above the commit so setting at 5% seems sensible.

Well, we have have spotted some new incompetance from them. They are charging (quite a lot) for burst traffic. It should not happen, but I suppose if we have a problem one day or a line is on the wrong LNS and uses lots at a peak time, or something, it is just about possible. If that was all it was we would be simply checking all our stats to confirm if we have a mistake.

But the numpties have only gone and charged us thousands for "over 5%" usage even though there is a cap at 5%. I.e. no way we should be able to exceed the 5% ever!

Needless to say this just proves their metering is flawed and we are disputing all the burst charges.


... To be fair - they are looking in to it and agreed it should not have happened.


I am appauled at this. Someone makes an obvious non-threat and gets convicted, and now lost on appeal.

The conviction was not even for making the threat but for a telecoms act breach of sending a menacing communication!

It is crazy. I am speechless. I am updating the text on the top of this page "just in case" now.
Maybe twitter can be made safe by adding something like "If you find any words or pictures menacing, read no more." to the top of every page just in case too?

... follow up.

Serious question - thousands of people have and are re-tweeting the same threat. They are not a credible threat, but neither was the original. All suffer from the same "what if some fictitious older couple due to fly from that airport looked at twitter". Exactly what excuse have the CPS got for not prosecuting every one of them?

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Yes NAT is evil

Well, I am at the 6::uk launch and it is really reassuring to have a speaker from RIPE telling us how evil NAT is...

When you consider that RIPE are the people that allocate IP addresses to us, they are exactly the sort of people that would like to reduce how many IPs we need to take from them. Clearly they do, but not at the cost of having NAT..

Ooh, and Vint Cerf is very keen on not using NAT as are Comcast...

Tuesday, 9 November 2010


I can guarantee not to find this in Vegas...

Thick cut tiger loaf, toasted
Real butter (not some strange stuff like whipped cream)
Marmite XO (ooooh, yes!)
Smoked Applewood Cheddar
Jamaican Jerk seasoning


DEA under attack!

Looks like the Digital Economy Act is under attack!
Well done BT and Talk Talk and good luck.

Monday, 8 November 2010


Well work is well under way - my son has been working for us for a while but is now under intensive personal training in s/w development and C coding specifically... We are paying for one-on-one training 3 days a week for him now...

So real soon now he'll be doing some C coding for the company... Be afraid! Be very afraid... :-)

And no, it won't all be javascript and JQuery, honest... Yes, he is to blame for new number management pages and current ordering system, but he is learning... He is getting better... We can build him - we can make him better, stronger, and more gcc friendly... He already reads xkcd and dilbert... Nearly there...

Already he edits his HTML using vim - I mean... what more could a father ask for?

P.S. He met his first computer at the age of about 30 seconds. The nurse could not work out what was the TAB key, so James-in-arms, I was explaining...

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Marmite XO

Unlike my neighbours in unit 4 the yanks seemed to not understand "toast" or critically "marmite" at all... (or how to spell neighbours).

Well, back home, have proper toast. In the hotel it was inch thick bread that was reall heavy "sour do" or is that "sour dough" made a tad crisp each side on a hot plate. FFS

And as for marmite!!! Even Singapore could handle that, but not the yanks...

Anyway, back home, and my lovely wife had got me some marmite-XO. That would blow their minds.

I'll report on what it is like later...

P.S. LOL BBF date Jan 2012. How does it have a BBF date at all.. it would be XXXXO that is all!

Personal information

I know there has been discussion over the idea of an IP address being "personal information" under the DPA (Data Protection Act) and even that a phone number (on its own) could be considered personal information.

It seems a tad odd to me. I understood the idea was that a data controller has to be able to associate the information with a living individual to make it personal information, and to my mind neither of these manage that, generally. Yes, for a phone company, the phone number they allocated, given that they have access to their customer database, is personal information as they can do that association. But to the general public or some other company, a phone number on its own is surely not personal information.

The reason this came up recently was location services for mobiles. It is technically possible to locate a mobile by number. But is that number and location "personal information", i.e. does someone offering such services have to go through hoops to validate that the phone user is happy for the location to be given to someone else? (I know, morally, they should, that is not my point).

I would say the number alone is not personal information, and neither is a location within several hundred metres even when in conjunction with a mobile number. Neither, nor both, allow a living individual to be identified or for other data to be obtained from that information so as to identify a living individual...

But I have a feeling the ICO have a different view on this.

So I wondered...

I could take a list of first names, and a list of surnames, and even a set of dates of birth. A name and date of birth together are usually considered to be "personal information". I could make a table giving every combination of such a unique reference number. This could be expanded to have even more data to make it that a number in my table can link to enough information to relate to a specific living individual.

I then have a database which is no different logically to the database a mobile phone provider has associating a name and a number together.

But the number I use is, say, an 8 digit number.

Now, anyone that happens to have 8 digit numbers in a database of their own has something which I could map to a living individual. Just like a mobile company could make a mobile number to a living individual (bill payer, if not user).

Do does that mean anyone with such numbers have to treat then as personal information now? Just like a phone number? They have as much ability to convert the number to other data, like a name and date of birth, as they do a phone number - i.e. they can't...

Perhaps if I make a list which maps to letter combinations. Could the words in the post now become personal information because somewhere there is a mapping of "the" to "Fred Bloggs, 1st Dec 1947" in some database?

If not, then surley a mobile number, and even an approximate location, cannot count as personal information. As such someone could offer mobile phone lookup services with no DPA implications?

Yes, being devil's advocate here... comments?

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Interflora are incompetant!

20th wedding anniversary - ordered flowers. Paid extra for morning delivery...

No show!

Now my wife thinks I forgot or something.

I think "time is of the fucking essence" is there by default on things like that.

Not amused.