Gardening progress. Summer 2017

We’re starting to get some good progress in the garden with the plants we’ve been growing, A poly-tunnel has certainly helped in the initial stages for getting the seedlings going! The main thing I wanted to establish was the passion fruit as these have lovely flowers, bright fruit and will spread nicely on our new trellis topped fence.

The Sunflowers have done surprisingly well and are getting as tall as the fence its self! The blueberry bush was are only real fruit bearer last year with some tiny Apples also on a dwarf tree. This summer has ramped up its output for the blueberries! Not in shot but are Stella cherry tree gave us maybe 30 or so really nice cherries. I’m expecting a lot from that in coming years.

Play CS:GO? You might be able to play without cheaters for a short while.

June 6th. Valve has swung the VAC-ban hammer on roughly 40,400 Steam accounts in a single day! Thats a hell of a lot for a single day and will have a noticeable effect. To give some perspective, todays concurrent peak of gamers is 537,000. I wonder how many of those accounts will be replaced when new hacks become available and are perceived to be safe for a while. At $10 a game key thats a lot of money for Valve if they convert back to re-purchases!

 https://steamdb.info/stats/bans/

Good to see this being done thought! It really does spoil the experience from customers who want the intended product.

On a side note, this site is great for stats on your account such as how much money you might have spent roughly (it’ll be off due to sales purchases etc) and how many of those said games you’ve actually played!

https://steamdb.info/calculator/76561197970728257/?cc=uk

 

Stream-ripping is ‘fastest growing’ music piracy

Snippet from the article:

“Several sites and apps allow users to turn Spotify songs, YouTube videos and other streaming content into permanent files to store on phones and computers.

Record labels claim that “tens, or even hundreds of millions of tracks are illegally copied and distributed by stream-ripping services each month”.

One service alone is thought to have more than 60 million monthly users.”

Link to article: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-40519137

I think they’ll always be piracy. Its when the actual consumers of the content suffer that really irks me. Hence why I love services that offer DRM free content so I can do what I want with my purchases! Humble Bundle, Good Old Games (GoG) for instance.

I bet that sometimes its down to awareness as well. Example: I love using Spotify when i’m at my desktop but I only use the free version. If i’m on the go with patchy mobile signal or want to use a bit less battery i’ll use the Amazon Music app as I have prime and can download tunes to play offline. How many people unknowingly forget things like that…

Piracy is pretty harsh on the content owners why you think about it. Be it musicians, games makers, movie makers or any other form of content. They’ll already have cuts taken off by anyone in the middle of the release process so to impact them further really hurts. Just as a games / movie 3D artist working in a central London job and you’ll soon see what i’m talking about.

University of York and ESL announce world-first partnership in teaching and research of esports

Snippet from the article:

“The University of York, one of the top universities in the UK, and ESL are today announcing a world-first collaboration to make industry-aligned teaching and research for esports a reality. Recognising the potential of esports, UK Interactive Entertainment (Ukie) has highlighted the importance of growing the UK as an esports hub, including the need to develop UK-based, highly skilled talent and to foster technological innovation.”

its good to see development in this area but the degree may end up spreading its self too thin from the sounds of it. There is a lot of money around this at the moment and poses some interesting challenges in terms of OTT delivery. Mainly due to the interactive audiences (side chat bars etc) and the speed at which content is required to delivered while being up to an expected quality.

Link:

https://www.eslgaming.com/article/university-york-and-esl-announce-world-first-partnership-teaching-and-research-esports-3598

UK centric broadband information and diagnostic help.

Have you turned it off and on again?

Only kidding… but seriously.. ISP telephone support will likely have you do that.. 

One of the major gripes users have is the “speed” of their broadband. In the UK there are three main ways of getting broadband. The OpenReach maintained network, the Virgin Media (Liberty Global) network and also via Mobile operators who offer a 4G based solution. There are other various providers outside of these but they are usually more limited in availability, a good example being: https://www.hyperoptic.com/

My main focus here will relate to the OpenReach based networks but I’ve had Virgin Media cable in recent years also, so will allude to any interesting differences. 

Generally speaking, when your looking at a speed issue, like most problems, it’s a process of elimination and understanding of the problem. 

Firstly there is a difference between the connection physically and logically to your ISP. 

Sync(hronisation):

This is the speed at which your modem (which might be built into your router) can connect to the equipment in the telephone exchange (Central Office for our American friends) or green box in the street (aka PCP). The determined synchronisation speed on the connection will be the maximum at which data can pass down the line and shouldn’t vary too much on each reboot of your modem / router. If it does then there is likely a problem or the ISPs dynamic line management (DLM) is trying to deal with the said problem or repeat reconnections. 

Things that can effect the sync connection rate are:

  • Attenuation – how far from the other end. 
  •  REIN – Repetitive Electrical Impulse Noise.
  • SHINE, – Single High-level Impulse Noise Event.
  • Extension wiring – further attenuation and susceptibility to further electric noise. 
  • Equipment issues – faults happen. 
  • Bridge taps – legacy telephone wiring. 
  • Poor cable shielding – causing some of the above. 
  • Engineer mistakes – Sky TV splitters in before the microfilters is a common one.
  • Capped profile settings by the ISPs DLM (whether intentional or not).
  • So all of the above might be good to the modem, now check to the device!

To check your sync rate as a customer, this will involve logging onto your home router (Seek ISP support or router support for instructions). Generally there is a status page on the interface that will give you the connection details such as sync rate downstream and upstream, uptime, and maybe more.  If this looks like to what was estimated when you had the service provisioned then all is good. 

Throughput:

The next “speed” we’re interested in is the throughput. A good metaphor for this would be a water pipe. If the sync mentioned above is the pipe its self, throughput is the water going through it. For the sake of the metaphor, the pressure is a constant in the water pipe! 

This is tricky to diagnose as as the issue can lie on the customers side as much as is can with the ISP or beyond depending on the endpoints of the testing and everything inbetween.

Various things that can effect this:

  • Fault with the sync speed – knock on effect.
  • The server being tested to not providing you with data fast enough.
  • Congestion on a network – not necessarily the ISP’s, could be beyond them.
  • Downloading on your connection while running speedtests – congesting your part of the network to give you slower, skewed results.
  • Connection to the router such as via wireless 

Generally an ISP, whether is OpenReach based or Virgin Media is eventually going to have you down to the bare minimum; a single PC, via a ethernet cable directly into the router, potentially with the WiFi disabled on the router (or they’ll be checking for other devices connected at the time of testing). Even then there are various checks as mentioned above; sync rate, ethernet rate, errors in the passing traffic, test locations for speed testers and so on.

By now though, the ISP should be close to narrowing down if the problem is on their side or on yours. It could be that your wireless was being strangled by too many other devices or that there were so many other noisy networks in close proximity. Then again it could be that your ISP has overwhelming demand in a particular exchange/area and can’t meet the bandwidth demands at peak times.. These things happen but it’s important to come to logical conclusions so they can be tackled. I..e ISPs have capacity planning teams and although they do their best to stay ahead of demand, it can sometimes outstrip supply. 

Continue reading “UK centric broadband information and diagnostic help.”