Jan 062018
 
Image of 'fixed' network

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Virgin Media network cable connections can be really rather good.

The real world issue is that they are let down by the quality and performance of their ‘SuperHubs’, hereafter referred to as their ‘Stupid Hubs‘.

There are several problems…

  • The Hub is a combination device that tries to be Cable modem, Router, Wireless Access Point and a Switch.
  • The device is heavily locked down so that only limited amounts of user-tweaks are possible.
  • Wi-Fi performance is poor, not just the range, but its ability to handle loads.
  • Routing performance can be poor under specific circumstances.
  • The lock-down can cause technical issues with some VPN connections.

In our home, literally the only practical place that the stupid-hub can live is right next to the TV.

Because the Stupid-Hub appears to have inadequate RF shielding, when the TV is switched on, the performance of the Stupid-Hub Wifi drops considerably. For reasons that are not entirely clear, even wired connections suffer horribly (but not when Wi-Fi is turned off, suspiciously). The Virgin engineer that tried to sort this out for us recommend that the hub is at least 2m away from TV’s, monitors, microwaves and any other electrical devices, like computers, phones and iPads !

This is pretty impractical in a small house. A quick survey with a 2m long bamboo cane gave me just a handful of highly impractical potential locations. The loft was a strong contender for a while, but apparently the hub does not like low or high temps. Under the bath was considered and mounted on a wall half way up the stairs was briefly discussed. Just the issues running coax and power cables to these crazy locations ruled them right out.

Something needed to be done.

In short, if you want half decent Wi-fi, you need to disable it on the Stupid-Hub and plug in a decent wireless Access Point.

The standard Stupid-Hub was incapable of getting a signal to about half the house. It reached upstairs, but barely and there was zero signal in the office and the bathroom.

There are multiple ways to solve this. We chose to use high performance products from Ubiquiti and Netgear, but I am very aware that you could do nearly all of this on a tight budget by getting a decent Wireless Router from Netgear or Linksys etc.

This entry is all about doing it really well and building a high performance network that is robust, and can be upgraded over time without relying on a specific Internet Service Provider.

For us, step one was just to fix the terrible Wi-Fi.

Continue reading “Fixing Virgin Media Wi-Fi and Routing…” »

Nov 262017
 

Can of BeansIn this ever connected world, it is pretty easy for anyone to say anything or to be anybody.

In the real world, you can tell a lie and as long as the person that you told it to does not have the ability to easily debunk it, you can get away with it for a very long time.

‘Oh yeah, I met so-and-so at $vague-venue in vague-year’  is pretty much impossible to prove or disprove and in general the onus lies on the recipient to prove or disprove, or to just accept and wonder.

Obviously the liar has to remember all of these lies and this requires either a brilliant recall of the lies that have been told to who, or it required that liar to simply not care.

In the real world a liar has just the stories to bolster their ego.

Of course there are some famous cases of people telling lies and getting away with it for year, but in general it is pretty easy to catch out a liar in real life.

The on-line world though makes it way more difficult and potentially a whole lot more dangerous, but I would like to propose a system that helps to catch people out.

Continue reading “The growing need for proof….” »

Oct 062017
 

 

I changed bikes a few weeks ago. I traded my much loved Triumph Tiger Sport 1050 for a Yamaha MT-10.

Last year I let my 16yo self interview me regarding the Tiger – it went about as well as you would imagine. So I thought it would be fun to do it again with the new bike.

 

16yos: ugly bike dude, what the hell is that ?

It is a Yamaha MT-10 .

16yos: I mean, what the hell is it ?

Technically it is called a Hyper or Super-Naked. It is something close to a Yamaha R1 with less plastic, less top-end rush and way more mid-range oomph. Think of it as a 1000cc sports bike that is road relevant.

16yos: So it is a streetfightered R1 – do you crash it, or is it supposed to be that ugly ?

It actually comes like that, it is much more comfortable than an R1, faster on real roads. Trust me on this, it is way more road-relevent than an R1, much more comfortable and it makes more sense at reasonably legal speeds.

16yos: How fast is it ? Continue reading “Yamaha MT10 – The new bike” »

Mar 162017
 

The term ‘at sixes and sevens’ means being in a state of confusion. It was used a lot in our family household.

For the last few months I have been torn over wether or not I wanted to trade my iPhone Six in for a Seven.

On paper  the Seven is little more than than the device  that the 6s should have been. The camera is better, the processor is faster  and the home button redesigned to no longer be a button. It looks like the 6 too. In fact the only way to tell them apart is the lack of a headphone socket on the newer one.

I had pretty much decided that I did not need to upgrade.

So the 7 is rubbish then ?

Well no. It’s really rather good. It is considerably faster than the 6. So much so that I am still quite amazed every time I use it. The camera a is not a hit just better, it is way better. Every photo is better. The software that takes advantage of the new camera module is smarter. Smart software and higher resolution. What is not to like ?  Continue reading “At Sixes and Sevens” »

Aug 012016
 

Passwords are rubbish.

They are an inherently flawed method of securing your information.

Don’t believe me ?

If your password is less than seven characters long, it can be cracked in minutes using cheap off-the-shelf computing hardware.

If it is longer than seven, but still a word that appears on a word list, even if you substitute e’s with 3’s and sprinkle capital letters in there, again it is rubbish.

There are wordlists out in the real word that have  60 billion words on it, while that number might seem high, a dedicated pawed cracking machine that costs less than $5000 will check 6 billion combinations per second. Continue reading “Even with a password manager….” »

Feb 242016
 

Leader of the Pack.The working title for my game is ‘Lane Splitaz’.

The game itself is fairly simplistic, you are the rider of a moped and you have to split the lanes of traffic under a variety of conditions against the clock….

Level 1 – The easy intro.

Bike – 50cc scooter, no mirrors.
Traffic – Entirely stationary cars
Gaps – about 2M wide

The only difficult section here is that you pretty much have to be totally flat out the whole time to reach the end of the course.  Continue reading “I have this idea for a video game….” »

 Posted by at 10:16 am
Dec 312015
 

Many aspects of our lives are protected in one way or another with passwords.

A Password needs to follow contradictory rules.

  • It needs to be easy for us to remember.
  • It should be close t0 impossible for anyone else to guess.

Many password protected sites attempt to get users to use passwords that adhere to the second rule, yet ignore the first one, by adding a degree of complexity to all passwords.

Ideally you should also add two-factor authentication too, but that is a whole other subject. 

Continue reading “The Problem with passwords” »

Nov 232015
 

IMG_0593Or why you should stop worrying about passwords and just enable two-factor authentication….

If, like me, you have several e-mail accounts, a few forum accounts, bank and credit card accounts, eBay, paypal, Apple, gym and numerous others, you probably have a small number of passwords that have some level of re-use or even variations on a theme.

For example, your gmail might be Pa55w0rd!, your bank account Pa$$w0rd! your credit card P4ssw0rd123 etc.

If you can find any variant of it in the top 500 worst passwords list, then you have a problem.

Unless you are using two-factor authentication that is.  Continue reading “My password is password” »

Nov 062015
 

HealthyI have always been an early adopter. As far as I can remember, I have always been at the forefront of tech stuff. Quartz watches – check, Compact Disc – Check, MiniDisc – Check, DAT decks – Check, Home computers – check, Android – check, iOS – check, early releases – check, tubeless mountain bike tyres – check, pretty much everything – check.

Friends and colleagues nearly always ask my opinion on things, simply because they know that I will have got it first and they want to know what something is like.

Quite often, it has bitten me, but this does not seem to stop me.  Continue reading “The Perils of (public) Beta Testing…..” »

Oct 312015
 

iPhone 6S PlusIn apple terms, the ‘S’ release every other years represents an updated version of the previous years phone.  This is the Tock to the regular phone’s Tick, or the Yang to the Ying, if you like.

What is perhaps more accurate is that the S release represents the definitive version of a chassis design, complete with bug fixes and feedback from significant numbers users. Continue reading “Apple’s Difficult ‘S’ Release…” »

 Posted by at 2:00 pm