May 15

I today received an email from Dyn (previously DynDNS), stating:

Starting now, if you would like to maintain your free Dyn account, you must log into your account once a month. Failure to do so will result in expiration and loss of your hostname. Note that using an update client will no longer suffice for this monthly login.

(emphasis theirs)

Now, if this were a service which requires interaction then this would be an unfriendly but potentially fair way to weed-out inactive accounts. This isn’t one of those cases, though – I can happily go for months or even years where my only interaction with Dyn(DNS) is via auto-update clients. And this is the heart of the problem – many routers and embedded devices have built-in DynDNS clients, frequently with no option to switch to an alternative service. Possibly this is worth $25/year, possibly it isn’t. Personally, I’m not paying a penny to a company trying to hold its users to ransom like this. For my usage, there are a handful for hostnames in a Dyn(DNS) domain – and therefore these cannot to transferred to a different provider. I keep them going purely so that historic links will still work.

Continue reading »

Aug 04

Even though I’ve never owned a webOS-based device, over time I’ve followed with interest the various Mobile OS options out there – and webOS certainly seems to have some great ideas. In many ways, webOS is significantly more functional than Apple’s iOS – but is the HP TouchPad good enough as a consumer product to carry through this advantage?

I’m lucky enough to have been allowed to borrow a new TouchPad (model HSTNH-129C), and these are my thoughts after an afternoon’s usage.

HP TouchPad Marketing Image

Continue reading »

Jul 23

I’ve been promising myself for some time now that – as my current MacBook Pro has started to fall to pieces after three year’s perfect service – I would upgrade to a lighter, much more portable MacBook Air as soon as they received a Sandy Bridge processor update.

There is a nice overview of the available options at TechonoBuffalo, whilst MacWorld and Bare Feats are the first places I’ve seen with useful(*) benchmarks. Furthermore, the ever-reliable Storage Review has an interesting set of figures for the (excellent) performance of the new Blade SSDs.

However, what I’ve been unable to find elsewhere (and even wikipedia isn’t overly useful, in this case) is any quantitative comparison of the two MacBook Air processor options: For the 128GB 11″ model, the Core i7 processor is a £150 (~15%) extra for – on the face of it, a 200MHz (a fifth of an iPhone 4 or iPad, or 12.5%) speed increase.

There must be more of an advantage, surely?

As it turns out, the answer is yes and no…

Continue reading »

Feb 18

I’ve recently been looking to purchase a piece of equipment online which is not available from big-name suppliers, only from a limited number lesser-known websites. Having no reputation upon which to base a purchasing decision, a viable method to choose between a reliable site and a potentially bad site could be to see how well each site’s Terms & Conditions comply with the legal requirements of the UK Distance Selling regulations – legal requirements which either seem to be frequently misunderstood by legitimate sellers or frequently mis-quoted by sellers who seemingly wish to shirk their responsibilities in an attempt to force unlawful terms onto unwitting customers.

For reference, the Office of Fair Trading‘s guide on distance selling is available in this PDF document.

Please note that these regulations only apply when goods are purchased remotely, without having viewed the goods prior to purchase. They in fact give consumers many more rights when making purchases via the internet than if they purchased from a shop – to the point where it in many cases no longer makes sense to purchase big-ticket items from a bricks-and-mortar shop at all!

Continue reading »

Feb 17

Has someone worked out how to reliably game Akismet? I’ve just had to clear out 45 spam posts all within a few minutes around 6:30pm, then a few every 10 minutes to half an hour or so, until another bunch appeared around 11:15pm.

Quite how desperate for praise and/or attention to these spammers think bloggers are?!

Oh, wait…

Continue reading »

Jan 29

The ALIX 2c3 system board the forms my traffic-shaper has one irksome weakness: it lacks an on-board CMOS/RTC battery to maintain the time when the system is shutdown.

This is a more significant problem than it sounds since, for starters, the fsck tools for the ext2 filesystem, by default, treat a timestamp in the future as a failure – and disk checks have to be performed almost immediately on system start, so there is no opportunity to raise networking and start an NTP dæmon.

Continue reading »

May 14

So Steam has now been released for the Mac. Whilst this is a massive step forwards for the Mac as a platform – finally giving Apple a credible position regarding gaming (after the 2007 deal with Electronic Arts, which didn’t even promise Mac native games but merely wrappers around Windows titles*, apparently went nowhere) – there are still clearly rough edges which makes Steam feel more like a late beta.

Continue reading »

Feb 09

After a long slog ironing out some last-minute bugettes (and a major performance issue I’d accidentally introduced by attempting to bubble-sort an 10,000-entry strong list) I’ve just posted an updated release of Æther Tool to Apple for approval.

This is my first commercial app, admittedly, but it has taken a great deal of time, sweat, and (almost ;) tears to progress this far… and it makes me wonder how other small- or one-man developers approach the development process and how long this generally takes.

And now, following in the footsteps of the seminal “How 12 Hours, 2 Guys, 6 Cups of Coffee = 1 iPhone App there’s Sahil Lavingia‘s oneweekapp.com.

Continue reading »

Dec 30

Finally realised that to trial Xbox LIVE Gold you need to create a new account – I never got a trial because I imported my old Xbox account.

Underwhelmed by the new Gold-only features: Facebook is alright – I like the photo browser, but doesn’t appear to be integrated; Twitter is an #epicfail without a browser for following links (my phone can do this, ferchristsakes!) and likewise doesn’t seem to integrate with anything else; and the Sky player stutters even on lowest quality whilst I can watch BBC iPlayer in HD without problems.

In all, anyone who upgrades to Gold for these features (which can’t even be trailed without) will be disappointed – Microsoft should stick to selling Gold accounts for multiplayer access, rather than convincing people to upgrade for gimmicks.

(Even better, PS3 multiplayer is free!)

If I were Microsoft I’d give people an hour of Gold/multiplayer membership a day, but require a payment to upgrade to permanent 24×7 multiplayer. This would let casual gamers get a feel for multiplayer (and so probably end up selling more Gold subscriptions) without removing the impetus from hard-core players to pay for the service. Simple!

Jun 17

Since I’ve just re-installed my ageing work desktop PC with a shiny new Windows Vista Business installation (which has its own share of quirks) I thought I’d also give Microsoft Outlook 2007 a try over my standard PC email client, Mozilla Thunderbird.

Continue reading »