February 2008 Archives

I have an Irish mobile phone opertor mobile phone broadband package supplied by three which gives me 100 MB of data for 6 euros. Three are curently billing me for emails I send via IMAP even though it is not listed any where in their terms and conditions. I am vert familiar with telecomms and IP systems, and therefore can identify that IMAP is only a type iof interent data i.e. it uses a port number etc similar to all other broadband data.

Three have a problem explaining to me why they bill seperately for emails and to date have produced no supporting documentation. I have logged this with Comreg. They advised me to request a complaint ref no from three and if they wouldn't provide to obtain the customer services agents name. I emailed three cust support and they rang back, they wouldn't give me a customer complaint ref number and had great difficulty in accepting that I could notify them verbally that I had raised the complaint eventhough comreg advised me that I could. They asked me again to email the same email address with the details, which I did as a matter of courtesy. The ball however is their court and they have 10 days to come back to me with either a resolution or an explanation which points out exactly in their terms and conditions email messages are classified as a non broadband product. If they do not come back to me within 10 days Comreg will be persuing the matter with them.

This whole episode got me thinking that this practice may not be restricted to three. Are other mobile phone operators billing their customers for email eventhough they have mobile phone broadband packages? Do their terms and conditions stipulate that they can do this?

As consumers of technology that utilise microbilling we often let these things slip under the radar due to complaceny or lack of understanding.

Your feedback and comments on this would be welcome.

Minister Gormley of the Green Party has decided to back date motor tax to 1st Jan 2008. This means that if you bought a new car in 2008 you have the option to opt in and pay a lower motor tax. This was supposed to come into place on July 1st 2008.

I drive a 1 year old Skoda Octavia 1.9 TDI deisel which has C02 emissions of 132, I will pay 560 euros motor tax this year, if I had bought the SAME car in 2008 I would be paying 150 euros motor tax.

John Gormley should allow a car from any year to opt in to this scheme. Drivers who have made the decision in the past to drive an efficient car should be acknowledged.

The ballad of Ronnie Drew - Get well soon

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The chances are that if you are reading this from outside the country of Ireland you may have never heard off Ronnie Drew. Ronnie is the lead singer of the Dubliners. My childhood are full of memories of their music playing on the radio, the vinyl record player and later cassettes. Ronnie is currently undergoing treatment for throat cancer.

U2 and a host of irish music celebrities came together to record a song that was supposed to include Ronnie himself but due to his declining health they decided to record a tribute to Ronnie with all proceeds going to the Irish Cancer Society.

Musicians involved in the record include members of U2, Sinead O'Connor, Christy Dignam of Aslan, Robert Hunter of the Grateful Dead, Irish Trad band Kila, Christy Moore, Andrea Corr, Moya Brennan, Shane McGowan, Bob Geldof, Damien Dempsey, Gavin Friday, Jerry Fish, Paul Brady, Paddy Casey, Mick Pyro (of Republic of Loose), Mundy, Chris de Burgh, Ronan Keating, Jack L, Eleanor Shanley, Mary Black, Declan O'Rourke and Mary Coughlan. In the official video Glen Hansard evens manages to contribute his part via mobile phone.

Ronnie get well soon, you are in our thoughts.

R.E.M. - Supernatural Superserious

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Th release of Supernatural Superserious has restored my faith in REM to make great songs. As a fan you always indulge your favourite band to experiment but its always reassuring to see them release great tracks. If the Olympia sessions are anything to go by, we should be in for a great album.

Wanted a cordless landline/VOIP handset

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I am in the process of trying to decide if we should drop our land line and switch completely to VOIP. (We have wireless internet access) To kick start this analysis we need to change our cordless land line handset to one which will connect to both a land line and VOIP. Ideally the use of landline or VOIP would be made at the press of a button on the handset. Recomendations would be welcome.

openoffice and word docs on nfs shares

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Having solved the issue of mounting novell volumes using ncpmount, the next hurdle I face is the annoying bug that openoffice does not allow you to update word docs if you have file locking set to auto.

You can set file locking to no which means that other users can also open that same file on that share. This is not a desirable outcome. Openoffice are aware of this but do not seem to be addressing the issue.

Having built a new kernel from scratch I can confirm that it seems to be an application issue. With this in mind I have decided to remove my open office apps from my laptop and install staroffice. Hopefully this version will not have the same problem.

Techludd Limerick - worth the 1 hour drive to get there

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I managed to get to TechLudd in Limerick last night and it was worth the 1 hour drive. I managed to talk to some of the Open Coffee Limerick Crew as well as some people who can't make the Open Coffee time slot. Conn from intruders was there recording and explaining to me how he is trying to redfine the old traditional recording metrics so content is produced in a more effective and timely manner. Jim Corbett and I had a good discussion about the pros and cons about silicon valley and why you should or shouldn't go the USA. (Go for the VC access but come back to Ireland for the social infrastructure). The enigmatic John Kennedy was there also, John really enjoyed the event and the linkages it was creating. Pat Phelan was there also but I didn't get a chance to have a chat with him as I was so busy talking to so many people. Some of the guys from the UL wireless research centre were there also and appreciated the fact that it was an evening event.

Jessica of blogcrumbs was also attending and snapping pics, She is a very busy lady as well as running blogcrumbs she also runs a blog that describes how to plan a wedding on a budget

I also managed to have a char with Ger Hartnett from CoClarity about the workflow involved in organising Robocode and XNA. I look forward to having further discussions with him about it,

A special word of thanks to Microsoft for their sponsorship and big thank you to the event organisers who I didn't meet but you guys were great.

Embedded.com report on the intensfied efforts by industry to develop a robust but practical multicore programmng model. .

Multicore means multiple processors which mean multiple migraines if you are a developer as you have to try and taken a sequential task and break it out into parrallel jobs. Graphic card companies have been doing this for the past 10 - 15 years and they realise the complexitiies involved. The processing of data streams has been the focus of research for the past 8 - 10 years. The advent of Network processors in the late 90s kick started some of this research as these units had (and still do) multiple processing engines. Processors such as Intel IXP1200 (which was the focus of my PhD research) featured 6 Risc Microengines for header processing. Dedictaed SRAM, SDRAM , Receive and Tranmsit register sets.

In the United States, Intel Corp. and Microsoft Corp. have awarded an estimated $10 million, five-year grant to help fund a new Parallel Computing Lab at the University of California at Berkeley, with 14 faculty members initially involved. As many as 20 universities, including MIT, Stanford and the University of Illinois, competed for funding.

My research into how we could improve performance pointed towards the fact that Multicore on its own will not be the solution. Programming in parrallel is a black art and often trial and error will determine the best solutuion. What I discovered was that if you build a good cycle accurate s/w model of the problem domain and use evolutionary algorithms and local search methods you can explore a vast number of permutations of chip architectiure. This approach can be ,mapped to the programming issue as you can instruct the model to use a variety of functions and routines as appropiate. The process of evolution will then produce a pareto curve of possible solutions. The results from my research highlighted architectural considerations that an engineer at first glance would not normally consider but the performance figures justified the configuration. This approach to multicore programming will only work if parameter driven cycle accurate simiulators of the problem domain are available. I built my own using POOSL and it took me 3 years. Manufactuters siuch as Intel and AMD need to provide these open models to the developer community. Using these models we can then further explore how mulitcore programming models can exploit these architectures. The development of these multicore frameworks should use as mny different techniques as possible., EA and local search are ideal candidates to assist in this exploration and development.

Bonus Link - A copy of the presentation I presented at ANCS 2006 on my work

ncpmount use gutsy proposed instead of feisty fawn

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A colleague pointed out the following solution for ncpmount.

Instead of using feisty configure synapatic to use gutsy proposed (packages that haven’t found their way into the distribution i.e well tested beta, with a new april release they will appear in 8.04) and gutsy backport (latest versions that are not being proposed to appear in gutsy but will appear in 8.04)

Open Synaptics Package Manager
Click Settings – Repositories
Click the Updates Tab
Check/enable the pre-released (gutsy proposed)
Check/enable Unsupported-updates(gutsy-backports)

Even though this is beta s/w it is far more desirable solution than using the feisty fawn repositories as you are getting later versions rather than older versions which reduces your security risk/exposure.

A big thank you to Eugene for this tip.

A solution for ncpmount errors using Ubuntu gutsy

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If you use ncpmount to mount novell servers you may have noticed that it does not work with ubuntu 7.10 (gutsy).
Ncpfs 2.2.6.4 that ships with gutsy is the problem as it causes an invalid server response message to be generated by the Novell server. The solution is to force the version to 2.2.6.3 which ships with feisty.


You need to add feisty repositories to source.lst and run apt-get update twice

repositories to add

deb http://ie.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ feisty universe
deb-src http://ie.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ feisty universe
deb http://ie.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ feisty-updates universe
deb-src http://ie.archive.ubuntu.com/ubuntu/ feisty-updates universe

you then need to load synaptic package manager search for ncpfs and force the version to 2.2.6.3. I would also recommend that you lock this version so it can't be updated

I spent a frustrating 3 hours last week trying to figure out how to customise the header of a Wordpress 2 blog. Eventually we replaced the kubrickheader.jpg file but we still had a blue backgrounf behind the image. Movable Type 3.2 is far easier to customise as it is closer to HTML in its interface than Wordpress 2.

Wordpress really shouldn't make it so difficult to customise it will alienate the novice user.

Build your own insulation blower

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There are two interesting cllips on Youtube that show two different approches to building you own insulation blower. The first uses a hairdryer (Yes you are reading that correctly)

The second utilises a vacuum cleaner/blower

The vacuum blower seems to be the safer of the two, but I know I can get my hands on an old hairdryer. I will need to remove heating elements etc and run it off a 12v battery however so I may have to rethink my strategy.

A common problem with houses in Ireland is that the internal stud partitions are not sound proofed or insulated. In the USA one can quiet easily hire an insulation blower and blow in cellulose which has good acoustic and thermal insulation properties. Easy2diy show you how to do this using an animated tutorial it is proving very difficult to find one for hire in Irelland however. If you do know where I can hire an insulation blower please leave a comment on this entry. Thanks.

Update 19th Feb 2008
An Irish company will be coming to my house in March to blow in Rockwool insulation into my cavity walls, internal partitions and the joists between my first and ground floor (My house is a dormer so access to the floor joists is possible). It will be interesting to see what improvement will be made to our sound and heat issues.

Converting from Irish Grid (WGS84) to Lat Long

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Over the years I have faced the dilemma of converting from Irish Grid to Lat Long. Google and Yahoo maps for example insist that you use Lat Long. You can download a free app called Grid Inquest that will allow you do carry out this tricky task

Getting ready for the move

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I am in the final stages of testing the move of my blog from a TI server to a hosted package with blacknight solutions in Carlow. Hopefully the transition will be smooth, irishsilicon may be unavailable for 36 hrs when I do the transition. The end of feb or the 1st week of march is the most likely date.

Moving all my Movable Type 3.2 feeds to feedburner

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I have been trying on and off for the past year to migrate my feeds to feedburner. I finally decided last night to address the issue and now have a working solution for Movable Type 3.2.

1 - Change the index.xml template so it generates a different xml file e.g index-ff.xml
2- Point your feedburner feed to this new file
3 - Create a .htaccess in the same directory as your published feed files e.g. index.xml
4 - Edit .htaccess file and add the following entries e.g
Redirect /index.xml http://feeds.feedburner.com/irishsilicon
5 - Delete the exisitng index.xml file
6 - If you have other feed files such as index.rdf you should repeat steps 4 and 5

Feedburner allows me to add links to sites such as Digg as well as the functionality to email the article

Robert Scoble outline a good reason why microsoft would want to buy Yahoo. He points out that Yahoo 's core business is the internet and they have creative and talented engineers/developers that could take Microsoft Cash cow product which is Office to the internet, this would help to stem the migration of businesses to Google docs. Flickr and yahoo mail would also add to Microsofts glacial presence, as long as tools such as flickr are allowed to develop without to much corporate meddling the user community won't mind who is in control. Look at youtube for example. Robert also points out that the one thing that could sour the integration is the possible HQ battles/turf war between Yahoo and Microsoft. employees.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from February 2008 listed from newest to oldest.

January 2008 is the previous archive.

March 2008 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Influenced by:

Irish Eyes
Jabit
Mike Maunsell
Buzzblog
Tom Raftery I.T. views
Damien Mulley
James Corbett (Eirepeneur)
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