Archive for May, 2007

Bulldog are rubbish

I never thought I’d be saying this considering I’ve previously praised the high quality of internet connectivity from this ISP, but I’ve completely had my fill with Bulldog customer services and billing. They are total crap.

This morning Matt received a letter from them asking for money stating we hadn’t payed for this month and threatened to cut us off (remember my last nightmare in this regard?). What is so annoying is two-fold. Firstly they were supposed to sort out the payment issues which prevented money going through last time we had issues with them (see link) but this letter clearly indicates they didn’t. Secondly after the last bout of problems (again, see link) they promised us a month of free service because of the trouble their crapped out billing system had caused us, but clearly we aren’t going to get our free month because if we were then the fact this months payment had failed wouldn’t be a problem.

Bulldog, you suck. I rely on my connectivity for personal and business reasons and although it pains me to say it, you are the only company that when the wire is connected can provide the level and quality of connection that I require. Its just a shame that your billing system believes it should pull the plug on my connection all the time because you screw it up.

Bottom line is that if you pull the plug on us again I’m going to get a leased line for my needs instead and bad-mouth you in every moment of free time that I have. Sure it won’t make a difference to you, sure you won’t care, but I’ll save my friends and colleagues from signing up to the grief associated with your crap billing and customer services and in so doing it’ll make me feel a whole lot better.

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Bank holiday

Normally I’m quite glad of bank holidays; work is less intense on my websites, there are no lectures so I can catch up on my reading and generally my friends and I are able to go out on one more night than we do in an average week. This time around though its not so great.

I’ve just finished my exams and so I have a huge amount of non-exam stuff to be getting on with. Most of it is code and business stuff but there is also calls to be made, letters to be sent, I need to go to the bank, arrange a few meetings and other things like that. Problem is no sooner have my exams finished thus providing me with the time to do these things, we are slap bang in the middle of a bank holiday which is made worse by the fact the University closes on the Tuesday as well meaning I’m not able to use these few days to do half of the things I need to do because they rely on the presence of another person who won’t be present due to the holiday.

I’m all for taking a break but because I start full time work on Wednesday I really need these 4 days to be as productive as possible and it would help oh so very much if everyone wasn’t out of the office. To be honest I don’t quite know how I’m going to fit everything in I need to do.

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Nearly there

Well I’m nearly there. Its been a long hard slog through these Semester 2 exams but I’m finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with only one exam left to go (tomorrow afternoon). I’m not sure why but exams this semester have seemed to drag a whole lot more and revision has seemed so much more of a chore. I think this probably has something to do with how tired I was after the huge deluge of coursework but even so its a little disconcerting.

My graphics exam today was one of the hardest exams, if not the hardest I have taken since arriving at Leeds to do computing and although I feel positive about the paper overall it required a lot of intense focus during the 1 and a half hours the exam ran for and has left me feeling considerably drained.

Still, the positive feeling is a good sign so I can only hope I get a good mark for the paper. I feel almost completely prepared for tomorrows exam already so I think its just a case of getting a good nights sleep and kicking that last exam into touch before hitting the union bar.

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phpBB RC1 Released

Its a truly momentous day in the forum world! After many years (yes years) of waiting there finally exists a downloadable, supported copy of the latest incarnation of phpBB3. The full release announcement is here. This news is hot of the press so have fun watching the currently active users on the phpBB forums go soaring sky high!

I’d like to take this opportunity to say how happy I am that this release has come to fruition and to give HUGE thanks to the phpBB developers and indeed all team members for their hard work. I have been critical before about your progress with the new release (and am glad your release has come soon enough for me not to seriously consider acting on that post!), but I really think it has all been worth it and I look forward to the continued use of your software for many years to come. All the best phpBB, you once again reign supreme in the forum world and I for one am very proud to be using your software.

As for my mods, yes, I will be porting all of them that haven’t been catered for by default in the new version. As for when it will happen, some time over the summer most likely.

Sadly for those at RouterTech, I will not be moving the forums over to the new version. We have a heavily customised system running there and a conversion would most likely involve a lot of extra work for team members, not to mention a delay in our ability to release and support firmware which we know doesn’t sit well with users 😉

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Its the end of the week and a great relief it must be said. Its been a hard week of exams and revision and especially with the SY22 exam on Friday which was really stretching so its great to be able to take a small breather before plowing on with revision and exam taking once more.

I watched 28 Days Later with Heather last night and had a relaxed breakfast this morning. Hopefully my currently relaxed and refreshed state of mind will continue until the end of the week when my exams will finally be over.

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So facebook really is taking over the world. A day or so ago they announced the opening of their Network Marketplace which is, essentially, an ebay style sub-section of facebook that allows people to list, request and trade items between other people in their network. Although in its infancy and without any way of setting a time limit, placing a bid (other than messaging the seller) or making a payment, I can see facebook implementing these things soon.

While I can see potential in the market place idea I can already see a problem that would stop me using it, and in fact is one of the biggest gripes about facebook – put things in pounds! Facebook has networks all over the world and yet we all have to use dollars and get messages about American football games. This is annoying to say the least. Its remarkably easy to make a site have region specific modes of operation – I’ve done it with sites I’ve written on many occasions, so there is no reason facebook couldn’t either. In fact having the networks set up the way they do, with specific regions for advertising etc. I’d say it would be even easier to do.

That aside though the more fundamental thing that strikes me about facebook is that they are trying to put too many things into one site. People do like to get everything in the one place, but they tend to consider that one place as their computer. At the rate facebook are going they are going to have a little bit of every other mainstream website built in. Now I know this is probably their aim, but the problem with having a bit of everything is that you tend not to be able to do any single one of them all that well. Facebook makes a very good social networking site, but for me and I’m sure many others, thats all its ever going to be.

Coming back to the market place though, we all expected it, but probably not quite so soon after opening. Yup, one girl is already selling herself on the trading portal and is inviting facebook users to message their bids accross. She has already received a couple of amusing comments on her wall and there are sure to be many more. If you’re bored why not check them out, lol. I wonder if the listing will get deleted by facebook like similar ones in the past on eBay?

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One down…

I had my first of five summer exams yesterday and although its always stressful when first starting the exam period I felt it went well. I just have to make sure I can pull off a similar performance in the other exams I have to take. One thing is for certain though and thats I can’t wait for them to be over!

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I was intrigued by the facebook idea of a personal status and I was searching for a way to have my own status on my website that I could update from anywhere; a mobile phone, instant messenger and of course a computer. I came across Twitter during one of my revision breaks and realised that with its API and free remote access tools, including text messages, it was the perfect way for me to achieve what I wanted.

Within 5 minutes I was registered and within another 5 I had enabled updates via my mobile phone and instant messenger as well as writing a script that allowed me to update from the Linux terminal (hee hee). In my next revision break I spent a few minutes writing the code to integrate my Twitter status into my website and after a bit of tinkering with CURL and string splitting in php there it was in my side-bar under “My status”.

Whats so nice about all this is that my status is completely hidden on Twitter’s public site and yet my own site can tooth into their API and grab the status meaning I can update my site over my phone for free and only allow my site users to see it. I could also change my site to only allow logged in users to view it, I have complete control.

This is in sharp contrast to facebook’s way of doing a status update which, despite having an API, seems to always require a computer and a visit to their site to both view and update the status field. I want tools to enhance my own site and what it provides to my readers, not tools that use up more of my time because I have to update something in two locations. This means that, for now at least, my facebook status will remain disabled. If I figure out a way to use CURL to update my status inline with Twitter on facebook as well but without logging me out of facebook in my browser (this is what happens when I try it at the moment) then I will.

For now, enjoy my useful and most likely amusing status updates in my sidebar – no stalking please 😉

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Man at the Top

While revising this afternoon Man at the Top by Bruce Springsteen came on my player and the lyrics sounded worth posting, so here they are. They go much better with the music though.

Here comes a lawyer,here comes a cop.
Here comes a rich, here comes a car-hop.
Goin’ on forever, ain’t ever gonna stop.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Well, name your gun, son, shoot your shot.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.

Now rich man, poor man, beggar man, thief.
Doctor, lawyer, indian chief.
Don’t ever start to ask them why.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Well, name your gun, son, shoot your shot.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
All right (All right). Oh yeah (Oh yeah)
All right now (All right). Oh yeah (Oh yeah)

Man at the top says it’s lonely up there.
If it is man, I don’t care. Build a big white house.
Build a parking lot. Everybody wants to be the man at the

Here comes a banker, here comes a businessman.
Here comes a kid with a guitar in his hand.
Dreamin’ of his record in number one spot.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Well, name your gun son, shoot your shot.
Everybody wants to be the man at the top.
Say right now (All right). Say yeah now (Oh yeah)
Say right…Who’s the man at the top?
Who’s the man at the top, now?

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Early Start

I love it when I get my days off to an early start. It sometimes seems to me that the sooner I get started the sooner I can feel like I have accomplished something in the day which actually makes me more productive for the hours remaining too. Its a win-win situation.

As such I was rather pleased to be on campus at 8am this morning and to have already covered 3 core areas of networking by 9am. Lets hope I can kick yet more revision into touch today for as the exams loom up on me I’m always very grateful for a day that is more productive than expected.

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