Archive for September, 2007

New Pole

As I left my house this morning I was confronted with a group of BT engineers bracing themselves to remove our telephone pole and replace it. This of course involves removing all the wires from the box at the top first, then removing the pole, sinking a new one, allowing the concrete to set (they don’t use wires to hold them up these days it seems) and then adding the new box to the top and reconnecting all the wires.

What this means is that during the bulk of this procedure I have no phone lines and no internet connection. My personal and development servers have been down since about 10:30am this morning. Hopefully normal service will have resumed by this evening but if not or if you are wondering why you can’t get access today, then this will be/is why.

Sadly they elected not to give anyone connected to this pole a warning of an outage so I was in the dark till I saw the truck arriving with the new pole. Such is life I guess.

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Those who are familiar with my regular rantings about the poor quality of the weather we receive here in Leeds will be relived to know that this post is not about how darn cold it has been lately (although yes, it has been rather chilly)

I’m currently suffering the effects of staying up too late and being surrounded by freshers who have ventured to Leeds from all over the country carrying with them all kinds of germs. Yes, I have the freshers week cold (I won’t call it flu firstly because it isn’t and secondly because I’ll be labeled as a wimp because apparently all men say they have flu when they just have a cold).

I’m hoping to shake this soon as feeling like a pile of junk when you’re trying to get the work of two people done on your own isn’t all that helpful. Secondly I’m heading down to IBM in Hursley tomorrow for the two day thinkpad challenge where myself and fellow students from the school of computing have a chance to wave the flag for Leeds, prove we are the best and walk away with free laptops.

Luckily Heather is looking after me, which I’m very grateful for. I’m having dinner cooked for me tonight and home made lemonade brought over later, the vitamin C from which should work wonders. Heather is truly wonderful and I’m dead lucky to have her.

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Jazz and Blues success

My past week has been spent working in my capacity as president of Jazz and Blues Leeds to recruit new members to the society and I’d like to report that it has gone particularly well.

Our publicity consisted of running s freshers week stall all week, on one day having a stall in two places, holding a free gig in the outside tent and handing out over 2,000 flyers, each one coming with comments from me about what we had coming up and how our social consisted of free food and drink.

We had our first social on Thursday evening and at the end of the night I’d met a load of great people who were as into Jazz and Blues music as me if not more so and also added over 65 paid members to the books.

This financial injection is going to ensure the future of Jazz and Blues Leeds for the coming months and provide us with the ability to deliver some of the best jazz and blues events that Leeds University Union has ever seen.

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Anti Spam Replies

Lately I’ve replied to a few e-mails I’ve received only to be confronted by an automated response asking me to reply with the subject intact to prove I’m not a spammer. This kind of practice seems to be on the rise and in my opinion is completely pointless. I explain my reasons below.

To simply have to reply with the subject intact merely proves that the place you are sending from exists, not that the content you sent wasn’t spam. It would be perfectly possible to setup a server to reply automatically to any such message it receives (messages are of course easily identified by a long character string in the subject line). This would then allow the spam server to spam that address with everything and anything because not only would the first message then be allowed though but the sender would be white-listed and so any other spam that the spam server needed to send out could count on all of these white-listed servers to receive mail. Not a situation which is desirable in any way.

More fundamentally though, if you e-mail me asking for help or other questions and I take the time to reply to you, why should I have to verify I’m not a spammer? You e-mailed me first asking for a reply, surely you should have the courtesy to white-list my address so that my reply is as easy to formulate and send as possible?

As a point of principle I will not verify my address with any of these systems. If you e-mail me, I will reply. If you have one of these systems in place that requires me to verify my address, you might want to check your “holding bay” because you’re not going to get me to reply to these silly bots.

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Two Tier Internet

There has been a lot of talk lately in the news about the potential for the implementation of a two tier internet, that is to say a global collection of networks in which some traffic is given priority over others, not necessarily for reasons of efficiency but for those of financial incentive – those that can afford to pay can prioritise their internet traffic or take advantage of less restrictive access to the content of others.

This is something I wanted to muse over a little before committing thoughts to my blog because it is something close to my heart. Having given it some thought though it is actually a less savoury prospect than I had ever imagined and I was never in favour of a two tier internet in the first place.

At present the internet is a place in which content is indiscriminately accessible to all; something I publish is available to a user in, say, Australia as readily as it is to someone who lives up my street. Likewise someone on a cheap ISP can also access my published content in exactly the same way as someone on a more expensive provider.

Two Tier Internet means that for the first time some publishers will be able to dictate which “class” of consumer will be able to access their content and what is worse even if the publisher intends to allow everyone equal access the ISP could be equally restrictive if it took their fancy. My internet might not be the same as your internet and this means that whole areas of the internet could be completely invisible to you without you even knowing it. Sure, you might be able to hit IP addresses but they would time out as if there was no machine responding if they weren’t on your tier.

I cannot stress enough how damaging this will be to the whole ethos of the internet. Tim Berners Lee (creator of the world wide web in case you didn’t know) said himself that the connections we use to share data should be freely accessible to all and that the whole way in which the internet works relies on us all being on one network in which we all have the potential to be equal players. If the very creator of the web intended us to have one internet and believes it would be damaging to split it up, why should legislators who have no technical knowledge have the right to say it shouldn’t be that way? Quite simply they are taking the piss.

I’m not going to jump on a high horse about the quality of the content I have to distribute to the world, especially since some of it is probably pretty crap in the eyes of some who might come across it, but I sure as hell don’t want to see someone else deciding who should see it or not based on who is lining their pockets. I put it online because I want everyone in the world with a connection to be able to read, listen to, watch or download it as they wish. If a day comes when I can no longer do that, the one place on earth where we are all still truly free, the internet, really will be dead and the world will be a much darker place.

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Guinness is good for you

Guinness Poster

Finally some scientific evidence to support those of us that love a few pints of the good stuff now and again.

Apparently a pint every day could present sinilar positive benefits to that of the common aspirin tablet such as thinning the blood to prevent clotting and reducing the amount of cholesterol deposited on the artery walls.

All is revealed in this BBC news article. Even if you choose not to believe this, there certainly can’t be any harm in drinking a pint and thinking it might be doing you some good rather than harm, it simply enhances the enjoyment of your pub visits! Casting all that aside I certainly wouldn’t half mind my own copy of the featured poster on the left.

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Exam Congratulations

I wish to congratulate everyone who has successfully passed resit examinations this year in Leeds School of Computing. You’ve worked hard and deserve to be back in the best department in the university! Bring on freshers week 😀

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Facebook Graduates

This is a small blog post aimed at those who have ended up graduating earlier than imagined, according to facebook that is anyway! There is however a very simple fix for this.

  • Click “account” on the top right of the facebook homepage when logged in
  • Select the “Networks” tab when the page loads
  • Select “Edit info” on the network from which you have become an early graduate
  • Change the “Class year” to the one in which you will in fact graduate from university
  • Save the settings

After following these steps you should cease to be an alumnus on your university network on facebook. Have fun!

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Pandora on Facebook

I’ve been a long time listener of Pandora, and while I’ve been sharing with you what I listen to on my home hi-fi in the sidebar of my site for some time, I’m now sharing my Pandora listening habits across facebook.

What this means is my facebook profile updates when I start listening to a different radio station and what’s more it gives you a link to listen to exactly what I’m listening to, plus some album/artist art to spark your interest if the name of the station alone isn’t enough.

If you’re into Jazz and Blues music I’d strongly recommend any of my stations to you. Please feel free to post up your comments on my Pandora stations to this blog post.

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Wardrobe Revival

A few days ago I was contacted by the new promoter of events at the Wardrobe jazz club and it looks like we may finally be seeing some improvements at the club. I’ve been given a preliminary event listing for the next few months and it all looks very positive.

I’m hoping to try and work closely with the Wardrobe when planning events for the Jazz and Blues society and perhaps together we can help bring some superb jazz and blues to the university and indeed to the whole of Leeds.

While the frequency of events at the Wardrobe doesn’t seem to be returning to what it once was, it does look like we have a little more jazz in Leeds to get our teeth into and that can’t be a bad thing.

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