Tag Archives: Technology

Bloody Google is getting worse!

What used to work suddenly starts to keep crashing my Safari, as well as my iOS on my iPad! Web front-ends are trying to do more and more nowadays. What used to be simple static HTML web pages get so sophisticated that they can run various stuff on your web browser. I must say that I’m not a big fan of heavy front-ends. And yet Google seems very keen to lead us to run everything on web browsers. Things get so clunky that it is little wonder GMail starts crashing my iPad. God knows what they have done lately. And Eric Schmidt even foresees that Google will not only “answer” your queries, but also tell you what to do next! Good…

What a con offer from BT!

Received a letter through our letter box today about a Summer Deal offer from BT. Thought it’s really cheap, £15.99 a month for BT Total Broadband, plus unlimited UK landline calls. And it’s free for the first three months of service. But it is only after looking at the small prints more carefully, and repeatedly, when I realise that this £15.99 actually does not bloody include the line rental, which is currently about £10 a month! How is it such an exciting deal I wonder, almost in disbelief that they actually have the guts to send out such weak marketing offers.You see, I’m currently paying only £7.50 for my broadband with O2, as I’m also their mobile phone customer. Yes, I’m only getting up to 8Mbps, as opposed to up to 20Mbps. But I don’t have a usage cap of 10GBytes per month! For these I’ll have to shell out almost twice what I’m currently paying to go with BT. How silly does that sound? And what I don’t like about BT is it seems that they deliberately try to make their offers sound better than they actually are. Wasted my time having to look into the small prints to get a full view of what the offer actually meant. So not impressed with these marketing people, and BT!


Purchased an additional domain for our travel business. Not entirely convinced that it will drive more trafic to our website, but since it is freed up recently, and it costs peanuts to buy, why not 🙂 Bought the domain from godaddy.com, because I have seen them everywhere, and they sell domains a fraction cheaper than any other domain sellers I can find. But I must say that buying a domain is getting more confusing nowadays. They have a price for the domain, and then they have a host of add ons that cost money, like domain privary, business registration, autorenewal etc. And there are at least 5 or 6 checkboxes that I need to tick or untick to save my mail box from being spammed by email newsletters, promotions etc, both from them and third parties. I have bought from Yahoo and 123-reg before, and the process as I remember was a little more hassle free.After purchasing the domain, I proceed to transfer the domain to my hosting provider. Gosh goodness I am back to something I am back to an interface I am more familiar with. Now I am just waiting for the domain transfer to complete which can take up to 48 hours.

Setting up Google Wave (FedOne) server for federation

There are already plenty of tutorials which will show you how to set up FedOne Google Wave server to federate with Google’s sandbox version of wave server for developers. I’m not going repeat them here. However I will highlight this one which I found most useful, follow by some of my own observations, during my endeavour.In a nutshell, you first need to set up an XMPP server, as the FedOne wave reference server is implemented as an external component to the XMPP server. The XMPP server you should be looking to install needs to be XEP-0114 compatible (with Jabber Component Protocol). I’m using OpenFire, but there are others that you can use too like ejabberd.Before you install the XMPP server, perhaps it is worth knowing beforehand which platform you are planning to run your servers on (e.g. Windows or Linux), and whether you want both the XMPP and FedOne wave servers to run on the same machine. Personal experience told me that it is very slow running servers or clients from Windows command prompt. And you need to run the FedOne wave server using the Windows command prompt. Just to give you an idea, compiling FedOne wave server on Windows command prompt took me more than 5 mins compared to less than 1 min on Linux terminal. If you are interested in looking at screen dumps from the FedOne wave server real-time, then that will slow down the performance of your wave client too. I have run text-based wave console client on Windows command prompt as well and again it is very slow. I almost see no live character transmission coming from the wavesandbox! It is that bad. I guess if you are not playing with the console client then you are probably okay. But in any case for development purposes I would not recommend installing the FedOne wave server on Windows.Next you set up the FedOne wave server. As far as I can remember this is pretty straightforward. I set mine up on a separate machine from the OpenFire XMPP server. But you can run both on the same machine. After setting up the FedOne wave server, you can test your wave server using the console client that comes with the server package.Your FedOne wave server is not ready for federation yet. You need to first add some DNS records to your DNS server, as is explained in this wiki. Basically you want external users or servers to be able to find your Fedone wave server via DNS. Note that this exercise is more straightforward if your DNS is maintained by third party DNS service provider like DynDNS. Otherwise it can be a pain hosting your own DNS server, particularly if you don’t have full access to or own everything like your domain, firewall, gateway, and requiring authorisations from IT staff etc. If that is the case, it will be wise that you also understand the requirements of the wave server for federation before proceeding with the DNS set up, as that might save you some time.Once you have set up the DNS records, you can check if they are working correctly by using dig, a command line tool for querying DNS name servers for desired DNS records. For example here is how to check if the SRV records for your XMPP service has been set up.# dig +short -t SRV _xmpp-server._tcp.example.comAnd the response for my case is:10 0 5269 wave.example.comIf your FedOne wave server is on a private network and needs to use Network Address Translation (NAT) to communicate with the outside world, you will need to set up port forwarding for port 5269 from your gateway to your FedOnewave server, and of course, open a hole on the firewall of the gateway for that port 5269 too. You can check if all these are working by initiating a telnet session to your wave server:# telnet wave.example.com 5269When you are connected, key in something and press enter, you will be informed that the connection is now closed by the foreign host, which is what you would expect.Finally you have the CA certificates to sort out before you are allowed to federate with Google Wave sandbox server. Note that the sandbox server does not accept self-certified certificates so you will have to get one from a third party. Certificates issued by StartSLL are accepted by the sandbox server and it is free, for up to 1 year. It works well for me, apart from the inconvenience of applying for a certificate too soon (one day after I bought a domain). They require that your domain to be active for at least a couple of days (for my case I got mine when I applied 2 days later). If you don’t own the domain, you need to find out who has access to these emails accounts: postmaster@example.com, hostmaster@example.com and webmaster@example.com. Because StartSSL will only send authentication code to one of the above three email addresses, to confirm that you own the domain. If your service provider owns these addresses, then you may be in for a tough time. Quicker to just buy your own domain for a few quid a year if you are only planning to try out FedOne wave server or do development work for federation. Here is a wiki on how to get CA-issued certificate and how to check if the certs are all ready to go.That’s it, you should be able to fire up your FedOne wave console client and add users/developers with Google Wave sandbox account. If you don’t already have a sandbox account, it may be a good time to apply now, while you are setting up the rest of the stuff, as who knows how long it takes before you are given one.Hope you all find this blog useful.

I’m hooked to the Internet

Bar in Heathrow Terminal 1, by arctanck

It’s incredible to think about it now that we can get access to the information almost anytime anywhere. Before iPhone it was still a pain in the arse. And iPhone has really exceeded my expectations. Today I was still able to use MSN to keep in touch with W while I was waiting for a coach to the airport. And I can make free phone calls using Skype via the free wifi service provided by the coach. Now as I am waiting at the airport for my flight, I made another free call to my brother in Malaysia, who is incidentally using iPhone too. Then of course I’m blogging here in the meantime too. On top of that I can check my Facebook to see what my friends are currently doing on Christmas eve. Enough said, and I think I can spend a lot of time on my iPhone! Merry Christmas all!

Home broadband with O2

Connecting our home to the O2 ADSL broadband service seems unbelievably easy! After we had a fresh BT line installed to our premise, we placed an order with O2 to become their home broadband customer, as it is much cheaper to use their service when we are already their existing customer through their mobile phone service, at about £9 a month for their Premium service. We then received a couple of text messages, telling us that our line will be activated in six days time, and we will receive the broadband modem cum wireless router package two days before the activation date.As promised, the package arrived in the evening of the delivery date (hence not with Royal Mail). Three days later, when I finally got the time to install everything, it was painless, almost perfect, and everything just works. Amazing. Including setting up our laptop to connect to the wireless router. This is how home products or services should be, user friendly. And we are also entitled a copy of the McAfee security software!On the broadband speed, we should be getting up to 20Mbps for the downlink. Tried peer-to-peer and FTP downloads, but seems that we are not even close to that “magic” number. Think we can at most hit 8Mbps. Anyway it does not feel that normal web browsing is that much quicker either than my previous 2Mbps connection, although it IS quicker. To be honest we are not too fussed on this as we are not hard core users of broadband, and we seldom download large movie files etc 🙂 But had it not been the initial 3 months free offer, I think we probably would have phoned in to “downgrade” from their Premium service, as their Standard service can provide up to 8Mbps too.All in all, we are very pleased with O2’s service so far. And we are also using their mobile broadband service, for our laptop, when we are on the move. Hope they are able to keep this up.

Free Internet access at Costa Coffee

I’m supposed to watch some ads on my web browser before I’m allowed to get free Internet access at Costa Coffee. However my PC and web browser settings are so hostile to ads that nothing shows up, yet here I am using their service. Looks like this type of business model is not very effective when they have users/customers like us 🙂 Advertisers when know about this will probably not be too happy about the money they have paid. I think it is likely that service provider, Anacapa in my case, will count my access into their statistics regardless of whether I’ve been properly served ads, not to mention that I can open a new tab and start browsing straight away without watching the ads. I mean if the Hotspot provider is already providing free service anyway then there’s really nothing to lose for them. In fact they will get a cut of the advertising revenue, which is good for their otherwise free service. How effective it is for advertisers to advertise in this manner I’m sceptical.Anyway to think about it this model definitely works very well for people with a Wi-Fi capabled device, allowing them to get free high speed access at public areas. I’ve been longing for the iPhone to massively drop down in price, as it is indeed a very sleek phone, equipped with Wi-Fi interface. However the iPhone’s touch screen is not great for typing, unfortunately. If only they have a Blackberry keypad 🙂

The virtual world

Do you live your life in the virtual world? I was just discussing with my colleagues about facebook and the likes during our Christmas lunch today. Many people seem to spend a majority of their time living in the virtual world these days. In a way, it is a total revolution as to how people communicate. It takes the pressures off from having to talk to someone face to face or any form of instantaneous communication. However, the drawbacks are that it is so comfortable to hide behind the veil that it has reached a state of beyond control. You can virtually have two lives and one of which you can have absolute freedom as to how you want it to be without any boundaries or moral responsibilities to abide by.If it is merely a form of occasional past time, it may not affect a person’s health. But if you are so hooked up that you spend all your free time living in the virtual world, then it is a worrying sign.I still think that nothing should replace the occasional socials with friends and families to share your joys and sorrows. After all, humans need to live in a real community, not through a machine.

Limit to Royal Mail Postcode Address Finder service?

It seems that the way Royal Mail limit the number of searches you can invoke to the Postcode Address Finder service is via the use of cookies. What a loose way to impose the limit. Basically, as soon as users have used up all their 12 searches a day, they just need to clear the cookies, access the Royal Mail service again, and they’ll be given 12 more fresh searches! If the Royal Mail want to monetise the address finder service then this is such a lousy implementation. For people who have disabled cookies on their browser, you might even be fooled into registering with them, as they don’t warn you that you need to allow cookies to be set in your browser before you are allowed to use their free service. Very poor. Worst of all, my address is not even in the address database!