Category Archives: Computers and Internet

Virgin Media to lower price of their 50Mb Broadband

According to their Press Office Virgin Media will lower the price of their flagship 50Mb Broadband service to £28 a month when taken with a phone line or £38 as a standalone product.

Also Virgin are trailing 10Mb upload speeds on the the 50Mb service in the Midlands and the North East of England. Lastly they said the Traffic Management will not be applied to the service for the time being. Let’s hope it says that way and I look forward to the price reduction and the eventual upload speed increase.

Upgraded to 50Mbps Broadband

This afternoon Virgin Media came round to “install” their 50Mbps Broadband service. This means that this website will now load a bit faster due to a 1.65Mbps upload speed rather than the meagre 768kbps upload that I had before.

Also the new service uses a new DOCSIS 3.0 network compared to the legacy DOCSIS 1.1 network. Below is the result of the speed test on the new line.


Massive Bug Found in VMWare ESX 3.5U2

This was first reported yesterday evening on both the VMWare Community forums and on From what anyone can tell, there is a bug in the VMWare License Management code and it is causing any system that is running ESX 3.5U2 to not be able to boot this morning. VMware is attempting to figure out what happened and put out a patch, but the more important question is, "Why wasn’t this caught before it shipped?" As Matt Marlowe posted:
OK, while we’re all remaining calm….just imagine the implications that bugs like this can occur and get past QA testing….5 years down the road, nearly all server apps worldwide pretty much running in VM’s (pretty easy prediction)……some country decides to initiate cyberwarfare and manages to get a backdoor into whatever is the prevaling hypervisor of the day…..boom. All your VM’s belong to us. […]
I’d love to find out what happened here. Don’t they do any regression testing on new releases to check for date based bugs? I thought that would be pretty obvious.

There have been some updates on this situation since it broke last night:

1. Frank Wegner’s suggested workaround:
* Do nothing
* Turn DRS off
* Avoid VMotion
* Avoid to power off VM’s

I’d council against turning DRS off as that actually deletes resource pool settings….instead, set sensitivity to 5 which should effectively disable it w/ minimal impact.

2. VMware has stated they will have fixes available in 36hrs at the earliest.

3. Anand Mewalal’s suggested workaround:
We used the following workaround to power on the VM’s.
Find the host where a VM is located
run ‘ vmware-cmd -l ‘ to list the vms.
issue the commands:
service ntpd stop
date -s 08/01/2008
vmware-cmd /vmfs/volumes/
service ntpd start

4. It’s reported that there are no easily seen warnings in logs/etc or VC prior to hitting the bug. VC will continue to show the hosts as licensed and no errors will appear in vmkernel log file until you try to start up a new vm, reboot a vm, or reboot the host.

News Source:

The 31 Days of the Dragon: win a HP entertainment notebook a day

The 31 Days of the Dragon is a promotion between 31 participating web sites, with the sponsorship of HP. HP is working with those websites offering 31 prize packages – one a day for 31 days during a period from 09 May through 08 June 2008.

Each participating website will have its own competition with its own prize, each a HP HDX Dragon Entertainment Notebook loaded with features and software.

The HP HDX Dragon comes with Microsoft Windows Vista Ultimate (64-bit) and is powered by an Intel Core 2 Extreme Processor X9000 (2.80GHz, 6MB L2 Cache, 800MHz FSB). Other features include 20.1" diagonal WUXGA High-Definition HP Ultra Brightview Widescreen (1920×1200) 1080p, 4GB DDR2 System Memory (2 Dimm), 512MB NVIDIA GeForce 8800M GTS, HP Imprint Finish (Dragon) + Fingerprint Reader + Webcam + Microphone, Intel PRO/Wireless 4965AGN Network Connection and Bluetooth, 500GB 5400RPM SATA Dual Hard Drive (250GB x 2), Blu-Ray ROM with SuperMulti DVD+/-R/RW Double Layer, Integrated HP HDTV Hybrid TV Tuner and 4 Altec Lansing speakers with HP Triple Bass Reflex subwoofer, and 9 Cell Lithium Ion Battery.

The entertainment notebooks will come with these software titles: Microsoft Office, Corel PaintShop Pro X2, Corel Painter Essentials, Corel Ulead Video Studio Plus  11.5, Symantec Norton Internet Security.

For the gamers in us the winners will receive the following games: Viva Piñata,Microsoft Flight Sim, Microsoft Flight Sim Expansion Pack, Gears of War.

And since this is an entertainment beast, you will enjoy the following Blu Ray movies out of the box: Pirates of the Caribbean – The Curse of the Black Pearl, Pirates of the Caribbean – Dead Man’s Chest, Pirates of the Caribbean – At World’s End.

The total retail value of each of these prizes would be over US$5,000 – and there are 31 to be won!

Source, list of participating websites and dates here:

BBC and ISPs clash over iPlayer

A row about who should pay for extra network costs incurred by the iPlayer has broken out between internet service providers (ISPs) and the BBC.

ISPs say the on-demand TV service is putting strain on their networks, which need to be upgraded to cope.

Ashley Highfield, head of future media and technology at the corporation, has said he believes the cost of network upgrades should be carried by ISPs.

Simon Gunter, from ISP Tiscali, said the BBC should contribute to the cost.

He said the BBC did not understand the issues involved.

‘Bit odd’

The popular iPlayer service lets users download or stream programmes to a PC.

In its first month of launching, the catch-up TV service saw 1m people download more than 3.5m programmes.

According to figures from regulator Ofcom it will cost ISPs in the region of £830m to pay for the extra capacity needed to allow for services like the iPlayer.

Mr Gunter is leading the call for the BBC to help pay for the rising costs.

"The question is about whether we invest in extra capacity or go to the consumer and ask them to pay a BBC tax," he said.

Full article here:

I agree with Ashley on this story. The ISP’s should upgrade their outdated networks themselves and not use the BBC as a way of getting this done at the publics expense since we basically pay the BBC.

Rewards for grumbling Xbox users

Microsoft has apologised for the glitches that hit its Xbox Live online game system during the Christmas break.

The software firm said it was "disappointed" with its performance and promised a free downloadable game to all users as recompense.

It said the problems had been caused by a surge of people signing up and using the gaming service.

Microsoft said the growth in new users had been driven by sales of top titles such as Mass Effect and Halo 3.

Full article here:

Note: This appears to be what was causing me heartache in getting my brothers Xbox 360 to work behind my ISA 2006 Server as it’s working now.

Web icon set to be discontinued

The browser that helped kick-start the commercial web is to cease development because of lack of users.

Netscape Navigator, now owned by AOL, will no longer be supported after 1 February 2008, the company has said.

In the mid-1990s the browser was used by more than 90% of the web population, but numbers have slipped to just 0.6%.

In particular, the browser has faced competition from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer (IE), which is now used by nearly 80% of all web users.

"While internal groups within AOL have invested a great deal of time and energy in attempting to revive Netscape Navigator, these efforts have not been successful in gaining market share from Microsoft’s Internet Explorer," said Tom Drapeau on the company’s blog.

Full story on the BBC Technology News site

Bill Gates: The skills you need to succeed

One of the most important changes of the last 30 years is that digital technology has transformed almost everyone into an information worker.

In almost every job now, people use software and work with information to enable their organisation to operate more effectively.

That’s true for everyone from the retail store worker who uses a handheld scanner to track inventory to the chief executive who uses business intelligence software to analyse critical market trends.

So if you look at how progress is made and where competitive advantage is created, there’s no doubt that the ability to use software tools effectively is critical to succeeding in today’s global knowledge economy.

A solid working knowledge of productivity software and other IT tools has become a basic foundation for success in virtually any career.

Beyond that, however, I don’t think you can overemphasise the importance of having a good background in maths and science.

If you look at the most interesting things that have emerged in the last decade – whether it is cool things like portable music devices and video games or more practical things like smart phones and medical technology – they all come from the realm of science and engineering.

Full story at source:

Microsoft wireless keyboard hacked from 50 metres

Swiss researchers say they can log keystrokes from Microsoft’s wireless keyboards from up to 50 metres away using special radio equipment, and are close to being able to control affected computers remotely.

The protocol for securing some of Microsoft’s wireless keyboards has been cracked, opening up the possibility of keystroke logging, according to Swiss security company Dreamlab Technologies.

Microsoft’s Wireless Optical Desktop 1000 and 2000 keyboards communicate by transmitting radio signals to the sound card in a user’s computer. The data stream is encrypted using an exclusion-or (XOR) cipher, which is not strong enough to secure the communication, according to Dreamlab’s senior security specialist, Max Moser.

"This is nothing like a crypto-algorithm," Moser told ZDNet Australia sister site "An exclusion-or binary is really a simple mathematical idea. You can crack the cipher by hand. You take two values, write both lines and look at the different digits. When either the top or the lower line is 1, you write 1. If both are 0, you write 0. For me, this is just obfuscation [rather than encryption]."

Article continues on ZDNet Australia

British government apologizes after mislaying details of 25 million people

Prime Minister Gordon Brown tried to reassure Britons their personal details were safe Wednesday after the one of the biggest security breaches in the country’s history left millions of people exposed to identity theft and bank fraud.

Two computer disks that went missing while being sent from one government department to another contained names, addresses, birth dates, national insurance numbers and – in some cases – banking details for 25 million people, nearly half the country’s population.

The disks were password protected but the information on them was not encrypted, officials said.

"I profoundly regret and apologize for the inconvenience and worries that have been caused to millions of families that receive child benefits," Brown told the House of Commons. "We have a duty to do everything that we can to protect the public."

Brown said he had asked security experts to work with government departments to check their procedures. He said the information commissioner also would be given the power to carry out spot checks on government departments.

Full story: