Broadband in the Dark Ages

I’m trying to figure out what ADSL and phone provider to go with in the UK and am a bit shocked at how 1992 the selection is.

After using 2.5-8Mb ADSL and cable in the US and France over the last decade, I’m pretty shocked that most places in the UK still only offer up to 8Mbps and realistically provide more like half that, and very few packages include any free phonecalls or line rental. Mind you, only a couple of years ago places I was at in the UK only had 512Kbps, although they did have free phonecalls as I recall.

BT seem to be the worst – charging about 25ukp/month plus 11ukp line rental and not even including any free phonecalls, well some UK off-peak calls with the Home Hub (erm, no comment!) For just phone service and no broadband with unlimited UK and international calls it would be 11.25+4.95+4.89=21.09ukp.

Tiscali seem to offer the cheapest and best plans, at around 20ukp/month including unlimited UK and international calls and line rental, however they are the ISP-from-Hell according to most of their customers, no wonder they’re cheap.

TalkTalk I’ve used before and whilst their speeds seem slow with naff fair-use, they are at least reliable if your line is good, a comparable package including line rental and unlimited UK/international would be about 24ukp/month.

O2 seem to be the best ISP, but they don’t offer a phone service, so would have to be added to the 21ukp BT package above. Their standard package is 7.34ukp/month if you top up a tenner every 3 months on a PAYG mobile phone (so 40ukp/year) so comes to about 10.67ukp/month including mobile minutes. So this is looking the most promising – essentially for about 32ukp/month you get unlimited phonecalls and some mobile minutes as well as 8Mb ADSL (with no usage caps). There are also some 3 month free offers going around.

It does seem that the much-touted 40GB monthly bandwidth usage is actually 40Gigabytes not gigabits (5 gigabytes), so should be enough.

On an unrelated note, it does look like ebuyer will be replacing (or crediting) my two 1Tb hard drives.

Speed freak

I just installed Alien Arena (a Q3A mod) via yum and it turns out my ISP is a Fedora mirror, so I got a megabyte-per-second download speed (8mbits/s)!

I just watched Zack And Miri Make A Porno, which was a pretty good comedy about a pair of broke flatmates that make a porno movie, although it ends up devolving into a bit of a love story.

Also watched Make It Happen, which was a really poor Flashdance ripoff – with a bit of Coyote Ugly thrown in.


I backed up my GPS last night by simply copying the files from my 4Gb SDHC card to a 2Gb SD card, it just abouts fits with all the applications and France+UK maps. The only things that seem to be missing are settings, but favourites are still there.

I’ve been playing around with the latest versions of Nessus and Tennable Security Center lately, SC really adds functionality to Nessus, its not simply a web frontend. What’s also nice is that even though its not opensource, it still uses open standards for things, so you could modify it yourself – config files are simple text or XML, images are just PNG’s, the scripts are Perl and PHP and the DHTML/AJAX uses the Yahoo library!

M&D’s ADSL got upgraded and after teething troubles (the DSLAM had the wrong mac address info, which seems to be the usual problem/excuse with our ISP) the speed has gone up from about 2400/130kbps to 5600/810kbps, so not only more than doubled the download, but also a hefty upload speed.

Update: just figured out what is loud in my new PC – I previously thought it was the PSU fan, but it turns out to be the 1Tb hard disk, it vibrates like a motherfucker and is constantly spun-up, unlike in my fileserver where the hard disks spin down all the time rather annoyingly. I guess you can’t have it both ways.

Just watched Russell Howard Live, which was rather disappointing as I think he’s great on Mock The Week. It really dragged on with his very similar life observations, and reruns of his old MTW gags.

Update 2: I’ve been backing up my desktop machine onto my fileserver today using rsync. Strangely enough on the server side you can exclude directories so the client can’t copy them, however on the client side you can’t exclude directories from being deleted.

For example I have a backup directory on the fileserver (client) which contains one more “config” directory than the corresponding backup directory on the desktop (server). If I run rsync the config directory will get deleted on the fileserver as it doesn’t appear on the desktop. The only solution being to move the config directory outside of backup directory whilst syncing.

Permissions seem a bit odd too, if there’s a file on the server that is not world-readable, then it cannot by synced to the client, despite the username/ID’s being the same. Same goes for directories that aren’t world-executable.