No, not the latest legal system scandal. This time, it’s a case of when you’re not good enough to be in the first 66%.
Regular reader(s) will know that here at HDG Towers we have been eagerly awaiting the arrival of BT Infinity in Whitstable. From initial reports of a June rollout and watching it slip back each month, I decided to do a little digging. While doing this digging I noticed that my nearest green cabinet, the box that I’m so keento see connected to fibre, was different to others.
Contacting our friends at Openreach, I enquired further…
Thank you for your interest in our Fibre Broadband project. We are rolling out one of the fastest and largest commercial deployments in the world. Our commercial deployment will have extended to 66% of the UK by the end of December 2014. We aim extend this to 90% of the UK, in partnership with other sources of funding, e.g. local and National government.
…so far so good. I know Whitstable is on the list to be connected imminently. But then…
The rollout is based on the commercial criteria for each cabinet and Whitstable cabinet 18 to which your line is connected, has been deferred out of the programme as a high cost cabinet.
My poor little cabinet, so desperately in need of some care (see photo) is not worth upgrading.
I have often bent the ear of anyone who will listen to tell them my thoughts on digital haves and have-nots. A few years ago I would ask “why are BT pushing fibre to big cities when rural communities don’t have broadband?” This year it was “why are BT rolling out 160MB Infinity to big cities when towns don’t have any Infinity at all?”
And now it is “why are BT rolling out Infinity to the house up the road but not here?”
Where cabinets are not commercially viable Government funding is available to Borough and County Councils to improve fibre coverage and it is worth contacting your Council in relation to this.
I will be contacting the council, but these scarce funds should be being spent on rural communities where it is difficult to rollout fibre, not to fill in the gaps where it is inconvenient or just a little too expensive.
I’d rather see my council tax helping our friends over in Herne who have to rely on wireless because their broadband is useless, and my many years of phone bills can pay for my cabinet.
Thank you very much.
Not too long ago, I had the (dubious) pleasure of taking two laptops apart for the same reason. On both of them I needed to replace the cooling fans.
The first was a joy. An old Acer laptop – flip it over, four screws and all the useful components are easily accessible via one panel.
The other, an HP, was an absolute nightmare to work on. Apart from removing the keyboard, screen, DVD drive, great chunks of the case had to be dismantled and the whole motherboard removed. All so it could be flipped over to reach the necessary components.
But it could have been even worse, I suppose. As laptops become smaller and sleeker, they become harder to repair, if not impossible. Perhaps the worst culprit of this is Apple, who now solder and glue some of their components in. Either that, or use their own proprietary screws.
There is a slow but constant shift towards disposable IT hardware, where things are either impossible or just plain uneconomical to repair.
I’m often asked how or why I “got into computers” and I usually answer, only half-jokingly, “I went to an all boys school and they were easier to talk to than girls.”
Back in that distant past, you didn’t just own a computer, you had to be “into it.” My first three computers (ZX81, BBC Model B, BBC Master 128) were pretty much useless if you didn’t know at least some code. If you weren’t willing to spend hours fighting a tape deck or poring over code listings in magazines then the computer was just an expensive ornament.
Even my first PC (and much to the horror of my Amiga and Archimedes owning peers, I was the first PC user at my school) needed a lot of coaxing to get it to do anything at all. If you were scared off by a black screen with a little A:\> prompt then you didn’t use a computer. Yes, it was an A in those days, we didn’t have hard drives.
We were mostly self-taught and a mixture of curiosity and the satisfaction of making these boxes beep and flash at our command, spawned a generation of geeks and coders. We may not have all learned machine code or assembly language, but we could knock out a great bit of BASIC, PASCAL or even C.
So almost 24 years to the day, I was a very proud 16 year-old to have a prize-winning letter printed in PC Plus magazine, especially as it sounded like I had out-geeked all the staff there when writing it.
And so it continued. In 1993, when the first web browser appeared, getting online was not just a case of plugging it in and going (actually, you don’t even need to plug anything in nowadays!) – it was a long process of setting up stacks and socks, whining modems and a fair amount of determination.
If you didn’t know how to set it up, you didn’t use it. If you were online you supported yourself, you knew how to fix everything that came your way.
Which is why I worry a little now. Pretty much every house has a PC in it and every child is using Word or Powerpoint to complete their homework.
But if the PC doesn’t work, most of them don’t have a clue of what to do.
Obviously, in my PC repair trade that’s not an entirely bad thing! But it is a concern when so few youngsters want to code and we see most of the skills we need in the future being provided by countries other than our own. It’s why we need organisations like Young Rewired State to encourage children who are interested in developing these skills.
The fact that 500 people around the country have signed up for this year’s Festival of Code workshops is great. It’s very sad that none of them are from the Canterbury area. So when Liz from the Whitstable Times telephoned to ask if I had any views on the issue, I was happy to climb onto my soapbox. How she got my rant into such a small box on page 6 of this week’s paper I do not know!
But it’s quite spooky that this latest appearance in print, calling out for support for young geeks, is almost 24 years to the day that this young geek first had his work printed.
I’ve met quite a few social media “experts” and suffered some of their presentations. Many of them like to show a motivational video to remind you just how important social media is. So when I saw this video, well, I just had to smile…
I’m a big fan of social media but to cut through the hype – the most important thing is good quality content, without that your message, however you broadcast it, is just noise.
Oh, Microsoft, you’ve disappointed me. And you were doing so well.
In the last few weeks I’ve enjoyed using Windows 8, moving to a Nokia Lumia 800 running Windows Phone 7.5 and even migrated a couple of clients from Google Apps to Office 365. Eek!
Microsoft Security Essentials continues to impress and recent events have even made them appear more clued up on security and patching than Apple. So, how have they spoilt this?
Well, it’s a little Optional Update they have sent out – Bing Desktop.
Now, it’s hard enough getting clients to click on the little update warnings and making sure they keep safe and sound by running them. So it really doesn’t help when they try to do the right thing and download something that completely confuses them.
The Bing Desktop installs a search box onto your desktop, changes your homepage and replaces your search defaults. Like most other annoying toolbars. However, It also changes your desktop background or ‘wallpaper’. So the client with best intentions ended up well and truly confused!
I know it was only ‘Optional’ but I don’t think it should have been there at all.
Apparently, although no doubt this is not cast in stone, come June Whitstable will have their broadband connection upgraded. “Fibre to the Cabinet” will roll out, which means instead of dodgy old copper between your house and the exchange, most of the distance will be covered by fibre optic cable.
So the broadband connection between the exchange and the little green cabinet round the corner from you will get a lot better. And boy, do we need it…
I’ve been fiddling around with mobiles and SIMs while I upgrade to a Nokia Lumia 800 (more on that in another post, I suspect) and decided to run some speed tests. First of all, on my normal broadband connection:
Then, on my 3 mobile connection:
Yes, that’s a 40% increase using the mobile.
Roll on June, I cannot wait!
When I worked for a very big corporate, one of my colleagues was blind. Of the many things I learned from him (besides what it’s like to share an office with a dog*) one was the importance of website accessibility.
This guy was responsible for selecting and managing service providers for this big company – to be selected to provide a service to a company this size can completely change your business. Of course, when your only contact with someone is via email, you’d have no idea he was blind. And so many of those emails would contain the words “see our website for more details” so he would.
The way this guy used his PC was amazing. He had a small Braille device above the keyboard but most of the time he used his headphones. He had software on his PC that would read out every piece of text, menu, pop-up and option box. How he coped with this cacophony I do not know!
Now, your website is your shopfront. And just as you wouldn’t open a shop with a 2-foot step at the door to prevent the disabled getting in, you should be building your website to allow the visually impaired in. There’s some very useful information at the RNIB website about the UK law for website accesibility – yes, this is a legal requirement. In fact, the RNIB started their first case against a website earlier this year.
When this guy visited a website that he couldn’t read, well, that supplier got crossed off the list. Plain and simple.
There are lots of things you can do to make your website more accessible, but three really important starters are:
Google indexes sites based on their content – i.e. the text on the page. Headings and text all play a vital role in your website competing against other sites in the all important Google rank. If your site doesn’t have text and headings, it won’t be ranked highly. We all know that adding a few meta keywords to your site does nothing for Google now. And a little description tag at least gives people something to read if they do find your site on Google. But for any useful search phrases, your site will appear right down at the bottom if it doesn’t have some content.
The simplest check is to turn off images – this page explains how to disable images in your web browser. Try it now and you’ll see that although it looks a lot less pretty, on this page you can still read all the content and navigate the site. That’s because all our fairly marvellous website design work is accessibility and SEO friendly.
I’ll leave you with a screenshot of a website that demonstrates this perfectly – unfortunately I probably didn’t explain the issue too well so the owner remains someone else’s client! It does look fantastic when the images are turned on though.
* This dog had a habit of ignoring his basket. I would come back from meetings to find him curled up under my desk – this blonde Labrador went so well with my black suit!
The constant patent bickering between Apple et al will no doubt become even worse following news last week that Apple have won a patent for the concept of sliding to unlock.
See TechRadar’s “Apple wins slide to unlock patent” or ZDnet’s “Every Android device now infringes Apple patent: Slide to unlock“
Personally, I find all this patenting of concepts rather ridiculous, a great way for lawyers to make money. Especially as it appears I will now have to whistle every time I go to the toilet…
I cannot afford the licensing fee for my bathroom door.
On my happy travels from sick PC to sick PC each day, it is heartening to see an ever increasing number of silver surfers.
Whether it’s more spare time following retirement, a desire to keep in touch with an ever distant family or the need to use online grocery shopping because getting out the house is too difficult, there are more older people using PCs each day.
So when someone has plundered their pension to buy a computer or plucked up the courage to learn this daunting new language, we need to do everything we can to avoid making life difficult for them!
Icons are moved around, toolbars installed, instant messaging apps downloaded. Homepages are changed, music copied and preferences, well, unpreferred.
Imagine someone came into your kitchen, put the teabags in a different cupboard, put the spoons in the fork section and used all the milk. How frustrating would making your morning cup of tea be?
Now imagine the cupboard is out of reach and you have to wait for someone to deliver the milk because you cannot get down the shops. Never mind your eyesight isn’t up for sorting cutlery.
Rant over. We now return to our normal programming…
For a brief moment the other day I almost changed my opinion on Blackberrys. I was setting up a new Torch for a client and I caught myself thinking “oh, this is actually quite a nice phone…”
I got over it though.