17/06/2015

Apple gets big connections

Apple are building up their connectivity worldwide. They already had connections into LINX (the London Internet eXchange), unfortunately they don't say what connectivity they have. Now Apple has taken more connectivity into LONAP who do publish what connectivity their members take, and Apple have taken a big chunk 4*10GE + 4*10GE + 4*10GE + 4*10GE, which makes a whopping 160GB of bandwidth (the next largest members only take 2 x 10GE).

Apple's huge bandwidth requirements could be for many reasons, but it's likely that they'll be pushing stuff into the exchanges rather than getting traffic from other sources. This is likely to improve Apple's download services (there's always big spikes in exchange traffic when say, Apple release a new version of MacOS X or iOS).

More likely it's to support Apple's new Apple Pay service that is coming to the UK in July (along with the latest version of iOS), supporting the alleged 250,000 merchants who are going to offer Apple Pay on it's release, means a lot of potential traffic back to Apple (though the wireless terminals will connect back to the merchant services servers such as Barclaycard), but mobile users paying for stuff in-apps/etc will go back to Apple.

Another reason for so much traffic is Apple's new streaming music service that launches soon (they want to replace Spotify) and streaming music does require LOTS of bandwidth.

After examining LONAP's member list, it seems the total bandwidth of all the members is around 630Mb/s (excluding content providers such as the BBC, Netflix, Google and Microsoft), so Apple's connectivity accounts for 25% of all their bandwidth. Google only have 40Gb/s, Microsoft 20Gb/s, BBC 20Mb/s and Netflix 30Gb/s.

12/06/2015

Jawbone Move, cost effective tracking

The Jawbone Move retails for £39 which is pretty reasonable for a tracker. It does look a bit cheap as it's made of plastic and comes with a clip that can attach to your clothes (pocket or belt) and also a silicon strap. Unfortunately the strap isn't particularly strong and relies on tension to keep it together, which may not suit all sports activities as it can get loose when wearing tight fitting sleeves and then come off when removing your top (which happened and the initial version disappeared one day). When wearing the strap it does look a bit like wearing a 'ladies' watch which some may not like.

The boxed product is very minimal as it just contains the Move and the clip and simple instructions on how to set it up (which means installing the Jawbone UP app, available on both Android and iOS).

The UP software is pretty good, though pretty American-centric with a lot of "YEAH" "YOUR GREAT!!" and stuff going on but it is nice and it makes interesting reading. The sleep function is excellent and encourages you to improve your sleep patterns which seemed to work. Just press the button on the sensor before you go to bed and it records sleeping patterns. It also showed that any night drinking sleep patterns changed so that is all very useful stuff. Sleeping is as important as exercising so Jawbone is right on the money here with that feature. It was a little disappointing that the app cannot distinguish between the various exercises easily. A good example of this is with cycling. The sensor has the ability to track any walking or running through the fact that steps make it jolt so it tracks all walking but is a bit vague when running. However, when cycling your hands are on the handlebars so they are not moving and it misses all of this tracking which can be quite a bit of exercise. The app seems to have complete reliance on the sensor to give the app what data it need's, but the app itself is not being clever enough to know that you're moving (even though GPS is turned on so why not sample it), the app could make a rough guess at what's happening as it knows it's moving and what speed it's doing (even without the sensor) so could guesstimate exercise being done. So ultimately the reason for buying this product is to quantify oneself. This means the question is: Does it work and is it useful? Well, wearing the Move daily for everyday useit does work. It tells you if you have done enough exercise and tells you if you have slept enough and it gives some handy hints on what you could do better. Here's some data from a normal day.

what you see is a rolling view of how you're doing compared to your friends. How they slept and exercised versus your view. The competitive person will use that as motivation to be better than your friends.

To summarise: If you are in the market for a budget fitness tracker then this is the one to go for right now. For £39 its got enough features to allow you to understand how much movement you need to achieve to be fitter and to lose those Lb's and get back to a "you" that is more what you want. The app is great and doesn't take up that much battery for what it does and although could do with working out more activities its plenty good enough for the person wanting to get fitter and needs a helping hand.

27/04/2015

MIPS "open sources" CPU

Imagination Technologies who make graphics chips and bought the chip designs of MIPS have made the underlying MIPS processor design available to academic institutions for free.

The CPU has all the features (MMU, cache controllers, debug interfaces, etc.) that a modern operating system needs to run (such as Linux and Android). The actual RTL is included in the release.

This will allow the running of the CPU on an FPGA (field programmable gate array) and Imagination Technology hope that it will lead new new innovations in the Internet of Things, mobile and automative arenas.

This is the first time a complete commercial CPU has been released and is pretty innovative of Imagination. There is a site Opencores and someone did post an ARM compatible CPU, but it was pulled at the request of ARM.

18/03/2015

Beddit - tracking your sleep

Beddit is a device that has a little computing/Bluetooth module and a ultra-thin film sensor that's placed on the mattress that measures your sleep. The strip should be placed on the bed, approximately where your chest is.

Older versions of the device used a Bluetooth 2.0 module which meant the accompanying app (iOS and Android) took forever to connect, while newer versions have a Bluetooth 4 (SMART) module and as soon as the app is opened it connects almost immediately.

The app then tracks sleep quality, respiration and heart rate. It shows how many times you got out of bed, when you went to bed and when you got up. Unfortunately currently you need to start the app to do this which means if you forget, say because you're drunk - when you'd really like to know how you slept, it won't measure anything.

If you do remember to pen the app, then you get a nice display of min/max heart rate and averaged breaths per minute and then a visual graph of what kind of sleep you were in.

The next version of the app should automatically connect when near the Beddit sensor and then know when you go to bed and automatically track your sleep. It may also have a live display showing breathing and/or heart rate.

If you have problems sleeping, this won't cure them, but will show you your sleep patterns and maybe help you improve them.

If you're a Misfit user, Beddit also works with the Misfit app (so will use the Beddit to track your sleep rather than the Misfit Shine/etc).

Prices vary widely on-line, but it can be had for as little as £61.

12/03/2015

Ofcom to hold "beauty contest" for Suffolk

Ofcom, the Super Regulator, is advertising the Local Radio Multiplex Licence for SUFFOLK. This is a DAB radio license which is a standard VHF DAB channel known internationally as ‘Frequency Block 10C (centre frequency of 213.360 MHz).

Any application will be considered in a beauty contest process, whereby the applicants suitability is judged against Ofcom's criteria.

There is an application fee of £5,000 per applicant which is non refundable under any circumstances.

Arqiva will provide the infrastructure for transmission services and capacity must be made available for the provision of BBC local radio (Radio Suffolk in this instance).

The system must not interfere with foreign transmission from Germany, Denmark, the Netherlands and Belgium.

The applications process is contained within the document at the above link.

Ofcom to undertake a Strategic Review of Digital Communications

Ofcom, the Super Regulator, is holding a Strategic Review of Digital Communications to promote competition and investment in converged digital communications services.

This is mainly concerned with infrastructure services such as broadband, but will also cover mobile 4G and future 5G services and "over-the-top" services (i.e. services deliver on top of Internet services such as VoIP, messaging systems such as WhatsApp which is replacing SMS, etc).

Ofcom last held a review 10 years ago after BT's infrastructure operation was separated into a distinct entity (BT Openreach, though still part of BT Group).

There have been many changes since the last review such as the merger of T-Mobile and Orange into EE (which has subsequently been purchased by BT) and consolidation in the ISP market (02, Tiscali, AOL, Be, Easynet).

Since 2005

  • broadband adoption has increased from 31% to 78%
  • take-up of bundled services has risen from 29% in 2005 to 63% today
  • significant commercial and public sector investment in superfast broadband has resulted in 78% availability five years after deployment started. Adoption of this new service is now 27%
  • mobile broadband availability has increased significantly, with 3G increasing from 82% to 99% of premises, and 4G services available to 73% of premises. Mobile broadband take-up is now 67%
  • new entrants have shown strong growth in some areas (for example, local loop unbundling now accounts for 44% of broadband connections, up from 17% in 2005)

While Ofcom can not predict the overall output it will likely encompass

  • Efficient investment: How can incentives for efficient private sector investment and innovation be maintained and strengthened, to ensure widespread availability and high quality of service?
  • Competition: What should be the focus of competition policy in future networks (the 'enduring economic bottlenecks')?
  • Deregulation: What is the scope for deregulating networks and services downstream of any 'enduring bottlenecks'?

Ofcom is planning to complete the review by Summer of 2015.

Nominet consult on .uk WHOIS

Nominet who are the registry for the .uk domain are holding a consultation on what data the .uk WHOIS database contains.

Currently the .uk WHOIS data is what's considered "thick" will full registrant and other details given out by the WHOIS server i.e.

Result of WHOIS query:
Domain name:
     shinycleanhouse.co.uk
 Registrant:
     Andrew Other
 Registrant type:
     UK Sole Trader
 Registrant's address:
     Minerva House
     Edmund Halley Road
     Oxford
     OX4 4DQ
     United Kingdom
 Data validation:
     Registrant contact details validated by Nominet on 10-
Dec-2012
 Registrar:
     Efficient Registrar Limited [Tag = EFF]
     URL: http://www.efficientregistrar.uk
 Relevant dates:
     Registered on: before Aug-1996
     Expiry date:  06-Dec-2015
     Last updated:  25-Nov-2013
 Registration status:
     Registered until expiry date.
Name servers:
     nom-ns1.nominet.org.uk 213.248.199.16
     nom-ns2.nominet.org.uk 195.66.240.250 2a01:40:1001:37::2
     nom-ns3.nominet.org.uk 213.248.242.70

While many registries only return a "thin" version such as .com i.e.

Domain Name: EXAMPLE.COM
   Registrar: TUCOWS DOMAINS INC.
   Sponsoring Registrar IANA ID: 69
   Whois Server: whois.tucows.com
   Referral URL: http://www.tucowsdomains.com
   Name Server: NS.GBNET.NET
   Name Server: NS0.DEMON.CO.UK
   Name Server: NS1.DEMON.CO.UK
   Name Server: NS1.GBNET.NET
   Status: ok http://www.icann.org/epp#OK
   Updated Date: 08-dec-2014
   Creation Date: 23-dec-1994
   Expiration Date: 22-dec-2015

When the original policy was set in 2002 the registrant info was probably the main source of information about a domain, however with the advent of social media this situation has changed considerably.

Now there are valid reasons for not having the full registrant details available to everyone (via public WHOIS) and though Nominet does allow individuals' details to be excluded, that's pretty much the only exception to having the information published. This has also led to the development of privacy services, whereby the domain is registered to an organisation and then transferred to the privacy organisation so they information is displayed.

This has lead to issues with domain dispute issues as Nominet operate a "3 strikes" rule and if the dispute is over a domain held by a privacy organisation, then that can affect them (when it's really a customer of their's).

Nominet is looking at various options to solve these issues.

Interested stakeholders may submit a response on-line.

05/03/2015

Wonderluk goes metal

Wonderluk, the 3D printed jewellery site has now added metal pieces to their collection. Metal jewellery isn't new (well jewellery makers have been using metals for hundreds of years), but 3D printing with it is.

Though other sites like Shapeways have had metal 3D printed jewellery for some time, it's very unlikely a fashion conscious female is ever going to look there to find it, these types of sites are destinations for 3D print geeks who want to sell their own designs or buy other people's.

Wonderluk is different in that it's becoming a destination site for women's fashion accessories and therefore if someone's looking for jewellery they'll look at a site that specialises in it. The designs are also different in that many can not be produced by traditional jewellery methods (using 3D design software allows designers to make designs based on mathematical models etc).

In the past there has been some criticism that all the jewellery and accessories were made out of nylon (though pieces can be customised for size and a choice of 10 colours - excluding the base white), but now that's changed and pieces are available in sterling silver, rose or yellow 18 carrot gold plated brass and some in 18 carrot rose or yellow gold.

Nylon pieces are now generally under £50 (some are more as they contain a lot of material) and silver pieces start at over £100 (and gold plated pieces are the same price as silver). The 18 carrot gold pieces are over £1,000 but then it's a high-end piece of jewellery.

There's now the option to order completely bespoke designs, whereby the customer describes the item they want (and can link to pictures of something similar) and then a Wonderluk designer will get to work and create it.

This is definitely the future of jewellery and though only small now, Wonderluk does have the opportunity to disrupt this age old industry. Hopefully the next step will be wearables and that can only be a good thing.

16/02/2015

Girls, tech sex and dating

Well almost. On Weds 11th of Feb in the very nice Lyst studios in Hoxton Square, Girls in Tech London held an event about Dating, Sex and Technology.

Oddly it was a packed out event (not just Girls in Tech, but sex and dating too) and there was a good smattering of men in the audience (as well as one of the panelists).

Girls in Tech was started in San Francisco in 2007 and now there are over 60 chapters around the world with thousands of members. It's aim is the promotion, growth and success of female entrepreneurs, innovators and technologists. Tech start-ups tend to be male dominated and though there are a growing number of females they are quite often hidden in the swathe of their male counterparts. It's also encouraging that although it's female focussed men are encouraged to attend and also take part in the panels (though it is a requirement that females are on them too). As well as the larger evening events, there are also more intimate (if that's the right word) smaller breakfast roundtables too which tend to focus on specific topics.

The panel was moderated by Radhika Sanghani who writes for the Telegraph and is the author of Virgin, a book about the effect apps are having on our behaviours and experiences, and what the future might hold for dating tools.

The panelists were: -

  • Barbara Galiza from Dattch (a lesbian and bisexual/bicurious dating app)
  • Hatty Kingsley-Miller from Antidate (men are visible in the app, while women aren't and have to make the first move)
  • Marie Cosnard from Happn (Hyperlocal app which allows member sto find each other if they've crossed paths but not met)
  • Dimo Trifonov from 3nder (every sexuality is the norm and anyone can find people with the same interests)
It was an interesting panel it definitely shows that 'sex sells', however (IMHO) it also showed that some sites hadn't a clue about monetisation which can be a huge problem when growing and suddenly infrastructure costs overwhelm the company.

All in all a very enjoyable evening and definitely worth another visit to the next event.