Friday, 17 November 2017

Waking Up With My Dog

Someone was cold, this is where they perched...


Ain't he the cutest....

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Time Expectations in WoW Classic?

With the news today of EA reducing by 75% the time it will take in Star Wars Battlefront 2 to unlock a hero character, can we expect to see modern gamers head into WoW Classic and start complaining?

(c)2017 Electonic Arts

Lets just recap though, World of Warcraft, vanilla, people played a character to level 60 in about 4 days played, that's about 96 hours played.

EA's plight, and collapse into pandering, happened with a played time of around 40, that's less than half... Reducing it by 75% that now makes a hero in SW:BF2 in 10 hours.

10 hours for Vanilla WoW was not enough, and this is where my first concerns with WoW Classic come about, firstly, will Blizzard be forced to pander down to newer gamers whom most certainly want action & reaction, risk and reward.  They certainly don't deal in patience nor RNG.

My second concern comes that this is a big issue, and perhaps Blizzard will side step it, by simple nerfing the amount of time to level, or perhaps increasing the rate of XP gain, as arguably since Burning Crusade or Wrath of the Litch King, the business model for WOW has been to push players to level cap as fast as possible and explore repetitive tasks in that area.

The way of thinking Blizzard have entertained (no pun intended) since I stopped playing was daily's, and find a group, find a raid, tokens, faster reward for input, but with exponential damage, health and other stats making that power-wonder factor... Fast rewards, I said during my appearance on "Shut Up We're Talking" that this was where things would be going.

Rinse and repeat.  That is all I've seen delivered, it's certainly all I've heard explained.  Should I name drop "Garrisons"?

All this said however, we must remember, that there will be a huge influx of tourists to WoW Classic, toe dabblers, so what could the population of regulars; the hardcore; who settle there expect?  These are the things we don't know and as you can tell by this post, we can only speculate about.

Monday, 13 November 2017

Virgin media - Poor Speed Proof in Statistics

From my prior post, I have now appended the first ResultSet1.csv file - used to generate the chart in my previous post....

However, since than I have been doing some processing, and between 20:00 and 21:59 there are 191 entries in my little chart.  Remember this is what virgin refer to as "Peak time", and they state an average of 50mbits in 24 hours.  I'll be fair here, they never state what the actual speed they throttle down to or limit one as, but the chart here clearly shows 50mbits...


So, what average did I receive for 24 hours?

22.124 mbits/sec

Less than half the speed promised.

My speed during the peak time slot?  Averaged out as?

6.310 mbits/sec

Utterly pathetic...

You can download the results csv yourself, plug this into a spreadsheet and enjoy the proof positive of this dreadful situation.

To make matters that little bit worse, I have tried to call Virgin, and spent tens of minutes of my break and lunch in the queue to speak to someone, and their live chat simply performs this horrid loop:


Clearly the average upload speed of my test matches their predictions, its not particularly impressive, but is the speed as advertised.

Since I am having issues talking to Virgin, their Twitter minions keep passing me from pillar to post, asking the same dead-end and above all unrelated questions, and their actual customer services team are harder to talk to than they should be.... I think I'll be forwarding this one now to the communications ombudsman.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Virgin Media - Poor Internet Speed Measured

Phase one of my plan is now complete, I have monitored the speed of my internet ALLLL day, from just after I got home in the morning, through until just now.

No-other unit or device was being used through from around 4pm until just now - the wife and I went to watch the new Thor film at the cinema - so, how can Virgin Media explain that clear throttling down mid-afternoon...

It is awful and far below anything listed on their website, utter and total garbage speed.  Yet we see a general level of 25+ for most of the day

You will need to click this chart to see the image close up.

My data points were taken with my script - see the previous post - every 10 seconds, it has generally used resolved to the Server in Leeds.

The time markers (green) were added by myself, artificially, by eye.  But they give you the gist of the time, and I will also upload the raw CSV somewhere...

I am now going to hit twitter.



Edit - This is fabulous, I've just gone to the link I was provided to send info to Virgin, and this is what happens....

That was the page I wanted.... And the same message appears if one tries to see the local service status!

This really is getting criminal, no-one would be able to run a business on this kind of service, no-one could perform research or educational activities, and I can't work in my technology areas of interest at all... And complaining has resulted in nothing but indifference and stagnation.

Friday, 10 November 2017

Virgin Media : Poor Internet Speed Misery

You know that moment in Misery where Annie (played by the excellent Kathy Bates) raises the lump hammer to Paul (James Caan's) ankles?  That hopeless moment, where you know what's coming, and she's determined this is the best, and he's helpless to change things....


Yeah, his feeling at that moment is the same feeling I get whenever I try to solve my service problems with Virgin Media.  I've tried in the phone centre, they either won't talk to me, or deny I'm an account holder - the account being in my wifes name, but I'm a registered up user of the account etc etc.... Or they simply deny there's an issue....

"I can ping you now sir"....

Really, a few ICMP packets get through and you think it's a-okay do you?

Or I get told, reboot your superhub...

Or variously asked "are you on wifi or wired"... It makes no difference when the speed recorded by either is less than 2mbits!!!

And I've just been told in a reply on twitter "If you have been told about an Area Issue were you given an estimate as to when the issue will be resolved"... I've not been told anything about any area issues, nothing, nada, zip.

Therefore I'm still not best pleased, remember I went down from paying through the nose for Vivid200, as I never ever got anywhere near 200mbits/sec ever.  I did record regular speeds of around 34 to 50 mbits, therefore the safer, more cost effective option was to pay for Vivid50.  Simple, see, simple logical option, if they can't meet the expectations of their own service, play the system at it's own game.

However, it seems that in reality, Vivid200 should be labelled Vivid50, and Vivid50 itself should be called Vivid1... Because breaking the 1mbit/sec barrier seems to be too much for it.

I have therefore decided to create something anyone can interpret, a chart... Managers love charts... People can interpret charts....

This chart is going to record the internet speed (recorded from my linux server, on my wired Cat5e directly to my 1gigabit router, which is directly wired to the Virgin Media Superhub 2 set into Modem Mode).  No wifi, no confusion, no bull, and my router has pfSense, so I can see there's no shenanigans, just the pure speed through put.

I'm going to record the speed with "speedtest-cli", which you can see yourself how to install here.

I will collect my results by running a python script, which runs the speed test and outputs the time, the upload and finally the download speed into a CSV file.

Find the source on my github... 

import subprocess
import time
from time import gmtime, strftime

# Open a simple text file for writing the result
resultFile = open("speedtest.txt", "a+")

while True:
# Header text & placeholders for our result
print ("Starting Test...")
timeStr = strftime("%Y-%m-%d %H:%M:%S", gmtime())
downloadSpeed = ""
uploadSpeed = ""

# Action the process to test our speed
# capturing it's output
result = subprocess.run(['speedtest-cli'], stdout=subprocess.PIPE)

# Process the output into text & split the text
# at each new line character
btext = result.stdout
text = btext.decode('ascii')
lines = text.split("\n")

# For each line, check whether it is upload
# or download
for line in lines:
# For Download, take a split against space
# and the middle value is the speed
if line.startswith('Download: '):
speedParts = line.split(" ")
if len(speedParts) == 3:
downloadSpeed = speedParts[1]
# Likewise for upload, the middle  value is
# the tested speed
elif line.startswith('Upload: '):
speedParts = line.split(" ")
if len(speedParts) == 3:
uploadSpeed = speedParts[1]

# Print our output result as a CSV
print (timeStr + "," + downloadSpeed + "," + uploadSpeed)

# Write the result to a file also
resultFile.write (timeStr + "," + downloadSpeed + "," + uploadSpeed + "\r\n")
resultFile.flush()

# Count down until the next test time
count = 10
while count > 0:
# The line is repeated, so we use the end=""
# and a return carriage to print over and over
print ("\rTime until next test " + str(count) + " seconds", end="")
time.sleep(1)
count = count - 1
# Print a new line to stop the next text appending
# on the time count down line
print()

I will then load this CSV file into a spread sheet and create a chart, here's one I created earlier with 5 test data points.


The blue-line is where I'm most concerned, that is my download speed, as you can see within three minutes I had quite a difference, ranging from a high of 2.24 mbit, to a low of 1.23 mbit.  Upload speed has been more consistent giving a measly 3.5 to 4.0 ish.

I already know where VirginMedia will take the conversation, they will talk about "based on average peak time download performance".  However, I want to immediately counter that their speed information states that speeds are based around "Movie based on 4.1GB file size a single user and wired connection", and this chart is provided.... 

Average download speed at peak time (8pm to 10pm) the time's I have mostly messaged to them on twitter are sub 1mbps... Right now at just before 11am they are still reporting as extremely low.  And yes, this server is the ONLY machine on in the house, the wifi is off, the other wire into this hub removed, there is one wire to one machine and one wire to their Superhub...

And yes, I can get 1gbit disk to disk over NFS on this hub, the wires to and from it to the machines are perfect, and I've also swapped the wire to the superhub.

I'm going to run this for a few days, and see what speeds we get in the dead of night, or early mornings, and see if there is a pattern.  I have known for years Virgin will throttle speeds, however, their table of speeds is labelled "Average", one can only believe we're on the lowest ebb of that bell curve, and I am not a happy customer.

Bon Jour

I had a spike of viewers over the previous week, and they put a certain country on the map of my analytics for the first time.... France!


Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Software Development - All Areas Stagnation

It has been said by far bigger and better minds than myself, that if you sit still, if you don't continue to learn about new things and innovate you will stagnate.  This has been a huge problem looming within the business I work, certain things have worked since the industry sector was conceived and even though more than half a century has passed it has largely passed the internals of this industry by.

That is until very recently, where market competition has sprung up, the market base itself has reduced and so pressure is on... Nowhere is this more apparent in my industry than on the software, the front-line of pushing product to customers.

The trouble however seems to be that many people have stagnated, they've stuck with the safe option, the tools which work off of the shelf, I am of course talking about Windows, the entire tool chain that is used by 99% of the company is all Windows based, I am the man on the spot waving the Linux flag.

But just a few days ago, the Windows world had to come to my desk and see their future, I had to show technically minded folks around the code of the new system, introduce them to my imposed coding standard and update them from Microsoft Specific Visual C++ thinking to thinking about platform independent Standard C++ code... I had my work cut out for me.  I prepared the cleanest desktop environment I could (i3 on Ubuntu).


I didn't want to startle them, so the editor/environment is Visual Code from Microsoft... They started to look at the system, it's structure, how the code related to the design and the diagrams they already had, we started to follow the process flow diagrams.

It was a success, certainly no-one burst into tears, they saw the kin-ship between this code on Linux and the systems they'd worked with for decades on Windows.

But then, the senior software manager leaned down, peering at the screen, and he said some fateful words...

"I've never seen that before".

Is he talking about some piece of C++14 or C++17, the lambda's, the auto's, the shared_ptr... What technical bolt has he not screwed his nut around?


"That's very good, you can see the whole code layout.  I've never seen that before, who did you say wrote this tool?... Really Microsoft, I've never ever seen that before".

This chap uses Sublime, I've seen him using Sublime... Which does exactly the same thing....


What is the lesson to be learned? When we're talking about stagnation in software we are not only talking about the language, but also the tools, and then not only the IDE, the whole environment.

Certainly I was introducing Windows users to Linux, and even then on an unusual minimalist desktop manager, but still the lack of connection between a tool I've seen people already using and what it was capable of demonstrated tools are not being leveraged to their full potential... Certainly learn your new languages, learn your language updates, but keep your tools and environment up to spec too...