Thursday, 19 October 2017

Gaming, AMD & HP

Over the next few weeks I'm going to be musing about the connections between the humble concept of the PC, where it started for myself, which processors and upgrade options I've taken, which dead-ends I've been down and where that took my gaming experience.

And where I hope to take my gaming experience in the future.

Today of course I'm running a quite nice Intel i7 processor and an EVGA GeForce 1080 GTX graphics card, however, that rig is nearing end of life for me, only the graphics card is a recent edition, and so as a high-performance low budget kind of chap I will be looking at my options, including the latest offerings from both Intel and AMD and the modern differences in nVidia versus AMD graphics offerings.

The secondary thread from this will be a little retro-grade gaming, this is not going to be full on retro - though I am in the mood for some Carrier Command on my Atari ST - we're going to be looking at retro post 2000 stuff.... Watch this space.

So why does this post have "HP" in its title, well... the community out reach team over at HP have sent me a missive, and though they have a zero budget want to share my posts with you guys in the world.

If you came here from a HP/AMD re-tweet, post in the comments below!

Monday, 9 October 2017

The State of Today (Sex Ed)

Lets take a moment to read this:

And realise that this is 2017... 

I'm not saying this to say, "OMG they're not teaching boys about this", but in 1989/1990... When I were at secondary school, we were taught about sex, and periods, and masturbation...

Yes, we were.  I admit there was an awkward moment with Mr Simpson (the Physics teacher - who used to yell - and smell) but he showed us a video and gave us the basics.

Then, in the lower school, there was a personal health conversation with Mrs Salisbury, where she talked to everyone, and explained how periods happen, they're natural, how much menstrual blood (on average etc) ladies deal with and all-sorts of things like that.

I was eleven, I remember it...

So why in 2017 are kids not being taught?... If I had to endure these jaw clenching moments, wondering my eyes around trying to not admit I was hearing this stuff, then damn it kids today should be similarly scarred....

Whilst I'm on the topic, no kids should be able to get access porn online... They need to go get a shot of boobies where I got it, from discarded copied of "The Sun" which have spent a couple of days blowing around the street.

Friday, 6 October 2017

Virgin Media's: Terrible Security

So, in a prior post I made you aware of the situation with myself and Virgin for my services, well... Whilst talking to them they wanted me to give them the "First and Fifth" letter of my security password...

I apparently got this wrong....

"Give me the fourth and the eight"....

I apparently got this wrong....

"Just give me the password...."


This is terrible security, and I said this to them, I asked if they can see my password "yes".  So their system stores my password, in plain text.

I said to the chap "This should be stored as the salted hash of the password, not the actual password, and you should not use it as part of my accessing the account over the phone".  This is the password to access your account, your VirginMedia e-mail, basically everything.

Now, I don't know if this guy was fishing for my whole password bit by bit, or whether he was genuinely looking at the whole thing and just asking for letters, of if he just had some mask of it being shown to him which he asked me the solution to...

But the underlying system clearly stores the plain password, and that's just such a massive security flaw.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Virgin Media's : I'm Sick and Tired of You

I've had my broadband with only two companies in twenty years, NTL and then Virgin whom bought NTL.  I've had them at three addresses and never had cause to really complain, sure for a while I had a junction box which would fill with water whenever it rained, so cutting me off, but they sorted that quickly enough.

However, for the last year I've paid for 200mbit speed, super speed, being who I am I immediately started to monitor the speed, and initially I did get around 198mbit download speeds with a constant 12mbit up.

Unfortunately over the last four months that speed has dropped off and off, so much so that my automated server started to report 4mbit.  I tweeted VM about this, of course I received the standard line that this was my equipment.  I called them about it and was told that "over wifi you get much less download speed than you pay for", except I'm using Cat 6 over a gigabit LAN... "Cat what?" the operator asked, as I was simply no longer on their lookup script of replies.

In the end things came to a head when I also noticed that the TV package I was paying for went from a stately total of £50 a month to just over £80.  That's quite a hike, and I looked realistically at what we watched and found it not to be worth it.

The absolute soul cracker was my week away disconnected in Wales, where we had a freeview connected TV, and there was so much choice, right there, free to air.

We were both also sick of the recycled land-line number constantly rining with whoever only knows looking for past holders of the line for debts or catalogues or PPI, so much so I took up a distinct accent whenever answering my own phone to put people off calling.

So, no TV needed, no Telephone we just need basic broadband.

And the persuit began, I knew the name of the exact product I needed, I needed to go from Vivid200 Broadband to Vivid50 - why pay for something you're not getting - and that was it basically, the rest could go, but I thought I'd challenge them...

Now have you ever watched Morgan Spurlocks "Supersize Me!" and it's effect on the fast-food industry?  Well, this same effect is underway within Virgin Media, they upsell, they upscale, they ask if you want to supersize, and they simply can not ever stop doing it, you say "no", you say "stop" you say "less"... And they do not understand.

You're stuck calling a gaggle of people who are not native English speakers, sometimes to lesser or greater effect, and they do not understand you want less.... Three point manefesto in this conversation was simply... "Drop the telephone line, reduce the broadband speed and I'll listen about the TV for ease".

The lines which came back to me beggared belief... "We can not give you a lower rate on your TV without your having the weekend calls"... "Having the calls makes the package cheaper".

The saving through the package £6, the additional cost in the package of a phone line £10.99... So how was I saving anything?  That's right I wasn't, but on their screen the two HAD to go hand in hand, they could not, were unable to, untrained and not savvie enough to realise I had no need for and some concerns with the recycled number of the line we had, but they just could not figure this out.  Extremely poor customer service ensued.

"Your bill is so high because you had the McGregor fight" yes we did have that ordered, yes... "This proves my point, I'm paying for this TV package and still having to pay more to watch the items I want to watch, so where is the incentive for me to pay for the package?"


There was simply no answer to this, the chap then passed me without asking, to a "supervisor", with whom I had to go through this whole rigmorale again.

I'd had 15 minutes of this online, 20 minutes with the first chap, and over a year of issues with the broadband speed and phone line, so I simply snapped... "Cancel it"

"Cancel the TV, Cancel the Telephone, and drop the broadband to VIVID 50 whilst I look for an alternative supplier"

The guy didn't even argue, he just did this, they are so blasé about their customers, we are such sheep, decades of supply are but nothing, they're not interested in you.

Ten minutes later I had started to investigate freeview or freesat to my fancy Sony TV... It has both.

Half an hour later I have over 600 channels on Freesat, with one wire now at the back of my TV, and no additional power usage from their slow TiVo.

The only thing the wife and I are missing is pausing live TV, however, I think the TV will do this with the addition of a USB Harddrive... And I know I have several of them lying around!

In conclusion, fuck you Virgin Media, sick and tired of you.