Bethere and O2 connections still sticky

So it’s been a day or two now since Be did some works on their infrastructure and changed the status of their “Pages loading half way” forum thread to “fixed”.

Well, it doesn’t seem to be from where I’m sitting.  I’m still seeing anything between 4 and 10% packet loss to any web server, and pages requiring reloads more often than usual.  Others are noticing the same thing, and some on their user forums have even accused Be of simply brushing the issue under the carpet.

It’s clear there have been some significant peering issues affecting Be (and other ISP’s in the UK) over the last few months, and there seems to be a rather large group of customers who feel they’re not getting the service they’re paying for, because they’re not seeing the improvement they’re asking for – and to rub salt into their wounds they’re not seeing the ISP’s raise the issue successfully outside of their own organisations.

Whatever others feel, for me it would be nice to have some acknowledgement other than “we’re looking at this, please send us any info you can”.  It might just be a longer-term passing glitch.  Here’s hoping.

Same planet, different worlds

Found these two entries side-by-side on my Twitter feed just now and it set me thinking about how different our perspectives can be:

Interesting…

Bethere forum down?

Just got home from a social visit and thought to check on the status of Be’s ongoing struggles with Internet packet loss, and on logging into their forum I was presented with this screen:

Empty Be Forum
Where'd all the posts go?

Huh?  What’s going on here?

UK Internet Packet Loss issues

Pic courtesy http://www.guy-sports.com

For the last couple of days I’ve been noticing that  web pages on mine or my wife’s Macs sometimes do not load completely.  I’m using Chrome and my wife uses Safari, which I think rules any browser-related issue.  I’ve noticed the same issue at work, so I ran some Ping tests and I’m finding something like 2-4% packet loss between our London office location and the BBC News website.  Usually I’d expect this to be 0%.  No wonder some things aren’t loading properly.

The issue occurs regardless of whether we’re using WiFi or cable to connect to the router.  Given that O2 and Be share some backhaul for ADSL2 services I’m not surprised that I’m seeing the same issue at home (O2 24Mb) and at work (Be “Pro” 24Mb).  What did surprise me was trying our BT Business Broadband 8Mb ADSL connection and finding the same issue, with similar frequency.

A thread appeared on the Be customer forums yesterday, but I cannot link to it here as it needs login credentials.  What I can link to is a related post on the Be unofficial usergroup, explaining that “Strange Things” are ongoing – affecting traffic to random websites at random intervals.

I’m wondering if this is a common experience, and whether anyone out there knows what the problem is?

WordPress for iPhone improvements?

So here I am wondering whether the latest WordPress app is any quicker to use on the iPhone than previous versions.

It is a little quicker for sure, but even as I type this it feels like it’s getting slower to respond to each key – and slows down even more when the autocorrect shows up, or when having to backspace to correct something manually.

That said, the text scrolling issue seems to be solved, and I can now tilt the phone sideways and have it switch smoothly to the horizontal mode and back again.

It’s slowly getting better, folks. Bring on CoreData!

Mini-Review: Eric Clapton – “Slowhand”

After more restoration work on our turntable yesterday, we decided to turn our last Christmas voucher into some new pristine vinyl – and had a rather tortuous experience with various HMV stores in Central London to find some worth the stylus time.  In the end we settled on “Slowhand” by Eric Clapton – a “Back to Black” remaster pressing on 180g virgin vinyl.  The disc is spinning as I write and it’s a mindblowing experience.  There have been many of these over the last few weeks we’ve been dipping our toes in the sea of black stuff, but this has just become my reference disc for what analogue playback is capable of – it might yet be digitally recorded for me (while it’s still clean) to use for PA system setups when 88.2KHz 24-bit digital playback is possible, either from my Mac laptop directly or via my EMU 0202USB.

About the disc itself:

Universal / Back To Black / RSO 0042281718816

Track listing:

  1. Cocaine
  2. Wonderful Tonight
  3. Lay Down Sally
  4. Next Time You See Her
  5. We’re All the Way
  6. The Core
  7. May You Never
  8. Mean Old Frisco
  9. Peaches and Diesel

The first three tracks are well-known Clapton pieces, and I’ve heard all of them performed live.  This recording really shines – and brings those songs to life in a way I’ve never heard before.  Throughout the disc the soundstaging is pin-sharp – vocals are delivered in the centre of the room when needed, and the rhythm section both fills the room and underpins the mix without dominating.  The guitar work is exquisite.  I’m not really able to deliver much of a musical review as that’s beyond my expertise, but from a technical perspective this work really is beyond anything else I’ve heard in a good long time.  I’d buy the remastering engineer(s) a drink if ever I get the chance to meet them.

A special mention should be made here of those first three well-known tracks, which I’ve known well from an early CD pressing of “Time Pieces”.  Actually I should say I *thought* I knew them well.  There’s so much more detail on offer here than on the compilation CD.  “Wonderful Tonight” I shouldn’t say it, but really does live up to its name.  The sound is warm, lush and highly musical – so much more than the bland compressed middle-of-the-road song we all know and think we love, even if we don’t admit to it.  “Peaches and Diesel” is one of the few blues-rock instrumentals I can listen to – and I can get lost in it, there’s so much space and atmosphere on offer.  I feel like I could get up from my chair and walk around the instruments as they’re presented in front of me.  No mean feat in a very distracted listening environment with noisy neighbours, passing traffic and a busy dance recording studio in operation nearby.

From the perspective of a newly converted vinyl lover trying to justify what is about to become an expensive new habit – this disc really does bring out the best the format has to offer.  Wide soundstaging, pin-sharp vocals that never creep into sibilance.  It also says something of the restoration works done to our Dual 505-2 that the recordings are played without audible tracking distortion, rumble or other nasties wherever they happen to reside on the disc.  Usually the last track on a side tends towards sibilant distortion due to mistracking of the current or previous equipment being used to play it – there’s no sign of this here.

I’ll be interested to try playing the free MP3’s of the album that were offered along with the purchase of the vinyl – I’m sure I’ll be able to better those by recording myself, which could be an interesting experiement sometime in the future.

Meanwhile I can sit back with a delicious beverage of choice and relax with this set, knowing that both the music and the equipment relaying it are top-notch.

Dual 505-2: Oiling experiment…

While checking the tracking weight of the deck earlier this week I had the nagging feeling that the tonearm was not pivoting across the platter as easily as perhaps it could.  Moving when cueing felt stiff, whether the cue control was lifted or not.  I wondered if this was contributing to some of the sibilant distortion I’ve been hearing lately.

So I took the deck apart a second time today, to have a look at re-greasing the internal mechanisms with Lithium white grease as an experiment to see whether freeing up the mechanisms might help tame the subtle distortions I’ve been hearing.  I also noted that the platter spindle didn’t want to continue spinning freely in its socket even when the drive belt was removed, so for good measure I removed the spindle and greased its socket.

After putting everything back together I rechecked the cartridge/stylus alignment and tracking weight.  The latter was much easier to set, and confirmed that the arm moves much more freely on its pivot than it did.  So as a test I’ve started playing the first side of Mike Oldfield’s “Five Miles Out”.  It’s a very treble-heavy recording, but it is now much less distorted and demonstrates much more extension beyond 10KHz.  It’s also worth noting too that I’m hearing a lot less rumble in quieter moments on the disc – so it seems that greasing the spindle bearing/socket too was a success.

Interestingly low end rumble from the LP itself is much more obvious – different tones coming from different sides of the disc would indicate mastering or manufacturing issue rather than motor bearing noise being passed through.

I’ve also found that tracking with 2g force rather than the recommended 1.5g seems to get more control over the treble, and seems to improve overall dynamics, giving drums more immediacy and impact without dominating or smearing the mix.

Maybe in time I’ll do a complete stripdown for a proper cleanup and to get the old grease out before applying new.  At least at this point in time I’ve confirmed the theory of what I wanted to achieve – for which I’m rather happy!

Jeremy and Trudy’s UK Wedding Celebration

Finally gotten around to processing pics from last weekend, thought I’d share.

Google Apps – quick first impressions

Been trying out Google apps this week for work, to see what working features (and issues) their Apps product might bring to the table.  Have to say that I’m mightily impressed.  The interface might look a little clunky or basic compared with full desktop versions of the same features, but it’s been a delight to use.  Currently I’m using:

  • Mail
  • Documents
    • Word processing
    • Spreadsheets
  • Calendar

All these are now sync’ed to my iPhone, while I’m using them online at work.  Very impressive – will report back on my findings as and when time allows.