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Mobile Broadband makes you efficient

Well i am back! just about, not been here posting lately and its not without good reasons too, the obvious one is i went to Zimbabwe for 3 weeks over christmas and GOT MARRIED!!!

some others may have wondered why its taken me so long to get this up and posted but that too is not without a good reason either. I wont bore you with the details but the shortest summary i can give you is that i applied for a phone line and broadband before we left at the beginning of december as a migration to take the existing line on, but when we got back BT had terminated the existing line and BeThere couldnt process that order so we had to put a whole new order in, which means BT openreach have to install a new line, and by install i mean pretty much plug it back in at the exchange. In BT Openreach’s infinitely efficient wisdom, i have to wait a further 6 weeks for the line to be activated (on my birthday no less), the ironic thing is. if i wanted to pay more to get less and went with BT direct, my phone line would probably have been activated in less time by the same external company (Openreach).

so i titled this post, Mobile Broadband makes you efficient, so i better say something about that! all i can say it does. My work relies on having an internet connection to be able to do my job, i need to communicate with clients often over skype or email and IM etc, i actually need to work on remote web servers (its funny how that needs an internet connection) among various other things. my options were pay £35 for access to a BT openzone wifi spot of which there just so happens to be one within reach of my flat (oh the irony) or about the same price for a pay as you go mobile broadband dongle with O2. I found out with some earlier research that the openzone in my flat’s range is not some proper openzone but a slightly dodgy openzone run off the back of someones BusinessHub and tends to only work in my living room or more often than not, only when i didnt want to use it. That left me with only one option, Mobile Broadband.

so it makes me more efficient. Why? because i just so happen to live in that one flat in Zone 1 London that has a very poor 3g signal on pretty much all the networks 🙁 this means that my 3g mobile broadband is more often than not working on low speed (boy am i glad that SSH is text based and doesnt require broadband!) and it tends to disconnect a lot, not to mention because i am a mac user, i am somewhat shunned by mobile broadband companies because i cant get access to any of the wifi points easily without using bootcamp, so am forced to just stick it out on mobile signal.

so i have to be more efficient for 2 reasons. firstly, speed, because the net speed is so low compared to modern broadband via adsl or cable i cant get as much done as i normally would, this means i need to multi task all my internet usage tasks as much as i can and basically queue up internet tasks to maximise my connected time, especially when i hit into free public wifi or into university (my uni just got hit with about 4GB of iplayer downloads this week alone!).

Secondly, mobile broadband accounts are generally all bandwith capped or charge per MB/GB, i use O2 and they charge about £15 per 2GB for 31 days and i seem to be getting through one every 2 weeks or so. because of this i have to be much more aware of what i do online, this means i have facebooked less, twittered less and more importantly watched less video and less random surfing. you would probably be surprised at how much time can be gained by cutting all that stuff out. its kind of scary that just doing the basics for work uses so much, imagine how much bandwith (and cost) i would be using if i was just surfing and working at full capacity as i normally would, thankfully the iphone has helped in keeping in touch via facebook and twitter so i have been making the most of that data connection as well, but it does highlight how in todays civilisation we are pretty much dependant on the internet for our way of life and keeping in touch.

other quick round up since december. Uni is ok, little boring and frustrating at the moment and i wish it was just over already (only 18 months left), i go on second honeymoon (because one is not enough!) for a week over the week of my birthday, should be a nice relaxing week after the manic start to the year, and i should also return to working internet amongst other things!

will try and post here as i can and as time allows




Installing Hugs98 (Haskell) on Mac 10.6 Snow Leopard

i have to use a program called hugs as part of one of my university modules, getting it installed on my mac proved to be a challenge, but i got it working. here is a brief guide on getting it working on 10.6. NOTE: if you are a 10.5 user the default macports install should be fine for you.

Lets Begin

hugs98 is the package available in macports to install the hugs program, so to get it you need to install macports, i wont go into the detail of that but point you to the instructions available here

to install hugs98 it should be as simple as running this command in terminal.app:

[bash]sudo port install hugs98[/bash]

but it should error out pretty quickly with a build error similar to:

[bash]
—> Building hugs98
Error: Target org.macports.build returned: shell command ” cd “/opt/local/var/macports/build/_opt_local_var_macports_sources_rsync.macports.org_release_ports_lang_hugs98/work/hugs98-plus-Sep2006″ && /usr/bin/make -j2 all ” returned error 2
Command output: cd src; /usr/bin/make all
make[1]: Nothing to be done for `all’.
cd libraries; /usr/bin/make all
cd ../cpphs; HUGSFLAGS=-P../libraries/bootlib HUGSDIR=../hugsdir ../src/runhugs -98 ../packages/Cabal/examples/hapax.hs configure –verbose –hugs –prefix=’/opt/local’ –scratchdir=’../hugsdir/packages/cpphs’ –with-compiler=../src/ffihugs
runhugs: Error occurred
ERROR “../libraries/bootlib/Foreign/Ptr.hs” – Error while importing DLL “../libraries/bootlib/Foreign/Ptr.so”:
dlopen(../libraries/bootlib/Foreign/Ptr.so, 9): image not found

make[1]: *** [../hugsdir/programs/cpphs/Main.hs] Error 1
make: *** [all] Error 2

Error: Status 1 encountered during processing.
[/bash]

all is not lost however the macports bug reporter has some patches that fix the issue below are the instructions and files if you dont want to browse to the issue page and manually go and get the files, so you get hugs 98 working on your 10.6 machine:

download the 2 patch files from the issue tracker or here: patch-hugs98-Portfile, patch-libraries-tools-make-bootlib

make sure to download them to your ~/Downloads folder or amend the following instructions with the different path to the files, now run the following commands in terminal.app

[bash]
cd $(port dir hugs98)
sudo cp ~/Downloads/patch-libraries-tools-make-bootlib.diff files
sudo patch < ~/Downloads/patch-hugs98-Portfile.diff
sudo port clean hugs98
sudo port install hugs98
[/bash]

this should take a while and your terminal window should look like this:
[bash]anthonysomerset@Anthony-Somersets-MacBook:~$ cd $(port dir hugs98)
ant@ASMB:/opt/local/var/macports/sources/rsync.macports.org/release/ports/lang/hugs98$ sudo cp ~/Downloads/patch-libraries-tools-make-bootlib.diff files
ant@ASMB:/opt/local/var/macports/sources/rsync.macports.org/release/ports/lang/hugs98$ sudo patch < ~/Downloads/patch-hugs98-Portfile.diff patching file Portfile ant@ASMB:/opt/local/var/macports/sources/rsync.macports.org/release/ports/lang/hugs98$ sudo port clean hugs98 —> Cleaning hugs98
ant@ASMB:/opt/local/var/macports/sources/rsync.macports.org/release/ports/lang/hugs98$ sudo port install hugs98
—> Computing dependencies for hugs98
—> Fetching hugs98
—> Verifying checksum(s) for hugs98
—> Extracting hugs98
—> Applying patches to hugs98
—> Configuring hugs98
—> Building hugs98
—> Staging hugs98 into destroot
—> Installing hugs98 @plus-Sep2006_0
—> Activating hugs98 @plus-Sep2006_0
—> Cleaning hugs98
ant@ASMB:/opt/local/var/macports/sources/rsync.macports.org/release/ports/lang/hugs98$ [/bash]

to launch hugs just type the following in the terminal 🙂

[bash]hugs[/bash]

now go and enjoy your hugs98 geekery 🙂




VPS.net SAN 2.0 early thoughts

thought i would put some of my early thoughts of VPS.net’s new SAN infrastructure as i have now been using them for a couple of weeks in production usage.

when i first started using the new London clouds (London Zone E – F opening soon) there were a very limited range of templates available

one good bonus of the new SAN infrastructure is that Windows is now available on VPS.net – i have yet to get the chance to test it first hand and for 99% of anything i do i am unlikely to need windows anyway but its good for vps.net obviously as it will attract another stream of users (namely the windows junkies).

my first step into SAN 2.0 territory was pretty smooth, i didnt have a cpanel template to choose from but i normally install it from a scratch centos install anyway so no problem for me. i didnt do any detailed timings but it certainly felt like the install went much faster  (most likely due to the faster and probably more consistent SAN performance) which if anyone knows how long a cpanel install from scratch  is a good thing!

have only been running the server a couple of weeks so far, but things seem to run much more stably i have not had any strange temporary performance issues that i used to have on the old SAN’s in fact performance has been so stable i have been running my server without litespeed on 3 nodes (litespeed causes issues with a reverse proxy domain i have setup in that it just doesnt work with dns based reverse proxy only IP) where as before i “had” to run litespeed to keep consistant performance without adding extra nodes that generally weren’t needed.

the new tweaks to the control panel look really really good, the new console is actually usable now and i could quite happily use it for client servers over the trusty terminal – sure it wont ever totally replace a terminal or ssh client but its a huge step forward over the old version. the new bandwith and cpu usage graphs are really nice looking (although i didnt mind the old graphs in anyway just annoyed that they used to break all the time)

the only negative of the new graphs is that you can only see the last 14 hours of data, there is as yet no way of editing the timescale or seeing further back or over a longer period. the other one thing about the new clouds is that monthly bandwith used is no longer accurate to my knowledge. because since i started my server 2 weeks ago its total bandwith is 6.4MB this includes the cpanel install and software updates and the constant syncing to S3 for the cdn of this site supposedly. i have yet to raise a support ticket for this as its not critical for me as i dont yet get near the transfer limits of vps.net.

all in all its been a long awaited upgrade and its certainly worth dipping in to test. if you are a potential new vps.net customer. use the new SAN’s dont even bother using the old cloud Zones.

now hopefully i should recieve one of the vps.net stress toy robots soon 🙂




Testing testing (iphone blogging)

Just a brief test of the wordpress iPhone app. Seeing how useful it is on the go. So that rather than just reading a metro or evening standard I can be doing something more productive.

This hopefully is my view right now. Just waiting for a train to Sutton to fix an iPhone




Never underestimate the power of “Word of Mouth”

the title says it all really, and seriously dont underestimate it. lets just give some background, i do occasional freelance systems admin work in my free time, this includes but is not limited to, server setup and maintenance, site migrations and optimisation and other general geekery relating to webservers 🙂

i was contacted last week by a guy called Rick Anderson of Tailoring the Web to optimise and speed up his server hosting one of his sites Build Your Own Business Website he told me that he had paid for VPS.net to migrate him from bluehost and manage the server for him, he was telling me how since moving his site had in fact slowed down. i set out to optimise the server and also optimise the site by making use of the awesome W3 Total Cache plugin for wordpress, over 2 nights i was able to improve page load times from 4.5-5 seconds down to between 1-2 seconds, i was pretty pleased with that and went to sleep pretty happy.

over the next 2 days i recieved 5 enquiries about doing similar stuff (Migration/Optimisation/Setup etc) now bear in mind i currently only do this in my spare time (will have lots more time to spend on it from October) all of these referrals were as a result of Rick making one single post on the Thesis Support Forum where he is a very active member, i dont currently actively advertise my services so that i dont get swamped with extra work so its a pleasant surprise especially as i need to earn some extra money at the moment (Uni fee’s amongst other things).

Incidentally if you are looking to build your own business website, do take a look at the site as it is a great resource and tool to aid you in that process and walk you through it, and if you ever need hosting services or server setup, do send me an email anthony@somersettechsolutions.co.uk

in other news, this time next week i will be flying through 2 different countries to go to Zimbabwe for a friends wedding and to meet Marie’s parents and help out with a christian youth conference called Ignite2010 – busy times so please pray for me




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