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May 29, 2005

Is it a year already?

So already NotCon05, or as it's officially known,
Open Tech 2005

is upon us.

So how am I going to beat last year's "Shit I'm A Manager"? Will "Time Management for the Slightly Crap" cut it? (Do I have to pass it off as 'Open Time Management for the Slightly Crap'?)

Or do I make up something completely new?

The odd thing is that this year seems to be much more focussed on hardcore tech, and that makes me more of an observer than participant. It's not that I don't have some hardcore tech knowledge - the last 18 months of mobile game development experience can't have been for nothing - but quite a lot of my new knowledge is Stuff I Can't Share Yet.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 11:14 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 19, 2005

Where next for Kaplinsky?

Thank you the BBC comedy blog.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:54 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 16, 2005

Sauvignon Blanc DESSERT Wine?????

Yes, Sauv Blanc, the gooseberriest and cats-weeiest of all grape varieties in dessert form.
Thank you Majestic for finding that oddness. I look forward trying it.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 03:35 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 15, 2005

Generous to a Fault(y navigation system)

One of the things I've learnt over the years is that Apple computers are always far nicer if you can get someone else to stump up for them.

Sadly, however, this isn't currently the case, and - when my old Powerbook was dropped and one of the hinges separated from the screen in a metal-fatigue kind of way - I have just had to fork out for a brand-new one.

The folks in John Lewis were very nice. We shall see whether their hints that the 60GB iPod photo won't come with all the accessories soon turn out to be sales spiel or not in time, but it's lovely regardless. One wierdness though - they said that the current Powerbooks are being shipped with Panther, not Tiger, but that you can get it for 12 quid as part of you registering.

This turned out not to be strictly true, as registration on the computer and online produced no such hints. There was also no flyer in the box about it or anything. 'Hmmmmm' I was thinking.

But then I found it.

If you go to Apple's UK page. Then click on OS X. Then on 'Upgrades' in the subnav. Then scroll down for two pages. Keep an eye out for the link in the small yellow box on the right, or you might miss it!

(Comments on the Powerbook otherwise? Return key a little small, but getting used to that. The bit of setup that automatically imports all details from your previous mac over firewire broke the brand new one. But the two-finger use of the trackpad to scroll within windows is both brilliant and second nature within 48 hours.)

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

It had to be too good to be true...

I was quite impressed by MT-Blacklist and all the Typekey nonsense, and how it was protecting my blog so effectively. Sadly it turns out not to be the bed of roses I thought it was.

The reason I've not received any comment spam turns out to be because commenting doesn't work *at all* at the moment.

So apologies to the few that may have tried.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 09:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 14, 2005

On Getting Rid Of NTL

That's it. Thank heavens. They're gone.

NTL are no longer my TV and broadband provider. Hello BT Broadband and Freeview.

A few lessons learnt, madnesses discovered along the way...

On Changing Home Networks from NTL to BT
Thank Heavens I Used The Internet When It Was Little. Otherwise I'd have been absolutely stuffed. (By the way, some people will find the following section bleedin obvious. This is a howto I'm leaving for posterity - after all I still get emails about the howto on fixing your washing machine. Skip to the bit on NTL's call centre.)

The NTL box used to produce its broadband on an ethernet socket on the back of the set-top box. That was the WAN. So you just set it up with your computer, then hooked up a router (using MAC cloning to copy the hardware ethernet address of your computer into the router, so NTL wouldn't spot the difference) and you were away.

The problem came though, with the BT ADSL modem. Well, with the pairing of modem and router.

They both wanted to be

Which they kind of could be, as long as I never wanted to administer them.

Also, the BT modem has its DHCP very narrowed down and *really* doesn't like having its IP address changed. (Full factory reset to cure that one)

Even when I cured that and had the router and modem on different IP addresses, I couldn't get out to the internet. And couldn't get to the modem through the router either. Setting ranges just wasn't helping. And then I remembered what I needed...

Subnet Masks

One of those things you used to have to actually type in ten years ago, and so bothered to find out kind of what it was.

The issue is that the router thinks, by default, that it has control of all addresses beginning with 192.168.1

But it also knows that the DNS and primary gateway is via the BT modem on So when your computer connects via ethernet and gets the connection details via DHCP, the router blithely passes them on.

However, the router thinks that is on the LAN side, not the WAN side. i.e. it's on one of the many ports on the back that it looks after, not on the side of the bigger network it's connecting to.

So what you need to do is to restrict the addresses that the router knows are its own. Which you do with a Subnet mask.

Set the router's IP address to be, the DHCP addressing to start from, and the subnet mask to be The router now knows that anything which ends in 128 or higher is owned by it. And should be routed around inside its own network.

The ADSL modem, being, is compared to the router's address with the subnet mask. The first three bytes are identical, so we're looking good, but then the first bit of the finaly byte shows that this is a foreign IP address, and should be sent out of the WAN port of the router.

This is great news, because the router has told your computer to send all DNS lookups via - and the computer can now connect to that to resolve www.bbc.co.uk into an IP address. Which the router will know is outside of the network, and you're away.

So, in summary:
i) Don't go out and buy a new bit of kit
ii) Set the router to be
iii) Set its DHCP to only use and above
iv) Set subnet mask to

And now you can use your old router with your new BT ADSL modem. Woohoo.

NTL's Customer Retention
When I finally rang up to cancel my NTL account, the chap on the other end was genuinely mystified why I hadn't rung through first to say I was going and was there anything they could do. He then proceeded to offer me all sorts of increasingly good deals to stay - full family pack for price of base pack for a year, discount on broadband etc. He was genuinely affronted and mystified I'd not done this.

But this was, because of the miracle of call centres, he didn't know that I'd been waiting on the line for twelve minutes already to get through to someone.

When I cancelled my family pack a while ago (we only watched MTV and Daily Show, and I now have more than enough of the first and Lisa Rein provides the remainder) nobody offered us any deals whatsoever.

So I wasn't about to spend twelve minutes of my life trying to get through, in the hope I could be talked out of leaving.

This is what happens When Businesses Measure The Wrong Things.

Humax Fox-2 Freeview Box
Oooh it's lovely. And E4 is coming too, because ad revenue has increased so much they don't need to be on topuptv. And, unlike the Pace NTL box, it actually works with my TiVo.

For some reason our prior box was an absolute nightmare, and had about eight layers of bodging in the code that let the TiVo act as though it was the NTL remote. So it would often a) crash, b) stop changing channels, c) change to a completely different channel indeed. (We lost quite a few episodes of Green Wing to the NTL Preview channel on 0)

One strangeness though - they've separated out radio and TV on the box. So you have to press a radio button to hear the radio channels, and the tv button to watch TV. You can't just change from 4 (channel 4) to 74 (radio 4). Which the TiVo doesn't know about, so all of those old season passes for I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue will have to go. :-(

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:52 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

I can't be alone...

Can we have Menzies Cambell (or at a push Gordon Brown) as Prime Minister, and Ken Clarke as Chancellor please?

You know, people who talk sense, to the point where their nominal party seems academic...

Posted by Tom Dolan at 08:45 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 12, 2005

Information in passing.

For those that were faintly aware...I didn't get That Job.

Ah well. I think some good has come of it though.

Posted by Tom Dolan at 10:34 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack