24 March 2008

Stealth upgrading

Did I mention that the 2006 attempt to upgrade my broadband speed from 1Mb to 2Mb failed? The line was dropping too often so Silent Fred, the BT engineer who doesn't tell you anything, reset it back to 1MB.

Easter Sunday, with no warning, my connection went up to 2Mb again and this time it's holding steady without a single dropout. I can only suppose there's been an upgrade somewhere along the line.

It took me a long hunt on the Internet to find a webpage that explained with numbers how to check your own connection, so let me pass this on:

The two parameters that matter are Signal to Noise ratio (S/N, Margin) and Drop off (Attenuation). Both are measured in decibels (Db).
S/N is the difference in strength between the signal and the background hiss. It needs to be >10Db. Attenuation is the difference between the signal strength when it leaves the Exchange and when it reaches your modem, and the higher the speed the lower the limit for this. 1Mb requires lower than 60Db, 2Mb lower than 45Db.

For the copper wire telephone lines we have in the UK, this equates to ~6km maximum for 1Mb and ~3.5km for 2Mb.

My Attenuation is a steady 40Mb so 2Mb is the most I can get. My S/N is 24Db at 1Mb but 17Db at 2Mb, still OK though it can fall to 10Db on a bad day. I suspect that it is S/N discrimination that has improved for me.

23 March 2008

We live in interesting times

This is the title of an entry in another guy's weblog. Mr G Allen is he says just an ordinary American who heard about a local protest, went along to take photographs and find out what was all about.

Later he received a legal letter saying he was a member of the protesting group. The letter accused the group of illegal activity such as making bomb threats and demanded that 'his' organisation stop behaving illegally.

An employee of a nearby coffee shop who just happened to be walking past the protesters received an identical letter. He and she had been followed to their cars and had their number plates photographed by private detectives. This was, apparently, the sole 'evidence' the lawyers had.

OK, you've guessed. This is the Church of Scientology again, making new friends.

17 March 2008

Ides of March

The second outing for the Anonymous worldwide pickets against the happy fun cult was just as successful as the first it seems, plus better organised and larger. I attended at London as previously, and whilst waiting for Anonymous to arrive I and a suppressive friend popped into a sandwich bar for sustenance. We were soon joined to our amusement by a spy from the Org a couple of doors away - so the DSA recognised me then! - but too late, my contact from Smith-Kline-Pharma had already handed over the thick wad of notes for me to pass on to the Anonymous Central Committee so we were talking about... I forget, was it the ARSCC elections? Nothing of interest to OSA anyway.

This time Anonymous were loaded with cake, chicken, and good humour. They chanted, cheered honking cars and sang Ron 'Happy Birthday' with three Hip-hip-hoorays; the old folk stood at the back and chatted, it was especially nice to meet a lady who had sailed on the Apollo with Ron. I left when the threatening rain finally started around 16:00, but they were good for hours more.