Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Active ADSL

Hurrah! I'm ADSL'd up again at the new flat. 2MB line, may even go up to somewhere nearer 8Mb once the new BT IP-Max streams are migrated over. Those come online at the end of this month (March), although some people have had them to beta test for a while.

I've been slightly clever with the initials of the post title, as I went with Andrews and Arnold ISP (AA, get it?) and I chose them mainly because they're a techies ISP.

Yes, my email address will be changing. Some people already have it, if you know my gmail account that's the one I've been passing on for temporary use (although hopefully it's a permanent fixture). I will be writing to anyone in my address-book with the updated details sometime soon-ish, I'm not going to be silly and tempt spam already but you can have the new domain:

That's for the blog. It's got it's own subdomain now. Nice. You may not recognise the last sections of the name: is a new-ish type of domain intended for personal use. I always thought it was a bit wrong to be using for people's personal domains and now they've finally seen sense and created Of course the millions of existing's won't go away. I like anyway - a real pity was already gone (and - that would have worked pretty well too, as well as jgarner or just garner or a shortening - any I liked had gone, oh well).

There's nothing on the site yet as I write, but the blog will be published there in the next week or two (maybe even to a "blog" subdomain?) and I'll start migrating over the rest of the site (or the bits I care about), so please get ready to upgrade your bookmarks. I'll leave the old Demon one on redirect for a while when it does disappear until the account is cancelled anyway, just warning you to expect a change.

Techy chat ahead: The user interface for managing the new AA account has a kind-of hacked together look about it, and as though it has been written for people who'd almost rather do it on the command-line, but it allows you to do so much should you wish: IP6 direct to your box, multiple IPs, setting up reverse DNS records, altering MX records, subdomains, and plenty more; all without calling them up and making a special request or paying extra (although you pay if you want any more domains). No proxying or NAT translation occurs through their end. Almost like paying for a separate domain hosting service.

It was a fight between them and Zen Internet at the end, who have user reviews, reliability and speed test results that seem too good to be true and customer support that does a decent job too. Anyone else not needing real techy services direct from their ISP and willing to pay a bit extra for the better quality service, they look like a great provider. You do get what you pay for with ISPs...

I had started to lose faith in Demon internet over the last few years and while not enough to make the effort to move away, they're not nearly as good as they used to be when I first signed up to them over 7 years ago when I finished university and needed a connection (job hunting would have been so much harder without it). That was around the time everyone and their dog were offering free internet accounts with web and email, I suspect not many of those are still around (freeserve being a notable exception, although they're called wanado now).

Demon are one of the few that (for consumer money without going to a business-type account) have 24hr support. I'm generally using my internet connection late at night, and in fact I wouldn't care if they made it cheaper by dropping office-hours support...
If there's a problem over the weekend or late night, and if I really need something, I don't want to have to be stuck. They were and still are more expensive (for the better products with static IPs etc. anyway) but I was happy to pay that for good service and good (UK-based) support who knew what they were on about. Unfortunately, in the last 3 years or so - since they were bought by Thus Plc I think - farmed the support abroad (I guess - full of non-native English speakers anyway), not kept up the service levels I was used to (the odd failure to connect 1st time every now and then started happening), and when I tried the 24hr support the other day (2am-ish) it was a dead line.

So we'll see how AA ISP do. I'll be able to have more fun setting up webpages and dynamic stuff on them anyway, Demon was a bit limiting - 1 counter script and that was it. I almost got round to hosting them on my firewall box that was connected nearly 24/7, in fact sometimes there was a box serving (err.. nothing apart from a graphic or two) but I didn't sort it out properly and wouldn't have wanted to spend too much time maintaining it or keeping it available 100%. Plus the rather poor upload bandwidth (288kbit/s, standard ADSL upload linkspeed unless you're on the newer 8Mb-capable lines) wasn't all that nice. Good enough for low-usage mainly-text pages, but not that great.

Anyway, look forward to more blog posts now I can get at more easily from home.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Public Service Announcement: Be Safe & Secure Online

Came across this Get Safe Online website via a link at my bank's site, and any page providing good,sensible information and simple tips on securing your PC deserves a plug in my opinion. This post goes out mainly to the non-techies, hopefully all the computer geeks reading this will already know the stuff on there (fairly basic).

No matter who you are, if you spend any time on the 'net, it applies to you. Same as you don't drive a car (legally) without learning how not to crash and kill yourself/others, you shouldn't really (nowadays especially) be let loose on an open unprotected computer on the internet without any knowledge of the risks you're putting yourself at. Non-computer-literate people assign far too much trust to computers with their personal information until they're made more wary (hopefully not through a bad experience).