* Posts by Martin Saunders

49 posts • joined 25 Sep 2006

The slow strangulation of telework in Australia

Martin Saunders

Whinging Auz

We were in exactly the same situation in the UK in 2003 but a few entrepreneurs got off their backsides and changed things using LLU.

I'm not suggesting the UK broadband market is perfect, but we have competition and some innovation. Stop moaning and go fix it!

Ubuntu scaling up VM addressability

Martin Saunders

Speedy Gonzales?

¡Overlay! ¡Ándale! ¡Arriba! ¡Arriba!

Google promises 10Gps fiber network to blast 4K into living rooms

Martin Saunders

Re: Showboating

I don't see anyone under pressure? If Google were to invent some technology that could get 10Gb at an affordable price to millions without spending billions in cash first then there would be pressure.

Google aren't doing anything clever, certainly nothing that any other ISP or telco couldn't do. They don't have the cash to fibre the world, so they'll do a city or two and will pretend they're a big connectivity player to further their cause. Showboating.

Martin Saunders


This is showboating, pure and simple. As a few others have said, the extra bandwidth is no use at the moment. I'm lucky enough to have FTTP 330/30mb in my house, we're reasonably heavy network users and my peak average over an hour is 60mb. Working for the ISP that provides the connection I know I'm not shaped and the bandwidth is there whenever I want it, I just can't use it!

PS, due to the delights of fibre and light, you only need a single fibre in each house, not a pair...

Microsoft's 'We want a Mac look and feel' UK director splits after seven years

Martin Saunders

Which partners didn't know?

I'm not sure who The Register called, but Simon departing was well know amongst the MS hosting partners that were a reasonable size and hence had reason to know and work with Simon.

He's a very good guy and bought humility and pragmatism to an otherwise rather 'robotic' organisation. Pity to see him move on.

Drilling into Amazon's tape-killing Glacier cloud archive

Martin Saunders

Re: Retrieval Fees


Try and get your head around that statement. What's odd is the retrieval costs appear to get cheaper the more aggressively (in terms of speed) you retrieve. It's far better to hammer the network for 1 hour and stop, wait 24 hours and hammer it again, than spread the retrieval smoothly over the full 24 hours (see their example and the 4% number). That said, the retrieval costs aren't too bad so long as you don't retrieve very often (ie this is very much archiving, not backup).

Martin Saunders

Product Director

Claranet UK

Claranet UK

BT invites telcos to sign up to FTTP trials

Martin Saunders

No modem thanks

If BT-OR want FTTC to be a hit with service providers they need to drop managed installs and let us have wires only. Modern routers are often ADSL and VDSL2 capable now, and it would allow a proper view of what is going on with the line (in terms of signal strength, errors, retrains) which the managed BT modem masks, let alone the benefits of removing another powered device which could fail.

Come on OR, drop the FTTC modem!

Martin Saunders

Product Director


G-Cloud bigwig says soz for Cloud Store outage

Martin Saunders

...a problem with the cloud, or a problem with *that* cloud? The government should host on one of many UK hosted clouds and support British business!

Telcos, mobile pushers muck in to trial 'clever' Wi-Fi

Martin Saunders

Ipass have done this for years?

Ipass have been doing this, or something very similar for years. I can login to most major wifi hotspots using my Claranet iPass account. You can use the ipass software, but in the background it uses a username format of IPASS\CLARA\username which makes sure the user credentials are authenticated by Claranet in the end.

It's expensive, quite clunky and not always that reliable, but it exists. IPass have really missed out if they aren't part of this..

Amazon: The Microsoft of the cloud

Martin Saunders
Thumb Down

90% of 5%

Amazon may have 90% of the web hosting cloud market (and I'm not sure they do), but that market represents less than 5% of what businesses spend on their IT infrastructure. Amazon is great for web scale but poor for anything that need to be secure, integrated with the wide area network or local to you for data protection or latency reasons.

Amazon has a great offering and it has it's place, but the is plenty of room for others.

China spacecraft masters the art of docking

Martin Saunders

We're doomed

If China keep this pace of development going, the entire western world will become as irrelevant as Belgium.

AndyPad Pro low-cost Android tablet now on sale

Martin Saunders

3G dongle support?

Would be nice to be able to use a 3G dongle of some form on this thing?

What you think about SaaS

Martin Saunders

Net neutrality anyone

Following on from the transit post, net neutrality has to be considered. Imagine if your broadband provider turned around and went 'we know that it's really important for your office to communicate with salesforce/azure etc, so we're going to demand an extra £n to 'guarantee' the safe passage of transit. Scary.

That's why I have a hybrid IaaS and a bit of PaaS model with the connectivity all from the same provider, no public net to be neutral about...

Tesla takes Top Gear test to task

Martin Saunders
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All that money...

..and it's still way slower than a Caterham R500. I know what I'd rather have..

Ariane 5 greenlights fat pipe net satellite

Martin Saunders

Re: Latency

Web browsing is horrible over satellite connections, particularly bi-directional satellite. The amount of data isn't huge, but its lots of itty bitty files which generates lots of individual TCP connections that never get going very quickly due to the high latency and small window sizes.

I used to maintain an ISP satellite service in the 90's and the only way we could improve the performance of web browsing was to proxy HTTP and break some RFCs to keep TCP window sizes big. Even doing that, some commercial apps still used to run far better over ISDN or even analogue dial..

Sprint de-partitions internet

Martin Saunders
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Wot no backup transit

OK, so being a true Tier-1 and having 100% of traffic based on private peering is a good thing, but not having any kind of backup transit (big pipes, no commit on bandwidth) so at least you can get a full routing table from someone else in an emergency seems very short sighted. Unless they don't want their customers to communicate with the other parties network for the purposes of commercial gain, which seems a bit like holding your customers to ransom to me..

Sometimes it does make sense to buy transit from a Tier-2 provider, so long as they have built a sensible network.

London and Wales to get fast fibre

Martin Saunders

Re: Upload

In theory the upload could be as high as 16Mbps, but I wouldn't count on that for a variety of commercial and technical reasons.

This is based on sub-loop unbundling, which I believe is being trialed by a few other LLU players at the moment isn't it?

Mayor Boris wants 'WiFi London'

Martin Saunders
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Coverage isn't that great

I was sitting very near the middle of the city (on the junction of Cornhill and Threadneedle St), and was surprised to see only 3 wifi access points, only one of which was public (the cloud), which wasn't working.

Sure it's a built up area, but even so, that's a pretty busy part of London...

New Yorker gets 30 months for bogus Cisco gear

Martin Saunders
Dead Vulture

Not as dodgy as some Cisco gear..

Word from Cisco is there are quite a few dodgy 18xx series routers in the UK at the moment, which were made by a Chinese factory after it had its contract pulled. Apparently they've just kept making the routers and are re-using serial numbers. Nice!

Falling pound brings iTunes UK into line with Europe

Martin Saunders
Jobs Halo


Not only do they create the second coming of mobiles, but they now also have control of the currency markets! All that needs to happen now is for Jobs to be crucified and resurrect to save mankind......

Samsung fires up 128GB SSD massive attack

Martin Saunders
Paris Hilton

Re: Math problems

Their maths is spot on, you've missed the small b in 16Gb which is bits rather than bytes. Divide by 8 and hey presto...

Logitech Squeezebox Duet multi-room music streamer

Martin Saunders

Upnp AV support?

Is it possible to use a Upnp AV server, rather than SqueezeCenter (SlimServer)? I use a little network attached drive running twonkyvision upnp av server, so would rather not have to have my PC running as well..

Also, re: Ralph and Real audio support - have to agree it is crazy that the Squeezeboxes and the Roku soundbridges still don't support Real audio. Saying that, I'm not a big fan of the Reciva interface (or at least any of the Reciva based devices I've used), I find it very hard to use...

MSI to waft Wind Westward in June

Martin Saunders
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MSI = Poor build quality

From my first hand experience of MSI laptops, don't expect the build quality to be all that. They look sturdy enough, but bits wear out and fall off pretty quickly.

Price cut fails to push Xbox 360 past PS3 in UK

Martin Saunders
Gates Horns

Shop floor space

Something has started to really perplex me now. Why is it that, with Nintendo continuing to sell so many more consoles, so far as I've seen the games shops still dedicate far more shelf space to PS3 and Xbox games? Do Sony and Microsoft have some deal with the big chains to give their titles more exposure?

Carphone Warehouse mulls Tiscali bid, report claims

Martin Saunders

A 3rd LLU network for CPW?

If the Tiscali userbase is bought, I'd assume the LLU network Tiscali is running would come with them. That would be the 3rd LLU network CPW would have in the UK, although Tiscali use the same DSLAM as CPW (Huawei) so I guess you could crash the two networks together. I wouldn't want to be the person responsible for that task though...

Roberts WM-201 Wi-Fi internet radio

Martin Saunders

Reciva based radio

This radio is based on the Reciva system, of which there is a useful list of other Reciva based radios here:


re: one slight problem

Fiddling with your Wifi channel can make a big difference for that. I believe most UK ISP routers use channel 6, so moving to channel 1 or 11 might help. Some wifi applications tell you what channels are being used as part of the router scan which is helpful.

Unbundling could cost you £125

Martin Saunders

BT retail to blame

If BT Retail can't fix their systems, then either move to another LLU provider who uses full MPF (so also provides the full line inc. dial tone), or sign up to a Wholesale Line Rental provider who does new line installs and doesn't have broken systems. If you move to WLR, you'll then get access again to all the IPStream resellers, in the same way as you would if you returned to BT Retail.

There are a few solutions to this, none of which are mentioned in this article. Don't forget BT Retail are now a Wholesale Line Rental reseller in exactly the same way as all the other WLR resellers, so BT Retail should never be your only choice any more.

999 comes to VoIP

Martin Saunders

re: nasty shock

"Also goes to show that buying that router with the QOS might be a good investment."

The ISP also needs to support traffic prioritisation, as the router can only influence the flow of traffic in the upstream direction.

Skype faces 020 7870 cut-off

Martin Saunders

Why couldn't this happen to a business VoIP provider?

I totally agree with the views that you get what you pay for, but actually there is no reason why this couldn't happen to customers of the more expensive 'business class' hosted PBX VoIP services.

I think it's all a bit worrying when you have VoIP providers allocating out geographic numbers which aren't allocated to them directly by Ofcom/$Regulator. This is the case for the vast majority of hosted PBX VoIP providers I know, and all it would need is for the relationship to sour between the VoIP provider and Telco for this to happen all over again.

Apple TV goes to the movies

Martin Saunders

Apple TV isn't perfect, but my wife can use it

I got a fairly stern look from my better half when I bought an Apple TV, as she was expecting it to be another bit of AV kit in our house she doesn't like to use.

..and for the first time I can remember she proved herself wrong. It works.

..OK it is annoying that it won't as standard play anything but H.264 in an .mp4 wrapper, but I now export everything we record in EyeTV on the media mac-mini downstairs into iTunes which automagically shoves it on the AppleTV upstairs. No issues with poor wifi performance or busy NAS devices, it just works.

Like all things, it's not everyone's cup of tea, but this has nothing to do with being made by Apple and everything to do with a bit of technology that works.

New product code points to revamped Wii?

Martin Saunders

DVD playback?

Is there anything missing in the current Wii hardware which prevents it from playing DVDs now? I've always assumed the existing drive and media were DVD standard, and although the CPU and graphics aren't cutting edge they should be good enough to display normal DVDs?

The point being, if this is true and the limitation is in software, why would you need a new part number?

How to get TV on your Mac

Martin Saunders

Re: Matt

To view two channels at once, you will need two tuners connected to the machine. The safe way to do this is to get something like the EyeTV Diversity which has twin tuners built in. I remember reading something about EyeTV supporting two independant tuners, but I think it was more luck that it worked at the time :)

Martin Saunders

Re: Finally EyeTV has competition

Each to their own, but these are my main complaints:

1) If you start watching a recording which hasn't finished (I think this is called chase play?), when it finishes eyetv throws you out to live tv and you have to reopen the recording and find where you were

2) I'm having lots of problems with the program guide not updating, my tvtv.co.uk licence has run out, and the DVB program guide doesn't seem to keep itself refreshed

3) No series link feature - all you can do is record at the same time each week

4) Horrible remote control functions, very few of the buttons that came with my miglia tv mini are useable

I'm not totally knocking the software, but compared to sky+ or a dedicated PVR like the Topfield, I think the usability is fairly poor, which is a shame.

Martin Saunders

Finally EyeTV has competition

EyeTV might look like a good bit of software at a glance, but try using it as your main PVR software for a few weeks and you'll find it slowly drives you mad. I have a Mac Mini which is my general media center box, and EyeTV is the weakest part of that setup.

I'm going to give The Tube a try tonight, see how that goes.

iPlayer Politics: Behind the ISPs vs BBC row

Martin Saunders

Re: Mmmmm....

"The ISPs clearly see the iPlayer as an easy target"

Not really, it's more because the iPlayer is p2p based which drastically reduces the content distribution costs for the BBC (same for Joost). In a crude way, from the providers point of view if you have lots of Broadband customers using iPlayer you effectively have double the bandwidth on your network than if they are dragging the content from something like youtube each time. I know it's upstream vs. downstream, but in the land of ipstream you have a total combined upstream/downstream thoughput that services like this tend to skew which is bad news if you're running your network very hot (over capacity).

As for LLU, the network is cheaper which is good news, but because most LLU providers run their network to almost exactly match the way ipstream works (so migrations are easy) then the network is still pretty inefficient at dealing with this kind of p2p traffic.

'Portable' CD player puts MP3 into a spin

Martin Saunders

Plastic cover?

I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to come up with a style of caddy system that holds the CDs in storage and can be slotted in to the player when in use.

Nice design, particularly if you can rip the CD music and store on the flash ram.

Broadband claims mislead on speed

Martin Saunders

Re: VM Tosh....

"If I sell you 4 apples for £1, take your payment and then tell you "Actually I don’t have 4 apples as I have to save some for my other customers, you'll just have to make do with 2 apples" I'm guessing your response will be "OK, then I'll have half of my cash back" (if I'm lucky) or "shove it I'm never buying apples from you again. A crude analogy I know, but I feel it accurately makes my point."

I think your analogy is excellent, but for me it neatly highlights the issue at hand. When you buy Broadband you are effectively paying a price based on two main variables [1]; how fast, and how much. How fast used to heavily dictate the price, but now BT have changed their wholesale pricing model where the provider pays the same amount whatever the line speed, what is now more important is how much. The problem is most providers sell based on how fast, and so the main variable of cost at the back of the business case isn't cleanly linked to the price variable at the front. It's no surprise customers get confused.

Using your analogy, the fruit seller is buying their apples by weight, but selling them by unit. It is in the fruit sellers interest to by lots of small apples to have the best chance of making a profits, but this upsets some customers who are used to grabbing the biggest apples first..

..OK now I've killed that analogy dead lets move on ;)

[1] Time is also a variable, but not one many providers have picked up on so far, so it's assumed Broadband is still 'always on'

Martin Saunders

Re: VM Tosh.....

"This conversation resulted in VM loosing half their monthly revenue from me. I wonder how many other customers will realise the above and have the same conversation?"

I suspect [1] you were costing VM multiple times that amount in Broadband bandwidth costs before they started to 'traffic manage' your connection. Running a national network is very expensive in the UK, but a big user base (500K+) will generally have a low average utilization per user which is why, with very tight profit margins, that network doesn't cost much per line.

Once a small percentage of lines start to push up the average usage the providers cost base rapidly increases to the point of being unprofitable. You either have to then:

a) Take the hit of the extra cost, as you're making tons of money on a related service (rare in the UK)

b) control the heavy users usage

c) charge the heavy users more to recoup some of the extra cost

If you're in the minority that causes the majority of bandwidth use, unless you pay more don't be surprised if your provider wants a chat.

[1] Based on your explanation of being a heavy user, I might be totally wrong in your case.

Martin Saunders

line rate and data rate

I somewhat suspect there is some confusion between line rate (ie what the ADSL modem trains up at) and IP data rate (ie what you can realistically expect to get from a single TCP session less overheads etc).

An 8mb line rate less ~20% for IP in PPP in ATM overheads (a fact of life when using BT's current wholesale offering) gives a generally achievable maximum IP data rate of 6.5Mbps. What you get in the real world can be a fair bit lower than this dependent on limitation in how TCP works, packet size etc etc.

This doesn't excuse the confusion, just adds to it..

SMEs embrace wireless broadband

Martin Saunders

Wireless best of bad bunch in IE?

Isn't the higher use of 3G in Ireland more due to the poor state of the alternative telco and LLU provider market there? I suspect if there were more competitive, more reliable and higher speed fixed line alternatives in Ireland, the wireless alternative wouldn't be so popular.

3G/mobile wireless certainly has its uses, but I don't see 3G killing good old copper off quite yet.

BBC Trust backs calls for Linux iPlayer

Martin Saunders

What's wrong with Real Player DRM?

OK OK, let me rephrase that, what's right with Real Player (in general), but doesn't it do DRM protected content and there is a Windows, OS/X and Linux port?

Tiscali swallows Pipex broadband and voice

Martin Saunders

Battle of the marketing machines

I'm scared! Imagine what hellish concoctions will appear when the people that bought back the Hoff work with the people that come up with 'Broadband Torro'

Spanish telco defiant over huge broadband anti-trust fine

Martin Saunders

If you think Spain is bad...

...try Portugal. PT take 6-8 weeks on average to install a dedicated copper line (full MPF in UK terms) for use with SHDSL or ADSL with a provider supplied voice service. The old nutshell of 'poor address matching' is the common excuse.

Wind-powered phone-charger coming to market?

Martin Saunders

I hope they do well..

It's nice to see a bit of creativity and simple engineering being done by a small outfit, I hope they do well...

...although I wonder how much energy is needed to create the thing.

Jobs chucks Leopard titbits to Apple masses

Martin Saunders

Re: What really annoys me...

"It's backend is darwin unix"

...which takes huge chunks of its (open) source code from FreeBSD.

Apple set to axe Mac Mini?

Martin Saunders


I've been using a Mini as my home PVR, DVD and general media player for a year now, and I've been very pleased with it. There are a few issues:

*EyeTV (the most commonly used PVR software) is rubbish, for reasons that have been discussed on El Reg in the past

*Matroska (.mkv) files won't play cleanly in FrontRow - although the guys working on Perian (www.perian.org) are doing a great job at trying to fix that.

*No Windows-DRM support for things like 4OD - although the PVR catches everything I want to watch on real TV.

..but aside from these the hardware is excellent. With more effort on the software it could easily be a Sky + beating package without a subscription charge. None of this is going to earn Jobs a dime though, so I can understand why its being dropped..

Joost gets $45m to play with

Martin Saunders

Broadcast Quality?

Ever tried to use Joost on a reasonable sized TV?

It makes Freeview look high def! Ergh!


Apple TV hackers called to create open source set-top

Martin Saunders

That in my livingroom?

I can't see my wife allowing that ugly bit of kit anywhere in our house, let alone the 'girl zone' living room or bed room.

Oh dear...

Elgato EyeTV Hybrid USB TV tuner for Mac

Martin Saunders

Nice kit, software still needs some work

Simon has hit the nail on the head with his post I think. I've been running EyeTV on my Intel Mini since May, and although I'm generally pleased with the set up, EyeTV isn't anywhere near as user friendly as Sky+.

The most annoying problem in my mind is the lack of a good 'series link' feature. The only way you can do it is select the prog you want to record, and set it to record at the same time every day/week/weekday/weekend etc. This is fine except when the series end or the times are moved. Everything went very wrong around the world cup as so many series had the time moved.

The mini can also become quite noisy, especially when it is recording something and playing back something else. My other annoyances are all well described by Simon's comments.

So, all in all not bad, but I'm going to ditch this set up once NTL #finally# release HD in my area, or I can find a aesthetic place to put a dish on my house. I can put up with the failings of this set up, but my wife isn't half as patient, and wants Sky+ back..


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