Mar 30 2010

Eircom Broadband Update

Category: Networks,TelecomsTeknovis @ 11:33

Last night I read that Eircom will start upgrading its broadband offering. You can read more about this in either Eircom unveils ‘next-generation’ broadband or on Eircom’s site. (Unfortunately, I cannot link to it because all the links appear to require a session ID :( Stupid!)

One of the main points of this announcement is that Eircom will upgrade existing 1MB/s, 3MB/s, and 7MB/s connections to 8MB/s connections free of charge. That is good news, although I am not sure how many people really need this extra speed.

The other interesting change is that Eircom will now charge users based on the amount of traffic transferred. I realise that I do not know how much I transfer at the moment. I must investigate this on the Eircom web site :o

Finally, I agree with IrelandOffline‘s assessment that there is a lack of “next generation” about this offering! See Eircom and “next-generation” broadband.

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Mar 29 2010

Irish Prime Minister to Tweet

Category: eGovernmentTeknovis @ 11:09

The Irish Prime Minister is to start using Twitter according to Ireland’s first Twittering Taoiseach to tweet to the nation.

I think that many people would argue that using alternative forms of communication is pointless when you do not have a message to communicate :(


Mar 27 2010

More ICT Jobs for Ireland

Category: BusinessTeknovis @ 09:28

In Openet Expansion I recently expressed the opinion that the economy was picking-up in Ireland. The trend seems to be continuing, because eBay, LinkedIn, and IBM all made job announcements during the week:

It is great news, although I think that this trend is mainly confined to the ICT industry.

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Mar 22 2010

Occam’s Razor

Category: Software DevelopmentTeknovis @ 19:05

I spent hours today trying to determine why a system was not logging certain critical application events! It was very frustrating!

Ultimately, it transpired that the system was logging the events, and that I was looking in the wrong log! This mistake was not really my fault, so at least I did not feel like an idiot :)

A colleague noted that this was a typical example of Occam’s Razor. At least I learned something from this experience!

Mar 20 2010

“Cloud Application Architectures” by George Reese

Category: Cloud Computing,ReviewsTeknovis @ 08:02

I recently read Cloud Application Architectures: Building Applications and Infrastructure in the Cloud by George Reese.

"Cloud Application Architectures" by George Reese

"Cloud Application Architectures" by George Reese

It was a very enjoyable read, and it was quite an easy read. I think that it is a great place to start reading about Cloud Computing.

The book focuses almost exclusively on Cloud Computing in the context of Amazon Web Services (AWS). This suited me, but it may not be to everybody’s liking.

My only criticism of the book was that it did not go into enough detail. In particular, there is a lot of focus on EC2 and almost nothing about the other services. That is a pity, because I would have liked to have read the same type of material about S3, SimpleDB, and SQS.

Also, despite the focus on EC2, I felt that some fundamental aspects were not described even though the author referred to them extensively. For example, many pages were dedicated to describing the AMIs, yet it is not described anywhere how to create them!

In summary, I think that this book is a great introduction to Cloud Computing. It describes what it is, and when it can be used advantageously. Finally, it really put me in the mood for starting to play with AWS :)


Mar 17 2010

TerminalFour Wins Aer Lingus Deal

Category: Aviation,BusinessTeknovis @ 18:34

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!

I was delighted to read that TerminalFour has won a contract to supply Aer Lingus with a new content management system for its web site. For more details about this read Aer Lingus invests in web content management system.


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Mar 16 2010

Openet Expansion

Category: Business,TelecomsTeknovis @ 23:13

I was delighted to read yesterday that Openet has launched an expansion program for its operations in Dublin. This expansion consists of creating 35 new jobs. Perhaps more impressive is the fact that these jobs are being described as R&D type jobs! For more information about this read Openet’s R&D investment creates 35 new jobs.

I have recently heard a lot of anecdotal evidence from friends and colleagues that the economy is slowly starting to improve again in Ireland. This would appear to be more evidence of this!

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Mar 14 2010

Virtualising my Laptop

Category: Hardware,Linux,WindowsTeknovis @ 14:41

I want to buy a new laptop for myself. I need it! My old one is too big and heavy, the screen is losing its contrast, and the battery lasts for approximately 30 seconds :(

In the past I tended to buy high-end laptops on the basis that they would last for longer. This worked to a certain extent, but this time I want to try a new approach. I am going to buy a relatively low-end laptop, but replace it more frequently. The disadvantage of this approach is that it is very time consuming to setup a new computer.

Last year I started experimenting with using Ubuntu within VMware as my main desktop operating system on and old computer. I was very impressed with its speed and stability. So I have decided that I am going to virtualise my entire desktop on the new laptop. The advantages of this approach are:

  • Moving my computer from one piece of hardware to another becomes trivial. This is useful for when I want to upgrade my laptop in the future. It also means that I can put my computer onto an external hard disk.
  • Backing-up my computer also becomes trivial. I am thinking about backing it up automatically every night!
  • Snapshots can be taken before I install any software on a test basis. I can then roll-back my computer if I do not like the new software.
  • It provides my computer with a lot of extra security from network based attacks.

My overall requirements for my new laptop are that it supports three different virtual machines:

  • I want to start using the Ubuntu based virtual machine as my main computer. I am waiting for Lucid Lynx 10.4 LTS.
  • I am currently using Windows 2000 as main my operating system. I think it is great ;)
  • Unfortunately, I have one program that I need to use regularly, and this program requires Windows XP (or later) :(

I will use NAT to network all three virtual machines most of the time. However, sometimes I will need to use the Windows 2000 virtual machine in bridged mode so that it can be a first class member of my domain.

Therefore, the overall architecture of what I am trying to achieve should look like this:

Laptop Virtual Architecture

Laptop Virtual Architecture

Now that I know what I want to achieve, I just need to find the best way to realise this!


I am currently considering buying either a Dell Inspiron 1545Inspiron 15 Intel Core i, or a Studio 15. I am a Dell fan, and a 15″ screen is the best size for me. I will get 4GB of RAM, and either a 350GB or a 500GB hard disk.

I will get one of the cheapest processors available. I am currently considering either the Intel Pentium Dual-Core Processor T4400 or the Intel Core i3-330M. I will probably choose the latter, because it seems to have better support for virtualisation because it supports VT-x according to its specification. In practice I do not know if this will provide a noticeable benefit.

In terms of form-factor, I dislike the idea of a number keypad on a laptop. Therefore, I will probably go for a Studio 15.

I am going to have to buy an external card reader, because none of these laptops support Compact Flash cards :( My cameras all use Compact Flash :o

I wonder how the host operating systems sees the integrated web camera. I hope that it appears as a standard USB device, so that it can easily be shared with the virtual machines.

Host Operating System

My requirements for the host operating system are:

  • It must be very secure, because I will use my laptop in a lot of public networks.
  • It must be easy to connect to file servers. This is important, because I will need to back-up my virtual machines.
  • It must have a software based firewall that is very easy to configure precisely.

I think that the clear winner here is Ubuntu with Firestarter. If my Linux skills were better I would use Debian instead :o

The only question I have is whether I should use the 32bit or the 64bit version of Ubuntu?

Virtual Machine Software

The two options that I am considering for this are VMware Workstation and VirtualBox. My main requirements are that the virtual machine software is secure, and that it supports VT-x. I think that both do!

However, there are still some issues that I have not resolved:

  • Should I use the 32bit version or the 64bit version?
  • Which offers better performance?
  • Will they both support my hardware equally well?
  • Is there a risk of becoming locked into one of these products?
  • How is Hyper-threading supported? Presumably, the virtual machine software would think that it has four cores to distribute to the virtual machines. However, in reality it would only have two. This makes me think that I should disable Hyper-threading.
  • Does the virtual machine file format change with each new release of the virtual machine software?

Cost is not really an issue here.

Guest Operating Systems

As I wrote above, I will use Ubuntu, Windows 2000, and Windows XP on my virtual machines.

My questions relating to the guest operating systems are:

  • Should I choose the 32bit or the 64bit version of Ubuntu?
  • Will the OEM version of Windows XP that I got with a previous Dell computer install into a virtual machine without lots of registration issues?

If anybody has any opinions, experience, advice, or answers relating to any of this then I would love to read them!


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Mar 11 2010

Skype 3.0 for Windows Mobile

Category: Windows MobileTeknovis @ 14:35

Last week I installed the latest version of Skype on my Windows mobile PDA. The effect of this was that I upgraded from version 2.x to 3.0. My main motivation for doing this was that version 3.0 supports file transfers. I thought that this could be useful for when I am travelling and I take photos with my PDA that I want to share immediately with friends. Sending files via Skype has the advantage that everything is fully encrypted end-to-end, so it does not matter if the WiFi connection is not encrypted.

I had some difficulty obtaining the latest CAB files. Unfortunately, Skype has decided to stop supporting Windows Mobile according to Why can’t I download Skype Lite or Skype for Windows phones?. That is a real pity :(

The currently supported mobile devices are listed in Skype on your mobile. However, many of these versions are crippled so that they do not allow you to make voice calls using the telephone network. I guess that it would be too much of a loss to the network operators :o

Luckily, you can still download the CAB file directly from Skype’s website using the following URL:

If any readers of this blog are unable to obtain a copy of the CAB file, then let me know and I will share my copy ;)

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Mar 06 2010

Cloud Computing Data Centres in Ireland

Category: Cloud Computing,HumourTeknovis @ 21:29

I read an interesting article in The Irish Times recently about Microsoft‘s view on cloud computing data centres in Ireland. The article covers comments by John Vassallo who is Microsoft’s Vice-President of EU Affairs, and it can be read online at Data centres may attract 20,000 firms.

It is a short (and slightly meaningless) article. However, one comment by John Vassallo really caught my attention:

Mr Vassallo added that Ireland was cited in a recent publication as “a beautiful place for a data centre” due to its climate.

It is difficult to interpret this comment! I am not even sure if this is serious! Perhaps the cloud analogy is being taken too far :D

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