Category Archives: Internet

100Mbps Internet Service

So for the first time at home I have what until relatively recently would have been viewed as LAN speed for my Internet service, and with an unlimited, and reasonably managed bandwidth policy.  I’m not an abusively high user, I’ve almost always stuck inside my current cap on my DSL service, but I do appreciate that a good service provider should manage their networks during extreme congestion.

My experience with Teksavvy has been positive enough over the years, I’ve been a customer since 2006, and I’ve only ever had one provider that was better and this was back in the .com bubble days when Ottawa was crawling with technically savvy and responsive providers!  So I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt that they will not do anything naughty with their traffic shaping policies.   Continue reading

Let’s Encrypt Closed Beta

I received notification that the Let’s Encrypt closed beta has started yesterday.  As of this morning this domain is now running using the beta version of the client and service.

It’s looking pretty good so far, it’s a bit wonky to integrate with a site that is already running with HSTS since I don’t have a web server listening on port 80.  (This is required for the verification step of certificate generation.)  But thankfully the client comes bundled with a standalone webserver you can run to complete the setup.

The certs only last for 90 days (by design) and I’ll be interested to see how painful or painless the cert regeneration will be when the time comes, but otherwise it was trivial to get all of the other features I use up and running.

So far, so good!

Stevey’s Google Platforms Rant

I was having a conversation today with a colleague about API usage and why it’s a key to success when building complex systems.  I tried to track down the original post from Steve Yegge regarding his thoughts from his time at Amazon and how they applied to the Google context and was a bit surprised that I couldn’t actually track down the original any longer.

For the sake of posterity I want to make sure I keep a copy rather than rely on G+, so with all credit to Mr. Yegge, here it is. Continue reading

World of Warships

A while back I joined the World of Warships alpha test.  Unfortunately part of the deal is that I can’t say anything about the testing prior the the beta phase that recently started, but now that the NDA is lifted, I just wanted to say that it’s been pretty fun so far.  The game itself seems to be in fairly good shape considering that it’s still under heavy development.

One of the best things about closed testing games is that the community tends to be much more pleasant than the average players in most online games these days.

I’m not as much of a gamer as I once was, but these semi-realistic shooters (Wargaming also makes the popular World of Tanks game as well as the sadly less popular Warplanes game as well) are good fun and a pretty decent mix of realism and playability.  This means there are plenty of departures from historical accuracy, but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t a certain sense of immersion that you get.  The last time I had this much fun in a naval game was probably during one of the first few Silent Hunter games.

So far there are ships from the Japanese and US navies implemented in the game and eventually all of the major WWII navies are supposed to be implemented.  Maybe I’ll see you in-game!

Apostrophes and the Ubuntu Font on OS X

Since I’ve breathed a bit life back into this blog, I was playing around with using Google Fonts, deciding to use the Ubuntu font as an example.  It turns out that this was a singularly unfortunate choice for testing!

There is a known issue (without an apparent resolution) which under certain circumstances can cause problems with rendering the apostrophe character.  In my case I was seeing small superscript 9 characters instead of apostrophes.

There is an example of the issue appearing in a different context on the Xojo forums.

The easiest solution in my case was simply to use a different font.  I wasn’t a big fan of how Ubuntu renders minuscule w anyway.

A Shadow of Phobos

I saw this very cool animation of the shadow of Mars‘ moon Phobos passing over a dust storm. Apparently an enterprising enthusiast combed through online archives of photos taken by the Viking 1 probe back in ’76 and found this sequence. It’s kind of cool to see that people are still finding new information this much later. If you’re an astronomy nerd like I am you’ll probably find it worth checking out!

CRTC Matching Line Speed Ruling

I came across this article on Slashdot this morning, apparently the CRTC has ruled that ISPs such as Bell must provide the same network service to resellers as they currently do to their own customers.  This means that ISPs such as Teksavvy that currently provide service over Bell’s DSL infrastructure and copper should soon be able to provide much higher capacity uplinks via Bell’s newly deployed fibre network.

I haven’t had a chance to read the actual ruling yet but from what I gather the only small print is that the big ISPs will be allowed to charge a 10% markup.  If you’re interested Teksavvy has posted this press release (PDF).


I just pledged $25 to the Diaspora project on Kickstarter.  I won’t repeat all the details here, but it’s in many ways an answer to my complaints about Facebook.  I’m still a bit leery of some aspects of social networking regardless of the tools but the idea that I manage my own data directly is incredibly appealing.  I urge you to check it out and if you feel strongly about it go ahead and sponsor the project.  Anyway, off to Montreal… have a great weekend!

Flickr is Cool

I’m a pretty slow adopter of new “fad” Internet tools, particularly when it comes to so-called social media applications.  Though I don’t have any illusions regarding the level on anonymity anybody can have on the Internet these days (read none), I am not very comfortable with ease with which sites like Facebook merge one’s “private” and public lives by default.  As a result I tend to avoid anything that even smells like Facebook, thus I was very surprised when I started playing around with Flickr last week.  I’m so far behind the curve on Flickr that I think I can safely assume that nobody’s going to accuse me of being a trailblazer but I still thought it might be worthwhile to share.

I used to run a lot more software on my personal website but I just don’t have the time to maintain tools like Gallery with my current day job if I ever want to take some time off from being a sysadmin.  (Which I do!)  So I started looking at alternatives to Gallery in the WordPress plugin database and didn’t find anything I really liked but it gave me the idea that I should investigate using Flickr to host my images.  At any rate, after playing around with Dan Coulter’s phpFlickr class and fumbling my way through the Flickr API I’ve managed to cobble together a passable little photo gallery with all the backend content and meta data being stored on Yahoo! servers.  This also has the side benefit of reducing my bandwidth usage and hopefully speeding things up for remote users.  I’ll probably rework things someday once I actually read the Flickr API documentation and figure out a slightly more elegant way of doing things.

I’d post the code I wrote to create my galleries but I’m so rusty with PHP it would probably be a crime.  Once I clean things up a bit and standardize how I’m doing things I’ll try to make it available for anybody who might be interested, the only serious limitation of my approach is that it is not a full-fledged WordPress plugin so it requires the ability to execute inline PHP on WordPress pages to call my gallery function but it’s still fairly simple to do and doesn’t require much overhead compared to building and managing a local photo gallery.

I also integrated Lightbox into the photo galleries to make things look a little sharper.  I’m not completely sold on it yet but it’s not that hard to replace so I’m going to wait and see.

In any case, I just wanted to draw attention to the Flickr API and phpFlickr for anybody who might be trying to solve a similar problem.  They’re incredibly powerful and so far I’m quite happy.

You can see my Flickr photostream here.