Read this fantastic article about managing IT professionals, by Jeff Ello at Computerworld.
Recently, i had another hardware failure of my Asus G73JH (the GPU seems a bit dodgy in these units, and the TFT screen will quite suddenly fail), for the second time in a year. Disappointing, but at least it’s covered by warranty and Asus do seem to have a quick turnaround for repairs. However, their choice of courier is terrible.
Both times that I’ve had to deal with DPD couriers, I’ve been left frustrated by their inability to carry out the basic tasks required of a delivery company.
- They will only tell you (by text) one day before that they plan to deliver the following day, but not what time. They don’t, at this point, give you the opportunity to change it.
- The following day, they will text you and inform you of their delivery window. This isn’t particularly useful for people who plan their day more than a few hours in advance.
- You can change the delivery day, but not the time, but even then only with a choice of three subsequent (week)days.
- You can pick up the parcel from the depot, but chances are that they’re a long way away, you have to book your visit in advance, and they’re not open until 9am.
- You can’t redeliver to a different address.
I’m not the only person to be disappointed by DPD couriers performance, either.
If you want to call them, and speak to someone, it seems that the only way to do it is to call 0845 556 0560 and simply don’t select any of the options, for ages. Eventually you’ll get put through. Of course, when you do, you’l most likely get put through to someone like “Vanetta” (whom I spoke to today, but I don’t think that’s a real name), who will just answer your questions like you’re insane, and will make you work incredibly hard to tease out the details of how you might actually obtain your goods. Not that she could just provide some help, no, you’ve got to investigate the options and work out it out for yourself.
So in the end, I decided that the easiest thing would be for me to drive out to the DPD depot on monday morning to pick it up. It’s a 40 minute drive, but better than hanging around and waiting for someone to turn up whenever they fancy.
UPDATE: I drove to the DPD depot on Monday morning to pick up the laptop. You have to ring the doorbell to be let in, and there’s a little sign saying that you might be searched. Nice touch.
I provided my details to a lady who then disappeared off to find my laptop. She was gone some time, and eventually returned about 15 minutes later to inform me that the laptop’s been sent out for delivery to my home address, and that I could either go home and wait for it, or arrange to pick it up tomorrow. I’ve about had enough of this by now, so I change my plans for the day, head home, and wait for DPD couriers to deliver, again.
Is it really this hard to deliver packages from one place, to another?
DPD still hadn’t delivered by 2:30pm, so I rang them. They checked the consignment number and apparently, it’s still at the depot, waiting for me to pick it up. They are now “looking into it.”
They sent a guy round at 3:50pm, after I kicked up a little bit of a fuss. The laptop is now back in my possession, and I’m never going to let DPD couriers anywhere near it ever again.
IP addresses are what computers and other networked devices use to identify each other on the network. This network could be your home wifi network, with two computers, a couple of iphones, a printer, and your ADSL router, or it could be the entire internet, with millions of connected devices. IP (version 4 – the “normal” version) addresses are made of 32 bits (thirty-two ones and zeros), written in the form of four “octets” (8 bits, or ones and zeros), separated by dots. Each octet can be any number from 0 to 255, because this is the number of different potential combinations of ones and zeros if you have eight in a row, like 11001001, for example.
So, if each number can be 0-255, and you have four of these numbers, there are 4,294,967,296 different potential addresses. Nearly 4.3 billion. That’s quite a lot, but not enough.
A home network might use a range of IP addresses that look like 192.168.1.x (where x can be anything from 1 to 254), and a big business network might look like 10.x.x.x or 172.16.x.x. Because you can change the numbers where the x’s are, you can give your network the ability to have different numbers of things connected. Being protected from the internet (a “private” network), these addresses can be (and are) used over and over again in homes and businesses all over the world. There are internet “rules” that tell people what IP addresses you should use.
Just so you know, the address 127.0.0.1 always means “loopback” or “localhost” or “home” – it’s commonly used for troubleshooting, as it is effectively the device’s own IP address. If you want to reach all the computers on a network, you use the IP address 255.255.255.255, or the “broadcast” address.
But on the internet, an address will more usually look a little different, and could be something like 184.108.40.206 (google.co.uk), 220.127.116.11 (this website), or 18.104.22.168 (stanford.edu). Everything on the internet needs to have a unique IP address, from websites, email servers, itunes, internet radio stations, your iphone, and your home ADSL router. There are some clever ways that internet service providers conserve the number of IP addresses they need to use, by re-using IP addresses that haven’t been used in a while (which is why your home IP address may change every now and then), or using “network address translation” techniques (essentially giving out “private” IP addresses and re-routing them) so that multiple devices can use the same “internet” IP address.
However, partly because there are increasingly more and more devices connecting to the internet, more servers, and more websites, but also due to IP addresses being handed out in blocks (resulting in many not being used, but not available for use by anyone else), we’re running low. Current estimates put the running out date as early as February 2011, but by clawing back some of the wastage, and using Network Address Translation, the internet should be safe for a while.
Long term, however, we need a new system. That system is IP version 6, which instead of 32 bits per address, uses 128 bits, and therefore supports 2128 or approximately 3.4×1038 unique addresses. By comparison, this amounts to approximately 5×1028 addresses for each of the 6.8 billion people alive in 2010. Actually, the primary aim of IPv6 was not really to provide such a huge number of addresses, but rather to enable devices to more simply allocate addresses, improve routing efficiency (less requirement to fiddle around with address translation or port forwarding), and add clever features such as authentication and data integrity.
Oh, because I know you’ll ask, IPv5 was an experimental streaming protocol, which is why we’ve gone from IPv4 straight to IPv6.
Globally, IPv6 is still very much in its infancy, with largely only the internet big players such as google beginning to roll it out. If you have new hardware and Windows Vista or 7, however, you can use it quite effectively in your private home network. On the internet itself, there’s not that much around yet. Facebook have an IPv6 address at http://www.v6.facebook.com/ and google have theirs at http://ipv6.google.com/, but without an internet-facing IPv6 connection, you won’t be able to get to those links, yet, as there are some issues to be overcome in combining the two addressing protocols. Possibly the biggest and most notable use so far of IPv6 was the 2008 Olympic Games – http://ipv6.beijing2008.cn/en (IP addresses
2001:252:0:1::2008:8), and all the network operations of the games were conducted using IPv6.
In a few years’ time, we’ll all be using IPv6 in one way or another, by using 4G mobile phones, connecting our homes to high-speed internet, accessing new websites and web services, and more; though IPv4 is going to be around for a long, long time.
I’m setting up a little evening and weekends service to the local area for people who need help with various computer issues, such as cleaning up virus infections, setting up new PC’s, helping to set up and secure wireless networks, and other computer repairs.
I’ve called it Eastside IT (since West Bridgford, Sneinton, Carlton, and surrounding are sort of on the East side of Nottingham…)
See more of Nico’s videos at Nico Turner Videos
Happy birthday Jules!
Just a little happy birthday to julie, who’s blog, and collection of other lovely happy birthdays is at http://vonpoopmiestersbirthday.blogspot.com/2010/12/birthday-responses.html
Last weekend (30 October 2010), we biked up Snowdon.
We’d been planning it for a while, and used facebook to organise the trip – it turned out to be 9 of us, so we booked and stayed at the Eagles bunkhouse in penmachno, which is a great place to stay if you’re in the area, and want somewhere cheap to use as a base for whatever outdoor activities you’ve got planned. It’s basically above/in the Eagles pub, so the evenings are usually spent drinking good welsh ale. They don’t serve food at the pub though, so we ate at a pub down the road called the silver fountain (and I can recommend the HUGE gammon steaks).
On the day of the ride, we set off a little later than planned and had a little bit of trouble finding the correct car park, but found it in the end (The rangers’ station car park, near Rhyd-du). It was raining, and it’s pretty difficult, psychologically, to start a ride in the rain, but it soon tailed off and we got our stuff together and set off. We were well kitted up, with waterproofs, lots of layers, food, drink, first aid kits and lots of mobile phones.
We chose to ride the rangers path, as it’s shorter, but harder, and there was likely to be quite a few people on the llanberis pass, many of whom might not appreciate moving out of the way for a bunch of mountain bikers. The first 30 minutes of the ride was steep, but rideable, with only the odd small section where it was necessary to get off and push or climb. Incidentally, I was carrying a cracked rib from a stupid crash in the peak district a week before, and found that out-of-the-saddle climbing hurt quite a bit, so mostly I’d sit and spin up. Further up, the trail essentially turned into a stream, with water up to 6 inches deep, and technical rocks underneath. This was where it turned into real mountain biking, and you could neither let off the power, or lose concentration – really good fun.
At some point, though i forget how far we had come, we got to where the cloud was hanging down, and it was also the point where it was no longer possible to ride. From here on in, it was 90% pushing, lifting, and carrying the bikes up and over the rocks. Those with light xc bikes, or who were particularly strong, could carry their bikes on their backs, but most of us just opted to push and pull our bikes. Slower – but less painful.
After another half hour or so, the wind really picked up, and it was possible to see the clouds whipping through the valley at incredible speed. Shortly after that, we had rain, and shortly after that, hail. The hail was the worst – strong, bitter wind at 90 degrees to the trail, flinging hailstones hard at you, while you’re struggling to push the bike just a few feet up some rocks. In terms of pure difficulty, it was some of the hardest “biking” I’ve ever done, and there were times when we would just look at each other with a kind of “What the hell are we doing?!” look on our faces.
With visibility terribly poor – between 20 feet and 50 feet, depending on the thickness of the cloud at the time, we never really knew how far we’d come, or how far we’d have to go, but when we reached the train line, we knew we were nearly there, and it also levelled out a bit, with a few sections actually rideable. It was much busier here though, so it was slower going, having to pass a lot of walkers on their way to the summit. We got quite a few funny looks, and lost count of the number of times people asked “You rode your bikes up here?!”
Rather suddenly, we were at the summit, and while it was heaving with walkers, we still managed to get our bikes up onto the triangulation point (we were damned if we were getting our bikes all the way up there and not to the top!), and took some photos. The ascent had taken us just over two hours.
We all then had some sort of hot drink and a bite to eat at the snowdon cafe, added a base layer or two as it was definitely getting colder, and got ready to head back down. As there was a far higher risk of crashes on the descent, we planned to regroup regularly to ensure we didn’t lose anyone (though we nearly lost someone in the first few minutes, due to some confusion about whether they’d seen us head down).
Around 90% of the descent, if not more, is rideable – more so if it’s dry, I’d guess. And with only one or two minor spills, a couple of stops to regroup, it took us not much over 20 minutes to ride down. The trail had definitely collected more water, and we were soaked pretty quickly once we got to the wet sections. It’s a fantastic descent though, and some sections are really fast, while others take a bit more low-speed technical riding. Most of the walkers we passed were very good natured and let us pass easily, though there was a small minority who didn’t appreciate us being there – though I don’t know if they’re aware that bikes are permitted on Snowdon at this time of year.
Sorting ourselves out again at the car park, there was already a lot of talk about which mountain to do next time…