Just got an email from Matthias Meißer, who is one of the sysadmins on OpenStreetmap that my COSMCtrl control appears high up in the list of User Agent strings which hit the OpenStreetmap slippy tile server. He informed me that they employ various techniques which are based on the User Agent string of client applications to control their bandwidth requirements. If you are considering integrating COSMCtrl into your client app, then please ensure that you use your own unique string for your applications User Agent string so that it will not be blocked because of some one else abusing the same string. To change the User Agent string you can use the COSMCtrl::SetUserAgent method. The default value will be taken from the MFC application using the global method AfxGetAppName().
On Tuesday this week I did a presentation on using SQLCLR to the Irish SQL Server User Group up in Dublin. It provided a simple developer based introduction on how to write plug-ins for SQL Server 2005 & 2008. The example I developed from first principles was a SHA-256 hash User Defined Type. This was a repeat of the presentation which I did to the Cork Microsoft Technology User Group back in April 2009. I updated the slide deck to mention some of the new SQLCLR features in SQL 2008 R2 but the presentation was a general developer introduction. I also raffled off a couple of copies of my SQL Server XP book as prizes for filling in the evaluation forms. A big thanks to my fellow MVP Niall Flanagan who handles the SQL Server User Group who facilitated me to do the presentation.
Just a note to let you all know that I had done a write up of my new dev machine on my web site at http://www.naughter.com/computers.html. Here’s the details:
An Intel Core i7 Quad Extreme Processor. This is the top of the range Core i7-965 processor running at 3.2GHz with 4 cores and 8 threads. I also used a Zalman CNP9900 LED CPU Cooler. The whole blue glow from the various fans inside the case is very cool looking thro the clear side window in the case.
An Asus P6T6 WS Revolution Workstation Motherboard
6 sticks of 2GB Corsair XMS3 DDR 1600Mhz 2PC3200 memory. This provides a total of 12GB of main memory and can take advantage of the triple channel memory support of the X58 motherboard.
2 Western Digital VelociRaptor 10000RPM 300GB SATA drives in a RAID0 array giving, this gives a really fast setup for my boot partition.
1 Western Digital Caviar 2TB SATA2 drive as a "data" drive
A factory Overclocked EVGA GeForce GTX 295 Graphics card
The OS installed is Windows 7 x64 Release Candidate. I will be updating it to the gold version when it is released (hopefully without having to do a fresh reinstall<ggg>)
2 DELL 30" 3008WFP LCD monitors. This provides a lovely multi monitor solution with each display running at its native resolution of 2560 * 1600!
This machine is a pretty high end rig and should serve my very well for development purposes going forward. With the amount of memory onboard it should be easily able to handle a number of simultaneous virtual machines which is always handy for testing purposes. Since installing Windows 7 on it, I must admit that MS really has got it right after the whole Vista debacle. Everything just fits together nicely and performance is very good. The only thing I still pine for is the XP style Classic Start menu which has been completely removed from Windows 7. With the new Pin to TaskBar functionality and such large monitors I rarely ever use the start menu anyway now, instead preferring to use the taskbar shortcuts directly for my most used programs. The other thing I miss is not having the Start-> Run command easily available. I’m sure if I Googled that I could find a command line shortcut to make it available via a pinned shortcut on the taskbar. UAC on 7 seems to be much more toned down than Vista which helps to make you day to day experience a whole lot more pleasant. The Virtual Windows XP in Windows 7 is a really great feature and has already helped me to keep my old Desktop printer going as well as being able to use the Cisco VPN client which is only available for x86 versions of Windows. I’ve also run a few games on the new PC to give it a good try out. I’ve tried Crysis, Racedriver Grid and Far Cry 2 and the visuals in these games are absolutely stunning. PC gaming technology has really progressed in the last few years. I would also like to thank my accounts manager at Komplett, namely Rafal Cyranski for their great service. They’re truly a great company to do business with.
Just today I got a new broadband connection via Wireless. The company is a small local company called Alpha Broadband located in Courtown Harbour which is just 10 KM north from my location. I have been talking to the manager of the local Wind farm on and off for the last year about using their meteorological mast to install a Wireless Access Point for the local area and finally this week, it is now installed and up and running. For €75 a month I get a 3Mbps downstream / 512 kbps upstream package. Due to the fact that the access point at the wind farm is not too high up on the mast as well as the fact that there are some intervening trees between my location and the access point, the installer had some initial difficulties getting a reliable connection going. But once he raised the unit high enough on the TV pole on my house’s gable end, the connection started to come in loud and clear. Alpha Telecom terminate the connection using a standard Ethernet connection, which the average user will just plug into their computer’s network port. I purchased a Linksys RV042 Router to provide the firewalling and NAT for the computers on my LAN. If you live between Ballygarrett and Kilmuckridge and currently cannot get broadband via the phone line, then certainly give Alpha Broadband a call to see if they can get you on the Internet.
Just to let you all know that I have finally got my DSL broadband connection up and running reliably at 1MB downstream and 256 upstream. As I have posted earlier the ISP I went with is Eircom. I have just a few days ago decommissioned my Satellite connection with Educom. It was a good service when I had no choice, but it is great to have a low latency connection meaning that I can use programs such as Skype and Voipcheap.com. I’ve setup my Pocket PC with Skype and now I can make pretty cheap VoIP calls wirelessly throughout the house.
I have been trying to get a number of Wifi Service Providers to set-up in the local area, but so far none have been able to provide connectivity for my local area. Companies I know of, which provide Wifi connections in the North Wexford area where I live include:
I’m still talking with Alpha Broadband with a view to setting up an access point at the local Ballywater wind farm near where I live. Hopefully something will come of this.
Anyway, it turns out that Eircom, which is the main telecom company here in Ireland have been doing upgrade work over the last few months, to the phone lines between my house and the local exchange which is 5.1 KM away as the phone lines run. Last year, I got my phone line testing for broadband and it failed. I assumed it was the distance which was causing the failure (as DSL starts to run out of steam at around the 5KM mark) and left it at that. But just recently a next door neighbor was able to get DSL following an engineers site visit. It turns out that a lot of phone lines which were installed a long time ago in the local area were so called "Multichannel Carrier Lines". These are where a single line from the exchange is split into 4 separate lines on a telephone pole close to your house. These 4 lines then serve separate households. These type of lines are completely unsuitable for broadband and even affect the rates you get when on ordinary dial-up to the Internet. One neighbor I know is lucky if he gets 33.6K when he connects via dial-up!.
If you can get a new standard ordinary cable installation phone line or get your existing line converted to this, then even at over 5 KM from the local exchange you stand a good chance of getting DSL. Just last night I was helping out a neighbor with their broadband connection and they would be just 400 meters or so closer to the exchange than myself. I was surprised to see that the DSL router was reporting that it was connecting at 2MB downstream.
After dealing with Eircom support before Christmas, they advised that I get a new standard phone line and hopefully I should then be able to get broadband on it. At a later date, I could then transfer my existing phone number to the new line and decommission the existing one. An Eircom engineer duly arrived last week and installed the new line. I had a good chat with the engineer and he was able to give me a lot of good information on how the physical phone line systems are constructed. Once the line was commissioned by the engineer, I went back to the Eircom web site and checked the line for comparability with broadband. Initially it said it was unable to determine the capability and the engineer said it was best to give it a day or two before you try to apply again. Later in the week, I tested the line again and this time it failed. Now I had two phone lines and neither were compatible with broadband. To say I was feeling let down was an understatement of the month.
After giving out about about the state of broadband in the local Strand Bar pub one night to some fellow pub-quizzers, one person suggested that I talk to one of my neighbors who happened to be a senior engineer with Eircom. I do not know what magic or pixie dust he used, but just today, the online test says that my phone line is now suitable for broadband subject to confirmation. The highest spec package it said my line was suitable for was 2 MB downstream and 256K upstream, which I’ll take any day of the week.
Hopefully I should be getting my self-install pack from Eircom in the next few days which includes a standard Netopia 3300 DSL Wireless Router. I will keep you informed of my luck with finally getting properly on the Information Superhighway.