heyrick1973 -at- yahoo -dot- co -dot uk

Mobile phone speeds

First up - my phone is a lot less crashy. While I received a (minor) firmware update last week, the main thing is I don't tend to hook it to the computer much. I think that Android (or maybe some of the built-in apps) panic when they try to look for the SD card which is no longer mounted (as it is being a "flash disc" for the computer). There is a "charge only" option, but it appears as if this just plain doesn't work right. Well, it might after the firmware update? Once I figured out an association between USB connection and crashiness, I pretty much only hook up when I need to.

 

The topic of this article is phone speeds. So here we go. Using "Speedtest.net" as a guide, I did some tests to see how fast the phone can go.

  • GSM network - EDGE
    The EDGE is the slowest of all, running it at 0.15mbit/sec for downloads, and 0.10mbit/sec for uploads.
    This translates to downloading around 19KiB/sec, and uploading around 12KiB/sec.
    Latency is pretty poor, running in at around 500ms as an absolute best, and 800ms as an average.
     
  • Real Internet - WiFi
    The oddity here is that the WiFi cababilities are pretty poor. My line is a 'mere' 2mbit, and a test on the PC showed I was currently getting 1.96mbit.
    The Motorola DEFY maxed out at 0.8mbit/sec for downloads and 0.35mbit/sec for uploads.
    This corresponds to pushing around 100KiB/sec and 45KiB/sec respectively, although I find the 0.35mbit/sec upload to be interesting as it implies around 360kbit/sec upload rate. I know I frequently get around 265kbit/sec (my line is rated as 256kbit upload), but 100kbit over? Suspicious.
    At any rate, it can't shift WiFi data around particularly rapidly. This shows, I might add, when trying to push data around using the WiFi local networking ("webfolder") to push large files around.
    Latency is "acceptable", running at around 75ms on average. It can far outpace the mobile comms because the Livebox is an 'always on' connection, while the mobile network isn't, as that would run down your battery in no time. It might pop a ping once every few seconds, I'm not enough of a net-head to know, but in quiescent state it will take time to negotiate a connection with the mobile network, and this is why GSM latencies run to nearly a second.
     
  • GSM network - 3G
    The town where I work has only slow EDGE, also handicapped by the fact that it can't do data and calls at the same time, with a braindamaged config where data trumps calls, so if mom calls me when I'm checking my mail... tough.
    But the ultimate irony is while I get EDGE in my bedroom (just), and we live in the middle of nowhere, if I walk out the front door, turn left, walk fifteen metres (to the end of the house), turn left again, and walk about a hundred metres down the lane, my phone will report "EDGE". If I put it into flight mode (all radio comms off), and take it out of flight mode, it will get a weak but usable signal and the little 'E' symbols turns into an 'H'.
    That 'H', I have no idea what it means, I thought I was supposed to see a '3' or a 'G' for 3G? Whatever, it offers an astonishing 1.16mbit/sec download rate, with 0.75mbit/sec upload.
    This translates to 150KiB/sec down and nearly 80KiB/sec up. Yes, not only does it kick ass over WiFi, it meant if I hadn't renegotiated to be bumped up to 2mbit, my mobile phone would outpace my wired Internet! As it is, uploading easily outstrips the wired network connection.
    Latency is marginally better than EDGE, running at 600ms, but this is still slow, and explains why getting started with the built-in browser can feel laggy. To give you an idea, when you use your PC's browser, just as you are about to click a link or press Enter to accept a URL, stop and flick your hair behind your ear (if you're bald, rub your hand over your head). Then click, or press Enter. That's the difference in latency for you.

    After my first month of use, I finished with a balance of 420MiB (remaining). I guess slowish Internet and a chronic lack of patience don't help. ;-) This does mean I can go a bit wilder (!) with my data use. I did, as the month ran to an end, listen to some Shoutcast when I was working. It didn't always work, but it did at other times. The problem is a 128kbit stream is 16KiB/sec which is pretty close to what EDGE offers. And that only killed 35MiB.

    For what it is worth: 128kbit streams will burn through 57.6MiB/hour. A 64kbit stream will eat up 28.8MiB/hour. And a 32kbit stream probably isn't worth listening to, even on a mobile phone!
    That said, I found a 24kbit stream of Japan-A-Radio which would suffice (work is noisy, so sound quality isn't that important) and it would slow-burn through 10MiB/hour.

    Aside - how to calculate consumption
    You start by taking the data rate in kbit and dividing it by eight. This will turn bits into bytes and tell you the speed of the stream in KiB/sec.
    For example, a 192kbit stream runs at 24 kibibytes per second (or 24K/sec to people of my generation before officialdom reminded us that "kilo" means 1000).
    Multiply this by sixty, we can see that we'd be burning through 1440KiB per minute. Multiply by sixty again, we learn it is 86,400KiB per hour. This doesn't mean so much, so divide by 1024 to convert K to M, and it makes more sense - 84.375MiB/hour.
    Which if you listen while at work, assuming eight hours a day five days a week, can run to a rather astonishing 14.5GiB per month just for decent quality internet radio while at work.
Having read that, as I'm on WiFi not mobile, I've just switched to a 192kbit stream. If I left my phone plugged in and streamed that 192kbit stream all month, we'd be looking at 60GiB of data. Heh, and I thought my 14Gb/month downloads were a lot!

Anyway... With my contract I also get an hour of calls to landlines per month. On Friday night that rolled over to tell me I had 1h57m of calls available. I went for a walk up the lane and back today and on the walk back, phoned mom... well, why not? I also, thanks to ass-kicking Internet on the phone, took some photos and emailed them to her pretty much in real-time. I had data active while on a voice call, which is how I can tell that this 'H' is some sort of 3G. I just find it funny that a town of 4000 has lame mobile support, while our little... collection of farms and houses (pop. 250ish) has 3G. I mean, WTF? We can't even get decent analogue telly here - moot point, there isn't any any more - but given this I never even bothered trying digital. Yet there's 3G. Huh?

Another freebie with the contract is some thing called "Deezer". It allows instant on-demand access to millions of tracks, though its Jpop selection is pretty poor (my God, it doesn't even know "Morning Musume"!), though I have discovered an easy-listening sort of thing which is an album by a girl called Kanae Toshiro. She has a blog (here) which I can't read (it is in Japanese), but I can tell two things from this. She looks like a fun person, and she really likes her food. ☺
I also added Sakura Yamamoto who I've not listened to enough to have an opinion, I just added her because I like the name Sakura...

Mom is in seventh heaven. There's a pretty good selection for a Spanish singer/songwriter called José Luis Perales. Nice voice. You can download albums for offline listening, so there's some 70 songs of his on my SD card.

The thing is, this stuff is all 'on loan'. I can buy the music, but otherwise it is accessible as long as I am a subscriber and Orange offers this function.
I quite like the idea, for this is one of the reasons it saddens me when recording companies stamp down on copyright abuse on YouTube. Yes, it is copyright abuse, but then I learned of my current favourite singer, Chihiro Onitsuka because I mistyped Ai Otsuka's surname into YouTube and it auto-suggested Chihiro. So I thought 'why not?'. Lots of grief later, I have her CD sitting beside me. I don't get why a friend had to ask his wife to bring it back from Japan - why hasn't the music industry caught up with the idea of paid downloads anywhere, anytime?
Anyway, if I like Sakura or Kanae, I can purchase songs, maybe the entire album. Or I might search around for similar things an artist has done, or similar artists. It is rare that I would commit to buying a CD on the strength of only one song. I can, with services like Deezer, listen freely to the entire album (if they have it), but with YouTube it is harder (the search is good, the suggestions are often useful, but there's little in the way of actual organisation). I'd like to find not only nice songs (like "Dear You" from the Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni soundtrack), but also new artists to listen to.

Another album I have added to my selection is the rather peaceful "Ensemble des instruments traditionnels du Japon", though when - for the sake of it - I looked to see how much it would cost to buy, the Orange shop replied "Désolé, aucun résultat n'a été trouvé.". Right, I suspect my selections would say that a lot...

Deezer also offers on-demand access to the Top 10 in UK, USA, Belgium, and France. Okay, it's free, to let's try the UK top ten songs:

  1. What's My Name? (Rihanna)
    I know that voice, this is the girl that did that annoying song about umbrellas a year or so back, yes? It starts, oddly enough, with a man singing. I don't like it, but I could tolerate it.
     
  2. Your Song (Ellie Goulding)
    It's amazing what being in a John Lewis advert can do. But, then, this is a genuinely nice song with some crazy lyrics which do a good job of portraying a slightly scatty mind. I have thoughts like that, but then again, no... ☺
     
  3. The Time (Dirty Bit) (The Black Eyed Peas)
    Hahaha! Starting with a techno-eighties remix of that song from Dirty Dancing, we dissolve into something lost in a time-warp. That thing with overloading the autotune, Cher famously overdid this with her song Believe, and I still see people are doing it today like it's something new. Yeah, whatever...
     
  4. Many Of Horror (Biffy Clyro)
    Damn, this is a quiet one for British tastes. It picks up, though. Not a bad song.
     
  5. Whip My Hair (Willow)
    She starts by saying "I whip my hair back and forth" a dozen times. I think I managed to make it through the first sentence...
     
  6. The Flood (Take That)
    # Standing, on the edge of forever, at the start of whatever, shouting love at the world...
    This is one of the reasons I like foreign music, I can enjoy a song for the melodies, the sounds, the tonalities and the images it makes in my head, without knowing how sucky the lyrics are. Talking of sucky, this one isn't bad, but then it isn't good, it's just another overstated Take That song. The music isn't bad in parts, just try not to listen to the words.
     
  7. Hold My Hand (Michael Jackson duet with Akon)
    I dunno who Akon is, but I'd be seriously creeped out at doing a duet with a dead guy... I wonder what "MJ" would have made of this.
    Unimpressed, except the line "I've been dead before and you've been dead before, but together we can be alright" which has a certain, perhaps unintended, comedy to it.
     
  8. Like A G6 (Far East Movement)
    I made it through five seconds. I'd class this in the same category as Whip My Hair, if I was given the CD, I'd file it carefully in the dustbin.
     
  9. Poison (Nicole Scherzinger)
    Yeah. I made twenty seconds of this one. That was 20 too many.
     
  10. Just The Way You Are (Bruno Mars)
    I preferred the Billy Joel version, which people with great memories of the obscure might remember was the soundtrack to one of the final TVS self-promo videos before they lost to Meridian Broadcasting. I liked the TVS logo, but it doesn't matter as ITV made screwing up the regions (one might be tempted to say "everything" instead) something of a mission statement. Oh, well, this Bruno Mars song has nothing in common with the Billy Joel song. It's just... a bit naff. Which is why I would rather talk about something else.

Yeah, I don't think I'll be paying much attention to the the charts, though you do get mind-blowing stuff. I mean, the American chart looks like it is catering only to rap-obsessed disaffected youth, while the French chart is a weird mélange of French songs (leaning to rap, and French rap is usually spectacularly bad) and latter-day Fragma songs.
But then at number two is a bloke called Israel Kamakawiwo'ole performing a lovely rendition of "Over The Rainbow". Yes, as in Somewhere over the rainbow... This is apparently number two in France. Can you see why my mind just tripped out? I suppose this is the French rivaly kicking in. Ellie Goulding is #2 in the UK, to this guy is #2 in France. That's it, right? ☺

There's a video of Iz's song on YouTube, and what is perhaps the saddest thing is that he died in 1997 aged only 38. Still, his music lives on, so he isn't to be forgotten.

 

In lieu of good stuff in the charts, I have created a playlist for stuff from the '80s (give or take). So far, in no order:

  • "Hello", Lionel Richie
  • "99 Red Balloons", Nena (English version)
  • "Eye Of The Tiger", Survivor
  • "True Colors", Cyndi Lauper
  • "Happy Birthday", Altered Images
  • "Africa", Toto
  • "You're The Voice", John Farnham
  • "Eternal Flame", The Bangles
  • "Take On Me", a-ha
  • "Your Song", Ellie Goulding
  • "Runaway Train", Soul Asylum
  • "Don't You (Forget About Me)", Simple Minds
  • "Everybody Wants To Rule The World", Tears for Fears
  • "Advice For The Young At Heart", Tears for Fears
  • "This Used To Be My Playground", A Flock of Seagulls (better than Madonna's)
  • "Dancing With Tears In My Eyes", Ultravox
  • "Always The Sun", The Stranglers
  • "The Final Countdown", Europe
  • "Gold", Spandau Ballet
  • "True", Spandau Ballet
  • "Enola Gay", OMD
  • "Walking On The Milky Way", OMD
  • "Dignity", Deacon Blue
  • "Toy Soldiers", Martika
  • "Baby, I Love Your Way / Freebird", Will To Power
  • "Don't Stop Believin'", Journey
  • "The Lion Sleeps Tonight", Tight Fit
  • "Total Eclipse Of The Heart", Bonnie Tyler
  • "I'm So Excited", The Pointer Sisters (who remembers "Crunchie" bars?)
  • "Broken Wings", Mr. Mister
  • "Can't Fight This Feeling", REO Speedwagon
  • "Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now", Starship (Mannequin, anyone?)
  • "For Crying Out Loud", Meat Loaf [Deezer clips the end off of long songs!]
  • "Bat Out Of Hell", Meat Loaf (original and best) [Deezer clips the end off of long songs!]
  • "Read 'Em And Weep", Meat Loaf (better than Manilow's, IMHO)
  • "The Future Ain't What It Used To Be", Meat Loaf (damn right!)
Awesome.

Oh, and suggestions welcome.

 

You're my favourite waste of time

So I was going to write part two of the katakana lesson when Opera told me that a video file I pulled off the NAS last night was corrupt. Funny, I had just watched it.
It is a file held on the wonky USB key. So I figure something plain isn't right with it. I downloaded and ran the official repair tool... which formatted the drive.
Huh? I could have done that myself!?

Anyway, I have copied the files back onto it from the network server, and I will have to treat it as a dying device. Shouldn't cost too much to get a replacement 4Gb unit. I wonder if using it in the older PVR burned through a lot of its write cycles? I dunno.

This is when I notice the power LED is green. Those of you that know me will know that I think the eeePC 901 is wired up backwards, what with the power LED being red when on charge, and green on battery.
Anyway, it is green so I had better plug the power pack in.

Oh, it is plugged in. Okay, I know the connection is a little wonky, but still...
I wobble it, nothing happens. Oh crap.

To cut a long story short, I have the eeePC stripped. I mean, it isn't that big a deal to apply a few dabs of solder to get the power connection snug again, excepting hairy stuff like stripped tracks, but let's not go there. Anyway, turns out not only is the connector on the other side of the board, thus allowing it to be fixed without even taking the board out, but... um... there's no sign of damage whatsoever.

Huh?

So I get my craft knife and carefully strip back a groove in the plastic coating around the plug. A-ha, there it is. Or rather, there it isn't. The wire connecting to the central terminal is a little shorter than it ought to be.
There's no way of fixing it like this, so I carefully strip off the entire moulded plug. A twenty second solder job fixes it, and then it is time to warm up the hot glue gun to knock up a fake plug moulding by squirting hot glue around the wires and rolling it as it starts to harden.

There. Job done, eeePC reassembled. Annoying, but at least it is fixed.

Or is it?

My backslash key doesn't work, and as I'm a Windows guy, the '\' is pretty important. The hash (#, pound if you're American, though pound is £!) doesn't work either. And the WiFi on/off key... doesn't.

After stressing for a while (what, another keyboard calamity?!?), I realise that the eeePC's hotkeys mostly work, but they're all in different places. Huh?

I remove the keyboard driver. Windows reboots as it installs the replacement driver, then it wants to reboot again. Weird, that, as turning it into a kana keyboard with scary-complicated IME didn't faze it at all. Right, my computer's in love with Japanese stuff too...

But the keyboard is still all messed up.

Final idea. Get myself into the BIOS setup. I think there's a bit of fail on the part of Asus here as if you have the boot booster enabled, it is damn near impossible to get into the BIOS or boot from an alternative device. The way I've found works best (most of the time...) is to keep hitting Tab until the screen goes grey, then hit F2. For some reason, just hitting F2 doesn't work.
Anyway, I'm in the BIOS, I tell it to restore factory settings.

Reboot, Windows, Metapad, there's my '\'.

 

You know, one of these days I'm going to turn into that guy from the movie "Network". If you don't know what I'm talking about, watch this snippet on YouTube, and when you do please keep in mind that it is a 35 year old movie. If you replace "steel-belted radials" with "Facebook", it is still disturbingly relevant today...

 

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Rob, 1st March 2011, 09:02
Nice 80s playlist - lots of stuff on there I like too, and several I'm going to go check out when I get a chance!
Rick, 4th March 2011, 04:14
As I am used to the German version of 99 red balloons, I nearly gave away the mp3 player at work when I heard and understood the English lyrics and started laughing. Brilliant!
Anon, 5th March 2011, 17:05
"H" on the signal indicator means HSDPA (or more accurately, HSPA), which stands for High-speed (downlink) packet access. The maximum speed for the standard is always increasing (somewhere around 42Mbit at the moment), but your phone and network are likely to be at 7.2Mbit max, with probably a potential 2Mbit upload speed. It is an addition to the 3G standard, so it is often branded 3.5G. 
 
Of course, the speed you actually get depends on a number of factors like signal quality, strength, how many people are using the same cell site as you, etc. 
 
As a comparison, my phone (in a fairly rural part of the UK) can regularly achieve about 3-4Mbit down with 1Mbit up. I guess France isn't quite as vigourous as the UK is in forcing the networks to provide 3G/HSDPA, as my rural area is blanketed in it by several networks.

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