Monthly Archives: October 2012

Blessed is the DSL

As all you loyal readers should have noticed by now is that my blog has been a little quiet since I moved to Sydney. I can assure you it’s not from a lack of interest, but rather a lack of time and essential living resources such as DSL conspiring to prevent me from posting.

I’ve been in Sydney for just over 4 weeks now and have a few blog posts to write, so will complete these over the next few days. :-)

We managed to find a flat and moved into it 2 weeks ago, right in the middle of the CBD with only a 25min walk to my work office – sadly DSL took a little longer to get sorted (thanks Telstra @#$%^&*U) but I now have a nice shiny DSL connection with the good people at Internode.

It’s been an interesting experiment using 3G as my primary internet connection these last few days – as first it’s OK, but it becomes noticeable at how bad performing it is after only a few days. Slow bandwidth making downloads of small files a noticeable factor, latency making SSH connections laggy and non-responsive.

Even simple stuff like listening to music is hard – I have all my music on my server in NZ and simply play it directly off the samba share across my VPN and use cachefilesd to cache recently accessed files on my laptop – this works great on fixed line connections, but fails horribly on 3G which is generally fast enough most of the time for 256k MP3, but has nowhere near enough of a data cap and the connection drops really mess with playback.

The poor 3G performance is not helped by the fact that AU city 3G networks are generally poor – combination of factors, bad coverage, buildings and huge volumes of users, I actually found that NZ’s mobile network was generally better performing all round.

On the other hand, the new LTE networks (“4G”) here are stunningly impressive – colleague is frequently getting 24mbit (and as much as 32mbit) download on his 4G Samsung S3, which is even faster than my CBD ADSL2+ line. Of course this means you’ll chomp though your 1GB monthly plan in about 4.2 minutes… :-/

It was an interesting experience, but I’m now very happy to have a real connection back. Not having a home server is a bit of an adjustment, I’m down to just a DSL modem plugged into my Mikrotik RB493G…

I may look at putting in a larger file server cache locally here at some point, currently looking at the best option for pulling large content from NZ to AU and holding it in cache for the optimal time, almost need a cache that I can instruct to pre-seed on demand – egĀ  “cache all recent accesses from my NZ file server, but also cache the following 4GB file I’ve just requested so that I can watch it when I get home tonight”.

As I write this, we’ve only had DSL for 5 hours and have already pulled 2GB with just casual browsing…. I think the 200GB cap will be enough for us, but one of the perks of living in AU is that I could get up to a 1.2TB cap if I really wanted. ;-)

Cuckoo Clock NZ

Having arrived in Sydney, I’m staying with some of Lisa’s relatives who have kindly provided us with a room for a while until we get our own place sorted out.

One of the things they have in their house, is a proper mechanical cuckoo clock, which I find highly amusing every time it pops open and emits chirps. I decided it would be fun to write a twitter cuckoo clock.

It’s pretty simple code-wise, just need to generate a tweet every hour with a cuckoo for each hour on a 12-hour clock and a bit of general sanity checking, such as checking what time the last tweet was posted, so if crond goes nuts it won’t spam the feed.

Behold, the amazingness of the Twitter cuckoo clock.

I decided to make it slightly more interesting, so every time it tweets, there is a 1-in-10 chance of it posting some other message from a list of defined messages, as per the above example.

You can check it out at @cuckooclocknz and you can check out the small bit of Python that powers it on my repos. I was tempted to make some for AU, but I was lazy and just did NZ, since my servers are running in NZ timezone and there’s only one timezone for the whole country unlike AU…

Slowly getting more used to Python coding, I’m not a huge fan yet, there’s some nice things about it, like the enforced indenting structure, but some odd things that throw me after years of PHP and Perl, such as for loops and the stricter type handling that need getting used to.