Change Complete

AmazonWebservices_Logo.svg

So in my last post I hinted at change. So here are the details. I have moved to Cape Town. It was a big move, a difficult move, but a necessary one. In short I was offered a career opportunity that I could not refuse, that being of course a position as Software Development Engineer at Amazon Web Services.

This is a major step in the right direction with respect to my career, and I look forward to developing some amazing things there whilst learning more than I can possibly imagine. – I can’t say much about it of course. I am certainly going to try and keep this blog a little more up to date from now on…I know, one hears that from every blogger out there. I do however have some plans for some nice programming tutorials which will start at the beginner level and possibly run concurrently with some more advanced tutorials.

So with that I say, catch you all later.

Change

As you all may have noticed, I have changed the look of my blog. I hope you like the new style. The old one was feeling too cartoony for my liking. Just like this change, things in my life will be changing soon. Details to follow, in the meantime though, here is a hint:

tablemountain

 

Threes: A mobile-gaming masterpiece!

A don’t play a lot of mobile games. I have a few on my S4 that I play from time-to-time but I am certainly not one that is glued to my mobile phone day after day with the latest finger-numbing eye-watering addiction.

A few weeks ago my friend introduced me to a game called 2048. I enjoyed it quite a bit and was spending much of my free time trying to get the elusive tile. Just this week I came across an article on Wired titled: Design Is Why 2048 Sucks, and Threes Is a Masterpiece. This obviously caught my eye and I fed the addiction of my click-happy fingers. I leave the reading of that article to you except for the fact that 2048 was a apparently a rip-off of a game called Threes – and apparently it is brilliant.

Threes

I opened the Google Play store and, in a rare occasion, invested some of my hard-earned finances in this alleged prodigy of a game. I am not going to babble on about how good (which it is), or bad (which it is not) the game is. I will let you decide that for yourself. The one thing that stood out for me though is that the designers of Threes did something that I have yet to encounter in a game before – and that is why I think it is good. They managed to take a simple tile-based game, which it is, and add personality. Each type of tile is essentially a character. This combined with the addictive difficulty of the game keeps one playing round-after-round-after-round.

Still not sure what I am talking about? Well then give it a whirl on iOS or Android. Note that there are a few copies so make sure to get hold of the original (made by Sirvo) as the sound effects and music (which differ between versions), play a large part in the cohesiveness of the game. Just don’t blame me when you forget to feed your pets. (and yourself).

The working era has begun

I have passed my honours degree recently. Graduation is soon. So what now? Well the working era of my life has begun – it promises to be interesting. But fear not, I shan’t disappear from these pages (although I have been gone for some time – I apologise for that). There are some open source things I am working – watch this space for more.

Another look at Afrihost

Afrihost-logo

So a few months back I posted my rant (click here) about the situation of throttling by Afrihost/Axxess. Now once again just to clarify, I was at the time an Axxess customer but I want to ensure that no one forgets that Axxess is owned by Afrihost and as such also needs to take some responsibility for the actions of any subsidiary companies – but back to topic. I thought I would carry out a another little experiment. I wanted to see how much Afrihost and Axxess actually shared. We know that they share the same custom built MTN network. I was curious about how closely their management of the bandwidth on that network is in sync with one another.

The only way to find out was of course to change service providers from Axxess to Afrihost (I know, I know – but I was curious). It has led to a very interesting discovery. Throttling still occurred yes, and this throttling was indeed still sometimes to the magnitude of over 90%, but, and this is a big but, it occurred far less frequently than when I was with Axxess. In fact it seems to be occurring less and less as time goes on – but more importantly the manner in which the throttling was done was more with what I expected than with Axxess. It was was usually only done within peak business times when one expects heavy congestion and the amount of throttling sometimes would change on a hourly basis. This shows a better approach to the management of the network in my opinion, one where the network is consistently monitored and adjustments made on an hourly basis.

I will however not count my chickens before they hatch and am monitoring the behaviour of my connection closely. Thus far however I applaud Afrihost for the effort on their side for trying to keep everyone happy. Will I retract my previous rant? Not a chance – they still need to make sure that their subsidiaries behave.

Axxess/Afrihost Throttling Connections by 90%???

** Please also see the updated Afrihost ISP Review Here **

<rant>The ISP market in South Africa is understandably a cut-throat business with each ISP trying to outdo the other whilst at the the same time attempting to squeeze as many consumers as possible onto their network.

MWeb rocked the boat a few years ago by introducing the first affordable uncapped ADSL products. ISP after ISP followed suite. I myself have an uncapped account with Axxess (now owned by Afrihost). Why not with MWeb you ask? Well there are certain things in their terms and conditions that certainly do not suit me (I mean really, I am forbidden to FTP something to my home computer???). Anyway, back to the point. I have never had many issues with Axxess/Afrihost – that is until they spontaneously decided to move all their customers from the age-old-proven IS network to some newly “custom-built” network by MTN. Now I understand that such things may incur some teething problems, which they had and have said to be sorted out. Besides the issues I have with my physical ADSL line (which is neither owned nor the responsibility of Axxess/Afrihost) I had a few days of glorious speeds in which I could finally download myself a new game or two on Steam …. or so I thought. Three days and 5.5GB later, I notice that my Steam downloads seem to be a bit slow…but maybe that is just a line issue again I thought.

Days went by and I noticed that browsing was as quick as ever, but Steam downloads were sitting at 15KB/s … I have 1Mbps line which should give me speeds in excess of 100KB/s. Another peculiar fact was that whenever I started the download, the speeds would jump around a bit near 80KB/s and then after a while drop to 15KB/s. At first it seemed a little random, however it would do this consistently whenever I stopped and restarted the download or whenever Steam would give up and suspend the download for a while (due to slow speeds) and resume it. I then decided to do a little experiment. Start the download and time it until the speed drops to a consistent 15KB/s. Imagine the surprise when I discovered time and time again that after almost exactly 1 minute and 30 seconds the speed would drop. It never took longer than that but sometimes did so after a mere minute. The final test was to quickly do the same tests on a prepaid capped (guaranteed unshaped/unthrottled) account. Result? Pure bandwidth joy…return to uncapped…throttled hell.

Now why not complain? Well because I know the response I am going to get: “We reserve the right as according to our Acceptable Use Policy to prioritise/throttle our uncapped users based on network congestion bla bla bla…..” …  please explain this to me: When Axxess/Afrihost were making use of IS backbone, then I could easily transfer 100GB in a month with barely an issue. Now after a mere 30GB  they are throttling like hell on a new network that they boast far outstrips the old one in terms of capacity. If this were true then I would not be receiving only 11% of my theoretical speed on a weekend when business traffic is at an all time low! Come on Axxess/Afrihost … (un)shape up or ship out. I think I shall simply execute my right to move to another ISP … I hear IS has some nice consumer offerings these days….<rant/>

Moved!

Good news! I have moved this blog to a proper web hosting service. For those of you who didn’t know, I had hosted this blog on a small server of mine until now. There was no problem with that except for the reliability of my internet connection. There is bad copper in the ground here, which means when there is a small thunderstorm on the other side of the continent then my ADSL line loses sync. Last night it lost sync 94 times in a two hour period…I am fed up with it…anyways – that is why I have moved this blog to a proper host :)

When the internet works!

Short sweet happy story: The internet works when you search for the solution to a problem with your favourite search engine, and the first result is exactly the one that you are looking for.

Furthermore, this first result simply gives you the answer without giving a long sad story first and thus requiring you to read a billion forum posts before actually finding the solution :).

Just in case you were wondering, the problem and solution that inspired this post.

m2Work Challenge

I always love a good challenge. The latest is the m2Work challenge. It involves coming up with ideas for mobile microworkers focused in developing countries.
There were 944 ideas submitted and one of mine was chosen as a top six finalist (still not sure how I managed that)…of course Murphy had it that I should get the news in the last 5 minutes of an AI lecture – so as one would expect, I heard nothing of what my lecturer said in those last 5 minutes :-).

Now comes the real work. Slides, Elaboration and a video – all due in a shockingly short period of time, thus I will have to juggle this and my Honours work quite delicately … and my Tennis of course (I started playing Tennis with Divan and the rest of the Computer Scientists and Engineers that I am good friends with).

Now back to my graphics prac…