I’m not happy with Virgin Hub 3.0 (BT Hub 4 is much better)

 

For last two months I’ve been using Virgin Media Hub 3.0 and I haven’t found a single think to like about it. Part of it is that Virgin Media internet isn’t as good as promised – 200Mbps link gives this speed only during benchmarks to VM servers. Real world speeds usually hover around 20Mbps with up to 50-60Mbps when using multiple sources – for tasks like downloading CentOS images (I’ve testes many, many mirrors).

The things I do not like about the VM hub are:

  • DHCP cache is reset every restart, so my systems get different IPs from time to time (BT Hub remembered all system correctly)
  • UPnP doesn’t work. It is enabled, but I haven’t found any application that was able to set up port forwarding correctly
  • Using the admin panel is pain in the back – (login screen the admin panel takes 13 seconds to load, main screen takes about 22 seconds to display!) – see screenshots.

    vmpanel

    vmpanel2.

  • WiFi range seems to be less than average. I get the best coverage upstairs when the router is laying on a side.

I’m going to set the VM router into modem only mode and I’ll use BT Hub as my router instead.

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Should I buy wireless headphones?

Well… no.

 

I really wanted to have wireless headphones for running and gym visits, so I got myself a pair of Skull Candy SMOKIN’ BUDS 2 WIRELESS. Those headphones sound good enough for exercise – on par with in-ear headphones I used so far (Sony from Xperia Z and Z3 and Skull Candy buds).

But I’m not happy with the purchase. Here’s why:

  • The wireless headphones need charging. I’ve already run out of power once in the gym. And even if you have power the headphones tell you they need  charging soon by… beeping. Beep… beep… beep… every few seconds. Try to concentrate with that in your ears.
  • The headphones are not wireless. There’s no wire to connect to the phone, but there’s quite a lot of wire connecting the in-ear buds. And this wire is more annoying that a standard cable, because it’s not attached to a fixed point, so it bounces around neck. And it has a sizeable bit of plastic in the middle. Skull Candy tried to patch this by adding a quite heavy rubbery neck bundle. Which stills bounces a bit and is no less irritating.
  • Android 6 cannot reliable handle BT audio. I’m using BT audio in my car, with Sony SRS-X55 speaker and with those headphones. Switching between Sony speaker, car and SB2 sometimes confuses Android. I had to go to BT settings to remove the connection and reconnect the phone again to all those devices several times. It doesn’t always help – I had to restart my phone three times as well. Which is not what I want to be doing in gym’s changing room!
  • BT range is good in theory, but seems to have gaps. Maybe my phone (Xperia z3) has a directional antenna or maybe it’s the headphones. I can leave the phone 3 to 5 meters from me and the sound is working well, but as soon as I slip the phone into my pocket the sounds starts to break. Not much, but I’m getting very short breaks every few steps – just like my body is blocking the signal.

Would I buy different headphones instead of SB2? No. The whole approach is broken and the whole ecosystem needs updating. I’ll try again in 3 years.

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Setting up LBC podcast in BeyondPod

LBC offers paid podcasts and BeyondPod supports authentication, but not the one http://lbc.audioagain.com/ uses. The typical link to feed advertised on the website looks like this:

http://lbc.audioagain.com/podcast_feed.php?channel=subjames

But there’s also a “hidden” link that accepts HTTP auth:

http://lbc.audioagain.com/podcast.php?channel=subjames

And the second one works well in BeyondPod.

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[solved] Mac OS X PPTP VPN connects, but not forward traffic goes through

Most hotel wifis are open, so to secure my connections I’ve set up myself a PPTP VPN using QNAS TS-453A box (btw. great machine, get one!) to tunnel all my traffic via encrypted connection.

Windows 10 and Android are connecting to the VPN and the traffic goes smoothly, but my Mac OS X El Captain caused me quite a bit of grief – it connected to the VPN without a problem, the internal connections were working great, but the forwarding traffic got stuck. Ping was working fine, but WWW did not. Some initial parts of first website were loading and then the connection got stuck.

Cause:

The issue was caused by MTU mismatch. It seems that NAT on VPN server adds some headers, which cause the packet to be to big and get rejected.

Solution:

Go to apple->system preferences->network-><your connection>->advanced->hardware and set MTU to Custom with packet size 1400 instead of default 1500. You may want to experiment to find maximum MTU value that works for you.

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CloudFlare to the rescue!

I love CloudFlare. Not only because it lowers the load on our servers and speeds up page load time, but it helps us to react to problems quickly. The most obvious case is when our server goes down we can redirect all the traffic to our spare server in a matter of few clicks. But today we used it to quickly fix a marketing issue:

In our marketing newsletter we sent to all subscribed readers we haven’t spotted that the main link leads to nowhere (copy paste issue). Instead of http://www.harryfay.co.uk/sale we had http://www.harryfay.co.uk/search?chttp://www.harryfay.co.uk/sale?orderby=price&orderway=desc?tdw&utm_source=email&utm_medium=threedayweekend&utm_campaign=threedayweekend. Yes, I know we should have tested it better. We usually do, but this time we failed to click on a biggest image in the email.

Using CloudFlare I’ve set a redirect in few clicks. I know I could do the same using .htaccess, but in my book messing with .htaccess equals problems – it’s just too easy to break something there. With CF the fix was quick, instantaneous and totally painless.

cloudflare_redirect

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WebEx error on Windows 10 – solved!

After Windows 10 update of September, 2nd the WebEx stopped working – it is displaying following message: “Invalid input or system error. Please try again or contact your site administrator.”

 

Bad news:

WebEx ignores the problem as WebEx is not compatible with Windows 10 (in compatibility matrices and words of tech support).

 

Good news:

There are two workarounds!

  1. Use IETab in Chrome. When you connect to the WebEx from inside IETab it will reinstall the plugin and then connect correctly!
  2. Use WebEx productivity tools to start new meetings or connect to ones you were invited do. Unfortunately this won’t work for meetings to which the invitation was forwarded for you – you must be on original list.

 

I’ll stay with IETab.

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