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Rory Cellan-Jones

An apology (in fact several)

  • Rory Cellan-Jones
  • 24 Oct 08, 09:20 GMT

Looking back over various blog posts I've written in the last couple of weeks, I realise I owe certain people an apology.

First, members of LinkedIn. A number of you took offence at my dig that your social network was "Facebook for losers". You were right to be cross - and now you can laugh at my lack of foresight after LinkedIn closed a $23m funding round with the likes of Goldman Sachs. An arctic winter is blowing through Silicon Valley - and Wall Street - so it's quite an achievement to raise that kind of money.

It's also a marker that we are entering more serious times, when a social network has to be about more than poking, vampires, and other assorted tomfoolery - it needs to be useful in getting you a job or helping you make business contacts. I've taken note and might even go and refresh my untended LinkedIn page.

Then, there are all of those people who make a great contribution to this blog in their comments, and are then frustrated when the conversation just stops. It was put rather well by someone who responded to my post on "Is blogging dead?":

"...much as I enjoy reading many of the blogs by BBC journalists, I do find it a little disappointing that it tends to be a rather one-way exchange. True, most of the responses to blogs are inane drivel, but some of them are witty and insightful, and more to the point, deserving of a response. That response is seldom forthcoming.

I'd enjoy the BBC's blogs a bit more if the owners of the blogs read their responses and replied to the interesting ones more often."

We try to answer specific queries, but I think we do need to make more of an effort to respond to responses, and so prove that our blogs are not just one-way streets.

Finally, I need to apologise to my teenage son. I accused him of excessive use of our domestic bandwidth when he downloaded a 2Gb patch for World of Warcraft the other day. Fellow gamers were quick to leap to his defence, pointing out that a patch like that only comes once a year and deriding my estimate of 120Mb for four hours' solid WoW play - given to me, I hasten to add, by one of the ISPs.

Well, earlier this week I was away from home for a day or so - and therefore not online - and our bandwidth use dropped from over 1Gb to 200Mb. So it looks as though I'm the one chewing through our broadband usage quota, though I can't quite work out how my computer is leaking so much data. Sorry, Adam.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    It's very easy to blame computer games for all the world's ills. Sometimes it's true and sometimes humble pie is required.

    A big thumbs-up to Rory for admitting his mistakes, especially in public.

  • Comment number 2.

    Do you use Outlook/Exchange to read BBC email from home? They can be real data hogs, constantly sending status updates and stuff back and forth even when there aren't any emails... maybe you need to monitor your network traffic and report back!

  • Comment number 3.

    Clearly Rory should sign up with one of the Phorm using ISPs - they'll be able to tell him exactly what he's doing online, even if he doesn't know himself :-)

  • Comment number 4.

    Your bandwidth is being used up by windows itself as well as other programs that Microsoft always promising is the thing of the past.

    Rory, to use less badnwidth... dump Microsoft. It will also give you a strange feeling seldom experienced when using computers... the feeling of security.

  • Comment number 5.

    @ 5

    Strange that. All 3 computers in my house run Windows yet unless we're watching videos or downloading files there isn't much data usage.

    However, using an alternative OS, such as Linux, might actually increase usage. For example, if Rory were to run Ubuntu (a fine OS, which I have installed a few times in the past), he would need to install some packages that don't come as standard in order to get simple things like MP3 playback (I'll confess it's been a while since I used Ubuntu so this might be standard now, I don't know). And on top of that there's a release close to twice a year which will be quite bad for the download limits.

    The simplest thing is to do what I have done... move to a package which give truly unlimited bandwidth. I did this over a year ago and haven't looked back!

  • Comment number 6.

    My latest comment was of course in relation to comment 4, not 5!

  • Comment number 7.

    Rory, (or Adam if you read this first)...

    To solve your internet problems in a flash - have a look at untangle.com. I was going to suggest ntop - but that would require too much effort on your part. It looks like untangle.com could provide you with a nice and easy solution.

    Good Luck!

  • Comment number 8.

    Have you used the BBC iPlayer download manager? That uploads a lot of data with the default settings, even if its not running. See http://iplayerhelp.external.bbc.co.uk/help/download_programmes/manage_p2p

  • Comment number 9.

    Signed up just to make this comment so I hope it's helpful!

    Internet measurement (in this case the amount of data transfer) is actually not as easy as it sounds. Very recently a research paper was published on the bandwidth usage of World of Warcraft (http://publik.tuwien.ac.at/files/pub-et_12119.pdf). Granted it's a boring read if you aren't interested in this but it goes to show that accurate statistics for this kind of thing isn't trivial, so maybe not all blame should be given to the journalist in this case.

    Also there is a valid point that why should "patches" weigh in at 2GB? The fact is 2GB as a compressed download represents a percentage of a desktop PC's hard drive capacity (even with most machines now having 500Gb or more of space). Of course this patch does bring more to the table than just fixes but nevertheless developers and publishers aren't making life easy for themselves nor their paying customers by releasing such a huge patch in one go.

  • Comment number 10.

    Your bandwidth is being used up by windows itself as well as other programs that Microsoft always promising is the thing of the past.

    Rory, to use less badnwidth... dump Microsoft. It will also give you a strange feeling seldom experienced when using computers... the feeling of security.

    --------------

    Odd that, my windows doesnt hog bandwidth, maybe when you know what you are doing and set it up correctly it works, well fancy that.

  • Comment number 11.

    @9

    I agree why couldn't this patch which is required for an expansion pack not be included in the purchased CD/DVD?

    The company in question is therefore chargin everyone threefold.

    Firstly your paying the subscription to play the game.

    Secondly you are paying for your bandwidth over usage that particular month.

    Thirdly you have to buy the expansion seperately to make the most of the patch.

    This is exactly the reason I dumped MMO games in general. You end up playing through mostly on your own anyway, and you can have just has much fun if RPG's are your thing, playing anything delivered by Bethesda such as Morrowind or Fallout3.

    Offline too I might add!

  • Comment number 12.

    Regarding the World of Warcraft (WoW) patch, it could be considered as a free upgrade from version 2 to version 3, delivering some significant new features as well as some content required to support the "wrath of the lich king" expansion due in 3 weeks. The same content (plus more) is provided on the DVD for the expansion but the servers are upgraded before release day so that people can log in and play immediately after they get it home from the shops, therefore anyone who wishes to play before release day has to download and install the patch. The reason for some expansion content being supplied (rather than just fixes) is that people who don't buy the (optional) expansion would still run into people who did. Therefore their client needs to be able to draw their fancy new level 80 armour and weapons, even if they don't need the new zones as they cannot access them. This is still thousands of new textures and sounds to be stored.

    Also: the new content wasn't released in one 2gig patch, but released about 2 weeks prior to the servers being upgraded with the option to download it slowly over time.

    ps. FOR THE HORDE!

  • Comment number 13.

    Why is it that as soon as you mention bandwidth problems (or any problem o_O ) all the linux geeks jump on the bandwagon (not a pun honest!) saying dump MS dump MS.

    You need to look at what youve got running before you dump a whole sodding platform :/

    Might be the stuff you don't know you've got which is causing your issues.
    I found when we had bandwidth problems it was adware problems and things you think should be sleeping.
    Has you son sneaked something on such as limewire for example. Even if it is off that canes your bandwidth.

    I also recommend statbar. You can install it on your computers and see which one is kicking out the most kbps and hopefully relieve the problem.

    Otherwise it maybe an idea to look into traffic shaping.

    If you really end up looking at linux the easy to use ubuntu platform has a live disk you can request that will let you test the platform without even putting it on your system via booting by cd rom.


    PS For the Alliance!!! :D







  • Comment number 14.

    Not sure why a post with apologies turns into Windows bashing.

    I never use as much bandwidth as when I turn my Ubuntu laptop on

    Every time I turn it on (used to be daily) there are updates to hundreds of obscure packages to download and install, and it's only when this is out the way I can check my email, or write a document etc before turning the laptop back off

    I used Ubuntu until I got fed up with this as it makes quick tasks unusable, so I re-installed XP in a partition, I now almost exclusively use XP, and am now considering deleting Ubuntu

    This is not helped by the fact that after doing a FW update on my router Ubuntu can't connect wirelessly, and despite 2 months of posting in ubuntuforums no one is able to help

    Before these annoying linux fanboys start decrying Windows they ought to get their own house in order

    XP just works period. And no I've never had a virus or spyware. Ever!

  • Comment number 15.

    In the interests of clarity, I am not running Windows at home.

    But something strange has happened in the last week. Our usage has come down to around 250mb a day, from over 1gb. I've been away for the last three days - but the reduction happened before then. Something has changed and I'm not sure what...

  • Comment number 16.

    @ 11

    The expansion is optional (well in theory, the fans will argue otherwise), so a download is still needed to patch those users who will not be buying the CD/DVD, it won't be the full expansion, just enough to ensure those who don't upgrade can still play the game and interact with those who have.

    Besides, have you seen how few PC games are now sold in the shops? It's all Console, console, console these days!


    @ Rory

    Either somebody has changed their internet habits after seeing your blog (or realising that you were writing a blog about it) or there are other forces at work.

    Kudos on not using windows at home, that eliminates a lot of potential viruses and the dreaded "Windows Genuine Advantage" that reports in to Microsoft everytime you power up your computer.

  • Comment number 17.

    @13

    Who let the alliance in here?

    Just to tick all the stereotype boxes your basic alliance player is a Windows user who sits at their very well organised computer desk all very prim and proper. A little notepad and pencil sits beside their keyboard so they can note the urls of sites down for later. They'll surf with a cup of Earl Grey tea. They probably put on a shirt and tie before using the computer. They organise their emails into folders. They probably have an ipod. They read the manuals on how to install software.

    Your average Horde player is a techno savvy hero.

    Anyway, clearly Rory would be Horde!



  • Comment number 18.

    i hope rory would go horde so i could pummel him with my brutal maces ;o)

    general internet browsing takes up alot of usage nowadays with web 2.0 etc not like 10 years ago when flash and other graphical things were not about.

    Rory should investigate service providers. i was on virgin media ADSL at my uni house 8mb with 5k a second download speec my upload was faster i complated to the ispa and i got my contract canceled for free so i can change provider.

    There needs to be an indepth look in to the uks internet as it is a joke really compared to alot of other countries.

  • Comment number 19.

    OK just a couple of things. Firstly what on earth are you using that chews through 800mb of data a day without you noticing? There is no windows prog on earth that automatically chews through that much daily, thats an hour and a half long movie or 200 MP3s. The occasional large update perhaps but thats maybe twice a year. NO way you should be going through that much unless youre hooked into your work email and everyones sending large attachments (entirely possible I supose at the BBC).

    If that was my home computer i would seriously consider free progs online scans (http://www.windowsecurity.com/trojanscan/) to check my computer isnt an unwitting part of the latest russian spam server. You might also look at something to tell you whats going out daily to establish whats chewing through all of that, 30 days free at http://www.hageltech.com/dumeter/ .

    As for a 2 gig patch for WoW, glad to say ive kicked that particular habit, but considering new mmogs such as WAR have a 10gig client, well large patches are just a way of life now. The internet is the only realistic way to distribute them, its a new world.

  • Comment number 20.

    I'm more than a little disappointed that someone who has appointed with such a prestigious post as a technology journalist for one of the worlds most respected new broadcasters would happen to know so little about his chosen field that he can’t even fathom out his own internet usage.

    Poor show BBC – you’re supposed to be leading the way, not asking for help from your readers.

  • Comment number 21.

    In response to Rory's response:

    I just want to echo what #16 said!

    [i]"Either somebody has changed their internet habits after seeing your blog (or realising that you were writing a blog about it) or there are other forces at work."[/i]

    As I highlighted in the original WoW post there is no way on earth that MMOs such as EVE Online, Lord of the Rings Online or World of Warcraft would be generating such high bandwidth usage on a regular basis.

    The main culprit is probably downloaded music/video (IPlayer/YouTube etc). I think the fact that you started asking questions about it has actually made someone a little more careful about their internet usage!


  • Comment number 22.

    @5

    No, dumping Windows will be the way to reduce bandwidth usage. You may be good at computers but I can guarantee you that Darren Walters' sons and daughters will soon be visiting websites (if they haven't already) that put all kinds of hidden programs on the PC without their knowledge.

    You very rarely get this problem on Linux and your bandwidth usage is very much what you expect it to be, not a lottery like with every Microsoft OS since Windows 95.

    At least with Linux you have the choice the ability to manage your usage, with Windows you are relying on a company that is notorious for poor/shocking/lack of IT security. You are essentially at the mercy of Microsoft and mailicious internet users... hardly a good choice of operating system.

 

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