Friday, 4 April 2014

Hub, Hub and Away!

Things have been a bit quiet recently at the alternative Apple Harvest HQ. Which, in some ways, is a good thing because it suggests that everything is OK - which, it largely is. It doesn't make for very interesting reading though!

We replaced the old BT HomeHub 3 this week with a BT HomeHub 5. There were two immediate improvements with this upgrade. Firstly it's a single all-in-one router and modem, thus freeing up an extra power socket (and hopefully reducing power consumption) compared to its predecessor. Secondly, the new box supports four gigabit LAN ports rather than the measly single offering previously. The most significant outcome of this is that the YouView box now has a dedicated high speed wired connection which should mean a massive improvement in accessing On-Demand TV which has proved a problem in the past.

Other improvements:

  • I've finally got Slink working so that I have two-way connectivity with the Apple Harvest HQ. Previous attempts have been thwarted by the BT HomeHub
  • All the desktops and laptops in the house are now wired and the wireless devices are shared across 2.4 and 5GHz bands which is making life better for everyone
  • The BT-FON option has been disabled on the new router and we've lost the password to reinstate it. Good riddance!

However. This being 2014 - and the year of the nanny state in the UK - meant that BT is mandated to offer internet filter controls on any new device. Now, in theory I'm all in favour of parents being able to restrict what their children can and cannot access via their home internet connections. I also agree with being able to set restrictions on connection times on a device by device basis. But as I feared BT's implementation of the Internet filtering leaves a lot to be desired.

BT offers four levels of filtering ranging from low, moderate and strict or customisable. But all four apply across the local network and specific devices cannot be exempted. Restrictions can be temporarily switched off, but this again, is across the network. It is possible to set up filters for three specific devices - but in a household where we have at least 14 devices, six of which are regularly accessed by the children, this is pretty useless.

So, for the time being at least, ALL the internet filters are switched off and we rely on old fashioned policing of what content is being accessed.  I would rather see the situation where we could apply settings to a specific user (or group of users) and associate the user with a device. It's a bit more work to set up, but much more effective in a diverse household.

On the subject of the Internet, at last the interfering MEPs in the EU have finally done something right and voted to end EU roaming charges and stake a claim for net-neutrality regarding ISPs charging different rates for high bandwidth users. Of course, it'll just end up with the customer footing the bill for lost revenue, but that would happen anyway!

And finally...check out Monument Valley for iOS. If you like puzzles and the work of MC Escher (you know, the pictures of impossible staircases etc.), you'll love this!

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