Power up the trenching tool, we’re going to lay our own optic fibre for fast internet to our homes and businesses

Screen Shot 2013-08-26 at 5.23.41 PM

I heard about B4RN on the radio last night, a fascinating story how a group of residents in rural England became weary waiting for the phone companies to make fast broadband available. Their solution? Lay their own optic fibre to their properties, offering 1Gb download speeds.

The success of the project is completely in the hands of the participants, who can subscribe for the service, and even buy shares to increase the capital available to invest in growing the network.

The purpose of the project is to take a new approach to the ownership, financial and deployment models used traditionally, and still proposed by, telecommunications companies. These models invariably leave rural areas outside of the scope of economic viability for the telecoms companies, and have helped to create the Digital Divide between rural and urban Britain.

You can even sponsor a metre of optic fibre for £5. Apparently when the phone company lays fibre it costs £140 a metre, when you use volunteer community labor, the cost plummets. Plus you can have fibre wherever you darn well like, as opposed to the phone company which uses profit/loss calculations to determine whether the investment is commercially viable. As the CEO of B4RN said in an interview with the BBC:

“…fast broadband is not a luxury now, whether in the town or the country. ‘Farmers are being told they have to fill in forms online,” he says. “If you haven’t got broadband you are severely disadvantaged.'”

If you ever needed any affirmation of the value a community places on proper high speed broadband, B4RN is the model, continuing to undermine the ridiculous politics played with the National Broadband Network in Australia, especially by the Liberal Party with their neutered model of fibre to the node.

If Tony Abbott wins power I suspect you’ll find me out on my street powering up the trenching machine and encouraging my neighbours to come help me lay our own fibre as well.

Source Control Window disappears in Visual Studio 2012


A little weirdness with Visual Studio 2012 – the Source Control Window disappeared and nothing seemed to bring it back. I could open a solution from the Recent list, and open a file from the Solution, but still no Source Control Window would launch or display. And View -> Other Windows -> Source Control Window did nothing.

All until a colleague pointed out that, if you watched closely, it seemed like the window was loading, just not visible. So we tried Window > Reset Window Layout and all was well.

Drove me crazy for 15 minutes – and the simplest solution turned out the right one.

If I have both internet and wifi enabled on my Apple Mac which connection is used?

I’ve long pondered this – if I have my MacBook connected both to ethernet and WiFi, which internet connection is it actually using?

In general sitting at my desk I want my Mac on ethernet, because speed-wise I see anything up to 100Mb down our cable connection. But I like having the WiFi on because then my iPhone and iPad are syncing in the background, and I don’t have to remember to turn the WiFi on and off as I move to and fro. However, the connection speed over the WiFi is slower, and I tend to see disconnects from my company’s VPNs although I could probably solve that with a bit of fiddling with the cable router configuration.

Finally I’ve tracked down the answer, and it’s simple.

Open System Preferences > Network. You’ll see a list of your connections on the left hand side. The active ones are green.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 3.13.10 PM

The answer is, your Mac will use the connections in order – so if Ethernet is active and top of the list, that’s the connection used.

By default the order looks good to me – but you can change. Click the little ‘gear’ icon at the bottom of the list, there’s an option to change the order.

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 3.19.31 PM