Saturday, April 30, 2011

Switching DSL Providers

I finally bit the bullet and took the big switch. After more than 2 years of using Bayan DSL at our house, I finally gave up and switched to PLDT MyDSL. While Bayan's service for the most part of the first 2 years was satisfactory, the last 3 months or so have just been awful. The IP link keeps going down intermittently, sometimes almost every minutes. I was originally planning on getting a PLDT DSL when we first moved in. But at that time, PLDT's DSLAM at our subdivision is already full and could not accomodate new connections until they migrate the entire network into their NGN (Next Generation Network).

As far as I can tell, it was not a physical problem as the modem stays "green". Viewing the router status shows that the IP addresses also look fine but the router is in a "disconnected" status. I'm not sure exactly how Belkin determines that status. Its probably doing a ping to an ip address on the other side of the link. But to restore connection, I have to do a disconnect/reconnect cycle on the router everytime this happens. It has gotten to a point that it was a major pain already.

PLDT's MyDSL implementation is a lot simpler than Bayan's. The Zyxel modem connects to their DSLAM and generates a dynamic IP which you can directly plug to a PC or a router. Bayan's implementation is over PPPoE. So a login process is required. Much more cumbersome.

Our PHP 899 Bayan DSL can supposedly burst to 1.2 Mbps during off-peak hours. But that feature is practically useless if the link keeps going down anyway. The new PLDT MyDSL is PHP 990 inclusive of our landline already for a 384 kbps. So far, the performance seems the same though for regular browsing. PLDT's upstream link seem to be slower though. When I tried uploading images of more than 300 MB to, I left it overnight and by morning, it was still not halfway done.

As a side effect of the PLDT migration to NGN, we had to change our home phone number just to avail of this DSL. Sigh... too bad there is no number portability in the Philippines even within the same telco.

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Big Royal Wedding of the Century Question

It was the wedding of the century as Prince William, heir to the throne of Britain, married commoner, Catherine (Kate) Middleton. This made me think of a very profound question -- what the heck is Prince William's last name anyway? They are always labeled as "Prince William and Kate Middleton". But how do you exactly address them as a couple -- "Mr. & Mrs" what?

We know William's middlename is Spencer, since that is Princess Diana's surname. But what is Prince Charles' lastname? Do royals even have lastname? Or are they like "Ivan the Terrible", or "Prince Charles of Windsor", or "King Richard the Lionheart". Or is he Prince William son-of-Charles?

Prince Charles must have a lastname because his dad (the husband of Queen Mum) is a regular person (not some king). So it follows that William's lastname must be that of his grandfather. Unless he is not allowed to carry it since the grandfather is not of the royal bloodline.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Terrible Pico Sands Hotel Experience

For the Holy Week break, we came over to Hamilo Coast. The folks were staying at the unit so we were booked at the newly opened Pico Sands Hotel. The hotel was still in "soft opening" (translated - staff still inexperienced). When we got there, the lobby queue was really long. All the customers were irate due to the very poor and slow service. The housekeeping could not clean the rooms fast enough for the next occupant, and so on.

To top it all off, there was no water in the rest room due to some equipment breakdown. We decided to move out after the overnight stay and just squeezed in with the folks. The hotel gave us a 20% discount on our stay, and charged us a lower fee for our lagoon-facing room, which we did not get to enjoy anyway.

The hotel management really rushed this in time for Holy Week. They should have made sure their staff was prepared before jumping in. This left a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Spartacus Gods of the Arena on HD

I finally used the WD TV that my sister and brother-in-law gave me for Christmas to watch an HD feature on our Samsung LCD TV. Ok, its not exactly 1080p, but the 720p season premier of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena was an eye-popper. This is a 6-part prequel of the Spartacus season 1. Ahh... blood and gore look so much better in 720p. :)

The story line, as usual, is fantastic and really engaging. Action, drama, and, of course, lots of sex and violence, makes this prequel just as addictive as Season 1. The show explains a lot about the characters' background in Season 1. Too bad, the show's main star, Andy Whitfield, is rumored not to return for Season 2 due to his illness.

Friday, April 15, 2011

HCR @ Wee Nam Kee

I've been wanting to try Wee Nam Kee at Ayala Triangle for some time. I brought the family here on a weekend a couple of months ago but the place was too crowded and we did not want to wait. Since I often have late lunch, I finally decided to give it a try today.

Wee Nam Kee is a very popular restaurant in Singapore. Its specialty is the Hainanese Chicken Rice (HCR), which is also Singapore's national dish from what I know. They offered a personal set which is meant for a single serving. Prices are reasonable.

I must say I was pretty satisfied with my meal even though it was a very long walk from The Peak. I did have a bit of an upset stomach tonight though. I don't know if it is related. I should give this a try again soon.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Decoding MIME Attachments in C#.NET

I previous wrote an application that required extracting email from GMail via POP3 using C#. Now that same application has gotten a bit more complicated. I need to extract file attachments from the email. I've done Base64 MIME Encoding/Decoding a long time ago. I did not have the inclination to re-do it in C# so I went searching through the 'Net for ready-made code.

There were several open source examples, but the one that suited me best was this one from CodeProject:

For now, I'm just using the decoding part. But I foresee a need to do encoding pretty soon.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Crappy Diskette-based SSS System

The Social Security System (SSS) require that local employers should submit their monthly contribution reports in diskettes. Yes, you read that right -- diskettes! Not flash drives, not CD's, but diskettes! PC's vendors have stopped pre-installing floppy disk drives for years.

I had to borrow a USB-based external floppy drive from the office and attached it to our den PC because the built-in floppy drive seem to malfunctioning and damaging all diskettes you plug in it. But as I found out, the crappy SSS program does not give you the option on where to save your data. Its hard-coded to always write on Drive A!!! Attaching my USB floppy didn't work because Windows was assigning it as Drive B.

I eventually installed the SSS program (which seem to be written in Visual FoxPro) on my HP Mini 110 which correctly assigns Drive A to the external USB floppy drive. I can't understand why a cash-rich government agency like the SSS can't even get their software re-written for the 21st century. It should already be moved to the web and the report files uploaded via http. Diskettes? Unbelievable!