Ember coffee mug

I’ve always been a big proponent of technology. In our every day lives we use technology to help us out and get by. In December 2015 I backed the Ember coffee mug on IndieGoGo

It has taken A LONG time for this product to become a reality. But it finally arrived, after much coaxing.

Essentially like all kickstarter or indiegogo projects the founders had set rather unrealistic goals and deadlines due to their lack of manufacturing, logistics and compliance knowledge. Each of these areas are extremely complex areas when you’re dealing with a product that you aim to ship internationally. I guess they just didn’t know. And to be honest this seems rather typical of everything off kickstarter.

Now the review.

The product arrived in very “applesque” minimal packaging, a big plus in my book, here are some photos:

ember mug packaging

the mug

Whats it like to live with?

Well here’s what it looks like in the back of a BMW 5 series, snazzy eh?

Ember mug, in the back of a BMW

The lid, the iphone app, it’s ergonomic design etc are all exquisite. i.e. it’s rather well made and this is quite surprising as much stuff I’ve backed has ended up being cheap tat. But this is quite the opposite.

The capacitive touch logo is nice, it has a number of functions which differ just by the mode it’s in and whether it is on or off. You can touch it 3 times and it’ll tell you it’s name. In this case I called it the ‘CAFFINATOR’, you can see battery life, current temperature, whether it’s cooling or heating for example and turning it on and off.

All in all it has been a very good device from a functionality and ease of use point of view. The lid is very well designed with a push-push open/close function. Your hot beverage comes out quite nicely and it does not leak. But take care to not overfill it as it will leak in this instance.

The last few pictures and a very quick video of it telling the world it’s name!

ember battery charging logo

The Caffinator:

The only downside so far has been the battery life. I thought I’d read somewhere that it could keep a beverage at temperature for 8 hours but this is rather unrealistic. At best you’ll get about 90 minutes out of a charge. This is not an issue if you use it in the same place all the time and you can pop it on it’s charger. But for me this is great device. Well worth the 129 USD price.


I’ve been inactive for some time. Mainly due to life, the universe and everything. I now have 2 kids, Ethan who is almost 3 and Alex who is just 7 weeks old. It’s been fun for the last few years πŸ™‚

Tweetdeck breaks when you dist upgrade from ubuntu 8.04 to 9.04

If like me you’ve been using LTS 8.04 for a while in work, at home or for play you may have been doing so for stability reasons.

This morning I got into the office and I was annoyed at some of the things that 8.04 was falling short on so I decided to dist-upgrade.

The main breakage post upgrade was tweetdeck, it kept saying that my ELS was corrupt and I’d need to re-enter my details. However then it would say that “A small number of people have problems with tweetdeck, we’re working on this”. I was stumped.

Easy fix was to remove Adobe Air, remove the .appdata/ folder in my users home directory and do:

# sudo dpkg -r tweetdeckfast.f9107117265db7542c1a806c8db837742ce14c21.1

This will remove tweetdeck from your system.

Now re-install Adobe Air and Tweetdeck and you should be back in business.

My version of chicken marsala

The background behind this post is important I guess. I went on holidays with Tara and her family earlier this year (for her sisters wedding) to the USA. We booked various hotels in different areas for the 15 days or so that we were going for. Tara is my girlfriend whom I’m going out with now for over a year.

While in the US we visited some of her relatives and we spent quite a bit of time in her aunt Tereasa’ house. Now Taz had given her fair warning that I’m fairly picky when it comes to food (those of you that know me well, know how bad I am!!) so she was all set for meat and chips. However while there she made this absolutely stunning dish called “Chicken Marsala” and I had seriously never tasted chicken as good before.

So when we came back I kept thinking about this great meal I had while I was away (I had many other great meals in her house, but this one sticks out the most) so I had to go about trying to make it.

First off, my only issue was really finding Marsala Wine. Thankfully O’Briens in Carlow had it stocked, a bottle cost me 12.99 which to me was a bit steep. But I got it and off I went.

I’ve tried it 4 times now and I hadn’t been able to successfully “make it the right way”, that was until today. I’ve got the correct measures down (be they a bit unaccurate for sharing) and I had the most beautiful chicken marsala again tonight. Tara concurs that it was excellent (not just said so, she ate the lot!).

The following receipe was what makes an excellent chicken Marsala (for 2 or 3, depending on what you serve with it)

  1. 3-4 chicken breasts, thinly sliced.
  2. real butter (10gramms) and olive oil (smallest amount will do)
  3. flour
  4. mushrooms
  5. chicken stock cubes, knorr seem good
  6. half a cup of Marsala Wine *
  7. 1 cup of chicken stock *
  8. A wide deep frying pan (*) or skillet

The process:

  • Put 1.5 chicken stock cubes into a cup, fill with boiling water and stir, this is now your chicken stock.
  • Cover a baking tray with flour, add salt and pepper and then cover all the pieces of chicken in flour. Heat the pan, after putting some of the butter and olive oil in, to the point just before the butter starts smoking (this is crucial) and then put the chicken on to it for approx 2-3 mins either side
  • Take the chicken off and take the pan off of the heat for a minute. Put the chicken somewhere to keep it warm and where you can gather the juices from for later.
  • Put the pan back on the heat and place the mushrooms onto it (obviously you can chop them what ever way you prefer) and cook them for 5-6 minutes or until their own moisture/juice starts to show.
  • Immediately after the mushrooms own juices starting to show add the chicken stock. You’ll now cook the mushrooms for around 5 minutes on a medium heat in the stock.
  • After 5 or so minutes have elapsed turn the heat down and now put the chicken back in, let the whole lot simmer for around 2-3 minutes and then add in the half a cup of marsala wine.
  • Let this now simmer for 10 minutes on a low heat

* the measurements for the stock and wine I’ve used are because my frying pan is wide but the sides are not very high and it can’t support a lot of sauce/juices. Ideally use a pan with high sides and double up on these measurements so that you end up with quite a bit of the juices to place over your veg, potatoes or rice.

You can now serve the dinner to 2-3 people.

Enjoy this, I’d like to welcome comments on this post if anyone tries it out πŸ™‚

Vodafone E220 3G usb

I got one of these a while ago and I had no joy getting it working. I was at the time running Ubuntu LTS, but I’ve since upgraded to Edgy and I’ll move to feisty at some point.

To get this working there are a few short steps to take:

sudo rmmod usb-storage
sudo rmmod usb-serial

then run:


In my case I get the following:

Bus 001 Device 005: ID 12d1:1003

modprobe usbserial vendor=0x12d1 product=0x1003

Once you’ve got this far things should be heating up.

run the following commands:
mknod /dev/ttyUSB0 c 188 0
mknod /dev/ttyUSB1 c 188 1
mknod /dev/ttyUSB2 c 188 2

This creates the devices that you need to use with wvdial

The wvdial.conf that works for vodafone Ireland, for me anyway, is as follows:

[Dialer hsdpa]
Phone = *99***1#
Username = vodafone
Password = vodafone
Stupid Mode = 1
Dial Command = ATDT
Modem = /dev/ttyUSB0
Baud = 460800
Init2 = ATZ
Init3 = ATE0V1&D2&C1S0=0+IFC=2,2
ISDN = 0
Modem Type = Analog Modem
Init5 =AT+CGDCONT=1,"IP","isp.vodafone.ie";

So there we have it. This is 100% working on Ubuntu Edgy with Vodafone Irelands Huawei E220 with a 2.6.17-11 kernel.

3D secure teething issues

We’ve spent about the last month or so writing code to help prevent against fraudulent orders. This has meant a huge re-write of parts of Modernbill previously thought to be “demented and wrong”. Along the way we’ve tested it pretty much completely. Today we put the code (along with tonnes of other cool stuff) live and we sat back and watched payments coming in.

All works perfect, as expected. However I noted certain Visa card payments going through detailing that the user was not enrolled. This is normal enough. However I have a personal BOI visa card that I use online a fair bit to buy various bits ‘n’ bobs. I went through our order process and came to paying and I was not presented with anything asking about 3D secure. I thought this a bit odd, as my work Visa card is enrolled and I get presented with the “Verified by Visa” where it asks for my password.

So to find out what was going on I ring BOI. I explain to the nice lady what I’m talking about and she replies “I haven’t heard of that, it isn’t an option on our cards.”. I go into a bit more detail and she goes off to ask a supervisor. She comes back saying “He hasn’t heard of 3D secure either, but we googled for it and printed off all the details and have sent them onto our security department.” The mind boggles. So BOI have not heard about or implemented 3D secure?? WTF??? It really is apparent to me now that AIB are years ahead of the other banks in Ireland. I’m going to keep a close eye on other Banks cards over the coming few days and see which banks have actually signed up for 3D secure and which haven’t. I’ll make a list of banks to avoid getting credit cards from then.

I’m getting a new Nokia N91

So I decided to upgrade earlier in the month so I’m just awaiting delivery of my new Nokia N91. It has 4GB of onboard memory for storing music, files etc.

Audio stuff:

It’ll play pretty much any of the following audio types, pretty exhaustive list wh00t! MP3, AAC, AAC+, eAAC+, Real, WAV, WMA, M4A, AMR-WB, True Tones, AMR-NB. It can also record audio in several formats so it can be used in meetings etc, pretty damn handy.
One of the things I like about it is that it has dedicated buttons for controlling music. A lot of other mobiles share this function with other normal keys which can be a bit limiting at times.

It also has an FM radio with a feature called visual radio – this appears to be where there is a visual channel along with audio where supported by the radio station that gives you updates on whats on now, whats on next etc. Looks semi interesting.

Video and Display:

Regarding video, it’ll play back the following formatsΒ  3GPP H.263, MPEG4, RealVideo which is pretty good also. The display is 176 x 208 with 262k colours. Pretty snazzy, looks a fair bit better than my current Nokia 6680.
The camera is 2Mega Pixel which is good for a phone. Considering it isn’t too many years since cameras were using this and my current phone takes ok photos with its 1.3Mega Pixel camera.


  • 3G – that’ll be turned off thanks, however it could be handy at times where I’ve no other options.
  • WLAN – hahahahaha. I mean… wow great. πŸ™‚
  • USB 2.0
  • Bluetooth

I won’t comment on the brower etc until I actually get a hold of it. I’m looking forward to it though, as it has all sorts of funky features that I want to explore and perhaps make use of.

I will post a review of it in a few weeks once I’ve gotten used to it and broke it in a bit.

I’m going to SkyCon, Are you?

So it turns out that we are sponsoring SkyCon this year. It’s looking fair promising and because a lot of people I know of from IRC, forums and just general Internet banter I took a closer look at it and decided that I’d do a talk for them. The least I could do, what with us getting all the PR on the run up to it and we’ll have a stand for the 3 days of the conference.

My talk is going to be based on some of the improvements that the OSS community has enabled us to do without spending wads and wads of cash on commercial products and also allowed us to cater for our needs more easily as we can modify/beat the program, programs into shape. I’m pretty excited and nervous about the whole thing as a) I’ve not done a lot of public speaking b) I’m a geek and not very much into humans, more so machines and c) I don’t want some demented kernel hacker asking me questions I can’t fricken answer πŸ™‚

So are you going to SkyCon? If not, why the hell not? You do _realise_ that all the cool kids will be there? πŸ™‚

Ah a year has passed and what is next?

Yep, a year has gone by. AS39122 was approved by ripe on 16th of the December 2005. On the same day our /20 was approved and the works were put into motion to seperate ourselves from our competitors and to reduce the overall running costs of the network while still being able to offer better service to our customers and allowing us to broaden our product range.

So in late Jan 06 we got all the equipment we needed to build our own network. We initially did a lot of testing with no customers on net. We then added a few customers to see how all the effort, time and planning would pay off. We’d only one provider for the first month, we were waiting for 8 weeks for Colt, who in the end couldn’t deliver within the rather generous timeframe we gave them of 8 weeks. We Joined INEX mid feb and we started peering with the various ISPs there. That was fun. I got to learn BGP the hardway, throw yourself in the deepend. I was always interested in the ins and outs of routing etc. It was a great fun learning all about bgp, as numbers, as macros, route maps, ibgp, ebgp, LIRs, PA and PI address space, ripe policies etc etc, I could go on for hours πŸ™‚ – needless to say we were set and ready to take on the market. At that stage we were about 10th in Ireland for hosting.

Groovy I say. We’re now number 2 in Ireland (or will be shortly, depending on what stats you read) and that only took us a year to achieve. We’ve over taken all our competitors, grown our colo and dedicated customer base to 300+ and we’ve got big plans for 2007.

I wanted to mention something about the upgrade we’re doing next week. it’s a very simple upgrade but the benifits are 10 fold. We’re removing some old switches from the network that are probably on their last legs and are causing a bottle neck in our network currently. All we have to do is repatch around 100 servers that were on the old infrastructure, this includes some of our shared servers which we plan to move later in the year to their own home alltogether. After the upgrade next Thursday evening we’ll have a fully meshed network, this means that we’ll have one of the most resiliant networks in Ireland today!

Anyway to close, as the title asks “What is next?” – well thats top secret right now :-), but if you would like virtual private servers, virtual dedicated servers or just a box to play with or test IPv6 as a college experiment or project then watch this space. As part of our expanding and improving product base we’ve got some very interesting new products with improved new features.

Oh and one final note. We’re the only Irish hosting company with native IPv6 support from customer, through our core and to the internet. We’ve substantial IPv6 transit and peering arrangements with several large ISPs; we are ready for the next generation of hosting services.