Stuart Breckenridge

On the State of U.K. Broadband Infrastructure

As we wrap up this three month beta testing cycle for iOS 10, watchOS 3, and macOS Sierra, I estimate I’ve downloaded roughly 50GB across iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and Mac devices. I would also estimate that it’s taken, collectively, around an hour to download all that data on my 100Mbps cable connection. These beta cycles constantly remind me of when I lived in the U.K. and had an 8Mbps (best case (i.e. never)) copper connection. An iOS beta would take up to four hours to download.

It turns out that the U.K. was very nearly going to go all in on fibre in the early 90s, until the Conservative government put an end to the process.

Jay McGregor, writing for TechRadar:

The story actually begins in the 70s when Dr Cochrane was working as BT’s Chief Technology Officer, a position he’d climbed up to from engineer some years earlier.


He was asked to do a report on the U.K.’s future of digital communication and what was needed to move forward.

“In 1979 I presented my results,” he tells us, “and the conclusion was to forget about copper and get into fibre. So BT started a massive effort - that spanned in six years - involving thousands of people to both digitise the network and to put fibre everywhere. The country had more fibre per capita than any other nation.

But, in 1990, then Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, decided that BT’s rapid and extensive rollout of fibre optic broadband was anti-competitive and held a monopoly on a technology and service that no other telecom company could do.

“Unfortunately, the Thatcher government decided that it wanted the American cable companies providing the same service to increase competition. So the decision was made to close down the local loop roll out and in 1991 that roll out was stopped. The two factories that BT had built to build fibre related components were sold to Fujitsu and HP, the assets were stripped and the expertise was shipped out to South East Asia.

“Our colleagues in Korea and Japan, who were working with quite closely at the time, stood back and looked at what happened to us in amazement. What was pivotal was that they carried on with their respective fibre rollouts. And, well, the rest is history as they say.

In this particular instance, Thatcher et al. had the collective foresight of a gazelle. The TechRadar article goes on to cover the U.S., where a similar decision was made to split AT&T, which inevitably hindered the rollout of fibre.

Indeed, reviewing Akamai’s State of the Internet[PDF] report for Q4 2015, the U.K. and the U.S. don’t feature in the top 10 for Global Average Connection Speeds:

Country Q4 2015 Avg. Mbps
South Korea 26.7
Sweden 19.1
Norway 18.1
Japan 17.4
Netherlands 17.0
Hong Kong 16.8
Latvia 16.7
Switzerland 16.7
Finland 16.6
Denmark 16.1

Seriously short-sighted decision making.

— Supported by —

Auditing My Apps for the App Store Cleanup

As I wrote a few days ago, Apple announced that they will be implementing new review procedures for already released apps and will remove those that meet any of the following criteria:

  • no longer function as intended; or
  • no longer meet current review guidelines; and,
  • apps which have not been supported with compatibility updates for a long time.

Analysing these criteria and taking the more detailed support page into account, I believe the following will be Apple’s general policy: Apps which haven’t been updated in the last 24 months and which crash on launch or no longer meet current review guidelines will fall into scope of being removed from the App Store.

What current review guidelines are applicable? My assumption is that this review process for historical apps will be automated and that Apple will not be conducting manual reviews to ensure, for example, UI modernity.1 That said, the red flags I think Apple will be looking for as a starting point are:

  • Apps that aren’t 64-bit;2
  • Apps that have iTunes metadata that is outdated (e.g. a privacy policy that returns a 404)

It is inevitable that the criteria will be updated over time. For example, I imagine that in a few years apps which don’t contain @3x assets will be considered abandoned.

Auditing my apps based on this analysis reveals the following:

App Updated within 2 years 64-bit Crash on launch Metadata intact
The FFI List Yes Yes No Yes
Baby’s Milk Yes Yes No Yes
Primes Yes Yes No Yes
Amazing Flag Quiz No No No Yes

Even though Amazing Flag Quiz still makes a small amount of money through in-app purchases, I firmly believe that it falls foul of the new rules. (I’ll be writing a new version of Amazing Flag Quiz as my next project.)

What would really help is if Apple didn’t leave so much of this to conjecture with only two days to go until they begin implementing. I am hoping for more information at their event on the 7th.

  1. Given the sheer volume of apps, I think manual reviews are a no-go. ↩︎

  2. Though not mentioned in the review guidelines, 64-bit has been required since 2015. ↩︎

Apple Hiking iPhone 7 Orders Due to Samsung Recall

Tim Hardwick, via MacRumors:

Apple has reportedly hiked orders for parts and components required for the production of the upcoming iPhone 7 and 7 Plus, according to sources from the supply chain in Taiwan (via DigiTimes).


The hike in order volumes suggests Apple is increasingly upbeat about demand for the new devices among existing iPhone owners seeking to upgrade, despite relatively subdued interest in the iPhone 7 models compared to the pre-launch buzz of previous years.

Another potential factor in Apple’s upward revision is Samsung’s global recall of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone last week, which followed numerous complaints that the device caught fire while charging. The news arguably couldn’t have come at a worse time for Apple’s biggest rival, which has pitched its Note 7 as a direct competitor to Apple’s 5.5-inch iPhones.

“What a lovely gift token. The question is, what do we buy with it?”, pondered the Apple SVPs.

My Backup Strategy

Roughly three years ago I lost all the data on my MacBook due to a hardware failure. I had no backup and I lost the source code to Lucky Dip, Amazing Flag Quiz, and Live@Troon. (For reasons that escape me, I hadn’t committed any of the code to GitHub.) These days, I’m not quite as careless.

Local Backups

My iMac stores everything. Photos, documents, source code, you name it.

It is backed up locally, using Time Machine, to a Synology DS216+. Time Machine keeps hourly backups for the last 24 hours, daily backups for the last months, and weekly backups for all previous months. The first backup will take a very long time, so I’d recommend using ethernet or USB, instead of WiFi.

My Synology contains two 3TB hard drives in a Synology Hybrid Raid (SHR) configuration, which allows one of the two hard drives to fail without experiencing data loss. Two Time Machine backups for the price of one.

Remote Backups

My remote backups take multiple forms.

Everything is continuously backed up from both my iMac and MacBook to BackBlaze. BackBlaze will backup everything, except items on the default exclusion list, or file types you exclude manually.

Photos and videos, with the introduction of iCloud Photo Library, are also stored in iCloud.1

Source code — including this website — is also committed to GitHub.

I feel as though my data is relatively well protected with these failsafes. Having experienced data loss in the past, I wouldn’t hesitate in recommending them to you.

  1. My photos are backed up to my Synology, to BackBlaze, and to iCloud. You can never be too careful. ↩︎