vrijdag 13 februari 2009

Broadband usages

This post took ages to get finalised, it has been a work in progress since the conference. Maybe I also blogged a bit to much the first few days... In this post I will explain how we used the broadband connection at the FTTH conference and also how I use my broadband connection at home.


We used the PlayStation 3 to demonstrate the online capabilities of modern game consoles. Console gaming has become very popular over the last years with the introduction of the Wii, XBox 360 and PlayStation 3. These consoles offer more features than only gaming.

A lot of features benefit from a good broadband connection. It were these features we concentrated on:
  • Online gaming
  • Buying and downloading games
  • Downloading demo versions of games
  • Video and game trailers
  • Web browsing
  • Chatting
  • Online community
  • ...
These applications have different requirements on the network. Some require high bandwitdh while others require lower bandwitdh but very low delays.

The same or similar options are available on PC and we also demonstrated some of them.

We all love entertainment and multimedia. Websites such as Youtube, Flickr, LastFM, ... demonstrate that multimedia is an important part of internet usage.

Services such as Youtube are not only being used for entertainment but also as alternative media channel (instead of tv, newspapers, radio,...).

An interesting example: a young relative of mine uses Youtube for tasks that I would use good old Google for. I discovered this when we were configuring something. My initial reaction was to look the instructions up on Google, but he went to Youtube, entered the same search phrase and got instructions in video instead of text. For him this was the most normal thing in the world, why look up text and pictures if you can watch somebody do it? He uses Youtube all the time to look stuff up. I was stunned by this.
Ofcourse he also uses Youtube for entertainment ;-)

I think this example demonstrates that multimedia is an important use case for broadband connections. The importance will keep groing with every new generation of broadband user.

E-mail is part of daily life, but it isn't the only technology being used to communicate. Instant messaging, audio or video calls, social networking sites or weblogs are just a few other examples.

During the conference, and also at home, we used all these different technologies. Our IM applications were running all the time, mails were checked often, social networking sites often open and I was updating this blog whenever I had the time.

As you probably noticed, this blog contains stories, pictures and video about the trip and conference. Most content was uploaded during the conference. This was a good and easy way to communicate about this trip to my friends and family.

I use my Internet connection daily for university related tasks. Almost all course material is made available online, tasks can be obtained and turned in online and pretty much everything else related to my university is available online. I have also heard about courses where video files of classes or extra material are made available.

Also during exams and in a lesser degree during the year, my mailboxes get flooded with discussions about our courses. Questions about how to solve something, insights into the theory, ... A lot of discussion takes place. We could do this by coming together, but the Internet offers us more options because not everyone studies in Ghent, everybody has their ideal study environment or time, ... The Internet offers us various ways to collaborate: e-mail, instant messaging or forums are examples I use a lot.

Social networking
Social networking sites are very popular at the moment. Sites like Facebook and Netlog are good examples. I am not the biggest fan of them, but they are sometimes fun and are a good way to get back in touch with people.

Napster, Kazaa, Bittorrent, ... we all know some or all of these. They are all P2P technologies and are used a lot to download (illegally) music, video or software, but this doesn't have to be the case. They can be used to share all kinds of information. A good example are Linux distributions that are available through bittorrent.

Downloading software
A lot of software is available on the Internet. Especially if you use Free and Open Source software, the Internet is your main source of software. I have a couple of Linux systems, and the software and updates on them are all retrieved from the internet. Updating and installing software is something I do very often. The first thing we did when we arrived at the conference was set up our PC's with our favorite software: Firefox, Safari, iTunes, VLC, OpenOffice, ...

donderdag 12 februari 2009

Back in Ghent

The conference ended yesterday and we went back to Ghent, very satisfied with this new experience. This was my first corporate conference, before this I only went to Fosdem, a FLOSS developers meeting, and What The Hack, a security meeting.

Besides the experience of travelling to Copenhagen and being at the conference, I met a lot of interesting people and had very good and interesting discussions. I hope we can continue with the topics we discussed.

In the following blog posts I will give a more detailed overview of what we did exactly at the conference: how did we us the equipment, what did we talk about, ... I will also be putting the remaining pictures online. More pictures will also be available in a webalbum, I will post the link to this album as soon as I have sorted and selected the pictures.

Now that the conference is over and the second semester at university started, it's time to get back into regular life: going to classes, working on my thesis and enjoying the student life in general.

FTTH Conference: some pictures

As promised, a few pictures giving an overview of the conference hall. Let´s begin with the first view you get when entering the Bella Center: the entrance hal.

In the main conference hall are stands from various companies, buffets, a reading room and networking areas. The following images show the view when you enter the conference hall.

To give you an overview of the conference building, I took a picture of the map that you can find when entering the hall. We are located in the "Networking & Reading Area".

In the exhibition area you can find conference booths of various companies. I took a few shots of those too. The first picture is taken in the area where the gold exhibitors are located.

The following pictures are taken in the area with silver and bronze exhibitors.

I also took a picture of the hall where the plenary sessions are taking place, but due to lightning circumstances it is not ideal. Also I have zero photoshop skills :-)

And last but not least, the networking and reading area where we are located.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures. More blog posts will follow soon.

woensdag 11 februari 2009

FTTH Conference: day 1: video

You can find the small video we made today on Youtube:

Tomorrow more news, pictures and video. We will also try to provide the video in HD quality, but due to circumstances this isn´t possible at the moment. Enjoy the view!

Edit: It seems that the video isn't working very well for everyone. We will try to solve this as soon as possible.

Edit 2: This new video should solve the problem. If you still have problems watching the video, don´t hesitate to leave a comment.

FTTH Conference: day 1

Today is the first day of the conference. We got up at around 8.30h and planned to leave around 9.00h but had a small delay because Jono wasn't feeling very well. Hopefully he gets better soon. According to the receptionist, the best way to reach the Bella Center was by train and metro, so that is what we did. And indeed, it was a lot more easier and comfortable than walking.

Before I go further I should mention why we are here. FTTH stands for Fiber To The Home, or in human language, extremely fast internet in your living room. We are here to demonstrate how we use our broadband connections. You could say we are the end users showing how we use the product provided by all the companies at this conference.

After exitting the metro at the Bella Center, we were greeted with the first signs of the conference:

After walking around the construction site (it seems they are building everywhere around here) we saw the conference building.
After registration we were guided to our spot. There were three nice computers waiting for us and a Playstation 3. Everything was like we requested, only the PS3 had no connectivity, but that was solved very quickly. The next picture is from our "demo room":

In this picture you can see from left to right the PS3 (at least the screen), the multimedia PC, the game PC and the laptop. We are in the reading area, an area with a few tables, sofa´s but also the food and beverage buffet very close by!

We are using the PS3 to demonstrate it's online capabilities such as gaming and online communities, but also the online content delivery systems such as the Playstation Network (games, video trailers, demos,...) . Similar networks exist for the Wii or XBox 360. So more in general we are demonstrating how gaming consoles are being used for more and more online activities.

On the PC´s we are downloading software, blogging, putting videos online, online gaming, video streaming, listening to internet radio, voip, .... or just regular internet browsing and mailchecking.

In my next post I will show you around the conference. See you!

First evening

We were on the metro going in the direction of the city center, but where to get out ... We decided we wanted a relaxed evening and go for a drink and some food somewhere, we had travelled enough that day.

A friend had said that in Christiania, a (semi) independent city in Copenhagen, the beer was very affordable. Being from Belgium, we are very big beer fans, so this sounded very good. I also wanted to see Christiania with my own eyes after hearing many things about it.

When we arrived it was very calm. Not many people were around. We visited a small art gallery first. Then we had a snack. Since it was already dark, we could´t see much of the city. But it was ok, it was like I expected it to be. All the houses were decorated with graffiti and there were small market stands on the street. We then started searching for a bar. We entered the Woodstock cafe. The beer was indeed very affordable here, we paid 51 kr for 3 beers which is a lot better than the 5-6 euros per beer they told me to expect. The bar was ok. Afterwards we went looking for something else to eat.

After dinner we were getting tired so decided to go back to the hotel. The way back was again an adventure. We thought we had found the easiest route between the metro station and our hotel, but after two streets we discovered that our plan was incomplete and incorrect. A bit of searching later we were able to find our hotel. A small drink and talk, and then we went to bed.

Travel to Copenhagen

We took the train from Ghent to Brussels at 11.57h. After checking in we had our last "real Belgian meal before" leaving for two and a half days ;)

We arrived in Copenhagen around 16.30h. Fifteen minutes later we had our luggage and were on our way to look for transportation to the hotel. At the tourist office they told us the train was the easiest way to get to our hotel, the Zleep Aiport Hotel, so after buying tickets we hopped on the train. One stop later we arrived at the hotel.

The rooms are very clean. I ofcourse got the room with a single bed, Jono and Jeroen have a two person bed (or atleast a bigger one). The shower/toilet setup is kind of funny:

As you can see on the picture, the toilet and shower are in the same room, with the shower allmost above the toilet. But we are not complaining. The rooms are simpel with a bed, a little table and a TV. We are happy with them.

After setting up ourselves it was time to discover Copenhagen. First we walked to the Bella Center where the conference will be taking place. This was a bigger challenge than expected: the maps we had were missing a lot of detail and our route description wasn't correct and complete. After trying some streets and asking a few people we were going into the right direction. We finally arrived at the Bella Center and then went to the metro station to head into town.

More about our trip to the city in my next post!