Sunday 13 October 2013

Open House London 2013 - 74 St. James's Street

This is one of a short series of blog posts describing visits during Open House weekend in London, September 2013. You can find out more about Open House on their web site.

Whilst other, higher profile, locations attracted long queues, the situation here was far more relaxed, with a good opportunity to explore and investigate a site which has a stunning mix of old and new styles.

74 St. James's Street was the site of the old Conservative Club. Construction started in 1843, and although the club moved out a century later, the building went on to be home to McKinsey and Co. in the early 1970s, and now houses the London office of HSBC Private Bank.

There are a few more photos here.

Thursday 8 August 2013

How to Recycle a BT Home Hub as a Wireless Access Point

My original intention for this box, having acquired it from a relative, was to use it to replace my Netgear DG834 router, which I use for my (wired) Internet connection with Demon Internet. However, having reset the box I found that it wouldn't connect given the correct authentication details, so some Google research was required.

I discovered that the original Home Hubs were configured only to work with BT Broadband, so all seemed lost for this box in terms of it being a replacement. However, I did find that it seemed possible to use it simply as a wireless access point.

To do this, there are two network configuration settings which need to be changed. The Hub assumes that as it will be the central network device, it should be responsible for handing out IP addresses to clients on the network via DHCP, on an IP subnet which can be configured on the box.

Firstly, DHCP needs to be disabled, as this will still be handled by the DG834. Secondly, the Hub needs to be on the same IP subnet as the DG834. In this case, it was different, so a change was required. By default, the IP address used by the Hub will be, for example, and it's also worth checking that this won't clash with anything else on your network.

My DG834 is configured to use the 192.168.3.x address range (for historical reasons), so I needed to make this change to the Hub, in other cases, this might not be necessary.

To make these changes, access the Home Hub via the browser interface by connecting directly to it using a LAN cable (a laptop will come in handy for this).

Select "advanced" and then continue from the warning screen. You'll need to login at this point with the Hub admin username and password. Then select "IP Addresses":
Ensure that "Use DHCP Server" is unticked. If the IP address range doesn't match what you're currently using, add a new entry which does. In my case, I then deleted the currently active one, however as soon as you do this, you'll lose access via the laptop until you restart both the Hub and the laptop.

Once reconfigured, you can connect the Hub to your existing broadband router using an Ethernet connection. I did this using Powerline Adapters, which allowed me to locate the access point at the back of the house, to give a stronger signal in the garden.

Here's a summary network diagram:
Now, when devices connect to the wireless access point, their IP addresses are assigned by the DG834, and everything "just works".

Monday 15 July 2013

Nominet - Second Level .uk Domain Registration

Nominet are currently looking for feedback on a proposal to introduce second level domain registrations in the .uk domain space. This would mean that you would be able to register, for example, as well as for your business. This kind of domain structure has been available for some time in other markets, but not the UK.

I attended a Nominet round table session on behalf of the BCS Internet Specialist Group on July 10th, where a number of interesting points were made by attendees. The reason for writing up these brief notes is to give an overview of the topics discussed, rather than provide any opinion.

The Issues

Will this move create yet another domain name for businesses to "protectively" register even if they have no intention of using it themselves?

Which would you choose if you had the choice?

Who gets the second level domain name where there are competing third level domains already in existence, e.g. and

Who will get the priority when there are contentious claims to a second level domain - those who have owned the third level domain the longest?

Will Nominet use a model similar to New Zealand, where owners of domains were offered free upgrades to .nz?

Will too much choice of domain names actually drive people back to what they know best, i.e., to the detriment of the new second level domains?

Have Your Say

These are just some of the questions raised during the session, some may affect your business, or there may be other issues which you can think of which are directly relevant to the way your business operates. You can comment on the proposals until the consultation period ends on September 23rd this year. For full details of the consultation, and how to take part, please see this page on the Nominet web site, or this blog post.

There is another round table session scheduled for Monday 22nd July, again in London - the articles linked to above contain further information on how to attend.

Photo credit: Widjaya Ivan on Flickr

Friday 28 June 2013

What would the city be like if George Dance's design for London Bridge been built?

This design for a twin London Bridge was submitted by architect George Dance, and the plans for it were published in Hansard in July 1800. William Daniell painted this impression of it in 1802. The twin bridges would allow road traffic to cross the Thames at all times, as one path would always be open.

It would have created a sweeping open expanse around The Monument on the north bank, and a similar crescent on the south bank. These areas are now heavily developed, and it's interesting to stop and consider what the city would look like now had this design become reality (and then survived the war intact).

The painting is on display at the Guildhall Art Gallery in London, the picture above is from the BBC web site. You can view the plan itself on the British Museum web site.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Six Silly Things to (not) do on LinkedIn

There's plenty of ways your Social Media presence can work against you, and your LinkedIn profile is no exception. Remember that LinkedIn is the social network for professionals, and you're probably there either to sell your services and abilities, or those of your company. Here's some things to avoid.

1. Send Default Connection Request Messages

Chances are, whenever you send a connect request on LinkedIn, it's either to someone you've known for a long time, or someone you met a few days ago. In which case, not having the time to replace the default message with one which says "hi", or which has a reminder of where you met, can make it look like you can't be bothered.

2. Send Generic "Hello and Thanks for Connecting" Messages

These can look needy and clingy, and are also particularly silly if you've accepted the request rather than sending it out. Got something specific to say - then say it, but if you haven't, save your efforts for another day when you can have more impact.

3. Use the Wrong Photo

As I've mentioned in previous articles, using the wrong photo, or no photo at all, can count against you. People are more likely to look at your profile if you have a photo, and if it's a decent one, they'll take you seriously, which is what you want of course. So, skip the drunk ones, the wedding ones, the sideways ones and the artistically cropped ones.

4. Confuse your Social Networks

Your exact whereabouts, mental state and the food you're eating are all things for Facebook and Twitter, but they're not things for LinkedIn. A continuous stream of irrelevant toot will have your connections clicking the "hide" link for your updates faster than you can know.

5. Break LinkedIn Terms and Conditions

Remember that although LinkedIn is a free service, by signing up, you agree to abide by their terms and conditions. And if these say that you can't put your phone number in the title field on your profile (and they do), then don't do that.

6. Don't keep your Headline and Current Positions in Step

At some point in the past, you may have put your current job into your headline, or LinkedIn may  have put it there for you as a default, and you accepted it. If you subsequently change jobs, make sure you change your headline as well, people may only look once, and you want them to get the facts as they currently stand without any confusion.

Read more for further ideas for your LinkedIn profile.

photo credit: cellar_door_films via photopin (cc).

Thursday 30 May 2013

For Google Apps users: Cross-Domain Email Address References

Image credit: Beau Giles
Recently I reconfigured my primary email address setup to get over some specific issues I was having with inbound email from one particular client. I run one domain in Google Apps, which includes this address. The work consisted of deleting the current address, which was actually a group set up on the domain (which redirected to multiple email addresses) and creating a new Google Apps user with the same email address to replace it. After the change, I retrieved all my email from that Google Apps user.

To summarise with an example:

BEFORE: was a Google Apps group on domain, containing the external email addresses and allowing incoming email to be forwarded to those two other email addresses

AFTER: was a Google Apps user on domain

From an outside viewpoint, remained a valid email address, apart from perhaps a very brief period when I was doing the actual work. I expected that after the work, all email would continue to be delivered. This proved to be incorrect.

Following the changes, I noticed that I was no longer receiving emails from a couple of distribution groups, which fortunately I run, using another, entirely separate, domain which is also managed on Google Apps. In other words: contains a number of external addresses to distribute incoming mail to, including

Realising that I was no longer receiving email via this route, I logged in to the Google Apps control panel for and checked members of the group "mygroup", only to find that was no longer present.

So where had it gone? I am the only administrator for on Google Apps, and I hadn't removed it. It seems that Google Apps very cleverly checks email addresses to see if their domains are administered by Google Apps, and creates some kind of a link if they are. That way, if an email address is removed from a domain, that removal is propagated across Google Apps to other domains even if they are entirely separate.

I can see why this is a good thing to do, as it will reduce bounces. However, if you don't know about it, it can be difficult to track down if you're performing any operations which involve the temporary deletion of an email address, such as in this case.

Wednesday 22 May 2013

Did you Mean to Mention me on LinkedIn?

LinkedIn recently added the new Mentions feature with the usual blaze of publicity, but like a lot of recent changes it's taken a while to propagate to all users, and in this case, to all browsers.

This is a great way to increase social interaction with those within and outside your immediate network. However, there have been some interesting side effects, and it's worth spending a moment looking at how Mentions work in LinkedIn.

You can try it for yourself by starting to type a status update. If at any point  you enter an "@" symbol, Mentions will kick in:

It also triggers if you enter the name of a person or company, but only if you've started it with a capital letter:

You can autocomplete the typing of a name at any time by pressing the Enter key. A Mention will be shown with the text against a grey background.

So what's the catch? Well, I've seen a few LinkedIn status updates inadvertently Mentioning companies because their names are based on words used in everyday language which could start a sentence, and hence be capitalised when typed. I took a screenshot of this great example which I saw soon after Mentions was rolled out:

This was a comment on a piece of good news announced by a company, and my connection simply wanted to say "Congratulations" - but inadvertently interacted with a French company of the same name.

As always, you should check anything you say on LinkedIn, and other social networks, as carefully as you can, whether it's a status update or your profile text.