iPhone on O2’s Simplicity Tariffs – £25 a month

My brother has just given our dad his old 2G iphone after upgrading to the 3G one. Initially I thought he would have to pay £35 a month for the iPhone tariff, but it turns out that you can use the old iPhones with any o2 tariff.

There are a number of sim-only Simplicity tariffs, that have short term 30 day contracts, and these start from £15 per month. You can then pay £7.50 extra a month for unlimited data, or £10 a month for unlimited data + wifi.

In the end he opted for the Online 15 tariff with the web+wifi bolt on. This gives him:

  • 200 minutes
  • 400 texts
  • Unlimited O2 to O2 calls
  • Free voicemail
  • Unlimited data + wifi

The only thing he doesn’t get his visual voicemail, but not bad for £25 a month.

Installing the Brother MFC-9840CDW on Ubuntu

To install a Brother MFC 9840 CDW printer on Ubuntu, you must:

  1. Download the LPR driver from here
  2. Download the CUPS wrapper driver from here.
  3. Install them.

You can use these commands:

wget http://solutions.brother.com/Library/sol/printer/linux/rpmfiles/lpr_debian/mfc9840cdwlpr-1.0.0-7.i386.deb&lang=English_lpr
wget http://solutions.brother.com/Library/sol/printer/linux/rpmfiles/cups_wrapper/mfc9840cdwcups-1.0.0-7.i386.deb
sudo mkdir /var/spool/lpd
sudo mkdir /usr/share/cups/model
sudo chmod 777 /usr/share/cups/model
sudo dpkg -i --force-all --force-architecture mfc9840cdwlpr-1.0.0-7.i386.deb
sudo dpkg -i --force-all --force-architecture mfc9840cdwcups-1.0.0-7.i386.deb
sudo aa-complain cupsd

One blog reader, Hans, has commented that you can just use synaptic to install the printer drivers. I haven’t tried this myself so I would be interested to hear how others get on using this method. Please post a comment if it worked for you!

  • Open up Synaptic Package Manager.
  • Search for 9840 and install the packages.
  • Set it up under System > Printers.

SATA hard drives for our coraid ATAoE SAN

We are looking to purchase some drives for a Coraid SR1521 storage appliance. Coraid maintain a list of compatible drives on their site, so it would be wise for us to stick to drives that have been tested without problems.

Hard drives comparison

  • All disks shown are 1TB SATA drives.
  • MTBF is the Mean Time Between Failures
  • AFR is the Annualised Failure Rate. This is the % of the population of these drives that are likely to fail in an average year. I’ve calculated this myself based on 24/7 usage (e.g 8760 / MTBF * 100).
Manufacturer Model Type Part Number MTBF AFR Price (inc VAT)
Seagate Barracuda ES.2 Enterprise ST31000340NS 1,200,000 0.73% £165.59
Seagate Barracuda 7200.11 Desktop ST31000340AS 750,000 1.17% £99.99
Samsung Spinpoint F1 * Desktop HD103UJ 600,000 1.46% £89.85

* The Samung Spinpoint F1 has not been tested on a Coraid device yet.

Tom’s hardware have a comparison of SATA disk transfer rates.

X-bit labs have an in-depth comparison on 1TB disks.

Samsung make an interesting point in their spintpoint F1 announcement pdf. Although buying a 1TB drive may cost more per Gigabyte than 2 x 500GB drives, the 2 drive solution is twice as likely to fail per Gigabyte. However, it will generally be slower as you have less spindles.

Vacuum Cleaner Suction Power

Our “hoover” is rubbish. It’s an Electrolux Vitesse Pet Lover which I bought for £70 from Tesco about 18 months ago when we moved house, but as the old saying goes if you buy cheap, you buy twice. The main problem is that it overheats after 5 minutes of use, and needs to take a half an hour break before it will run again.

So, today, I’m going to buy a new one. As with most things I buy, I do quite a bit of research before hand (sadly) and so this time I thought I would put the results of my research on-line to save someone else the bother!

Normally, I would assess a new product on various metrics, but in the case of a new vacuum cleaner, I’m interested in just two things: suction power (measured in air watts) and reliability. Reliability is hard to assess without having owned the product, so I will rely on 3rd party review scores from revoo.com.

Vacuum Cleaner Comparison

  • Suction Power measurements, displayed in air watts, are taken from the Manufacturer
  • Revoo scores are taken from their vacuum cleaner section.
  • Prices are taken from various shopbot services such as Google Product Search, Kelkoo and Pricerunner
Make & Model Suction Power Revoo Score Price
Dyson DC14 280 airwatts 8.7 (552 reviews) £179.99
Vax V-060 Turbo 170 airwatts? 9.4 (1 review) £75.94


After starting this blog I realised not all manufacturers publish the suction power in air watts, so the task of comparing them was harder than I thought. Also, I was only really interested in an upright bagless cleaner which ruled out some strong contenders from the likes of Miele and Numatic’s Henry / Hetty range.

rtorrent: Error in option file

My bit torrent client of choice is rtorrent, which runs from the command line. I have been using it without problems for months, but today it stopped working and gave an error instead:

rtorrent: Error in option file: ~/.rtorrent.rc:4: Not a value

It seems that the rtorrent developers have made some changes to the way it handles its config files, and they are not backwards compatible. So when Ubuntu upgraded my rtorrent package, it broke.

To fix this you must check all your configuration settings against the new config syntax. You can see a list of valid configuration settings in /usr/share/doc/rtorrent/examples/rtorrent.rc

There were a number of settings I needed to change, but a common one that will probably cause a lot of people problems is the upload / download rate.

Old Syntax

upload_rate = 25KB
download_rate = 400KB

New Syntax

upload_rate = 25
download_rate = 400