IT

Residential Gigabit Internet in Australia on NBN

Back in December 2015, I was connected to the National Broadband Network (NBN) via Fibre To The Premises (FTTP) and wrote about it. It’s taken 5 years for a faster speed to be available to consumers at a reasonable price.

(This is my personal experience in changing over to Gigabit internet, and is not sponsored or influenced by anyone in any way.)

Yes – it’s now possible to get reasonably priced, consumer gigabit internet in Australia. That is, if you’re lucky enough to have NBN FTTP or really lucky and in the 7% of the NBN Hybrid Fibre Coaxial (HFC) households.

You could get faster than 100mbit before this, but only through a few ISPs with 250mbit down but 250/100Mbps was at $250AU per month, and 250/25Mbps at $169AU.

I’m in that first group, sweet sweet fibre running straight into my premises (or premise?). I was already on 100 megabits per second down, 40 megabits per second up with Internode unlimited for $99AU per month, but Aussie Broadband’s new offering of 1000/50Mbps for $149AU was too good to not try. At worst, I could just go back to Aussie Broadband’s plan identical to Internode’s.

Changing over to Aussie was the quickest ISP change I’ve ever done. After submitting an online form and providing credit card details, I’d had an alert half an hour later that the service was now active on port UNI-D 1 on my network termination device. I changed the network cable over from one port to the other, checked the settings on my Unifi Dream Machine (UDM) and changed the WAN connection type from PPPoE to DHCP and I was on.

At the time of singing up, it was still a day away or so from the gigabit plan being released, but speedtest showed I was getting the same as before on a 100/40Mbit plan.

The next day (May 29th 2020) when the ‘Home Ultrafast’ plan came out, I immediately switched over. Except, my speeds didn’t change. Thankfully, @dawnstarau saved me a lot of time and said to check my UDM settings and look at the Smart Queues up and down rates. After fixing those, I was in the fast lane.

Unifi Dream Machine Smart Queues settings (correct for 1000/50Mbps)
First speed test after!

741Mbps down and 47Mbps up! However, that’s only ~3/4 of a gigabit connection! After a day or so things seemed to speed up a bit more and this is the numbers I’ll normally see:

877Mbps down. It’s close enough to gigabit on a service that doesn’t guarantee gigabit, and gigabit is the speed that all my wired ethernet devices talk to each other at. For wireless, you’ll need an access point and device on 802.11ac (Wi-Fi 5) to have a chance at gigabit or faster for your devices to talk to each other fast enough – but, my Google Pixel 4 XL that has 802.11ac shows top speeds at around 230Mbps when I’m about 1 1/2 metres away from an access point, way under what my wired devices see.

How is life on gigabit? Web pages actually do load faster. They weren’t slow in the first place, but things like adverts are noticeably ‘instant’ and an entire page will flash up fully populated, rather than the experience of having a lot of the page load then ads load half a second later.

Steam downloads a lot faster too, games will peak download around 90Mbps with often around the 50-60Mbps mark. Getting something several times faster makes a big difference when it takes 8 minutes to fully download a large game rather than 45 minutes; it means I’ll happily uninstall a game and get it later if needed, rather than hoarding a giant game ‘just in case’.

Youtube seems better at quickly detecting HD – even on 100mbit, it would often start at 480p and then work it’s way up to higher resolutions, but now it’s at least 720p.

Gaming isn’t much different, apart from giant Call of Duty patches which see similar speeds to Steam.

I don’t mind if two different TVs are streaming YouTube, another’s watching Netflix at 4K and someone wants to online game – the pipe is now big enough that nobody should lessen the experience of anyone else ever. Not that it was really a problem before, but as my kids get older they’ll be doing more and more things online.

If time is money, then for an extra $50 a month, I think it’s worth it to wait up to 10x less to download something. It’s even better having the flexibility to jump around as there’s no contract, so if I’m having a quiet month I could always just change plans.

Gigabit is what the NBN’s future promise was at the start until politics got in the way, and it’s really disappointing this option isn’t there for all Australians. Imagine if we did the entire rollout on Fibre and Covid-19 hit. We’d have everyone able to work at home on solid connections, instead of the hybrid mess we have now.

Also, if you sign up for Aussie Broadband make sure you use a friend code. Both sides get $50 credit – either use my code 3661840 , or even better if you have a friend already on Aussie Broadband, ask them to go to https://my.aussiebroadband.com.au/#/profile/ and tell you their Refer-A-Friend Code.

Anything you’d like to know or want me to test? Let me know in the comments.

What to Look for in an Online Gaming Site

Credit Unsplash


During these ‘not normal’ times, a lot of people are finding comfort in playing games that will give them a sense of control and normalcy, connect them with their friends and other players, help them escape from the pressures of the world, and in some cases, help them win prizes. For instance, Crane Master or Claw Machine Master, which I talked about in one of my previous posts, offers a bunch of different games that come with a multitude of prizes, including toys, food and gadgets. There are tons of games out there, and while finding the right game for you can be quite a daunting task sometimes, figuring out which site to play on can be even more challenging. To help you look for one, here are some of the things you should look for when it comes to choosing an online gaming site:

Availability in your country

For games that are unique to certain countries such as claw machines, the first thing you have to consider is its availability in your country. For instance, although the computer and mobile versions of the claw machine game Sega Catcher Online were already widely available in big markets such as the US, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it will also be available in other equally competitive markets such as Australia. If you have a specific game in mind, it would be a good idea to first check if it is available in your country.

Reputation and customer service availability

More often than not, you will be playing with real money when dealing with online gaming sites. That’s why it would be in your best interest to go for well-established sites that have a proven track record for providing quality customer service and are known for being secure. Before signing up to any site, make it a habit to search the internet for any negative reports or reviews. However make sure that the review site is verified as there are lots of sites that have been manipulated. Yellow Pages and Yelp are considered two of best website or business review sites in Australia, so you might want to check them out first before picking out an online gaming site.

Selection of games

The most important part of choosing an online gaming site is finding one that has content that you will enjoy. In most cases, gaming sites partner up with game developers in order to create platforms that provide a wide array of titles, and many of the biggest gaming companies have worked together to provide new versions of classic games. Case in point, Foxy Games partnered with slot developer Megaways to bring dozens of different themed titles to their players, all available on mobile, tablet, and desktop devices. The games are varied and based around different interests whether that be pop culture, travel or history. When choosing an online gaming site look for ones that have both a wide selection and can be played on multiple devices.

Promotions, welcome bonuses and perks

To rise above the competition and encourage more players to sign up, online gaming sites usually offer promotions and welcome bonuses. To take full advantage of such offers, you have to put in some work and dedicate some time to finding the right site that will give you the best deal for how often you think you will be playing. For instance, if you will be playing games often, it would be ideal to sign up on gaming sites that offer exclusive access to special themes, icons, ad-free gaming, private chat rooms and beta releases to its premium members.

Choosing the right online gaming site is like anything else, you need to undertake a little research and look for the best deals. I hope my article has helped in this regard and you will find new online platforms to use.

Default Cloud Voicemail Language

When Cloud Voicemail a.k.a. Azure Voicemail (which replaced Unified Messaging) is activated for a mailbox, a default language is set. This value is known as the ‘promptlanguage’ and according to Microsoft Documentation will be set based on the default language for your organisation in the Microsoft 365 admin center.

The problem is, that value is ‘English’ and doesn’t define which regional set of English you want – en-US, en-UK, en-AU etc. The full list of language codes is available here.

With Engish set as the preferred language, Azure Voicemail decides that you must be wanting en-US as your promptlanguage – which you may not actually want. The default voicemail greeting is rather different when set to en-US vs en-UK vs en-AU.

If you’d like to see what a user has, use the PowerShell command:

Set-CsOnlineVoicemailUserSettings -identity XYZ@XYZ.COM

and check the value ‘PromptLanguage’.

On a per user basis, this value can be changed either by the user themselves at https://mysettings.lync.com/voicemail or by an admin with the PowerShell command:

Set-CsOnlineVoicemailUserSettings -identity XYZ@XYZ.COM -PromptLanguage en-AU

This still doesn’t solve the tenant wide problem, or set a default.

For existing users, we just need to get a list of users and change the promptlanguage setting, which can be done with this set of PowerShell commands (includes connecting to SfBO which can be used for the above command also):

$sfbsession = new-csonlinesession -username adminaccount@conotoso.com -OverrideAdminDomain contoso.onmicrosoft.com


Import-PSSession $sfbsession


$users = Get-CsOnlineuser


foreach ($user in $users) {set-csonlinevoicemailusersettings -identity $user.userprincipalname -promptlanguage en-AU}

Note the use of the -OverrideAdminDomain switch, which I learnt from this blog post in case you are having issues connecting to Skype for Business Online.

This process also may take a long time depending how many users you have, as very roughly it takes about a second per user to change the value.

This will fix your existing users, but what about new ones? You could have the setting modified set as part of the user creation process, but that’s an extra step and you’d need to wait for Azure Voicemail to be ready – in my experience it’s not a service that’ll be available quickly after enabling. At this stage I haven’t found a way to do it though, so you’ll need to consider adding this configuration as part of user setup.

If you haven’t even thought about what language you’re using – have a look and try each one, as you might find one that you’re happier with than the US.

Microsoft Teams Dial In Number Licensing – Conference Bridging

Microsoft Teams does a bunch of different things. One of those things, is meetings. It does it quite well too, and many more people have started using Microsoft Teams this year. There’s a few different types of meetings (including Live Events) and a huge amount of content available (video) on advice on how to run one.

However, if you’re not using Microsoft Teams as a full phone system, then meetings are restricted to software based only – you need to use the Microsoft Teams client via browser or full install (on desktop or mobile) to join; there’s no dial in number.

It is possible to buy licenses to give users the ability to create a meeting that also has dial-in support (called Conference Bridging), as long as you are a Volume or Licensing customer. If you meet the pre-requisites, then this just needs an Audio Conferencing license of some sort, with the standard license being per user (like most other licenses) and several dollars a month. In Australia at the time of writing, a license costs RRP $5.50AU if you already have an E1 or E3 license.

For companies that have a central set of staff creating meetings on behalf of the company, then buying a small amount of licenses just for those users can be a good way of getting the dial in option to add value and give a rather cheap way of providing a full audio and video conferencing solution.

A much less common option method of providing a dial in number for Microsoft Teams meetings is using Audio Conferencing pay-per-minute. The way this works is by loading up credits into
Communications Credits
, applying the free license to whomever you like, and anyone using a dial-in number starts using those credits. The rates vary wildly based on many scenarios, so you’ll need to check them out for yourself – from less than 10 cents AU upward.

Quick run through of what to set up – read it all before doing any of it!



Communications Credits

Microsoft’s doco explains how to do this rather clearly:

In the Microsoft 365 admin center > Billing > Purchase Services > Add Ons you can select Communication Credits to add the credits, and you can add credit manually at any time. You can also enable the Auto-recharge option, which will allow automatic account refills when the balance falls below the threshold that you set.

I couldn’t see that Add Ons category, so searched for “Communication Credits’ under the Purchase Services area, had no results but then saw a link to check the Add-ons category’. On that list I could then see Communication Credits to add. For me in Australia, the minimum was $20.

The auto recharge option can only be triggered when the amount goes below $50 as a minimum (smallest number the field would accept), but I could recharge for another $20, so that’s a fairly small commitment if you expect minimal usage. I set this when I had $20 in, and it did a double recharge to get over the $50 mark instantly.


Audio Conferencing pay-per-minute

You can only get this if you’re a Volume and Licensing customer of Microsoft.

This was the tricky one to find out, but easy once you know what to ask for. You’ll need to ask your license reseller/LAR for:

AudioConfPayPerMin ShrdSvr ALNG SubsVL MVL PerUsr , SKU: HUR-00002

It’s a $0 license, and you may need to say how many licenses (they’re free so go high).

Once they order it, the licenses should turn up like any other under an enterprise agreement, called “Microsoft 365 Audio Conferencing Pay-Per-Minute”.


Applying the license

You can’t just apply the Communications Credits license to a user, as it’ll tell you they need to have an Audio Conferencing plan. You can do both at the same time manually, as long as the user has a Skype for Business Online or Microsoft Teams license.

If you want to use Azure AD and assign a license to a group you’ll need to tick all three licenses; Communications Credits, Audio Conferencing pay-per-minute, and Microsoft Teams or Skype for Business. It doesn’t matter if members of the group already get part of the license from another group membership, it requires all three to be applied.


Microsoft Teams Configuration

There’s not much to do here, you might already be configured and ready to go – but you can check your Conference Bridging settings in the Teams admin center and make sure you’re happy with the default number and options.


You’re done! It can take a little while for the dial in number to show in the Teams signature when creating a meeting via Outlook – maybe a few hours from my experience.

You can check the status of your credits in the Microsoft 365 admin center, under Billing > Your Products > Communications Credits (it’ll have the Skype for Business logo).

Hopefully this helps people that have Teams, but aren’t ready to go to it for a full voice solution yet, while allowing others to dial into meetings (very handy when someone doesn’t have a good internet connection).

Note: You can see how your credits are being used here:

  1. Sign in to Office 365, navigate to the “Teams admin portal”, then “Legacy Portal” on the left menu.
  2. Navigate to “Reports” on the left menu, then the “PSTN minute pools” tab.

Adapting to an Ultrawide Screen – Lenovo ThinkVision P44W-10 Review

For years I’d been wanting to try an Ultrawide monitor. I had a 27″ 1440p Chinese import brand that did the job quite nicely at home, and two 24″ screens in the office but there’s something alluring about a single giant pane of ‘glass’.

I also had apprehensions which put me off buying one. Was one giant screen better than two for me? Everyone’s different, but I liked the idea of having a centre of the two screens you can look at for ergonomic reasons – not possible with two 24″ screens unless they’re stacked (which then presents other ergonomic problems of having to look up), or one in the centre and one off to the side. Alternatively, the single 27″ screen didn’t have this problem, but had less screen real estate; I couldn’t really run two windows side by side without it feeling awkward due to the resulting shape appearing squished.

I didn’t know if it would just be too weird having a stretched screen. Going from the old 4:3 ‘square’ screens to 16:9 wide screens seemed much more logical, but was this over the top?

Lenovo came to the party as part of their Lenovo Insiders program and gave me a ThinkVision P44W-10 to try. A 43.4″, 32:10 HDR, FreeSync monitor. Awesome! I really wanted to see if it was usable for work and home, and if I had to change my ways for the better or worse to accommodate the vast difference in screen.

If you want the pure specs, here they are from Lenovo:


Monitor Specifications

DimensionsHeight269.8 mm (10.62 in.)
Depth461.1 mm (18.15 in.)
Width1058.3 mm (41.67 in.)
PanelSize43.4 in.
BacklightLED
Aspect ratio32:10
StandTiltRange: -5° ~ 22°
VESA mountSupported100 mm x 100 mm (3.94 in. x 3.94 in.)
ImageViewable image size1102.36 mm (43.4 in.)
Maximum height351.43 mm (13.84 in.)
Maximum width1052.66 mm (41.44 in.)
Pixel pitch274.05 um (10.79 in.)
Power inputSupply voltage100-240V AC
Max supply current3A
Power consumption Note: Power consumption figures are for the monitor and the power supply combined.Normal operation<250 W (max)
 <70 W (typical)
Standby/Suspend<0.5 W
Off Note: without
USB/webcam/external/spea
ker
<0.5 W
Video input (DisplayPort)InterfaceDisplayPort
Input signalVESA TMDS (Panel Link™)
Horizontal addressability3840 pixels (max)
Vertical addressability1200 lines (max)
Clock frequency720 MHz
Video input (HDMI)InterfaceHDMI
Input signalVESA TMDS (Panel Link™)
Horizontal addressability3840 pixels (max)
Vertical addressability1200 lines (max)
Clock frequency600 MHz
Video input (Type-C)InterfaceType-C
Input signalVESA TMDS (Panel Link™)
Horizontal addressability3840 pixels (max)
Vertical addressability1200 lines (max)
Clock frequency720 MHz
600 MHz
CommunicationsVESA DDCCI
Supported Display ModesHorizontal frequency30 KHz – 178 KHz
Vertical frequency48 Hz – 144 Hz
Native Resolution3840 x 1200 at 60 Hz


Shipment Group

  • Monitor with stand and base
  • Power cable
  • USB 3.1 Type-C Gen2 cable
  • DisplayPort 1.4 Cable
  • HDMI2.0 cable 
  • USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A to C cable
  • Harman Kardon™ certified speaker
  • Color Calibration Factory Report
  • Quick setup guide

Here’s also some great reviews: Storagereview, Anandtech and TheVerge. It’s worth noting that Lenovo also released a Legion Y44w Gaming Monitor with identical specs, but a different chassis around the monitor – so pick whichever you like the look of more, or can get cheaper.


A giant box turned up, bigger than I expected. The monitor itself measures 41.5″ wide (ignoring the curve) and it felt a bit comical taking it out of the box, like holding an oversized novelty item… but mixed with holding something that was purely impressive in it’s size.

I immediately set it up, which was just a matter of attaching the base to the monitor itself, plugging in power and a USB-C cable to a ThinkPad X1 Yoga. It worked, which was the first relief of opening up any new high end device. This photo gives some idea of the scale of this single screen, compared to a 14″ laptop.

It’s hard to not be dazzled by it, especially if you haven’t dealt with ultrawide screens before; as I heard comments of ‘that is impressive’ and just a plain ‘wow!’ setting it up.

I was thinking of setting it up on my desk at work, but instead decided to take it home.

I removed the 27″ and 24″ monitors I had in place, and replaced it with this screen. I was still wondering what I’d signed up for and if it was too big:


I should mention the connection options; we have two USBs, a USB-C 10G port, DisplayPort. another USB-C port but 5G, and two HDMI ports.

I started with the USB-C 10G port thinking that was the best choice, but after some reading up and research changed to the DisplayPort. I wanted to try AMD’s FreeSync technology (which when plugged into a supported graphics card, greatly reduces problems in gaming like screen ripping, lag and out of sync issues), and it supported the highest resolution over DisplayPort as per AMD’s page:

Also note that AMD recently changed the name from “AMD Radeon FreeSync 2 HDR” to “AMD FreeSync Premium Pro” but it’s the same thing.

While setting up I discovered a part of the monitor that pops down in the centre middle to provide a headset jack and two USB 3.1 ports. I then ran a USB-C cable from the computer to screen to connect these up as it’s quite handy to plug these in and access from the front for ad-hoc devices.

I also wanted to check the monitor was on the latest firmware before I played with it too much – and yes, the monitor has firmware you can upgrade. It wasn’t too hard to do following this official guide.

The stand it’s on is also height adjustable purely by pushing up or down on the monitor itself, and I haven’t had it slide down without me making it. The base is quite heavy and large, but flat so you don’t really lose desk space when things can be placed on it.

There was also a piece of software availalable (optional) that supported the Thinkstation P44-W called Lenovo ThinkColor. As per the download page, this software does the following things:

  1. Display information and basic settings
  2. Scenario modes selection, adjustment and customization
  3. Color adjustment, including color gamut and color temperature with preview
  4. Quick pivot to rotate display direction
  5. Print assist to design in real size
  6. AppThink to automatically apply different color settings on different applications
  7. Desktop partition for easy and customizable multi-tasking
  8. PBP and PIP management for supported models
  9. Customizable hot key
  10. Adjustment supports multiple displays

The most useful feature beyond general configuration options (like enabling/disabling HDR) is the Desktop partition function. You’re able to select how you’d like to divide up your screen from the 11 options available (or customize). When dragging a window, you can drag and drop onto a section of the screen that shows a copy of the desktop partition you chose below, and it’ll snap the window to that size. This means you can quickly and easily move windows around to your preferred layout, without trying to constantly size them. If you just want a left and right option right down the middle, Window 10’s native snap options work a treat, but for anything else this is ideal and just as easy.

Also yes, the montior supports HDR. HDR in Windows 10 is worth looking into to understand more: https://www.pcmag.com/how-to/how-to-play-games-watch-videos-in-hdr-on-windows-10. I mucked around with the option and tried to find some videos to show off HDR, but of course finding a video that extends the entire screen and with HDR isn’t an easy feat, so I made do with this:

HDR in Windows 10 isn’t the best experience – maybe it was something I was doing wrong, but I would only toggle it on for games or movies. General usage seems to be affected in some scenarios, a white background gets greyed out. That’s nothing to do with this monitor as I found a lot of info online about other people with the same problems – but, as I went to re-test it while writing this, and re-Googling the problem, it looks like it’s been fixed. Unsure if it was an AMD or Windows issue, but there’s a giant thread here about it along with plenty of others; so now, I’ll leave HDR on.

Here’s what the problem looked like when I was first testing:

Now, it’s not an issue. If you do enable HDR in Windows 10, make sure you adjust the slider for SDR content to your liking (I changed it from the default 50 up to 60):

There’s also another option where you can plug two devices into the monitor at the same time, and split half of the monitor off to different ports – so one PC might be on HDMI1, and the other DisplayPort, and the single screen acts like two separate screens. I thought that was a handy feature if you need to work on different physical devices, as you can flick back and forth between split and single. That’s called PBP – Picture by picture, and there’s also PIP – Picture in Picture which works in a similar way, but overlays one over the other.

Work wise, I RDP a lot. I was a bit concerned how that would work on this monitor, but I usually end up having a single RDP window in the middle of my screen running at 1920 x 1080 resolution. and have something like Twitter via Tweetdeck on the browser behind it full screen – so the first few and last few columns are always visible. I’ve also not run out of screen when using Micrsoft Azure, well known for using a lot of wide screen real estate.

If I need a dual screen setup, snapping one window to the left and the other to the right results in two 1920 x 1200 screen – which is plenty and replaces the function of having two screens quite well.

After checking all that out. it was time to try out some games. First up I picked Rocket League just to check out the field of view, and wow can you see a lot:

Of course about two minutes into this, my eldest son wanted to have a turn, and insisted in playing his favorite game at the time, Goat Simulator:

As part of writing this post, I *had* to play a few rounds of Call of Duty Modern Warfare to continue to show off that field of view. I streamed one round to Facebook Live and got 4th, not bad without a warmup:

Here’s a few screenshots in game at the full 3840 x 1200 resolution (10mb photos full size):

It quite honestly makes a huge difference. Instead of focusing on the entire screen at once, it’s impossible at this size, so you start using your peripheral vision more and glance around rather than purely moving your view with the mouse.

So, as I write this review with WordPress in full screen and huge amounts of white space I find that I like it. I use this when I want to focus and not be distracted, because if it was any smaller then I’d see what was behind it – other open windows, or a desktop with colourful icons. I also usually have a bunch of tabs open like we all do these days, and can actually see what they all are when it’s full screen :)

It took me maybe a week or two, but it has easily become the new norm. Slightly jarring at the start, but I can strongly recommend going ultrawide. 34″ was the original size I was looking at, but now I feel that would be a bit small. Probably the same way we all now have 55″+ TVs and can’t imagine watching TV on a smaller screen than that, which again shows how quick we adapt to bigger screens.

I haven’t got any other ultrawide monitor to compare the Lenovo P44W-10 but I’ve had no issues with this one. As you’d expect, a monitor should just work – and it does. Ultrawide seems to have reasonable gaming support too these days, so it wouldn’t surprise me if this becomes the new norm, replacing the current norm of dual screens.