Wireless on the London Underground

There’s free wireless on bits of the London Underground now – so far available at a few of the central London Victoria line stations. It’s operated by Virgin Media, which is convenient because I use them for internet acces at home as well, so it’ll going to stay free for me after the Olympics. But like all public wifi, it acts in a slightly weird way that I’ve been trying to figure out.

Specifically, the first (few?) HTTP request(s) that my phone makes on the connection get intercepted and redirected (I’m doing this on a phone, so I don’t have a lot in the way of fine-grained header debugging) to an advert / splash screen for the Virgin Media service provider. Non-HTTP stuff seems to be unaffected, specifically HTTPS isn’t touched – I can use my Twitter client as soon as the wireless has connected, but the first attempt at browsing gets hijacked.

This behaviour is playing havok with the Lanyrd iPhone app (which I wrote, so have a special interest in) – it’s got a lot of views that are built from HTML in UIWebViews, and though all the API calls it makes go over HTTPS, I have made the mistake of fetching the templates over plain HTTP, so half the in-app views are suddenly adverts for central London attractions. Weirdly, I get different pages in the Lanyrd app than I can persuade the web browser to serve. I need to spend some quality time just sitting on an underground platform with a laptop debugging things. Which probably won’t get me arrested..

In the past I’ve also had problems with some mobile phone HTTP gateways stripping out / optimizing HTML, stripping out comments, for instance. But this is more disruptive than most connections I have easy access to.

London again

Sunset

14 months ago, my fiancé and I moved to Berlin, and it’s been pretty awesome, frankly. It’s cheap to live, it gets PROPER winters, with SNOW that hangs around for AGES, but the city somehow copes and keeps the trains running, the food is decent, and I can walk to work in 25 minutes if the mood takes me. It’s the first place I’ve lived for any length of time other than London, and it’s great.

But alas, stuff ends. For personal reasons, we’re moving back to London in the first week of April, leaving behind Berlin, a nice flat, a lot of good friends, and a really decent Thai curry place that I hold an unassailable mayorship on (11 checkins in the last 2 months). We haven’t been to London in more than a year now, so this may be a little weird*.

Leaving Berlin also means leaving my job. I’m looking for a new one, ideally one where I can work in a small team, in person, and ship interesting and beautiful things. I’m not too picky about programming language, and I know how to scale things and the sorts of things you haven’t thought of yet that’ll hurt you. I have a CV and a portfolio and a github repository – all the usual stuff. Contact me if you have anything interesting.

* Looking forward to that first Shepherdess, though.