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Friday, April 15, 2005

Woopsie! Can you get banned from the BBC for bandwidth abuse?


Have you ever thought just how cool it would be to get on a train, unpack your laptop and spend the whole journey surfing the BBC news website?

No, probably not - but that's the sort of thing that gets me excited.

Since I am reluctant to pay Orange or Vodafone oodles of money to buy a 3G network card, the next best thing is to download the site and peruse it offline at your leisure. It won't be completely up to date obviously, but then most newspapers are almost 24 hours out of date by the time I get to read them, so just a few hours old will be a big improvement.

To that end, I downloaded an off-line browser from

Being a typical British bloke, I express multiple copies of the arrogance gene when it comes to anything technical. I have 2 degrees, a brown belt in karate and a Boyscouts Master Seaman's badge - why would I want or need to read the instructions or help files?

So I installed the software. Dead simple. Input the URL and clicked start. It was late, so when I figured it was working, I just put the computer to one side to let it chunter away.

Some hours later I awoke. It had stopped downloading. Rather worryingly it had stopped downloading, not because it had finished, but because the rickety old PC that acts as my wireless internet connection had fallen over - again. Probably just as well. For in my haste I had not thought to specifiy the links depth that the program should download from. i.e when downloading the data how many times should it follow links? The program downloaded the News Frontpage. It then downloaded each story linked to on the front page. It then followed the links from each of those stories, then the links from those stories....

After downloading 500 MEGABYTES of stories, my PC crashed. Had it not done the decent thing and fallen over, I could quite conceivably ended up hosting the entire BBC online website going back to 1997 on my laptop's hard drive.

OOOOhh Mr Popular.... I await an angry email from either my ISP or the BBC wondering if I am taking the piss.



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