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Getting something for TV License at last?

Relates to Software and iPod Touch

I am extremely reluctant when it comes to handing over cash for my TV license. In recent years we have seen the BBC squander our money on lower quality programmes, worthless channels that regurgitate very old and over watched series and most notoriously deliver proprietary software to the select many that choose to have Windows as their operating system! Yes with regards the latter I am talking about the iPlayer. The quality of streaming media on the BBC has always been dreadful - ever tried watching a sporting match while working!? So then along came the iPlayer - software allowing the download and viewing of BBC programmes by UK based IP addresses. But software that was built under the sole premise of working on Windows PCs!

Well finally the e-petition has paid dividends and the BBC has announced a partnership with Adobe to make a Flash-based video version of the iPlayer to make it compatible on the Mac and other platforms. I suppose it is a step in the right direction, although the fact this only covers streaming versions of the programmes is not ideal. It still means the BBC is providing services with the tax payers money to only a proportions of the UK. Yet another example of the corporations disregard for accessibility to all as has already been exemplified in the ongoing issues of digital coverage. Of course a Flash based version doesn't bode well for the current incarnation of the iPod Touch which will be one WiFi device which will not be able to take advantage of the free access to the iPlayer from the Cloud network. Perhaps this will change with the SDK prospects next spring?

Now I just wish the licensing authorities would stop sending us those threats that the enforcement officer is due to pay us a visit - despite being fully paid up licensees and having informed the license office of this several times! No wonder there is a license fee shortfall when the amount of time and resources are wasted chasing licenses that have been paid! ;)

Posted on Oct 18, 2007 at 12:27:54.

iPod Touch 'Cannot Find Server'

Relates to iPod Touch

At last, 14 days after delivery, my new toy - an iPod Touch - arrived on my doorstep. As always with Apple the packaging is meticulous although in not entirely clear as to why they include a couple of pieces of plastic (cheap dock!?) in the bundle. And the significant absentee was a comprehensive user guide - in fact other than the pictorial yet somewhat uninformative Quick Start guide and Important Product Information Guide, the user is left to locate and download the Features Guide from the Apple website.

Anyway, the hardware is pretty intuitive and once I had downloaded the 150MB software update and done an initial sync of movies, music and photos I was ready to give the Touch a quick test-drive. In general I was very impressed. My only gripes so far would be:

  1. The Accelerometer is not always reliable. Sometimes it is slow to respond and sometimes it didn't seem to want to respond at all
  2. Fingerprints!!! Oh yes, this little piece of technological beauty is going to get absolutely smothered in finger prints. Apple are good enough to provide a cloth to keep the worst off but I will certainly be investing in a scratch proof film pronto.
  3. Configuring wireless was no breeze!

And it is the last of these points I will discuss a little more here. In short I had no problems connecting to the wireless networks in my house but I could not initially get any response from a server! Safari was throwing up the Server Not Found error while YouTube and the Wireless iTunes Store could not be found. So I went and checked the settings for one of my wireless networks. (Settings > Wi-Fi Networks, then select the network by clicking the arrow on the right hand side next to the selection) Under the DHCP were two rows of gobbledegook! My wireless router is configured to provide lease details but this wasn't happening. So to fix the problem I had to do the following:

  1. Choose Static from the three option tabs
  2. Enter an IP address - for my network the range is 192.168.1.64 - 192.168.1.255, and I choose 192.168.1.68 being the next available IP in sequence on my network.
  3. Enter the subnet mask 255.255.255.0
  4. Enter the router, which in my case is 192.168.1.254
  5. And lastly and most important - enter the DNS IP numbers used by my router.

Now the first three values can be determined and retrieved by looking at the network settings on another computer on the network. For instance, I went into Network settings in the System Preferences on my iMac and chose the TCP/IP tab.

Example of retrieving network details from the Network preferences pane.

Obviously, I had to choose a different IP address to the one provided here. Normally this would be enough to statically configure connection to a wireless network. But when I visited Safari on the Touch it still could not find any servers! To see if the problem was related to resolution of DNS I tried visiting one of my own sites via IP number instead and this worked, confirming it was a problem locating the DNS servers. So to find these I had to go into the control panel for my router which in this case just so happens to be the infamous BT Home Hub. Anyone who has chosen to take the same unfortunate router route as me can check out this unofficial BT Home Hub FAQ on finding their way around the control panel at http://bthomehub on the local network. The information I was after is located in the .Internet Connection option under Status menu.

Retrieving the Primary and Secondary DNS for BT Home Hub

So, now it was just a case of entering the Primary DNS and Secondary DNS, separated by a comma in the DNS field. Once this was done I could at last access the world wide web and benefit from the Touch features.

I just hope this is not going to cause the Touch to come unstuck once I have signed up for Cloud access! I will report back on this one, along with a more detailed review once I have had a spare-time play.

I discovered this morning that the random IP address and subnet mask are the fault of the hub rather than the Touch itself as the very same problem occurred connecting my iBook. This doesn't surprise me since the Home Hub has been nothing but trouble from the day I received it. So I apologise for any suggestion that the Touch was at fault in this issue. All the same the above instructions may still be of use to people struggling to connect their iPod Touch to the internet with Server Not Found issues.

Posted on Oct 10, 2007 at 15:13:50.

Radiohead Ready for Download

Relates to Peregrinations

As of today you can download the new Radiohead album, In Rainbows, where you choose the price. This follows the bands recent decision to ditch the iTunes store in order to keep their album complete. Go listen!

Posted on Oct 10, 2007 at 09:21:58.

Severn Barrage - A bad idea?

Relates to Peregrinations and Science

Important information on the Severn Barrage that the politicians probably didn't want you to know!

The Severn Barrage - A Barrage of Misinformation

Posted on Oct 08, 2007 at 22:54:03.

Quicksilver Tips 1. Screen Grab and Email

Relates to Software and OSX

A bit to much grumbling recently - especially when today is my smile a while day! So time to get back to some informative blogging. When I was blogging first time round, a popular topic of conversation was choosing Firefox extensions and my favourite Firefox extensions but I think this particular topic has been well and truly saturated now. So instead over the next few weeks I will discuss a number of productivity tools I use on a day by day basis to help me get things done.

Where better to start than one of the stalwarts of any developer's arsenal on the OS X platform - Quicksilver (the art of acting without doing). I have a pretty exhaustive set of Quicksilver plugins installed on my all conquering iMac 3 gigabyte machine. Some of these rarely see the light of day, others I use on a regular basis - without thinking twice. One of Quicksilver's greatest strengths is it's ability to adapt to any task I wish to accomplish. One thing I do regularly is send visual scamps to collaborators during the CSS build stage of a job. Thanks to the Apple Mail Module and Screen Capture Actions I can complete this in three simple steps.

  1. Fire up Quicksilver (I use Option + Space) and call up the Capture options (typing CAP is normally adequate but I have set Capture Window as the default for C to bring it up by default)
  2. I choose Capture Window and then click the little camera on the window I want to grab.
  3. Voila! The captured image appears in the first pane with focus on the second pane where I type E to bring up Email to…, hit TAB and start typing the name of the collaborator the scamp is going to. When their name appears hit ENTER and the the an e-mail will be prepared with the scamp in ready to go.

Of course, this can be extended further using the comma trick to add additional collaborators' addresses to the e-mail.

And since the captures are saved to the desktop could even capture a selection of screens and add them all to the same message using the comma trick. I guess I could take this one step further by introducing a trigger for step 1 but I actually find trigger overload weighs heavy on my short-term memory so avoid assigning too many short cut keys.

So that is my first little Quicksilver tip. More to follow…

Posted on Oct 04, 2007 at 19:04:09.

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