LugRadio Live USA 2008 Video Trailer

I’ve had this sitting on my laptop for a week or two now and now it has been released, I present the LugRadio Live USA 2008 video trailer.

Can’t see the vid? Click here.

It really is worth downloading one of the video files and watching it full-screen if you can, it brought a lump to my throat. Serious thanks to Tony Whitmore for his hard work producing it.

Go to LugRadio Live USA 2008, 12-13 April, San Francisco! Watch this, then spread the word!

Call for Exhibitors for LugRadio Live USA 2008

The speakers schedule for LRL USA 2008 is really starting to shape up now and so we turn our attention to the exhibition area. We’re looking for people, companies, projects, distributions and organisations who are doing cool things with Linux, Free Software, Open Source, hardware and digital freedom issues that are willing to rock up to the Metreon Theater, San Francisco on the 12th and13th April 2008.

We’d like to hear from you if you have cool stuff to show off, shiny gadgets, interactive demos, hardware, games and so on are always winners but a stand with some literature and people who are willing to take the time to get chatting are also important if that suits your project better. We’re interested in cool people, diversity and fun stuff. It’s about the people not the megabucks, so you don’t need a marketing budget to be a valuable exhibitor at LugRadio Live. If you’re project is interesting, that’s all that is required, though if you need to blow a marketing budget, you could always become an event sponsor and help us provide extra facilities or gifts for our attendees, which means they will like you more πŸ™‚

We’re also interested in hearing from people willing to host a BOF session, talks or suggest cool ideas for stuff we can at LRL USA 2008, which is out of the ordinary, as LRL is an extraordinary event.

Send in your suggestions for BOFs and talks or put yourself or your organisation forward as an exhibitor by emailing show at lugradio dot org and we’ll see you at the Metreon for the coolest geek out of the year.

LugRadio Live USA 2008 Speakers

Below is a list of speakers confirmed for LugRadio Live USA 2008, stolen shamelessly from Jono:

  • Miguel de Icaza (Mono / Novell)
  • Aaron Bockover (Banshee / Novell)
  • Allison Randal (Perl / Parrot)
  • Danese Cooper (Intel / OSI)
  • Belinda Lopez (Ubuntu)
  • Ian McKellar (Songbird)
  • Eddy Mulyono (Packaging RPM/Debs)

This is in addition to our already announced speakers:

  • Jeremy Allison (Samba / Google)
  • Ian Murdock (OpenSolaris / Sun)
  • Robert Love (Kernel / GNOME / Google)
  • Dan Kegel (Wine)
  • Val Henson (Kernel / Intel)
  • John Buckman (Magnatune)
  • Ben Collins (Ubuntu / Former Debian Project Leader)
  • Aza Raskin (Mozilla / Humanized)

There will be many more, and you could be one of them! The Call For Papers Is Open!

LugRadio Live USA 2008 takes place on the 12th and 13th April at The Metreon in San Francisco and it’s not too late for you to submit your talk for addition to the list. While big names are important to headline any event, we’re also interested in hearing from anyone doing anything cool with Linux, Open Source or Free Software, digital rights, hardware hacking and so on. If it’s fun or interesting then you could be speaking at LugRadio Live USA 2008 about it. So email show at lugradio dot org to submit your talk.

Just in case you didn’t already know, you might be interested in finding out what LugRadio Live is all about. I was amused by “…it’s about nipples”.

KDE 4 Review and Interview in LugRadio S5E10

In Season 5 Episode 10 of LugRadio, ‘One Foot In The Grave’, Jono Bacon, Stuart “Aq” Langridge, Chris Proctor and back-from-the-dead Matthew Revell review the newly released KDE 4 and then speak to Aaron Seigo and Will Stephenson of the KDE project to discuss it, Jono tells us why it’s all about the community in the final LugRadio Top Trumps and the presenters discuss the Fish shell, K3B, everybody’s laptop working apart from Aq’s and a listener review of the Nokia N810. Also in this episode, a call for papers and exhibitors for LugRadio Live USA 2008 and don’t forget that you can win an Asus Eee PC in the Pimp My LugRadio competition, details in the show.

You can get all this lunacy, along with the chance to win an Asus Eee PC at

Digg it.

Slashdot it.

Looking For a New ISP

I use a business ADSL line at home provided by my employer, but since I’m changing jobs, that’s going to go away so I need a new ISP. My blog and mail are also hosted at work, so they will have to hang off the end of the new line while I change and configure my new hosting. My current ISP is, well, work, as an Entanet reseller and I’ve been exceptionally happy with Entanet, but business lines aren’t cheap so I’m not going to migrate it to my private telephone number.

So, I solicit your opinion. I need the following things:

  • Static IP
  • No blocked ports
  • Free setup and activation

Now I know these things are provided by a lot of ISPs and certainly my previous ISP before I got a business line provided my company, Freedom2Surf, do this and so do pretty much all of the other Entanet resellers do, so this isn’t a problem really.What makes the choice difficult are the following:

  • I’d like ~800KB upload speed which is only available on the business connections with all of the above, as I’m going to have to host my blog and mail on the end of this line for a week or 4
  • At least ~50GB download allowance, preferably with extra allowances off-peak
  • Around Β£25 on an ongoing monthly basis, ignoring discounted months up-front

Extra bonus points for being able to provide extra no-NAT IP addresses either cheaply or at low cost. F2S used to charge Β£5 for an extra IP, I can’t see the situation now. Freeola (Entanet reseller) are offering 8 IP no-NAT free and are the clear winner at the moment, but none of them offer an 800KB upload without paying for the business package, which is on average a third extra.

Answers to this Dear Lazyweb in the comments. I’m willing to listen to people telling me to get cable, but Virgin Media support are said to be clueless, though if the price versus speed ratio is high enough that it’s worth me junking my BT line and ADSL kit for a wireless cable router, then I’ll think about it and hope I never have to speak to them. Ooh and Entanet and therefore their resellers are trialling 24Mb ADSL, though sadly my exchange isn’t due for this til 2011.

Dates for LugRadio Live USA 2008 Announced

Yes. I am going to San Francisco with my 3 fat LugRadio friends to spread to good word. That’s right, LugRadio Live is happening in the USA this year and nobody is going to be able to understand my accent or any of my jokes.

This season of joy will take place on the 12th and 13th April 2008 at the Metreon in SF. This means all you Americans should be thinking of pre-registering as there are limited tickets, see here for details as they emerge. We’re lining up some fantastic big-name speakers but we also want to hear from the little guys on the street doing cool stuff for BOFs, the exhibition and the 3 minute lightbulb talks. If you want to lead a BOF, promote your cool (ideally interactive) project or do a quick lightbulb talk, let us know by emailing show at lugradio dot org.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Lost Hours

I thought I would point out that I keep coming around, after what feels like several lost hours, staring at my Linux desktop and not really knowing what just happened for the last few hours. It’s happened quite a few times since the weekend and I was getting quite concerned, so I set up a web cam so I could tell the camera that it had just happened and then rewind the video to see what had happened in the preceding few hours.

The results were quite surprising. It turns out that these lost hours, and I mean periods of between 1 and 4 hours, have been spent playing Slam Soccer 2006 (aka Bolzplatz) πŸ™‚ It’s a fun, cartoony 5-a-side soccer game, in the mould of, say, the old Spectrum and Commodore Matchday game series, with a kind of fun Nintendo feel, as opposed to say EA Sports’ Fifa soccer games.

Essentially you control the players as you might expect but you can pick where you start, in a village league, or another division and build up your stadium with the money you earn (if you start in the village league, you start with a mud patch and trash cans for goals), or you can quickstart a single game or World Cup tournament. And yes, this runs on Linux (the Mac and Windows too).

It’s not perfect however. It’s quite hard, or at least I’m not very good, even after about 8 lost hours of playing. The sound is a little crackly on my uber-powerful laptop, but fine on my ~4 and half year old desktop. And my wrist hurts too from playing too often (not the kind of wrist problem you were thinking…). Also, it requires Java and the Sun Java still isn’t completely Free (in the Open Source sense, for non software Freedom people). I haven’t tried a Free Java, like GCJ, but the game itself is Free under the GPL, though you can donate 10 Euros and get the Gold Edition with a built in team and stadium editor. The other downside is that there don’t seem to be proper Linux packages, just a tarball of the game binaries which you run manually. It also seems to leave my desktop resolution in the game resolution, which I have to change back.

All in all it’s a really fun, addictive game and I’ve lost hours so far, you should too. (Thought: online multiplayer would be nice :))

LugRadio Season 5, Episode 9: Time Gentlemen Please

In Season 5 Episode 9 of LugRadio, ‘Time Gentlemen Please’, the first episode of 2008, Jono Bacon, Stuart Langridge, Chris Proctor and Adam Sweet speak to Sacha Goedegebure of the Peach Project to discuss the latest open movie to come out of the Blender Project, Aq tells us why software Freedom is important in LugRadio Top Trumps, the presenters talk about whether Linux distributors tie their server and desktop products together to make them work better and more easily at the possible expense of other distributions. Also in this episode, the dates for LugRadio Live USA 2008 are announced, Chris gets wound up about the RMS v OpenBSD argument and your emails are once again read out and then roundly insulted. Don’t forget that you can win an Asus Eee PC in the Pimp My LugRadio competition, details in the show.

You can get all this rubbish, along with the chance to win an Asus Eee PC at

You can also Digg it here and Slashdot it here.

It’s a Happy New Year

Well, it’s been ok so far, but I have reason to be optimistic. I’ve been feeling really run down during December, feeling quite ill even, with no sign of any cold or flu like symptoms. But, since around Boxing Day I’ve been feeling better, aside from an unscheduled intake of alcohol one evening and too many late nights and early afternoons (which weren’t alcohol related).

Well, I generally don’t do New Year’s Resolutions, but I have 2 main plans for the early part of this year and I’d say they are modest by most standards, which means they are achievable.

  • Enforce a strong sleeping pattern

I’ve never had a much of a sleeping pattern, due to leaving school and becoming a musician, followed by being a student again, I’ve always slept when I felt like it and got up when I felt like it, with the exception of working days. So, having a predilection for working on computer related challenges in the evening and being of the dog with a bone variety when it comes to finishing things, come the weekend I tend to start something and then keep going until I’m satisfied with my progress enough to call it a night and go to bed. This might be somewhere between 1am and 5am. It gets later the longer I go between having to get up to go to work, which in turn means I get up later the days afterwards. The longer this goes on, the harder it gets to break out of it and the worse you start to feel, so I plan to force my fingers from the keyboard by a specified time, organise myself for the following day and then go to bed by a particular time every night. Hopefully, this will see and end to the boom and bust attitude I have towards productivity and sleeping and the withdrawn figure people are becoming used to seeing.

  • Change jobs

Yeah, I’m looking for new job. There’s no special reason why I’m looking to leave my present job, just that I’ve been here for a few years and I feel it’s time for a change to continue developing my skills and refresh my approach and now is a good time for my employer also. Ideally I’d like to work in a reasonable sized company where there is an existing team of network/system admins or technical staff. I look forward to playing with lots of new hardware toys, learning to use certain technologies that I’ve not had much experience with yet and becoming more adept at programming.

If I find the right job then it will be a great year as I tend to catch fire when I am enthused by a new challenge. Here’s to 2008.

LugRadio Season 5 Episode 5 – "A Quality Production"

In LugRadio Season 5 Episode 5, Jono Bacon, Stuart Largefridge, Chris Proctor and Adam Sweet interview Havoc Pennington and Colin Walters from Red Hat about the Gnome Online Desktop project, discuss whether we need rockstar programmers when there is hard, unglamorous work to do, consider whether the weirder side of Second Life is inhabited by freaks, electrocute themselves again in another quick distro round-up, behave smugly because LugRadio was chosen as the best Linux podcast in the Linux Format magazine Christmas issue and read out a dazzling array of emails to the show, with the best winning a limited edition LugRadio T-shirt, at last.

You, my friend, can avail yourself of too much excitement to handle by downloading it from

You can also Digg it here and Slashdot it here.

6 Months in 6 Minutes

It’s occurred to me how long it’s been since I posted something about myself, not about software, Linux or LugRadio. So, here’s an update to bring you back in sync, though, as you might expect, much of it might be about software, Linux and LugRadio. Well first thing, I’m off work on leave for 2 weeks, my first time off since the miserably unrestful week in June. It’s been a tough year, barely time to stop and think. A lot has been going on, a lot of changes have occurred and it’s been my job to move everything from A to B and replace all of the old stuff with the new stuff. So, much so that I’ve been barely able to sleep since August as I was working and thinking about work from morning until after I should have gone to bed and couldn’t get my brain to switch off. Add the new season of LugRadio, my first as a full-time presenter, into the mix and I’ve been spending more time working outside of work, in one way or another, than doing anything else. So much so that I’ve been forcing myself to take one evening a week, as my weekends are spent shopping and cooking and doing household chores, not doing anything, apart from sitting in front of the TV with a laptop, working. It’s gotten so bad, that the few times I’ve not had anything that I had to do, I didn’t actually know what to do with myself, so I ended up working.

Well, as I’m off for 2 weeks now, I should let you know what I’ve been up to. I turned 31 at the end of October, never thought I’d see the day. I’m so boring these days, if I met myself of today 10 years ago, the me of 10 years ago would have laughed at the me of today for being an old man and the me of today would have thought the me of 10 years ago was a pointless idiot.

That said, I’m quite happy with the way things have panned out, I think I have a cause to hang my hat on and a drive to get to where I want to, I should just take more time out now and again.

I went to see The Sex Pistols on Saturday and I have to say, my fears were wrong. I suspected, having seen a clip on YouTube, that they might look and sound like a pale caricature of themselves, but they were fantastic, everything that I hoped they would be – loud, rude, brash and ballsy. John Lydon was excellent, intelligent, witty, snarly and aware that his age is at odds with how the Pistols are remembered. In fact he ridiculed himself for needing over the counter treatments to get his sore throat through the gig. Steve Jones’ guitar sound was infuckingcredible, though he seemed a little subdued, frequently retreating to the drum riser with his back to the crowd. I could barely tell that we were 30 years on and I can pay little better compliment than that. They looked older, but great. It was funny looking around and seeing the aging punks littered around the place, in their zippered and studded leathers and spiky hair and it was strange hearing Pretty Vacant being sung with a Manchester accent. It was a good gig and I’m glad I went. I did feel like I was being repeatedly shot in the face with every song, such is the ferocity of the sound and the delivery, after about 6 tracks I was praying for an interlude. They played every pre-split song I know of (with the exception of ‘I Wanna Be Me’, ‘Satellite’ and ‘Don’t Give Me No Lip, Child’), everything from Never Mind the Bollocks and stuff like Stepping Stone and Did You No Wrong. EMI, New York, Holidays in the Sun and Pretty Vacant were blistering. A great gig.

LugRadio has been doing well actually, at least from my point of view. I was worried, as a new presenter, that the show might struggle with 2 much loved and established presenters departing and 2 new ones arriving but so far I think we’ve done some of the strongest shows in a long time, not to impune the work of Matt and Ade and I think some of the ideas I’ve contributed to the show have gone down incredibly well. It’s been going so well that we came top in Linux Format‘s roundup of Linux podcasts in the Christmas 2007 edition πŸ™‚

Aside from moving offices, data centres and customers this year and then in the last week getting 7 servers unpacked, installed, configured and in the racks in time to hit a product launch and in time for me to be able to take my leave, I’ve been playing with a few things. I managed to get an Asterisk box on my business PSTN line at home, this was an abandoned work project that I didn’t have time to do properly. It did what I wanted but my VoIP phones weren’t good enough and couple of callers said the sound was muffled and made it difficult to hear me, so I dropped it after a day.

Getting these 7 servers installed and in the racks within a week was largely down to Kickstart, which I finally found the time to investigate. I played with it while looking at Xen and spent a morning or so pinning the kickstart file down so now I can have a machine installed and partially configured within around 15 minutes and most of that time is spent waiting for the disk formatting. So, cool for me. I hope to add a few extra bits to the kickstart configuration which will mean I only have to reboot the machine after installation to make sure everything is ok, no configuration required at all. I have a list of other software to check out to make my life easier, like daemontools (not the Windows optical drive emulator), RT, Varnish, Cfengine, Puppet, ISconf and so on as well as SNMP traps.

On the subject of Xen, I’ve been working with it quite a bit recently but there seems to be this impenetrable inner world of knowledge which I don’t seem to understand, like why, every time I build a new VM, it seems to complain that there is no space left on the device (does it mean the local disk, there’s acres of space there, or does it think there’s something wrong with the disk image I created?) and tells me the hotplug something is unavailable so I have to shutdown the working VMs, stop xend, move /var/lib/xenstored/tdb and then reboot, which is driving me nuts. Or how to create LVM disk images so I can resize the disk sizes should people wish to change their package (do the LVs live on the host machine and get passed to the VM, or do you create multiple disk images and create the LVs in the VM?) or how xen networking works – despite reading the docs repeatedly, or how the hell am I going to back up a 20GB disk image when it changes constantly? or what to do if a disk image becomes damaged in the same way a hard disk might, say GRUB get’s messed up, or the VM won’t boot, or the disk image gets corrupted. Of course these are all questions which will be answered over time as I get to look at them properly, it’s just a steep hill ahead and not much time to climb it or research alternatives like Virtuozzo/Open VZ and the VMware products on a cost, ease of use, managability and performance basis.

On a final technical front, despite now being in position to cruise at work after all of the hard work I’ve put in, I have a growing list of things to deal with at home, like my monster of a laptop needs to be reinstalled as Gnome doesn’t finish loading on login sometimes and I have to reboot, or my wireless card won’t start and again I have to reboot. I’ve not had these kind of problems under Linux before. I suspect that the 2 things are related as we have a wireless TV thing in the house which means I have to sit next to the wireless gateway for my laptop(s) to connect before I can go sit in the front room (turning the wireless TV thing off would be one technical intrusion too many for my more than patient partner I think), but even still, it’s not been the same since I had to return to WEP and I had to delete the Network Manager config file for my network to make it realise that the network with my SSID isn’t a WPA2 network any more, as I have some devices which aren’t capable of WPA and some which I’m not willing to pay to upgrade. Before I can do this, I need to move the 8GB disk images off my USB disk so I can back up the laptop as the resolution of the Ubuntu installer was too large to be able to choose anything other than a default partition layout, meaning /home is on the same partition as / (my graphics card was too new for the drivers at the time of the installation). To be able to do this, I also have to fix the disk problems on my main desktop which have cropped up over the weekend, which amount to the disk with my / partition on is showing hardware errors and struggled to boot, so I’ve had to leave it on and spinning while it’s ok while I wait for the chance to fix it. It also sent me a message saying that one of the disks in my /home partition RAID 1 pair has failed, so I have to fix that too before I can copy the disk images to it. Before I can do any of this, I have to write a set of slides for a talk I’m giving to Wolves LUG in 2 days and sort out my remaining CCNA work as I have to visit my lecturer tomorrow in preparation for the new semester which starts in around 2 weeks. Jeez, if it’s not one thing…

On the work front, I decided a while back that I will look to move on next year, but while I am happy to see that there are the kind of jobs I want to do, offering the kind of money I want and I have the skills to do them, almost none of them seem to be near where I live. So, decisions to be made.

Finally, it is now more than a year since I quit smoking and nearly a year since I last got drunk. Am I happy? Yes, of course. Do I miss it? Getting drunk, definitely – as you might notice, I don’t get to let loose very often these days and I really enjoy getting drunk as a means to just forget everything ordered and sensible that I carry around in my head all the time. I only miss cigarettes when I’m drunk, which hasn’t happened in a long time and is a good reason not to drink. Was it worth it? Absolutely, the hangovers were just far too much to deal with on an ongoing basis, 3 days of feeling like shit isn’t worth it for an average amount of alcohol to most people.

I think I’ll leave you to digest all that for now, speak in another 6 months πŸ™‚

LUG Radio Season 5 Episode 4: One From Four

In what is becoming a depressing ‘LUG Radio comes out more often than I blog’ situation, I am pleased to announce that Season 5, Episode 4 of LUG Radio, One From Four has been released into the wild:

It’s been a good few weeks for distro releases with Ubuntu, OpenSUSE, Fedora (beta) and Mandriva all releasing new versions but which ones best? The LUG Radio team talk to Adam Williamson from Mandriva then don asbestos suits and put all four through a series of real world tests in the LUG Radio Labs. We also discuss Internet Freaks, this week in the form of The Otherkin who believe they’re animals trapped in a human body and then the film BloodSpell – a film from the Machinima genre which uses a 3D game engine to create the animation, before we read out a selection of emails and forum posts from the LUG Radio hordes.

Before I leave you gentle reader, I must point that I as primary distro downloader for the test and also the reviewer of Mandriva, I downloaded and reviewed the wrong version. I downloaded the Mandriva Free edition which contains no proprietary drivers (NVidia, Intel wireless etc) or non-Free codecs, when I should have downloaded Mandriva One edition which contains the drivers I needed when I was bitching about the wireless support.

So with that in mind, download it from, Digg it here and vote it up the Slashdot Firehose here.

LugRadio: Season 5, Episode 3 – Divine Digits

In Season 5, Episode 3 of LugRadioDivine Digits, we interview Quim Gil from Nokia about Maemo and the new Nokia N810, we turn to the Lugradio Finger of God to determine the ultimate truth with electrifying results, ask if software vendors should be legally responsible for security flaws and Jono bores everyone about his recent flu-fuelled voyage of discovery into the world of software packaging, along with a hearty selection of your emails which include Nokia 770s and 800s, open source web applications, the KDE 4 release event, being too tight to buy a printer, Enlightenment live CDs, OOXML, Miguel de Icaza and a kick in the ‘nads for the LugRadio team.

Download it from and don’t forget to Digg it.

LugRadio: Season 5, Episode 2 – Lock, Stock, and One Smoking Barrel

“In the latest episode of LugRadio, “Lock, Stock, and One Smoking Barrel”, the team talk to Greg Kroah-Hartman from the Linux Driver Project, explore the potential of Open Source online office suites, discuss how the Free Software community approaches criticism and takes another mystery tour to find a long-lost free software project, all presented with the usual humor, colour and flourish that you have come to expect from the LugRadio team.”


Digg it here.


Sex Pistols Tickets

I have some for Manchester πŸ™‚

I came across the fact that The Sex Pistols are touring in November purely by chance and that all of the tickets for the shows had been sold in 15 minutes, so they announced 2 more shows with tickets to go on sale 2 days later. I set an alarm for 5 minutes before they went on sale and managed to bag some. Woo!

Of course I will have to slightly overlook the fact that we are all swallowing our punk credentials by being old, fat and doing it for the money, but as this might be the last chance I get to see them play live, I’ll have to live with that. And that fact that I’ve just screwed my finances for the month will have to go down as a worthwhile hardship.

I just wish I had been able to see The Clash play before Joe Strummer died.

Neuros OSD – A Further Review

Recently I reviewed the Neuros OSD in LUG Radio Season 5, Episode 1 and I was barraged with questions almost as soon as I started so I didn’t get to say half of the things I wanted to and also, I didn’t give an entirely fair representation of the OSD, given that I hadn’t had much chance to try it out, so here is a further review.

The most important thing I missed out was that the OSD can record and encode from pretty much any source, digital/analogue/cable/satellite TV, DVD, VCR etc. If you don’t use the same plug as the US then you’re going to need an adapter. If you live in a PAL area, which is most of Europe, South Asia and most of Africa (apart from much of west Africa) then you need to change the signalling to PAL, as it comes as NTSC by default.

I’m running the latest beta firmware as of 30/09/2007. I use European date format and so should you. Europe invented the rest of the world remember πŸ˜‰

On LUG Radio I said that it either didn’t play my media at all or that playback was jerky, further testing show that it plays around 80% of my movies and video files without a problem. In fact, after a firmware update, a few files which suffered from jerky playback now play properly, though some still don’t. AVI files worked best, WMVs played audio but no video, Ogg Theora video isn’t supported, though Ogg Vorbis audio is, say 8 out of 10 of my FLV video splayed ok and my single MP4 file didn’t play at all. Yes I know there’s a whole lot more to a codec than the file extension. For codec playback quality, you’re best off reading this page.

So far the problems as I see it are:

  • Jerky playback on around 15% of video files, quite a few people complain about this on the forums and most seem to say it improved with newer firmware, browse the forums for this one. Neuros invite people to send them clips that don’t play well. I also have clips that didn’t play at all. This seems to be an issue with decoding rather than either hardware performance or network bandwidth so far as I can tell. I am copying video files to my USB hard disk as we speak for a playback comparison.
  • No audio track support that I can find. I have a film where Spanish is the default language and I can’t change to the English audio. I haven’t tried movies which use subtitles.
  • No support for DVD menus I don’t think though I did get them to play by using the ‘next file’ type button.
  • Playback on multi-file movies (ie DVD files on a hard disk) didn’t work well for me when forwarding or rewinding across the files. They seemed to keep playing from the beginning of each file or starting from the beginning of the previous file and they lost audio sync.
  • The remote control seems very hit and miss, you have to put it in the right position, like with a TV set top aerial, for it to work.
  • I seemed to get occasional hangs where the thing tried to open a file and it didn’t start playing.

I haven’t tried recording yet.

I hope to update my blog when I have worked out how to fix some of these issues.On the other hand, when playback worked, it was fine. The audio player was fine and the Youtube viewer was great even though it is marked as beta status. Your can get a shell either using the beta application via the TV screen, using the serial console with the supplied cable or telnet. SMB browsing worked fine, although it’s hard work using the remote to key in your username and password and NFS worked fine too, although it’s recommended to use it in TCP mode and it wasn’t picked up automatically, I had to do it via the console (I have this problem on my Linux machines too, so I’m not sure if NFS can be ‘detected’ in the same way that SMB can, or whether I just don’t have it set up).

I believe they are hoping to release a new Neuros next year which will include wireless support and maybe local storage, but I might be making that up, so don’t believe me, read the Neuros website.

For now, I’d say that if you want a device which works almost flawlessly either wait for the issues I have outlined to be fixed or consider that it’s not for you. If you’re happy, like me, to support people making devices that do things the way you want them (ie no DRM, no hardware or software tie in) and you understand that there are problems to resolved which you will have to spend talking to the developers and on the forums to get resolved, then maybe this is for you. Mine cost around £100, at a special LUG Radio Live discounted rate.

My feature request forum post is here.

UPDATE: It seems FLV video is supported, I appear to have been playing the same 1 or 2 bad FLVs each time I tested. Also it was suggested on the forums that DVD playback, including that of DVDs that have been shrunk to below 4.7GB is beyond the hardware of the OSD, which is a shame, but I guess I can rip them down to 700MB AVIs or something.

It’s Coming

The new season of LUG Radio, my first as permanent presenter, starts on Monday 24th September 2007. That’s Season 5, Episode 1 in 3 days from now πŸ™‚

Go listen.

Nice Support, Dude

A colleague of mine just told me of his encounter with Virgin Media tech support yesterday evening. He’s on cable broadband and we need him to have a static IP address to be able to access certain work facilities, so he phoned them up.

It took an hour and a half for Virgin Media’s broadband tech support, including supervisors, to conclude that they didn’t know whether he had a static or dynamic IP address, or if he was dynamic, how he could get a static IP address from them.

They also told him that if he needed to transfer some files from home to work and back then he should just copy them on to a CD and take them with him. This wasn’t a failing of their system in being able to tell them, they just didn’t know what their addressing scheme was or which was provided by which product in their range.

Now let’s not forget, call centre staff are mostly poorly trained and badly treated by their employers and their customer alike, so let’s not shoot them for it, but somebody should at least train them in the benefits of their different packages and whether a certain product provides a dynamic or static IP address. This is supposed to be technical support.

Personally, I found that shocking, so I thought I’d tell everyone. Every service provider in the world has it’s proportion of dissatisfied customers, so remember, don’t shoot the call centre staff, shoot the policy makers and please don’t take this as an opprtunity to make my blog a focal point for venting your spleen about service providers πŸ™‚

UPDATE: In a second call to Virgin Media broadband support, at 75p per minute, my colleague was bounced around from department to department again, before finally being put on to someone who knew about this sort of thing who told him that you can’t statically address connections (and by connection, I assume they mean a cable broadband end-point) otherwise the Internet wouldn’t work. Shocking.