Archive for February, 2008

OAPs having fun

February 20th, 2008 No comments

Parking Ticket (from iStockPhoto)From the Inbox:

“Working people frequently ask retired people what they do to make their days interesting.

Well, for example, the other day my wife and I went into town and went into a shop.

We were only in there for about 5 minutes but when we came out there was a warden writing out a parking ticket.

We went up to him and said, ‘Come on mate, how about giving an OAP a break?’

He ignored us and continued writing the ticket.

I called him a Nazi turd. He glared at me and started writing another ticket for having worn tyres.

So my wife called him a s**t-head. He finished the second ticket and put it on the windscreen with the first.

Then he started writing a third ticket. This went on for about 20 minutes. The more we abused him, the more tickets he wrote.

Personally, we didn’t care. We came into town by bus.

We try to have a little fun each day now that we’re retired, it’s important at our age.”

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NHS Online Waiting Time

February 15th, 2008 No comments

Nice to see that the NHS webservers reflect the real-life experience:

NHS Waiting
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Opening the USB cover on a Nokia 6300

February 12th, 2008 14 comments

I get so many search engine hits on my Nokia 6300 post where the search string is “How do I open the USB cover on Nokia 6300” that I thought I’d knock up a quick post on this.

To be perfectly honest, I’m quite curious as to why people are asking this in the first place. It’s not that difficult and if you’re not sure, I’m sure it’s in the manual. Anyway, if you’re still struggling read on…

The USB socket is located on the bottom of the phone. To open the cover there is a slot to the left of the cover.

Nokia 6300 USB Cover

Insert your fingernail… (if you’ve got no nails or you’re a girly with nails you don’t want to break, a small flat bladed screwdriver is just as good)

Nokia 6300 USB Cover

and flick it towards you. The cover hinges down.

Open USB Cover

The cover is now open.

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Tape Storage vs Flash

February 12th, 2008 2 comments

While clearing out some old gear, I found some of my old backup tape cartridges: DC2120 and TR400.

DC2120 Backup Cartridge
Travan TR400

66 DC2120 = 1 8GB SD CardWhat’s interesting is the storage capacity compared to today: 120MB and 400MB respectively. This was sufficient at the time to make a complete backup of my hard drive, but today would be very quickly filled with a few sets of digital photos. Compare this with an 8GB SD Flash card available for £16.99 today.

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Shock ingredient found in Eggs

February 11th, 2008 No comments

More crazy nanny labelling. Here is a box of eggs from Asda, remember eggs, got that? It is an egg box after all, so what else would you expect it to contain?

Egg Box

Inside is the obligatory nutritional information, including some less than useful allergy advice:

Nutritional Advice

Look closely – Yes, you read that correctly, it says “Contains egg”.

Contains Egg

Kind of reminds me of Wonko the Sane and the toothpicks in Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. If you’re that stupid that you need to be told that eggs contain eggs then you’re hardly likely to be able to read this on the box. What drives food producers to put this sort of blindingly obvious stuff on packaging? What stops them sitting back and saying “Wait a minute, this looks stupid”?

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BBC iPlayer hogs Upload Bandwidth

February 6th, 2008 4 comments

BBC iPlayerI tried BBC’s iPlayer last year, even though they still have it locked into Microsoft, but along with several others, could not get it working. All I got was meaningless error messages.

I tried again last month. This time it did give a more meaningful error “there is a problem with DRM in your Windows Media Player, click here for information on how to fix this”, except that the link only sent me to a non-responsive web server.

Last night I tried again, and the link worked, except that it didn’t take me to a solution page as expected, but to a general FAQ site on iPlayer. After several page-digging minutes later (you would expect this issue to be on the front page of the FAQ) I managed to find a page describing a solution. I tried it and, what do you know, it worked.

Not surprisingly, the problem was with Microsoft’s Media Player and the solution involved deleting some DRM system files, a visit to a Microsoft page to re-download DRM files and since we’re talking Microsoft, the obligatory reboot. Not the sort of hoops a user should have to jump through just to install a program.

I then downloaded a handful of BBC programmes without problem. (One of my daughters was especially happy to see a CBeebies programme among them.)
BBC iPlayer Swamps Upload (Red Line)After they had downloaded, I noticed the lights on the router were still flashing away. I checked my usage graphs and was surprised to see my upload was being completely swallowed up by the iPlayer software busy sharing the programmes with other users. (See red line on graph). Now before you say anything, I fully understood before I installed iPlayer that it was a peer-to-peer application, but I have downloaded linux distros before using a BitTorrent type client and have never seen my upload swamped like this. I can only assume that there are so many other users on iPlayer that any free upload seeds will be quickly picked up and hammered.

Now we come to the important missing part – there is no way to control this except the option not to share when the iPlayer download manager is closed. Any normal respectable BitTorrent client allows you to limit the number of connections and bandwidth used for upload. I presume this option is missing, because the BBC wants to maximise the number of connections available to other users, and therefore the quality of their experience.

I had similar problems installing Sky Anytime (same kontiki based engine underneath) so I thought I’d give that a go too. This time it installed OK (the BBC fix had obviously had its effect here too) and I downloaded a few programmes. However, once you shut Sky Anytime down, it does not stop sharing files with others and doesn’t give you the option to stop either, because the kontiki engine is installed as a service in Windows.

The only way to stop it, is to fire up Task Manager and kill ‘kservice.exe’ and ‘khost.exe’, however these will reappear if you reboot or restart the clients. I have since gone into services and changed ‘kservice.exe’ from Automatic to Manual start.

Apparently, uninstalling the clients will not uninstall the kontiki engine. Sky provide a downloadable program called Kclean to remove these (BBC used to, but have removed the link), but I don’t want to remove the clients, I just want software that doesn’t hog my connection.

The other missing configuration option is upload/download ratio. Normally on a Torrent client you can set the maximum ratio of upload to download, so for example for every 1MB downloaded, the client will not share that 1MB file more than twice. Both Sky and BBC clients are fixed at unlimited. That is just taking the P***.

I have found this useful piece of software from ‘the Technophile’, which monitors both iPlayer and Channel 4’s 4od player and kills the upload automatically when you close them. It doesn’t mention Sky, but it has a simple option to ‘Stop Sharing now’ which stops the kontiki service and therefore any player system relying on it. Highly recommended.


Sky Tray IconIt does work with the Sky software. When you close the Sky software (from the tray icon) BeebAnd4Monitor spots this too and stops Kontiki.

Limiting iPlayer’s use of Bandwidth

Unfortunately, when iPlayer (or 4od/Sky Anytime) are running to allow you to watch programmes, they will be hammering your connection for what they can. I can recommend NetLimiter to restrict how much bandwidth you allow them to use.

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