Google Wave Invite

Ok, this is not something I would normally do, but it seems I am out of favour with the Googlemeister at the moment. It seems I requested an invite at the same time everyone else did, yet the great God of Google has yet to take it upon himself to reward me with an invitation to the Wave party.

I was hoping to do a write up of Google Wave once I had chance to see it, but at this rate I guess it will be a bit late. So, if anyone happens to have a Google Wave invite going spare and would care to hook me up with one it would be much appreciated.

Thanks 😀

Fasthosts email outage… Will they ever learn?

It seems that not for the first time UK based Fasthosts Internet have experienced massive outages, this time to their email service. As reported in the UK Business Forums lots of people have found that they have lost access to their email over the past 24 hours. The situation is starting to get resolved for some users, but for many they have lost an entire days worth of email access.

This is not the first time it has happened either. Back in 2007 Fasthosts broke their email system and didn’t have reliable backups. Further back than that their backbone went down for nearly a week.

For a company that claims to provide reliable hosting and support they do not exactly have the best track record. I jumped ship with Fasthosts after one of their big outages as it cost me business. One of their flagship products is reseller hosting, encouraging customers to put all their eggs in one basket. That’s all well and good, but when things go wrong their phonelines tie up and they drop those eggs all over the floor.

This might be ok if you have some hobby sites, but if you rely on hosting for a percentage of your income I would recommend hosting with someone who does answer the phone and has people in place to fix faults fast.

Oh… one last thing… when was the last time you (or your host) did a backup of your sites and email? 😉

Word of the year – “Unfriend”

It looks like modern technology has brought the English language to a new low. “Unfriend” has been named the word of the year by the New Oxford American Dictionary, chosen from a list of finalists with a tech-savvy bent.

The word, meaning “to remove someone as a “friend” on a social networking site such as Facebook” was chosen ahead of other such ridiculous words such as “intexticated”, “funemployed” and “sexting”.

Maybe I am just old fashioned, and hell I am not one to get all high and mighty on grammar, I struggle at the best of times, but these words remind me of Newspeak from George Orwell’s 1984. The premise is basically to reduce the number of words in the dictionary by removing words that are not needed and replacing them with modifications of other words. So, the opposite of “good” would no longer be “bad” but rather “ungood”.

alesha1Watching the BBC it is clear the English language is in enough trouble as it is. The TV show “Strictly Come Dancing” is the worst offender by far. Alesha Dixon is no candidate for Mensa it must be said, but the BBC should really give her some lessons in English and not allow her to come up with sentences such as “you was good” or “I think you done it better last time”.

As far as I am concerned there should be more focus on teaching correct use of the words currently in the dictionary, rather than dumbing down the dictionary even more than it already is.

One last thing,  “Hashtag” was also a finalist. Sorry, I know what it is, but it sounds like a sport for drug users!

Acer Aspire Revo – First impressions

On Thursday I purchased the Acer Aspire Revo as my media centre solution. After living with it for a few days I thought I would write a quick round up of the positives and negatives of the Revo.

Positives

  • It is quiet… VERY quiet
  • Fairly small
  • Has a VESA mount (I used it to put it on the wall!)
  • Runs XBMC very well

Negatives

  • Doesn’t currently like playing DVD images, although hi-def content and divx work fine
  • No remote control
  • No IR port
  • Iphone remote is ok, but no solution full-fime, and keeps losing connection

The remote control issue doesn’t seem too important at first, until you look at the cost of remotes that will work with XBMC (no-IR port). They come in at around £20, but add this to the cost of the Revo, already more expensive than some media centres that come with remotes, and suddenly the cost is starting to creep up.

The main benefit I see of choosing the Revo over the likes of the Xtremer is the fact you can run XBMC on it. Some of the scripts and themes for XBMC are very slick indeed and the community is great.

One of the negatives I listed is playback of DVD images (std resolution). I think this could be the fact I am using the Alpha version of the new software. I cannot think of a reason why it could stream 1080p content fine yet struggle with DVD images. I will do a bit of digging and find out.

Overall I am very happy with my purchase. It does the job well (and quietly) and lets me run some excellent software on it. The only thing I am considering next is whether to replace the live version of XBMC with the Ubuntu version and see if I can add some TV playing/recording functionality in the future, maybe using MythTV?

UPDATE: I have figured out the issue with DVD’s. I run FreeNAS on one of my machines and for some reason it was maxing out around 1MB/s. I have upgraded the software version and now it is maxing out around 4MB/s, still not great but good enough for DVD playback. Anyway, as far as the Acer is concerned it is working fine 😀

Amazon “super saver” delivery

Yes, time for another rant… it’s been at least 24h since the last one 😀

I ordered Call of Duty – Modern Warfare 2 on Tuesday morning because Amazon had it in stock and were price matching the local supermarket which I was too lazy to get out of bed and visit.

I chose the supersaver (free) delivery option as I wasn’t in that much of a hurry and thought as long as I get it this week it should be fine. Anyway, I just logged into Amazon and their estimate for delivery is 17th – 19th!

I must admit it is partly my fault. Mainly because this has happened to me before with Amazon. They offer the expensive shipping options and the reason people pay up is because Amazon sit on the order for 3-4 days before they even start the shipping process.

I should have known better, but it does seem wrong. I can understand paying extra to get it sent courier, or before 12 noon etc, but to pay extra just so the begin the delivery process in a timely manner is a bit off.

Another day, a different media streamer

After the farce trying to purchase an xtreamer this week I decided last night (at 7pm) to purchase one of these:

acer-aspire-revo2-small

I am going to run XBMC on it, which I have never used but looks very cool! The reviews of this kit look pretty good, although it is £40 more expensive than the xtreamer. From what I read it will stream 1080p content without too much trouble, although will struggle with flash content and iPlayer stuff. This worries me a little, not really because I want to do that, I doubt I would, but more that the bottleneck might make manifest itself in other areas at some point.

I placed my order at 8pm last night and (supposedly) I should take delivery today… we’ll see, I guess!

UPDATE: I ordered the Revo 8pm last night, and it was here by 10am this morning… now THAT’S service!

Link to Acer Aspire Revo -[Link]

Info about XBMC -[Link]

Change the order of Firefox status bar icons

I recently installed a bundle of Firefox status bar utilities. The problem is the installed on but moved my Echofon (Twitter client) into the middle of the status bar. This felt a little odd so I wanted to move it, but couldn’t see how.

Eventually I found out this is how to do it, so I thought I would share:

To change the order of the status icons you need to edit the file

“extensions.ini”

located in your personal profile “Application Data\Mozilla\Firefox\Profiles\{whatever}”

Change the position of the entries for the section ExtensionDirs and the order of the symbols in your status bar will change according to that sorting.

Simple as that 😀

Still waiting for my Xtreamer

The other day I wrote about my plans to provide media streaming in the house. I said I had placed an order for the Xtreamer.

Well maybe I am expecting too much now that Internet companies have mostly got their arses into gear and tend to ship same day if you order early enough (except Amazon, but that’s for another rant!), but I placed my order Sunday night (8th) and it is still not here.

Of course, maybe my standards are too high but if a company is going to not post your product out immediately there should be notification, order tracking, or something. How do I know if it is due tomorrow or 3 weeks on Friday?

I emailed their contact address and was told (by automated reply) that they are posting the products out same day, and that I would not receive any more emails from them. Really? Then where is it? Is this an acceptable response?

I am starting to get a little irked, again maybe because most ebayers I deal with post out same day, as do most online retailers.  Is it too much to ask to dispatch within 48h, and if not to simply let me know?

Oh well, it will arrive when it will arrive I guess, but in the mean time I can’t help but have a deflated opinion of them as a company.

UPDATE: I just chased them up and they are out of stock til the 17th and will process the order then. I have asked for a refund and they said accounts will have to get back to me! For crying out loud I have rarely seen this level of incompetence before (or maybe I am just spoiled).

xtreamer-conv2

I will be looking for another alternative now, maybe a small PC to run XBMC on?

New Favicon generator/library

I was recently looking for a favicon of a flag to use in a project I am working on. During my search I came across favicon.cc, a cool little site that lets you design your favicon online, share your creations, and use favicons others have created.favicon.cc

It really is a simple tool, but a genius concept. Sometimes I am looking to incorporate a logo into a favicon, but other times I am just wanting a favicon that reflects the site, and for this purpose this is great! There is quite a growing selection of favicons on there and it will only grow over time.

I have recommended the Dynamic Drive favicon generator in the past for converting images into favicons, but for creating from scratch or picking from a library this site is great!