Archive for the 'IT' Category

26
May
10

me, my vps and the beeb

Sometime ago, I decided to get a VPS as a web hosting solution. upon discovering an interest for formula one, I then begin on an epic quest to discover methods of watching it without getting a cable subscription. as it turns out, using a VPS as a proxy works as a solution for most UK media. namely the BBC’s iPlayer. however, there was one primary problem, i could not access live sports feeds and live video feeds.

My initial methods of getting a proxy going revolved around ssh-ing to the VPS as demonstrated here. However, to my chagrin, I could not watch live F1 – while the audio and radio broadcasts remained fine, iPlayer refused to load, with the ambiguous error message “The content could not be loaded. Please try again later.”. Try again later I did, and fail again later I experienced.

This sent me on a quest to attempt to discover what may be the underlying cause of this oddity. It clearly cannot be a result of the browser settings, given that to other sites and the beeb itself, my browser plays media fine (apart from live content). So this issue must be unique to the live media – which implies that there must be another method of discovering that my browser is using a proxy.

Some googling brought further light on the situation. It turned out that people trying to watch Hulu in the US experienced the same issues, and the main thing in common is that both of them use Flash player. It turns out that one of the idiosyncrasy of Flash is that the RTMP protocol uses stateful TCP connections and the resulting “bug” is that RTMP videos may not be available to computers behind proxy servers. In this case, this is used as a clever method of detecting if a client is using a proxy server as since RTMP uses direct TCP, it bypasses the proxy server settings of the browser and thus attempts to connect to the media directly through the current connection as stated here.

Some proposed solutions involve using foxyproxy, but I’ve decided to use Proxifier. Proxifier can be used on an 31 day evaluation basis. More details can be found here and here (it’s for mac but it works on a similar principle). Upon getting Proxifier, I quickly had a go at trying to configure my proxy – and it worked! I got BBC1 going on live broadcast, and if nothing really changes, I should theoretically get to watch the Turkish GP on the Beeb this weekend! Win!

15
May
10

the table fan

a decision i made 5 years ago has returned to bite me in the arse last night. whilst playing l4d2 with a couple of friends my graphics card decided that it was a little too hot, resulting in my PC giving up the ghost. of course, the reason behind this is simple – i forgot to turn my table fan on.

Yes, table fan. 5 years ago, when assembling the computer, I decided to passively cool my graphics card with a coolermaster coolviva heatsink. This seemed to be a good idea at the time since passive, silent computing was the “in” thing in 2005. Fast forward to 2010, when I’m playing L4D with friends. Usually I have a table fan pointed towards my open case in order to provide some degree of auxiliary cooling. On that faithful night, I forgot to switch on said fan. What happened afterwards was quick, simple and painful. Also expensive – the new card cost me $109.24.

The dead card was a XFX 6600GT. It was replaced with a EN220 from ASUS. One of the things that I’m supremely thankful for in this case was the purchase of a motherboard with PCI-E slots – the first of its kind in 2005.

I guess there’s a fringe benefit to the death of my graphics card. I no longer need to have the table fan on whilst gaming.

02
Sep
09

LOL on demand

Face it, the world is a hard hard place to live in. Stress levels are high, people are often angry and frustrated and sometimes I just need a good laugh. Amusing oneself is no easy feat, but I have found my little corner of gold, the end of the rainbow metaphorically speaking.
With the internet, laughs can be easily obtained, but I thought I’d share a couple of my favourite sources for my daily “LOL”.
The GP forums Daily Pic/Video thread
incorporating the best of the internet for the day, the crowd at GP forums manage to get the most awesome, hilarious, politically incorrect pictures and videos up on the forum thread. Being updated daily is a bonus, but 485 and counting pages of archived material ensures that boredom never takes over!
F My Life
“Today, I was hanging out with a group of friends when I got into a conversation with this really attractive girl who I’ve liked for months. She asked me what school I go to. I sit to her left in biology. FML”
I usually check this site out when I’m feeling a tad down. People from all over the world document the crappiness of their lives here. Never has a short and concise paragraph made me so aware of how crap other’s lives are. Definitely worth checking out for many hours of laughter!
And
Failblog
An excellent archive of how NOT to do something.
Reddit
Community judged LOLs, reddit aggregrates funny articles from all around the world and users vote them up or down depending on how much they want others to read said article. Definitely the Cliff’s version of the above links!
The internet is the world’s largest, and funniest jokebook. Thank you Tim Berners-Lee.

Face it, the world is a hard hard place to live in. Stress levels are high, people are often angry and frustrated and sometimes I just need a good laugh. Amusing oneself is no easy feat, but I have found my little corner of gold, the end of the rainbow metaphorically speaking.

With the internet, laughs can be easily obtained, but I thought I’d share a couple of my favourite sources for my daily “LOL”.

The GP forums Daily Pic/Video thread

incorporating the best of the internet for the day, the crowd at GP forums manage to get the most awesome, hilarious, politically incorrect pictures and videos up on the forum thread. Being updated daily is a bonus, but 485 and counting pages of archived material ensures that boredom never takes over!

http://www.gpforums.co.nz/thread/258805

F My Life

“Today, I was hanging out with a group of friends when I got into a conversation with this really attractive girl who I’ve liked for months. She asked me what school I go to. I sit to her left in biology. FML”

I usually check this site out when I’m feeling a tad down. People from all over the world document the crappiness of their lives here. Never has a short and concise paragraph made me so aware of how crap other’s lives are. Definitely worth checking out for many hours of laughter!

http://www.fmylife.com/

Failblog

An excellent archive of how NOT to do something.

http://failblog.org/

Reddit

Community judged LOLs, reddit aggregrates funny articles from all around the world and users vote them up or down depending on how much they want others to read said article. Definitely the Cliff’s version of the above links!

http://www.reddit.com/r/funny/

The internet is the world’s largest, and funniest jokebook. Thank you Tim Berners-Lee!

17
Aug
09

Adventures with the Z16

This year, I finally made the plunge to purchase a new laptop to replace the current laptop I’m using (a BenQ joybook 7000). Although the Joybook has been a good laptop to use till now (purchased 28 Feb 2005), it simply lacks the grunt and speed for using my typical day to day applications. In addition, RAM and HDD space cannot be upgraded beyond their current limits and the battery has unfortunately kicked the bucket.

So thus began the hunt for a new laptop and I finally decided on getting the Sony VAIO Z16. Why Sony? Firstly, due to the model being an EOL model when I purchased it, the price was an utter steal. Secondly, it was very much lighter than my previous laptops and has an awesome screeen resolution (1600×900 on a 13.3in screen). Not to mention that it has a docking port (now I just have to get the docking station for it.)

Getting a laptop is very much like dating a girl, the initial courting phase is very much an arbitary one. How many times you view the laptop at the shop, you are unable to identify it idiosyncracies. Face value is all you can get before you buy the laptop. (That said, you can’t go on a forum and ask “Does anyone know how this girl performs”, its not really a perfect analogy I know).

First impressions of the laptop were good, build quality was reasonable (not perfect, the battery was loose).  Screen was stunning, and Microsoft Vista was as usual – an utter pain in the neck. Fast forward to April 2009, when Windows released the beta version of 7 and I tried to upgrade my laptop.

One of the main defining features of W7 was the ability to run a native WinXP virtual PC from within the OS, however, a requirement was that Intel’s VT-x be enabled. Ironically, Sony decided to lock out this feature for security reasons (link). Problem #1 – VT-x was disabled in the BIOS by Sony, with no means of enabling it. (other workarounds exist now thanks to the great work of the community.) Problem #2 – I attempted to run W7 x64 on the OS, but that lead to little success as Sony has failed to release the x64 drivers for the “Hybrid Graphics” chipset.

I have now modified my BIOS in my Z16, but unfortunately, CPU-Z refuses to tell me that VT-X has been enabled (why oh why). A new link stating that the battery has to be removed and the laptop powercycled proves to be promising, this will be tried and I will update this blog soon after. (Update! Securable reports that VT-x is enabled! No idea why CPU-Z refuses to show me this fact tho)

I have a feeling that this love-hate relationship with my VGN-Z16 will be one to remember in times to come.

What: Sony VAIO VGN Z16

Pros:

– Got it for cheap

– HDMI, Hybrid Graphics

– 1600×900 Screen (13.3)

– 1.57 KGs

Cons:

No Backlight

Many features disabled by Sony

Gets warm

Battery loose

Accessories are expensive

16
Aug
09

Zero to PI in irrelevant seconds.

Lurking around local forums often turns up some interesting trends, of one to note is the blatant need for one upmanship in terms of computer specifications. Often, the following figure is a common sight on the signature of members of these forums.

This is a relatively mild example, other cases tout computers that cost a lot more. Which brings me to the main point of this post. Computers these days have reached a point where performance differences between a computer that costs about 2500 and one that costs 4500 are negligible. Beyond the world of synthetic benchmarks, in what situations would the full potential of these computers be exploited? I can imagine a few select scenarios, namely specialist compilation and gaming in high definition. Would it be worth paying this much dough for a computer that would remain barely relevant in the next 2 years to come?

I believe that many PC users these days buy and construct PCs not according to their needs and requirements, but rather the rights to wave their big stick around “Hey I’ve got the most powerful computer around here! Respect me!” . Because, honestly, to use an i7 for word processing and facebook? Money can be better spent elsewhere.




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