August 6, 2008

Cyberlink remote controller under Linux (MythtTV)

I've only recently managed to get one of these bad boys working under Linux (Ubuntu/Mythbuntu to be specific). After countless hours of trying to fiddle around with lircd config files to no avail I came across this site:

twe.awardspace.com/cyberlink/

If you have one of these remotes, or one simlar you will be able to tell by having a quick look at the output from dmesg, there will be a line similar to this one:

input: TopSeed Tech Corp. USB IR Combo Device  as /class/input/inputx

If you have one of these then I'd definitely recommend visiting the above site, a quick download, grab a couple of dependencies, and you're away.

This post may hopefully give this guy some exposure and hopefully increase the chances that future owners of one of these will be able to make full use of it.

May 8, 2008

Damn Spammers

Firstly, I'd like to apologise to anyone who is visiting this site purely because they have received a strange email from my domain. It wasn't me, I promise.

Due to a large cock-up on my part it would seem that there was an account on my server with a weak password, this was exploited last night, and someone managed to send almost 1 million emails (as far as I can gather) before being booted off this morning.

I think I'm all secured now, so hopefully this won't happen in the future, and now I get to begin hunting around for anything that the intruders may have left behind (oh the joy).

Once again, apologies to anyone affected by any of these emails. I'll try to make sure nothing like this happens again.

September 24, 2007

Watching videos on the Wii (a Wii Media Centre)

Your videos on your Wii

I've been looking into the best way of playing videos (from my main machine) on my Wii recently. I'm sure lots of people have a stack of video files sitting on their main computer, tucked away in a spare bedroom and a Wii hooked up to a nice large TV in their living room (with comfy sofas etc), and I've often thought how handy it would be to have an interface to be able to watch them on the big TV via the Wii.

This is a subject I have spent alot of time on recently, and my endeavours have only recently started to show any real merit, so I thought it was time to write a little bit about them. This is the basic theory.

If you have a wireless network...

With your main machine on it...

And your Wii...

Given that the Wii's browser can display videos from sites like YouTube, surely it must be possible to stream videos over to your Wii with relative ease.

There are already a few programs that you can download for this purpose. One of the most popular is Wii Media Centre X, basically a Java app that has it's own webserver built-in which serves videos in Flash Video format to the Wii. Simple. But it has one limitation which prevented me from wanting to use it. All the videos you wanted to watch on the Wii had to be in Flash format, which meant either converting your entire video stash to FLV format (an losing quite  bit of quality on most of them), or make two copies of each video (essentially doubling the space required for your media). Neither of these two approaches I found very favourable, and the hassle of going upstairs, converting a video, then going back down to watch it just seemed silly.

This is where the basic premise for my project comes in. A way of converting videos on the fly, for playing on the Wii. Over the next few posts I wil explain how I achieved this, and give you the source files if you fancy a go yourself.

August 27, 2007

Regular Expression Help

As a (mainly) Perl developer I often have to write scripts involving regular expressions. As anyone knows that has worked with these before, they can be amazing helpful... and amazingly frustrating.

On one my many trawlings of the interweb I can across this perl module: YAPE::Regex::Explain (it's CPAN description page can be found at http://search.cpan.org/~pinyan/YAPE-Regex-Explain-3.011/Explain.pm ) I found this module so useful, I knocked up a simple CGI script that allows users to get their Regular expressions explained online, this can be found here: http://www.hampsonism.co.uk/regexp.cgi.

After mentioning this at work, one of my senior colleagues (a gentleman MUCH cleverer than myself) pointed us at a tool, Rugular Expression Coach (found here: http://weitz.de/regex-coach/) which by far surpasses my own little tool. I believed that it deserved a little more publicity, hence this blog post (my firt for quite a while in fact), to bring a little more light to the sterling work they are doing.

May 15, 2007

I'm now an Expert :-)

Well, it's official, after a week or so of answering questions I've become an official expert on Experts Exchange, now I've just got to amount 50,000 points in one particular area to become a "Master" ;-)

For anyone who hasn't come across this site yet it is enormously helpful to any computer professional, hundreds of experts, on almost any subject available night and day, the majority of questions are answered within 10-20 minutes.

You can either pay for a subscription, or, if strapped for cash do what I did, become an expert. Answer about 8 or 9 questions and you'll get free full subscription as long as you answer a few every month.

Here's my profile: http://www.experts-exchange.com/M_4058338.html

As you can see I've not been a member long, but the points rack up pretty quick ;-)

Hope you enjoy it.

May 5, 2007

How to get out of a “dodgy” mobile phone contract – Part 2, The Solution

In part one of this story we heard the story of my mobile contract problems, if you thought it was long-winded to read, imagine going through that hassle. Days of phoning and looking for companies to help me, eventually the problem was solved in just under two weeks. And here’s how…

As well as very immoral business practices the company in question’s awkwardness had actually worked against them, when I told them I hadn’t said I wanted to commit to a new deal they provided me with the audio file of my telephone conversation which they said proved that I had entered into a verbal contract with them. The verbal contract in question was a low, fast, muffled “thuscommittingtous” slipped in just before an answer to one of my questions.

However this proved to be their downfall, not only would that not stand up had I the inclination to take them to court, this company broke almost every SINGLE one of the rules laid down in the Distance Selling Regulations Act. This is how the lady at Trading Standards had been able to fix this.

Under the Distance Selling Regulations Act not only must the fact that the customer is entering into a contract must be made clear (which it wasn’t), but paper work confirming everything agreed must be sent in a timely fashion (it wasn’t sent at all) and the 14-day “cooling off” period, which apparently I went beyond, only begins once the paperwork is received. In the case that none is sent the consumer was a whopping 3 months to cancel the service.

The moral of the story is, when you have dealing with dodgy mobile companies, the Distance Selling Regulation Act, and Trading Standards are your friends, and you should be able to wriggle out of even the most awkward of situations.

How to get out of a “dodgy” mobile phone contract – Part 1, The Situation

Nowadays there are more and more unethical mobile phone businesses in this country, their aim is solely to trick poor customers into either getting into rather nasty mobile contracts, to trick users into renewing contracts (forgoing their rights to any mobile phone upgrades, and to generally mis-lead the public.

I will first describe the situation I found myself in, mentioning no names of any companies (I can’t afford to get sued by anyone), this entry should hopefully illustrate the problem and offer some advice to anyone that finds themselves in a similar situation.

A brief overview of the situation I found myself in is this: I received a phone call from a mobile phone (which I’ll choose not to name) claiming to be acting on behalf of the mobile service provider that I already had an account with. I was informed that they would like to discuss the possibility of continuing with my mobile service provider (as my contract was almost up) and was told I was eligible for a £25 loyalty cheque. I was told I would receive some information in the post in the next few days and thought nothing of it. About three weeks later I decided I was going to go ahead and renew my contract with my service provider. I was told that my contract had already been renewed. I had no idea that this had been done and asked for information. Eventually I was put through to the company that had set up this up. I asked why this contract had been set up and if I could cancel. I was told that in the phone call I had received that i had received that the person on the phone had made it very clear that I was renewing my contract. Even better than this apparently when I accepted the “loyalty” cheque I had forgone the right to a mobile upgrade too. Although I should mention that I later found out from my mobile provider that a shiny phone had indeed been sent out somewhere. Just not to me, and I could not be told where this phone had gone. The company told me because I had gone beyond the 14-day “cooling off” period, I couldn’t cancel the contract, even though, as I explained I had no idea I was in a contract.

I phoned my mobile service provider who said they couldn’t help me and I would have to speak to Ofcom (the government watchdog for communication).

I phoned Ofcom and was told by them that they didn’t cover mobile communications, only broadcasting and wired telecommunications. I was directed to a company called Otelo who are an Ombudsman Service for public communication providers they can be found here: http://www.otelo.org.uk/ now by Otelo I was told that I was going to have to follow the mobile phone company’s complaint procedure which meant writing them a letter, then either waiting 3 months with no reply, or a letter saying that the company will not help you further with your grievance. Only once this had happened could they step in on my behalf.

Three months is a long time to wait, and in that interim period I was still going to have be paying the line rental on a contract I didn’t want. So I wanted to get this fixed quicker. So the next stage was to try Trading Standards. After a phone call to them I thought they wouldn’t be very helpful, they were “looking into it” however a day later I received a phone call from the lady I’d spoken to saying that they were going to allow me to cancel, obviously she had put the fear of God into them somehow, and we’ll find out how in Part 2…

Chris is online! :-)

Well, my blog finally got up and going on a nice little virtual server provided by the lovely people at Redwood Virtual, http://www.redwoodvirtual.com, nice virtual servers at BARGAIN prices. At some point I may get round to putting up a brief description of how I got this server up and going on the Debian installation I have here, but considering the sheer amount of tutorials into getting the Movable Type blogging platform up and running I may let laziness prevail on this one. ;-)

Anyways, welcome to hampsonism.co.uk, I hope you find something interesting or amusing.