Category Archives: Entertainment

How to watch NOW TV in your university halls

So you’ve arrived at your uni halls and want to hook up your NOW TV box as it’s a cheap way to watch Sky TV and get the iPlayer, ITV Player, All4, Demand 5 and YouTube on your TV without an aerial.

However you’ve hit a problem, although your NOW TV box can see the hall wifi you get Error Code 014 and have nowhere to enter your username and password.

Continue reading How to watch NOW TV in your university halls

Join NowTV and get a £10 shopping voucher – plus your chance to win more

January 2016 update: although the £10 gift card offer has since ended, it is possible to get NOW TV entertainment or movies at half price for the first three months using the links.

So I’ve been with NowTV for over a year, and regularly used them since April. For just £6.99 a month I get access to 13 pay channels including Sky Atlantic, Sky One, Sky Living, Sky Arts 1 and Fox (plus the less watched ITV Encore, Discovery, MTV, Comedy Central, Disney, Nickelodeon, NickJr and Gold) through the internet.

Not only do they provide a catchup service for most new shows, but also boxsets of some you might have missed in the past, including The Wire, The West Wing, 24 and Game of Thrones (shows come and go, and some might have every season right now).

Continue reading Join NowTV and get a £10 shopping voucher – plus your chance to win more

TalkTalk Super Router v3 (HG635) DDNS with Cloudflare

Hopefully you’ve reached this page through Google, otherwise it’s unlikely you’ll have reason to read the rest of this blog post.

I recently received a new TalkTalk Super Router v3, which is made by Huawei and has the model number HG635. I was interested in getting some kind of Dynamic DNS set up and was pleased to see that it had some settings under Internet->Internet Services.

The options available were DynDns.org, TZO and other. As DynDns had just gone down the paid router after many years of being free I was keen to see if I could do something myself with “Other”. From here were a collection of settings including Protocol set to GNUDip.http. After a while of Googling it looked possible to set up my own GNUDip running on Perl speaking to my own DNS server. Except I couldn’t be bother to install Perl and I no longer managed the DNS server but now used CloudFlare.

Continue reading TalkTalk Super Router v3 (HG635) DDNS with Cloudflare

Automatically deleting old emails in Gmail

As a follow up to my post Deleting old emails in Gmail 3 years ago, I’ve now found a way to automatically delete old emails from Gmail.
This trick uses the rather unknown Google Scripts, a Javascript engine which runs on Googles servers.

  • Pop to Gmail and test some searches, eg label:webserver older_than:1m this will find all emails labelled webserver and are older than 1 month (full list of search options here.
  • Once you are happy that your search result has found the emails you don’t want, go to script.google.com.
  • Select Create script for GMail
  • Delete all the example code
  • Enter this code
    function deleteOldEmails() {
    var threads = GmailApp.search('label:webserver older_than:1m');
    GmailApp.moveThreadsToTrash(threads);
    }

    ensuring you replace label:webserver older_than:1m with your search phrase
  • Save you project
  • Press run
  • Once the notification at the top has gone, check back in Gmail to confirm your emails have been deleted.
  • To automate, click on the Clock icon, Add a new trigger. Select your function, you want it Time-driven, and for me I’ve selected Month timer, 1, Midnight to 1:00am

The result will be on the first of every month Gmail deletes all emails older than 1 month from my webserver folder.

o2 and the over zealous family filter?

So if you’ve been on social media this weekend you will have seen a number of tweets like this with people astounded that their site is being blocked by o2.


Did they discover this because they couldn’t access the site on their mobile? No because they followed a link someone else tweeted, entered their URL and saw the word BLOCKED.
So what exactly is “Parental Control”, this page on the o2 website explains:

Parental Control is a service we offer to help parents to protect their children while they’re online. It enables us to restrict children’s web access via their mobile to a limited number of sites which are suitable for children.

It’s opt-in, and mainly aimed for children under the age of 12 who for some reason have their own mobile. As such it’s a whitelist of sites known to be ok. Search for lego and you get this:
Lego.com
Parent control isn’t part of the government “think of the children”, nor “urgh nasty pictures on the internet, that grown adults might get pleasure from”, it’s a service that o2 have been offering for years, but have had very little take up.

The setting which stops naughty websites from appearing on your phone is “Default Safety“. If it’s anything like Vodafone’s “Content Control” this is the default every phone number is set to. You need to opt out of this if you want to view sites such as the one below:
o2 Pornography.
Proof of age in a store, or payment taken on a credit card was what we used to have to deal with and again it’s been like that for years. Mobile networks have had a list of pervy customers before David Cameron started his latest crusade.

Of course your site may be child friendly and even educational, but until you tell o2 that you believe it’s suitable, you’re not going to magically appear on a whitelist.

Notes

  • I notice that o2 have added the line (opt in u12 service) to the results page to attempt to clear things up since yesterday.
  • Of course mobile data blocking won’t do much help when most phones have access to WiFi and most public WiFi only restrict adult sites.

NowTV Entertainment Pack

So earlier this week Sky announced that their NowTV service offers the ability to live stream several of their channels, plus get on demand with some back catalogues.
It’s an additional monthly cost on top of the Movies or Sport, but at £4.99 a month with no contract it seemed like a worthwhile trial.

The current channels available are

  • Sky 1
  • Sky Living
  • Sky Atlantic
  • Gold
  • Comedy Central
  • Fox
  • MTV
  • Sky Arts 1
  • Discovery Channel
  • Disney Channel

Continue reading NowTV Entertainment Pack

In praise of Three

Working in mobiles for over 8 years I’ve seen the rise in coverage of 3G networks. I know how they work, unless you are in a major city you are going to have limited coverage. Trying to read Facebook in Toys-r-us in Lincoln? Better make sure your near the window. Going out in to the country? Tough.

So when I got myself a Samba SIM to use with my tablet for a laugh I though I would check the coverage of Three (who Samba use) around me. Samba Coverage I was surprised to see them claim that for almost my whole commute they would provide at least “outdoor” 3G coverage.

So I put it through a test. Continue reading In praise of Three

Last.fm vs Spotify

I’m not too fussy with my music and after a change of job I now have the chance to put the headphones on a listen whilst at my computer. My music collection is reasonable, but I find myself wanting a radio style mix of music, but without the radio presenters.

The two companies I’ve been playing with for the last couple of months are Last.fm and Spotify.

For nothing a month on Last.fm you get webstreaming and visual ads, with the music stopping if you don’t look at the site regularaly enough.
Spotify provide a web app, with Last.fm like radio stations, plus the ability to listen to albums or tracks at will. But at nothing a month you have limited playtime and the rather annoying Kia Cee’d adverts every third song.

In theory both services free offerings should provide me with what I need. Web access radio on Last.fm and the choice to listen to an album at will with Spotify.

However there is a firewall issue with Last.fm at work and the radio streams either fail completly, or if they do play leave 5 minute gaps between tracks.

Because of this I then have to look towards the premium services.
For £3 a month Last.fm provide non-stop, ad-free radio on both PC and mobile.
For £5 a month Spotify provide non-stop, ad-free radio and choose-your-own albums for the PC.
For £10 a month Spotify provide everything on your mobile as well, plus offline storage.

By selecting the £3 Last.fm pro account I can listen to the music on my phone* which gets around the firewall problem without putting a large dent in to my wallet. I also find that the Last.fm radio service is just “better” than Spotify. I’m not sure if this is because my Last.fm account dates back to October 2005 and that they have better data on me, or I’m just used to it.

That said if/when Google release All Access to the UK, maybe I’ll look at it all again.

* when I say listen on my phone my actual setup is slightly more awkward, I have my phone connected to the laptop to draw power, the phone bluetooth audio paired with the laptop, and my headphones connected to the laptop. This allows me to continue to listen to audio elsewhere (Spotify/YouTube) without having to broadcast it to the whole office, or having to unplug the headphones each time.

WTF? Instagram are selling my photos?

So the news all over twitter, the tech blogs, even the BBC is the change to the Instagram terms of use.
Mainly this bit:

Rights
1. Instagram does not claim ownership of any Content that you post on or through the Service. Instead, you hereby grant to Instagram a non-exclusive, fully paid and royalty-free, transferable, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use the Content that you post on or through the Service, except that you can control who can view certain of your Content and activities on the Service as described in the Service’s Privacy Policy, available here: http://instagram.com/legal/privacy/.
2. Some or all of the Service may be supported by advertising revenue. To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you. If you are under the age of eighteen (18), or under any other applicable age of majority, you represent that at least one of your parents or legal guardians has also agreed to this provision (and the use of your name, likeness, username, and/or photos (along with any associated metadata)) on your behalf.

Now I’m no insider, but what I read of this is:
Now we are part of Facebook, we are going to try to do those crap Facebook ads. You know the ones you all moaned about months ago, in which an advertiser who you liked can use your picture to tell your friends that you like their product.
So to allow the local coffee shop which you tagged the photo of your latte, to try to get your friends to also take photos of their lattes, Instagram need to change a couple of the terms.
Instagram / Starbucks Ad
Now in theory this also allows them to sell my photos for a huge billboard ad at every train station, but then the highest res photo stored on Instagram is 600×600 pixels. Not the greatest for print media.

The biggest PR problem for Instagram is the failure to explain.
People will leave, but like those who wandered off to app.net, without your friends all following, what’s the point of being part of something if it’s only you?