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Monday, 13 March 2017

Post brexit independence vote Scotland

The news today is that the marginal remain result achieved in Scotland in the Brexit referendum means the SNP fancy another shot at independence from the United Kingdom.

I was 95% remain in that same Brexit vote so must by the same logic, along with around 49% of the UK population, be due my own independence referendum.

Now there are some practical considerations that come to mind.

Firstly, currency, I reckon as there is just one of me that I will get away with keeping on with the great British pound, I doubt little old me will be a problem and certainly keeping my address and domicile will make it easier to keep getting paid.

I do quite like the passport, it has presence does a British passport.

Then there is cash flow. The excellent news is that as an independent nation of one, I will not have to pay to close down a nuclear submarine base nor indeed will I have to pay to build a new one in a different nation. Scotland on the other hand, well that is a mighty big bill to saddle yourselves with if you choose that route, you want it you out for it.

Not to mention reprinting all that headed paper.

On the plus side for Scotland they may avoid independence yet. If I go for the referendum of independent me I can vote leave, or indeed stay; but when the entire population of the United Kingdom votes on Scotland leaving it is difficult to say how that will turn out. Are you telling me that there will be a partial vote again? No, I don't believe that, if there is voting for a part of the union to leave then the union must vote not just part of it. You could say that it's actually more like a divorce where one party can go it alone if that party is having an affair but think of the divorce settlement and who gets the kids?

This could go on for a while so a last thought for all you Scots who have heard enough of this. What happens when a single policy party gets its way?

It seems that they don't gracefully fade away, (cough) ukip (cough), or will that be England Independence Party soon?

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Fighting the good fight

Today I have had my first encounter with Apple products in the last, err, quite some years in order to attempt to provide me son with a working account on an Apple iPhone.

So everything online says what we need is Family Sharing. Which means I have had to set up an Apple Id. Which means I have to add my credit card to Apple. With means I need iCloud for Windows. Which means I have to add my details onto the iPhone because it's not possible to install icloud for Windows until my Apple ID has been used on an Apple device.

Multiple reboots later and the iPhone still shows no family sharing as the Apple website says it will.

Multiple reboots later and 1 time in 10 the newly install Apple iCloud on Windows finally logs me in without crashing.

Still no family sharing option.

Turns out family sharing only works from ios 8, apparently this perfectly working iPhone 4 can't have that.

So Apple how does one give an Apple phone to someone under 13?

Yes I still hate Apple products with a passion but at least I can rip this rubbish icloud for Windows off my machine now.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Google pixel

I have been a loyal Google user,  I have a Nexus 7 2012 and a Nexus 4.

I would like to say that both are going strong but and nexus 7 suffers a from the abysmal performance that kicked in after the first couple of years. Timing seems to fit how Google wants to retire products which is a shame, we would all like newer toys buy most of us cannot afford the upgrade cycle.

The nexus 4 suffered from the poor battery life but a replacement from eBay solved that. Dropping it and breaking the screen twice in quick succession was the end though.

That said the nexus devices in their prime were excellent and the pricing was competitive for the quality and brand.

Now the pixel devices, oh come on Google get real, price sensibly and own the market.

Saturday, 9 July 2016

Brexit

So the government bottled a proper discussion :
https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/131215?reveal_response=yes

Perhaps the question raised from that waffle is in what way do the houses actually represent the public opinion of their wards.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Evernote shoots itself in the foot.

Evernote has become never note,  just received an email telling me I am using too many devices and I have 30 days to stop using Evernote, or at least that is the way I read it as a key feature of the product is accessibility which is being removed.

Of course I could pay a premium fee, no wait, pay a premium fee for a Web based notepad. Sounds unlikely to me unless there are some spectacular features coming in a whole lot less than 30 days.

Friday, 24 June 2016

Brexit

Last night's vote shows that not only is 1.9% as a majority far too be representative, surely the margin show have been 5% or even 10%. But more over demonstrates that the majority of people are led my media hype and should we really allow everyone to have a vote when based on waffle.

Still I am now looking forward to all thosee extra hospitals.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Council tax

Our new council tax bill arrived today, we are back to council tax rises massively above inflation again which is sorely disappointing.

High time councils got some cost control in place, maybe if they can't achieve rises under inflation they should have salary reductions to bring the final numbers down.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Parentmail

Parentmail, https://pmx.parentmail.co.uk, have recently changed their system from emailling associated attachments direct to your inbox to a web system where I get an email, have to click on a link, login, click the school, click on the email link, link on the email I want, download the pdf.

Annoying, slow and downloads junk.

Have repeatedly not had support requests answer either via their email support or facebook support.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Hangleton Manor on fathers' day

What a disaster.

Shockingly slow service, meals not arriving together, food that was not hot and actually only of passable quality.

The waitresses were primarily poorly trained but to have a restaurant that they was not full failing to deliver food in a timely fashion isn't acceptable.

I would suspect that predicting fathers' day as busier than normal would be a no brainer so when several dishes had run out at 12 o'clock it didn't look like a recipe for success.

Location is good, staff remained polite under pressure and to be fair we did get a decent discount (as had others) as a result.

Would I go to Hangleton Manor again? No, I can't see anything attractive to attract me back.

Park cameras imaging festival

Another excellent event, well attended and plenty of staff on hand. Great seminars.

Thoroughly recommended.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Top Gear goes into bottom gear

The BBC gave me good news!

I can reduce the amount of television I watch shortly because Chris Evans is being wheeled in to replace Jeremy Clarkson and that is something I don't need to suffer.

What is more interesting is that comments from others I have overheard are similar and I am left wondering if the BBC process amounted to "we couldn't come up with a good plan so just wheel in someone who was allegedly popular years ago".

Perhaps dropping the show/ moth balling it for a while or any of a number of other options may have been better than a knee jerk?

Thursday, 30 April 2015

Lightroom 6

Eureka, I've figured it out. That failure to load all of my files into photomerge, it's just a means of encouraging us to understand just how good the healing tools are, perhaps.

Adobe customer "care"

....still no care occurring, decided going to bed is going to more effective at solving my lightroom problems than waiting any longer. I am now wondering if I handed over my money a bit early in the product's life cycle.

Adobe Lightroom 6

I've been on a bit of a photography spending spree the last couple of weeks with a new lens, a couple of filters and a monster monitor for editing, culminating today if coughing up the £50.09 for Adobe Lightroom 6.

Download took a while on my connection but we got there and then had to surmount the hurdle that my physical media didn't need a serial number entered on install, so had to rummage in the loft for the original disks.

Run for the first time, I suspect the line between Lightroom 6 and cc is a thin one given this version's installer is 200mb smaller than Lightroom 5's most recent update.

What new toy to try, well the big one for me is Photomerge, this is basic functionality that has worked for a while now just not in lightroom. By good fortune I happen to have some pictures I took of a field to try out my new lens, no artistic awards but I know that photomerge will eat the 13 shots for breakfast. I guess the number is the give away here.

Seconds later I have "unable to merge photos. press cancel". Ok, so my first tried I just grabbed all 13 frames, so 13 jpgs and 13 raws so let's try the raws, no same error. Ok let's try the jpegs, no same problem.

Ok, I've stitched these pictures in another product with no problems and I can put them together by eye.

So take 2 jpgs, merge, cancel, 3 jpgs, merge, cancel. I'm sure you get the picture. The second to last of the 13 pictures fails, I don't know what it doesn't like but my merged picture seems to have a little something missing :


so, for the third time in a week I have tried to contact Adobe support. The community forums seem to fall into a "redirect loop" problem almost at random (yes changing my name worked as suggested on other sites but do I really need to change my name everytime I try to use the site) - still awaiting an escalated contact on that one (perhaps time to visit the spam folder). 2nd attempt was for something I spend so long waiting at the "we are still assisting other customers" I forgot, went to dinner and then got an indignant "well we tried to talk to you message".

Today, well I tried again having discovered that pressing F1 for help in Lightroom 6, as per the menu option, goes to a page that appears to be down (actually Chrome is reporting a failed DNS lookup & I've tried a couple of online DNS lookup services and the name does not resolve) so while typing this I've been sitting at the Adobe chat screen waiting for some contact, that's the site which in my chrome tab says "Adobe Customer Care".

It seems I can going to be testing that "updates" feature a lot.



Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Monitoring the situation

One lesson learned from my struggles with Light room is that squinting at my monitor for long periods only serves to hurt my eyes and prove that I need a better monitor both in terms of size and quality.

So ordered something newer and bigger, a Benq GW2765ht, 27", 2560x1440.

Inspite of ticking the "deliver on Monday" box it turned up today.

This is a big screen. It has physical buttons on the side which is a blessed relief after the touch sensitive tat on my LG e2350.

It has taken some work to install,  with the supplied HDMI cable my Sapphire hd5770 vapr x cannot display that resolution but after a few abortive attempts at connecting the display port cable everything is working, including sound.

The built in speakers are excellent, for built in speakers.

Display is stunning and colour reproduction is beautiful.

The monitor rotates to portrait, although on the supplied stand even at the extent of its height adjustment it scrapes the base (so scratched with minutes of opening the box, clearly not tested very well), this does not appear to have any auto-sensing of orientation but it does work, although cable length may be an issue.

Really pleased so far.

Lightroom goes dark.

I have recently spent some hours editing photos and discovering that Adobe Lightroom sometimes does an extremely poor job of loading in raw files from my Olympus e-m10. Indeed the supplied Olympus Viewer 3 software does a notably better job with much improved noise handling and pictures so much closer to the original scene.

A Google search has identified this is a commonly noted problem whilst I have now had to open a support case as to why the adobe community forums are inaccessible to me (on chrome, ie, at work and home on different machines, only my account and the adobe site are common factors, tried again today with no luck and am days beyond when they said a supervisor would contact me to assist) so I cannot find if this has been raised there.

Luckily this level of support is what I would expect from free software, oh wait, I paid good money for something that does half a job, I now need to use ov3 which, although the results are good, the product is like free software, which it I is in this case.

Come on adobe get it sorted.

While we are on the subject, sending me an update for desktop light room that tries to get me to install creative cloud is just not on.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

New camera bag

Finally I have taken the plunge and purchased a decent camera bag.

With an Olympus E-M10 mirrorless camera sizing is not easy because most bags are targeted for DSLRs although that is improving.

I have been using a camera bag insert found on eBay for under £5 and it is a great solution and fits in the bottom of my rucksack nicely. The rucksack is a good solution when carrying other gear but suffers from having a relatively narrow entrance point at the top, which for me means my gear ends up scattered during the day as I carelessly return items to the bag.

So for casual walks and vehicle based photography trips I wanted a bag that is accessed on the long edge and carried messenger bag style. Another criteria was not looking too camera bag like. So the Lowe Messenger 150 for instance looks like a good solution online but in the flesh looking really boxy.

Enter the Tamrac Apache range. I decided that the separate compartment for a tablet would be good because the Olympus' support for its android app seems pretty good. I also didn't want to go too large but preferred large to small, after all how often do I travel without a phone, wallet, keys, coins and assorted other clutter.

That means something that is not a day back (space for snacks is desirable but a day trip worth of food is non critical) but is more than a camera bag is useful.

Hence, I decided that the Apache 2 would probably be too small and the Apache 6 too large and the Apache 4 has been duly purchased (£65, new from eBay).

Tonight is the first loading so no outdoor experience yet so observations so far...
- the bag is actually smaller than expected, it will be fine but the Apache 6 may actually have been closer to what I expected in my mind.
-the clip on the front is tragic, I've fastened it perhaps half a dozen times and had to use a screwdriver twice and brute force once to open it, it's a design that does not positively slide in place and needs concentration to use. Is the Velcro fastenings are likely to be the mainstay.
-the strap holding the clip has no adjustability, adding to the fight with the clip when wearing the bag and meaning there is insufficient leeway to carry a tripod of any size under the flap.

That's all sounding rather negative so for balance :
- build quality appears excellent and the design does appear to have been though out carefully
- looks good
- wide, comfortable shoulder strap.

What did I get in the bag, well I had to take my phone out for this picture but with that and
- only em10 with 14-42 pancake
-40-150mm
-45mm f1.7
-1 filter in its oversized box
-4 macro filters and lens adapter
-spare battery
-charger and cable
-box of SD cards
-cleaning pen and blower
- hot shoe mountable flexible led macro lights
-Google Nexus 7
-Nook
The bag can be declared full.

Clearly I won't be doing a day trip with all of those things so I would say the bag definitely has room for another lens or two (or a flash) and the aforementioned snacks or with careful packing a sarnie.

So looks like a great bag with a lot of flexibility to accommodate a range of different sized cameras and bits but I would not be surprised if I have to replace that clip.

Enjoy

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Top Gear

So Clarkson has gone, what a massive pity but inevitable.

What will come next, a new programme on a different channel or a replacement.

At least if Chris Evans, who is denying being interested so a cert, gets the job it will help me reduce my screen time each week.

Friday, 19 December 2014

Asda again!

Days before Xmas, precious lunch hours gathering remaining gifts and an innocent trip to Asda become a nightmare.

Till appears to have worked until the point of exit, so 15 minutes of messing about and messages about deactivating my card.

Time passes some more.

Turns out to be an Asda system screw up and they want my contact details as my card vendor has confirmed the charge but their system has no record.

£5 goodwill received. Not sure what I charge for follow up phone calls yet.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Asda xmas opening hours

Visited Asda tonight, plenty of indication that the Brighton Marina shop is open 24 hours, from here I can see a massive red dot saying just that.

Open, well, the bits not covered in trolleys.

Open, well not the clothes section.

This is good news, if I had been shopping longer I may have needed to visit the toilets, no, they're closed.

Open, except for all the checkouts except self service, which doesn't really work for the trolley load, or the little old lady with a big queue.

Asda, the front doors being open is not really enough to say you are open.

Perhaps a big red dot "partially open 24 hours".

Now I know by the Marina Asda car park was strangely empty, lesson learned.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Amazon prime video

If only it worked. No wait, an hour of fiddling has revealed that silver light playback does not work and the flash player option for chrome, the non default, non recommended options works perfectly.

Could have been a wow experience if only it worked out the box.

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Dear Google....Nexus 9..….Google Alerts feature request

So, I have been eagerly awaiting the replacement Nexus 10 for what now seems a lifetime and suffered highs and lows as the rumour mill announced leaks every couple of weeks.

It is fine ally here, the Nexus 9. This is good news, my Nexus 2012 is slow enough as to be now virtually unusable. So much so that it stays at home and my 9 year old son uses it.

I have the money and I am poised to order but it's out of stock and one colour is yet to be available.

Thank you Google, I have a feeling that you have saved me from you. This absence of stock has meant I have paused and started to read reviews and they are terrible, to summarise what I have seen so far :
- battery life is OK but unremarkable
- awesome processor which may explain the battery life
- price is mainstream and high is a shock for the stock device
- even positive reviewers are complaining about light bleed on the screen although the screen is excellent providing the benefits of IPS so not got the in your faceness of amoled screens
- the case seems flimsy and some quality control issues have been listed
- heat is reported to be more than expected and even coming through the glass
- still no micro SD card slot.

So Google if I could suggest a feature for Google alerts that tells me when there is an update that announces the problems are resolved I would be grateful.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Burgess Hill Cinema

In this week's Mid Sussex Leader the is mention that the owners of the Martletts in Burgess Hill are planning a multiples cinema.

This would be a great shame, the Orion is now excellent with modern facilities and mainstream films but even better it is half the cost of multiplexes.

We need to support local independent cinema for its variety and to avoid the rip off charges of the big players.

Friday, 31 October 2014

The West Country

Just spent the last week in Devon / Dorset, there's clearly a lack of dual carriageway or better down there but regardless it has been a long time since I've seen such well maintained roads - Sussex and Kent are terrible in comparison.

I've also spent a week with excellent mobile reception to the extent that on the caravan site we  stayed at the mobile signal produced faster downloads than their wi-fi.

Here again, live in Sussex and work in Kent and can't say I ever see signal strength that good.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Nexus 9

Does the nexus 9 UK price really have to be so high? Seems that dollar to £ converters don't always work very well.

Thursday, 7 August 2014

The United Kingdom

The "United" Kingdom.

It is interesting too see how the British government is ensuring we remain a United Kingdom by preventing most of that "United" group from voting about their continuation as a United entity.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Tesco again

So I've been logging into Tesco bank to deal with my Tesco credit card for the last couple of years and also Tesco.com for shopping. It's an unfortunate situation because the security Tesco uses is simply alphanumeric so I have to use different password structures to that which I use everywhere else and most online systems would consider Tesco passwords weak.

Over the several days Tesco Bank has been offering me a security upgrade to my computer which given a total absence of detail I have pressed the "no thanks" button but yesterday and today the "no thanks" option is no longer an option.

It's upgrade or upgrade.

Sill no detail.

So reluctantly I press the button and get a "sorry there has been a system error" - 2 days and 2 reboots so pretty sure it's no me. So I end up phoning Tesco, at my cost, to be told they are experiencing long queues (not the first time I've tried, there always seem to be long queues but then we're used to the checkouts being half manned so why would the phones be any different) and I finally get through and the lady politely explains that I have to entirely re-register for my existing account.

So am left wondering why I would re-register for an account I already have where more than half the effort in moving provider is the registration process or just spend five minutes on the internet finding a new provider, excellent plan, good relationship building Tesco.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Supermarkets

I went shopping yesterday, something I have managed to do for a few weeks.

On this occassion I was abused by Tesco, I presume that the price rises are the usual pre-Christmas ones. For instance Uncle Ben's microwave rice was 3 for £3 but now has goineup to £3.50, a 16% price rise and little pot noodles have gone from 2 for £1 to £1.50 a 50% rise.

If only my salary kept pace!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Striking

Once again we have strikes coming, the Post Office has been striking no idea why but at least customer service was faster on that day. The firemen have been striking because they might have to work almost as many years as everyone else to get a much better pension that everyone else and now the teachers are having a go too.

I guess it's an easy day off for them but with such a short school year education standards are struggling already and the additional costs, perhaps unions should pay for childcare on strike days?

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Gimp, Gimpshop and Photoshop

Well, following a good cleanout with CCleaner my Photoshop trial has finally ended, as has the install of CCleaner, so I'm looking for an alternative.

My tip here is the Gimpshop, that is supposed to load Gimp looking like Photoshop looks just like Gimp and inspite of declining all the junk ware that it comes with it installed it all anyway so it's come off and I'm still picking up the pieces and trying to get back to a default Google search - why does anyone think that installing cr*p on your machine is going to endear you to them.

Saturday, 11 May 2013

Pizza Hut

Another retail gripe, for the last year or so we've had a large sheet of paper listing pizza hut deals through the door about every third week.

Why is it that the local pizza hut, 4.2 miles away can't deliver to us but still sends us offers?

Get it sorted.

Supermarket price promises

Everytime I visit Sainsburys they justify their excessive prices (my nearest is Haywards Heath, surely the most expensive in the country) by printing a ream of ticker tape telling me I've "saved" some money.

Not to be left out my usual haunt of Tescos has started doing the same. Today I spent £18.30 and apparently saved 59p. There's no indication of how I saved 59p or consideration of the fact that in that location doing the shopping I was doing there are no alternatives within reasonable driving distance.

It's interesting as there was an article in the Times last weekend suggesting that shopping costs are tumbling. I'm not sure where they are tumbling and what products one has to purchase to see tumbling but I have to suspect tumbling is not happening in Sussex at the moment, in fact from my credit card bills I can prove they aren't tumbling anywhere except upwards.

Is there a price war on? Picture the conversation :

Supermarket 1 : "we're going to add 50% to the price of beans"

Supermarket 2 : "we're going to undercut you, 45% here we come"

Is that a price war because that's what I see (to be honest I can't tell you about beans, pretty sure milk has stayed fairly static but anything else...).

What's more annoying is there is no indication of a way to tell the supermarkets to stop wasting money on paper and give me cheaper prices in the first place.

Tips to supermarkets :
1) Give me good prices on good products - I know you need to make a profit but stop taking the p*ss.
2) Stop wasting money on endless bits of paper.
3) You frequently control a geographic area so if you put staff on checkouts people will come to your shop.
4) Get over yourselves, if there were better choices we'd be off elsewhere but there simply aren't so we put up with you.



Saturday, 16 March 2013

Job hunting

I have a new job, much relief etc.

However, just going through and tidying up and have found that I had applied for a couple of jobs direct via the Reed.co.uk site - both of which I had interviews for (via other agencies through reed, but oh boy the attitude of reed staff needs some looking at, "what do you think would happen if we spoke to all candidates who phoned up?", let's see, you'd be really busy but you'd get the proactive candidates)., and numerous via the jobserve.co.uk site - now this site has continued to provide a number of good leeds and I've had a number of contacts from other agencies via this route.

However, not a single job that I applied for direct via the site got a response other than a standard jobserve holding email. I will not be bothering with them again.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

First Capital Connect

Most times I go to the station to get a train into London I am travelling for work so when the man asks me which train service I would like we got through the rigmarole of "I just want to get on anything that looks like a train going in the right direction" to which the reply is "ah you'll want the expensive ticket then".

Yesterday I had to pay for a ticket for myself, First Capital Connect £12.9, any service £22.90. Why the price difference I wonder, I so I check the information and the machine clearly tells me that my ticket is only valid off peak into the city but at any time out of the city, ok cheap on it is.

Several hours pass and I return to the station at around 17:15 to see the next train to Wivelsfield is 19:12 so I queue at the information desk to ask and discover that yes while my ticket is valid at any time for return on First Capital Connect there are simply no trains!

What absolute nonsense, First Capital Connect your sales information is simply deceitful, get it sorted.

Update : 25th Feb : First Capital Connect have responded to me about the failure of machines to give accurate information, the official answer is "We can only answer customer enquiries about our trains and facilities. As the station is operated by Southern I am unable to provide a full response to the points you have raised. In order for this to be investigated I have forwarded your correspondence to Southern". Oh! I see, it's not their fault that the information provided which encourages purchase of their cheaper product over a more expensive rival is inaccurate, well that's entirely clear now. Not.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Negative, oh yes.....

The company I work for is making me redundant, this is about as negative as it gets. They want to move the department to a central location and I'm not in that location. Apparently a daily, return journey of around 140 miles to the office and removal of right to work from home is considered acceptable to the business, work life balance has been carefully considered and the intangible benefits (presumably the benefit of someone cracking the whip in the same room as me) will improve productivity and recompense for the hundreds of thousands of pounds the changes to a number of staff members will cost.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

The Hobbit

I am sure that there are individuals out there who think that the Hobbit is a masterpiece. However, I am not one of them. Vastly too long - it took an hour to get out of Bag End, crikey after 20 minutes I was thinking that if this was on television I would have switched over by now.

Too many far too long lingering shots, notably of Thorin, clearly designed to display his changing nose or to highlight how sometimes he'd be thin and the actor's normal size and other times be stocky like a dwarf should be pictured.

New features added, those rock giants were all very nice but had no place in the film.

Radagast, I had heard that Sylvester Mccoy upstaged everyone else, well to be fair that wasn't too hard.

Silly clothing for ponies, tick.

Bad perspective changes, children on Shetland ponies, tick.

Inconsistent sizing of characters compared to others, especially Gandalf, tick.

I went into the film sceptical and not at all enamoured with the 3 part nature and expected to come out impressed and eager for the next instalment.

We'll that didn't happen.

The only way I will go to the cinema to see the second film is if news trickles through that the producers have learned to edit their output and that there will not be a third film.

Adrian will love this film undoubtedly.

I think I should summaries a plus & a minus point to end on :

Con : given the title of this site the big con (other than having paid to attend) is that listening to others as we exited the cinema I was no in a minority being unimpressed.

Pro : the next Star Trek film had a trailer and that looks awesome (Adrian will hate that I'm sure).

Saturday, 29 December 2012

YAMM, Media Browser and Media Center

After much trial and error I have finally become annoyed with the habit of Media Browser of updating my movie folders, literally one day I can have a folder showing one name and the next the content is presented differently. For instance, The Adventures of a Teenage Dragonslayer used to have a cover image saying just than then one day it changed to a French language version.

As I have Media Browser running via Media Centre on my main PC and the HTPC I don't even end up with a consistent view.

The final straw has come in that I also have XBMC installed in both locations and that updates too and has added a healthy does of random.

I'm trying to get used to XBMC because MediaCentre is on the way out - I believe it is a pay for option on Windows 8 and that will kill it off, the downside is that the other products are just too complicated - yes they can do a lot of things but I just want my media presented in a simple interface with not too much messing about but having spent an extended period with MediaPortal and a couple of other products XBMC strikes me as the only viable alternative out there (and I'll try it again on my Rasperry Pi eventually, I love the Party Mode in the music library).

Anyway, I'm a long term user of Yamm, Yet Another Media Manager, which works pretty well but it too can have a randomisation effect - clearly they all pick up standard files from common sources and it is those sources that are changing. I've now stopped Yamm monitoring my entire collection and today I have been through and removed all automated updating from Media Browser and Yamm on both machines and manually visited every movie and corrected the content; it seems the best way to do this is to individually add the movies folder to the Yamm config and then wait for it to update (I've frequently resorted to adding
[imdb=ttxxxxxxx]
to the end of the foldername (where ttxxxxxx is the id from the imdb.com site) to force Yamm to use the correct film information.

Now all of my Movies have the correct information and look great in Media Browser and XBMC.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Synology DS213Air update

I've now been living with the DS213Air for a few months and am pleased overall.

It turns out that the media server doesn't work when in Wireless Router mode - which I'd only changed to from the default Hotspot mode because of poor performance (like unconnectable between floors).

A bit of time spent with my Google Nexus and the free WiEye wi-fi scanner tool has revealed a massive overlap on a number of channels, it also shows just how much wifi on one channel spills into others. Having identified a pretty quiet channel the hotspot mode is now usable on the diskstation which means that media server is working perfectly now.

I've used the Download Station and have just started downloading RSS feeds to keep bandwidth out of chargeable hours which is a nice automation benefit.

I am also hosting all of my music and movies on the device which means less data stored on each PC in the house.

I have installed the DS Photo/ File/ Audio apps on the Google Nexus, they work fine locally but my ADSL router is to old to handle automated configuration for remote access (pretty sure it could be done manually if necessary), besides which DS Audio which is my main interest is too simplistic (missing Album Artist view for starters) to be of much use so I have been using Bubble upnp to connect to the Mediaserver product and that covers photos, audio and video, matched with MX Player on the Nexus and most of my films play pretty well.

I have Cloud Station installed on my PC and it works fine but is limited to 3 shares each (so no good for synchronising my home folder, music, videos and photos, 4 things), it also requires that the Disk station share is configured first which means copying everything to the Synology first and then synchronising it back to an empty folder on the PC, which was bad enough with 146Gb of music, 1.5 TB of movies is a non starter, it also plays havoc with genie backup as all of that data is a change so gets backed up a 2nd time. I'm now using it just for individual items I want to synchronise, eventually I'd like to do my entire Documents folder but a little more confidence is needed first, time will tell. The software is also clearly still in development as it has a basic error in that every time I login it tells me that 17 files have been updated, it's the same 17 everytime because they were the last to change.

Data replicator has been deleted as it's a back tool not a synchronisation tool so not much use for me at this point.




Saturday, 10 November 2012

Nexus 7 update

As time progresses I am increasingly impressed with this device, it is not as plug and play as an iPad but the convenience (not having to boot a PC for small tasks) and flexibility is excellent.

I have purchased screen protectors and discovered that in five days of light use there are tiny scratches on the glass already so  durability is a concern.

I have also purchased a Poetic leather case which is a good looking, well made item with working sleep mode magnets (that don't cause problems when the cover is folded right back), £10 we'll spent there.

Friday, 9 November 2012

synology...lack of response

Three days and still no response from synology regards the failure of media share over wireless or indeed regards the disappointing wireless performance - the only reason I have not given up on it is the money spent.

Monday, 5 November 2012

Synology update

I am now the proud owner of a Google Nexus 7, 32gb. What a great device but wholly  dependent on wireless connectivity.

 My first few days with the nexus have been plagued with what seems like network lock ups or connectivity dropping but further investigation has revealed problems with the Synology DS13Air wireless capability.

 To be fair sitting at my desk the wireless connect ion is perfect and much faster than my old net gear wpn802, however, that is about 2 feet from the router. Moving downstairs results in less than 20mbps connections and frequent loss of connect ion.

My net gear wireless signal works fine downstairs - I have raised a support ticket with Synology and as a result have changed the connect ion type from hotspot to wireless router. Functionality remains seemingly unchanged but connectivity is not improved.

Worse, I have been experimenting with dlna / upnp functionality and am having problems in that the media server on the ds 213 disappears at random. Much experimentation has resulted in the discovery that when I connect wirelessly using the, flawed, synology wireless I lose access to the synology media server but it works fine on rge net gear. So another bug on which I am still awaiting a response from synology.

Friday, 2 November 2012

213Air update

Interestingly enough the transfer speed is probably not being reported correctly but I did get a response from Synology which amounted to try it with a cross over cable to rule out all other network components. Not tried that yet.

Audio Station is fully in place and working which is excellent news - the Mediaserver version is fast whilst the Audio Station library mode is unusable.

I have also now received my Google Nexus 7 (32gb) and discovered that my ancient Netgear Wimax wireless device has a much better signal that the DS213 Air and to make matters worse the DS213 seems to drop the wireless connection when the drives go to sleep - raised another support call as the wireless performance is actually unusable more than a few feet away even on high power mode.

DS Audio on the Nexus is passable but doesn't have either the views listed in the library or the views showed on the media server which is a shame as it makes any collection of music of any size unwieldly, however, several DLNA based apps in Google Play - BubbleUpnp seems to do the job nicely - has a good interface and is responsive. The only problem I've found is that it cannot play to two different destinations (the are products out there that will but the interfaces are unusable) - I'm awaiting a response from the developer to see if the pay for version corrects that issue.

Impressed with the Google Nexus 7, tinkering with configuring it just so will keep me quiet for a while - as expected it has many more options that the ipad offers and it's not entirely intuitive to the extent that I am reading the manual (well, I will read the manual).

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Synology DS 213 Air

I've been installing the new device for a week or so now - impressed so far, the device is silent (really, I had to check it was still turned on about 4 feet from me) when the drives are spun down and virtually silent in active operation - I can hear the fans now and the the slight rattle of the drive while my music collection copies over. I had to pause to listen as my PC is much noisier and it's a fairly quiet PC.

I've been tinkering with Synology's Audio Station package - it looks remarkably like the offering from Sonos and probably a string of other packages. I suspect it is going to struggle with my 145Gb of MP3 files because the reindexing of 2 tracks was distressingly slow but we'll find out. The biggest disappointment is that I think we'll find out a lot later than I might have expected as the file transfer speeds are sitting around 15mb/s - the started at close to 30mb/s which would be ok (but only ok) but now the DS213's CPU has hit 100% and the transfer shas dropped horribly - I can transfer else where at higher speeds and the lan is not busy. Have raised a support form with Synology because they are promoting much higher transfer speeds and this is a worry for day to day use.

The other problem I have at the moment is that I've added a second user and I cannot figure out how to grant that user rights to their own home folder which is a pain, fine for me.

I suspect that these are just niggles as so far everything else is looking good and normal disk performance for the odd file looks great - it's possible that I'm overwhelming the cache on the drive and the caching capability of the device is non existent but that's still slow.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Synology DS213 Air

My most recent Genie Timeline issues appear to have come about following the demise of my backup disk drive - more often than not it is booting and displaying as a RAW device rather than NTFS. I've scanned the drive during one of its good periods with no problem displayed but it still randomly fails.

I've had numerous problems with the drive / the USB 3.0 caddy it sits on so digging out my old USB 2.0 caddy I soon found that the problem is the USB 3.0 device.

However, I've been considering a NAS unit and this is the final straw as I now want to separate out my data from the PC so making the potential for recovery higher and a new Synology  DS213 Air and a 3Gb Western Digital Green Power drive is now sitting waiting for configuation.

Configuration is going to take me a while as the Synology device has a lot of options and features - luckily the interface is extremely smooth and user friendly, unluckily the SHR file system which is the default recovery option for the device churned the disk for over 12 hours before it was usable.

Sunday, 21 October 2012

Genie Timeline...fixed?

To be honest watching someone fix your PC is really boring and the Genie9 team seem to know what they are doing and I'm happy that they are trust worthy so this time I just let the guy get on with it while I had a lie it. I could get used to this (not that I want to get used to problems), I get up, look at the screen and have a message that everything is fixed again.

A short email later and I have a set of scripts that will clear down the Timeline queue for me so I can try to fix the problem myself - clearly that doesn't solve the problem but at least means I have working backups.


Happy again.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Genie Timeline

My problems have commenced again, it appears that the software is awaiting a file to be available to backup and getting stuck so I have a different Genie 9 person due to login and crack it this time....

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Genie Timeline Update

As an update one the Genie Timeline situation I have since had a one of the programmers on my machine and he has cracked the problem. I'm not sure what the cause was but hopefully he was able to take something away to improve stability in a future version but for now I have a working system and am very impressed with the support offered by the Genie9 team. Thanks.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Genie Timeline 2012

I have been using Genie Timeline for a couple of years now. It is an impressive little package, set which files / folders you want to backup to an external drive and forget about it, each time a file changes a new backup is created so you can return to old versions.

It works well enough that I have 3 legitimate copies, 2 professional and 1 home, home is a little more simplistic in features but still does the job nicely whereas profession allows me to tinker with more features.

It is not a perfect product - biggest flaws for me are the lack of ability to remove something from the backup - the Geniesoft (or Genie 9 as they now calls themselves, not sure, perhaps too much Star Trek) helpdesk recommend just deleting things direct from the backup files (instantly trashing all their indexing information) and the limitation that backups are fixed to the size of a disk - once the disk is full you have to start a new backup on a new disk but it backs up all the same data again. I now have 1.2tb of backups so disks are still growing ahead of my backup size but for how much longer I cannot tell. There are features to limit the backups size but they do nothing on version 2.

Which brings me to version 3, or Genie Timeline 2012 as it is now called. A new look, mirroring the Windows 8 tiles approach but unlike Microsoft's offering with Genie it is well thought out and presents well. It is possible the features I am about to mention existed in the previous version but I had it configured as I wanted and didn't fiddle which as it turns out is a good thing.

First off I've rediscovered the feature to limit backup set size - this was supposed to delete oldest files to keep the backup set under a target size but as Genie (sorry Seven, Genie9) stated to me, it doesn't work on version 2, so I thought I would try it on version 3, not sure if it works or not yet as I haven't reached the set size and....

There is also a feature to delete backups older than 60 days. Interestingly arbitrary number there. For my accounts files 60 days if fine but for my photos where I might want to re-edit an old version of file (bad management on my part but it happens) or when a file corrupts and I want to retrieve an old version 60 days is just so wrong. It needs to be configurable - I reckon I could live with 180 days, around 6 months but 60 is of no use.

All good so far but then I found the disaster recovery option. Sounds like a good button to press, yes it will backup some more tens of gigabytes but those disks keep getting bigger. Box duly ticked. Lots and lots of thinking. I'm not twenty something % protected and , and...it stops.

Machine left overnight and still no change. So I've unticked the disaster recovery and...still no movement.

So having tried everything I can think of (even a reboot :-) I raise a ticket on the Genie9 (yes that joke got old) site - they have a good ticket system and actively respond which is a major plus (so all those sites doing a performance comparison of backups products take note - backups which go wrong are useless without some support, big plus here). I've now started 2 services (Microsoft Software Shadow Copy Provider and volume Shadow copy) that had not been used on version 2 and although set to manual (ie on demand) had not started with Genie 2012 (is that a bug in their software or are they actually unnecessary, who knows, least of my worries at this point). Still no change.

My worst fears are looming - that I'm going to have to start a new backup & hence purchase a new (one of those aforementioned big ones) drive to handle the failure of my backup software.

Lots of screenshots and logs later I get an offer to remote onto my machine and assist - now this is a surprise. I work in IT and most of the time getting support from vendors is the blood from stone scenario, A large verndor who shall remain nameless but has a naming starting with M and ending in icrosoft will come on site for some hideous price and give bad advice (it is remarkably difficult to explain to one's employers that the consultant from the vendor who you just paid tens of thousands of pounds  gave answers I had already procured from google or were just plain wrong) but beyond that it's google all the way.

So a few days later I have a Genie 9 employee rummaging around my machine - he's polite, helpful and doesn't keep saying "what's this drive for" as he looks at my complicated config. He is logged in via a product called Teamviewer which is a free (for personal use) web based support tool - works over port 80 so no firewall messing around, good tool. He tries for an hour or more and gets to the point where Timeline looks like it is doing something but clearly isn't progressing.

How does this story end. Well more screenshots and logs and instructions to leave the machine to let it work (10 hours, no movement at all), we will see next week what happens, do I have a pretty good piece of software backed up with active support to make a truly remarkable package for the domestic market or .........

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Raspberry Pi

I now have a Raspberry Pi model B.

A fantastically small device with more power that a lot of the machines I've used over the years. currently I am tinkering with getting XBMC, or rather RaspBMC working on it and Samba with USB drives.

It's going to take a while not least because of random crashes which seem to affect a lot of owners.

Once I've got something stable working I'll be able to experiment with the python programming and maybe get a little MySQL server running.

More when I make some progress.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Strikes

I hear the TUC are talking about strikes again. I understand that public sector workers are upset with good reason too but strikes are just going to make public opinion worse.