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In a fit of pique last week I bought a Chromecast. Not that this is a review but it works pretty well and has made the process of actually getting a video on the screens (at least of a Netflix persuasion) almost a pleasure!

My only consternation was that I live in the UK, and most content is only available if you live in the US.. or pay one of the many VPN or unblocker services to grant you the full US version of Netflix. If you are viewing it on a browser you can use things like mediahint or hola but again these are mostly black boxes and don't easily work with an appliance like Chromecast.

I found some links suggesting how this should be fixed by remapping the default DNS servers Chromecast uses from Google's to their own (once you have an account with them). However, this isn't the whole story - Chromecast only uses* Google's DNS servers if your DHCP server doesn't tell it otherwise. Once I figured that out, I then set about finding some free US-based DNS servers and then attempting to configure dnsmasq to configure US DNS just for it (and additionally any android clients you may want to use to control it). Dnsmasq isn't the best documented so this took some doing. Based on this stackoverflow snippet, here's what I use:


If you have a PS3 or other console you can most likely just set one or more of the DNS IPs in their network settings and voilà!

* probably - I haven't tried this

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So the news over the past few months has been about (and really these should all be in quotes) austerity, tax avoidance by big corporations, UK taxes that unfairly target the poorest or least able to defend themselves and now the 'middle class squeeze' on children - that those middle class children of relatively affluent parents growing up can expect to have less than their parents: more precisely, £50k debt on leaving uni and huge difficulty buying a property.

It occurred to me that with the rise of globalism, i.e. the ability to ship goods made in one country to another very cheaply, countries and their economies seem to have two choices: tax imports heavily to subsidise their standards of living or face standards of living being equalised throughout the nations you trade with. Clearly we can see that has already been happening as India, China rapidly transform themselves into visions of western commerce.

Of course, this leaves some services and most construction labour needing to be done locally, but as intangible goods increasingly make up more of an economy this makes taxation and the concept of borders tricker.

I begin to wonder how long economies like Denmark can continue to differentiate themselves in the face of globalisation. I think corporations and intangible goods have risen quicker than taxation laws are able to keep up.

As may be obvious to anyone who has actually studied any of this stuff, I am very much a lay person who has not. Any pointers around any of the theories I'm wildly throwing around would be most appreciated :)

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Current Mood: thoughtful thoughtful

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So this is another probably obvious and trivial observation about human natureCollapse )

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It's been a while since I've had inspiration to write here but this deserves a post.

sessifet25 linked me to an article titled Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?. Rather than being the usual trite '10 weird tricks to fix your life' it talks about studies and what was learned around willpower, and it resonated.

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I actually think this work sharing ethic creates a healthy working environment and think this mechanism should be recognised and taught to people. Aside from anything else it would greatly aid communication which tends to be the bane of corporate culture everywhere.

Now tell me who already knew that and whose work allows you to practise this?

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Current Mood: pleased pleased

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My mum and sister ganged together and bought me a Raspberry Pi model B! I didn't have a spare 4GB SD card lying around for the root filesystem, so I used a 1GB card I did have spare and hacked it to run root over nfs to my always-on server:

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Yay! Now, to figure out what to do with it...
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This has been bugging me for a while. Now I'm coming to the end of my employment at my current place of work I've finally had some time to investigate this area a little further.

These are very condensed notes for my reference; probably not interesting to mostCollapse )
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First, let me preface this by stating that I'm just a layperson who is quite interested in this sort of thing. I'm just putting some of my thoughts down as they occur to me without any scientific theory behind it.

Having just watched the first two of four episodes of "The Fabric of the Cosmos", they theorise that the the only reason time has a direction is due to the big bang. They also point out that the universe (i.e. space) appears to be accelerating its expansion, and that this is attributable to a majority of dark energy that is unseen (and unknown and not regularly detectable) throughout the universe.

From the first episode (and stuff I remember from A Brief History of Time and other articles) it would seem to me that if the direction of time ("the arrow of time") was caused by the Big Bang, then much like the fact that space is expanding as a result of the Big Bang, perhaps time is continuing to move forward as a result of the Big Bang? Perhaps the perception of the universe continuing to expand is simply a result of the energy from the big bang spreading out and dissipating, and time itself is slowing down making it appear that the universe is speeding its expansion when in reality it could be receding or even slowing down? This could even be enough to account for the dark matter/energy that scientists feel necessary to invent to account for their observations.

I haven't got to the bottom of the nature of time, space and spacetime so this is probably clearly ridiculous for obvious reasons, but I wanted to note it down as an interesting thought, perhaps one I can later come back to refute when I understand more.

Current Mood: curious curious

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My ISP are upgrading my broadband speed to 120Mbit. I just realised in order to take full advantage of this I'm going to need to replace the 100Mbit network card that currently services the cable modem.. to 1Gbit!

This.. strikes me as somewhat insane.

Current Mood: amused amused

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I've finally got my silent Windows 7 HTPC behaving. It had sat idle for a good while after I thought it couldn't both play 1080p video (stuttering indicating insufficient CPU horsepower) or multi-channel audio (crappy onboard ATI 4250 HDMI). As this took me the best part of 4 hours to research, fix and tune I thought I'd document this to save others the hassleCollapse )

Current Mood: accomplished

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I don't suppose anyone wants to buy my LPG-converted 4.0L V8 Lexus LS400 do they? Cosmetically not great, but it has 9 months tax and MOT, is very reliable.. the front tyres currently deflate a bit but I'm hoping I'll be able to fix that shortly.

I'm selling it because I currently commute 100 miles per day and it's costing me ~£400 per month. If it weren't for that I'd be keeping it...

Make me an offer?

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

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Does anyone want any of the following? It all works to a degree.

  • 2x small computer desks with keyboard shelves - one good one poor condition
  • Shallow chest of drawers
  • 2'4" square white Melamine coffee table
  • 2 1x 14" analog CRT TVs
  • 4 slice toaster
  • Microwave (interior light needs replacing, possibly on the way out; had to reset power to get it working but seems fine a month later)
  • George Foreman electric contact grill
  • Under counter 1/2 height 50cm wide white fridge with ice compartment (ideally collect on 2nd June)
  • 4x kitchen chairs, all matching
  • Assorted kitchen crockery, cutlery, pans, utensils etc - although this relies on us sorting through stuff (garlic press)
  • A box of mugs
  • A half-box of wine glasses
  • A Sony 29" (I think) CRT TV with 3 Dolby Pro-Logic surround sound speakers and remote

If not it's all going to the tip. 'Buyer' collects. It may even be clean, if you're lucky (I'm serious). I will strike stuff off here as it's claimed.

Do check back every while as I'm adding more stuff as we discover more we need to get rid of.

Current Mood: hopeful hopeful

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..mostly from LifeHacker:
  • Firefox 4 is out folks. It's noticably faster, but if installing over the top of FF3, my recommendation is either don't upgrade or if you do upgrade, consider resetting the preferences as the UI is quite different and really requires setting up from scratch to allow you to make the best use of the new features.
  • Ninite - a simple app to automate the installation and keeping up to date of a set of core applications for Windows or Linux machines. I've tried it to update my current apps and it works exactly as advertised. Brilliant! Great if one reformats and needs to reinstall. The apps available are sane and the core of what most people use, and it doesn't install any toolbars or crapware along with it.
  • CrashPlan - Where Dropbox (my referral link; gets us both extra free space) is like a (free,) secure, online, omnipresent USB key, CrashPlan is the (free,) secure, mutual automated resumable delta-backup solution you've always wanted. Back up stuff between your own computers. Make arrangements with your friends to back up your compressed, de-duplicated and encrypted stuff to each other's computers for free, and never worry about losing stuff to human error, burglary, fire, flood or failure again! (BTW, yes, I am looking for people to set up mutual backups with - please feel free to ask me)
  • I'm also looking at SugarSync which is like Dropbox but apparently natively supports transferring other folders and gives you 5GB space for free, but I haven't decided if I like it yet.
  • UPDATE: Prey - FREE & open-source theft-tracking software for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android. Go get it!

Current Mood: pleased pleased

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It's like spotify, but web/flash based. And end users can upload music (which means just about anything you want is there). And there's a client that works natively on my n900 (groove in test/dev repos). And it's free (unless you want advanced features).

I call this a win!

Current Mood: excited excited

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I'm at sessifet25's now. Unfortunately I forgot the VGA to DVI converter to allow me to use my desktop machine with sessifet25's old monitor, and I wasn't paying the £21 for one from PC World for a few days, so I'm stuck using my little laptop. No shiny games for me.. bah.

Also, I appear to have a proper outbreak of coldsores on my top lip, which started the day after I got here, swelling to twice normal size and making me feel hideous. I've not had an outbreak like this before; last time was as a child and nothing like this and of course the timing is impeccable, so I've been feeling pretty sorry for myself. sessifet25 has been fantastic though :)

I was given a 10 cup teapot in red for Christmas, which is 3.2l capacity. I need a second kettle to fill it up! But this will make supplying tea for guests simpler :) I also got 6 posh new mugs to go with it :)

We're now in the lull for the job hunting situation (which I originally thought was going to start in the run up to Christmas, but I was called as I drove to my mum's on Christmas Eve by a recruiter wanting to put me forward for a job). I've got a telephone interview lined up, and some other reasonably promising things in the pipeline, so the outlook is reasonable at the moment :)

A facebook post by a friend reminded me about a 'sport' I used to watch as a kid. I think it's what got me into ridiculous engines and the like. I didn't know what it was called - but can you imagine as a young technically curious child looking at the boring morass of so called sports and regular stuff on television, then flicking over and finding this? (american one here, also see this 4 chinook turbine one here) Apparently it's called Tractor Pulling, and it comes from the time when farmers would compare the strength of their horses by getting them to pull a barn door along the ground and have people jump on as they went along until the horse could no longer pull them along...

Yesterday I went to the rather excellent Vale Inn in Bollington for a beer festival with smescrater, sessifet25, the_ladylark and Thermobaric Tom. One catchphrase rapidly came to the fore - "blame it on the mammon" - of which I'm tucking in to a half from my 4 pint jug (it's 7.0% and not a beer to be consumed lightly) now :)

Current Mood: okay okay

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But facial recognition is coming to the mainstream (see my post of nearly 4 years ago). It's not quite 'searchable' yet (thankfully), because Facebook currently places restrictions on tagging photos. But then we all know how good Facebook's record on privacy controls is, and I suspect it wouldn't take much for someone to aggregate the data and provide an external face recognition search service. I don't doubt that law and government agencies already have ways of achieving this anyway - this is about it coming to the casual user.

This has come at an interesting time for me anyway for various reasons that I won't go in to. I doubt I'll bother changing my habits now. I guess I'm mainly concerned with the principle of being able to keep my private life private from potential employers' casual searching - not because I have anything to hide, but simply because it's my private life - only people I choose to tell about my private life have a right to know about it.

Current Mood: contemplative contemplative

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