Monthly Archives

January 2009

Twitters…

Over the last few weeks of Twitter usage, I’ve noticed one thing – those that get it, and those that don’t. I’ve also noticed their usage profile.

Those that get it,  which I will call ‘Twitter Swimmers’ tend to be those who take a regular active part in the Twittersphere.  We tend to access it throughout the day, tweeting and responding to tweets.  TS’s tend to follow lots of people, and hence gain a core of followers from that.   We use different access methods – web, desktop and mobile,  and happily promote it to their friends, colleagues and contacts.

The ‘Twitter Dippers’ however, tend to sign up,  perhaps post a few tweets, follow a couple of people, then give up wondering what all the fuss is about.   I don’t think Twitter has the instant gratification that maybe Facebook instils.  I was a ‘TD’, dipping my toe in the water, not seeing the point of it.  But then I revisited a month or so later, and now I’m addicted!!!    So anyone in the TD category,  try some of the TS activities,  stick with it for a few weeks,  and you may just get hooked.

Equality & Diversity.

As part of the companies training and development program, its now sending all of its staff on ‘Equality & Diversity’ training – basically a half day course instructing people not to be sexist, racialist, homophobic e.t.c e.t.c e.t.c,  and if you are subject to such abuse, what you can do about it.  All very noble and worthwhile, if a little obvious, but hey, the company needs to tick its boxes and I don’t mind a few soft-skills courses now and again.

The one thing I did enjoy though was a short DVD around segregation and the effects of treating people differently entitled ‘A Class Divided’.   Filmed for PBS in 1968, and reworked in 1985, it shows a primary school teacher dividing her class into the blue-eyes and the brown-eyes, and discriminated against one group on the first day,  another on the second day,  and watched what happened to the social dynamic.  I would recommend anyone who has not had E&D training or seen this video as part of that course should watch it @ http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/divided/ and really consider what they see.  Its certainly an eye opener (pun intended). 

Birthday Belly Buster..

As part of the Birthday tradition where the celebrator treats his or her fellow colleagues to some excess foodstuffs, so today it became my turn to gift upon them, some lovely lovely breakfast.

IMAGE_397 IMAGE_398
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All from Busters in Darlaston, THE place for breakfast in the Wednesbury Area.  We’ve not taken any statistics, but its likely that the BMI of the office has risen several factor points this morning.

 

Twitter in Plain English

So I’ve found a few nice Youtube Videos explaining Twitter for newbies, and I thought I’d post the links here.

First off,  ‘Twitter in Plain English’ explains what Twitter is.

Next, how to use the Twitter Website

And finally for today, Tweetdeck.

Just a headsup to say non of these video’s are my own, but they’re really nice how-tos.

Twitter 101, Day 1.

So I seem to be coming across the questions Virgin Twitterers are asking – how does this work, what do I do, what’s it all about e.t.c.

So this is day 1 of Twitter School.

1) What the funk is twitter?
Twitter is a social messaging and status system.  It allows you to post short updates about what you’re upto, what you’ve seen that’s cool, and what you think about various subjects.

2) What’s the point?  I’ve got Facebospace?
Twitter is a little different MyFaceBo, in that its entirely focused on short updates.  No adding tonnes of crap to your page, you just post text, pictures and links upto 140 characters in length.  Think of it like organising a night out with a Group of Friends.  Everyone can input their thoughts into the ‘cloud’ and you might get a solution, idea or way forward drop out.  Try it – its addictive.

3) OK, so where do I start?
Well, first off, get yourself a twitter account.  Goto www.twitter.com and sign up.

4) I’ve done that, what next?
First off, post a few tweets about what you’re upto.  

5) I don’t know what to tweet about?
Well, first off,  follow a few people to see what they do.  The best approach is to lurk around for a few days and see what gets written, you’ll get the idea. 

6) So, who do I follow?
If you’ve got friends on Twitter, why not add them?  Billy No Mates?  Well, add a few celebrities instead.   Some examples: @wossy (Jonathon Ross, @stephenfry, @scofe (Phil Schofield).  

7) So how do I add a friend?
Two easy ways – either find them on the twitter website by doing a search or entering their twitter address (http://twitter.com/username – e.g. http://twitter.com/digitaldiablo)

OR, in the Text box, type follow user

8) Cool, I can talk to all my favourite celebrities.
Well, maybe.   Bear in mind that some celebs have tens of thousands of followers.  Every comment and thought is massively commented and replied to. Chances are, your tweet will get ignored and get consigned to the bowels of history.  You might get lucky, but don’t join twitter just for this.  Join it to give the world an insight into your thoughts, rather than an MSN Messenger type service.  Nothing is more tedious than a page full of @ tweets.  If however you wish to proceed with this foolhardy quest for glory, a ‘public’ message to someone is posted ‘@username I love you and want to stalk you’.    You can also private message them with a D username, however this should be discouraged as far as possible, as this negates the point of a social messaging site.

9) How will I know if my favourite celebrity has replied to me? 
Well, you’ll see a message back from them saying something like “@yourusername: wow, you really rock and we should meet at the Ivy to discuss this further”.  Well, you can party like its 2099.

10) This seems OK, but its a bit annoying having to sit at my computer.
Well, Good News Everyone!  You don’t!    You can tweet from your Mobile/iPhone/CrackBerry/WinMo e.t.c e.t.c. e.t.c.  You can also get applications for your PC which can improve your experience.   Just google ‘twitter platform’ and see what comes up.  You can also see what other users use in their tweets, using the ‘from field’.

My favorite is tweetdeck.  It’s an Adobe Air application (you don’t need to worry), but its a Desktop Application.  You get the tweet window at the top with the commands.  Your tweets in one column,  your direct messages and other replies.  You can also see the most popular topics on Twitter right now with twitscoop and have ‘saved searches’ to see if anyone is twittering about your favourite subject.

 

And here endeth todays lesson.  Join me for more lessons soon.

Sir, You appear to have dropped your Jaw.

Tomorrows World appears to have arrived!   I paid a visit to a nearby Curry’s on Friday evening to see what its flagship store was like (I’ve not dared to venture after it opened to much hullabaloo in October).  Its all a very nice setup, with ‘islands’ of products nicely clustered together, a bit like a department store of old.  Amongst the rows of Computers, Printers, Mobiles, MP3 players and washing machine, they have their TV section.  The section is against the back wall, and is wide enough to fit about 50 42″ plasma’s along it, plus all the floor based ones.  However, their PiΓ¨ce de rΓ©sistance centred right in the middle of the display is this:-

BFT

Yes, its a 103″ Telly!   That’s 95″ x 55″ and with a depth of just 5.6″!   The screen area is 89″ wide by 50″ high, so that’s two 42″ plasma’s next to each other, and a 50″ turned on its side.   This thing is VAST!  It was like a wall and in fact would take up a wall on my house.   Now, I’m used to big pictures – I use a projector to watch movies which is a similar size,   but the crispness, clarity and scale of this behemoth just takes your breath away.  I stood there for about 5 mins looking like a slack jawed yokel admiring this beast of technology.

The only downsides?  Well an RRP of Β£69,995 and the requirement for a specialist installation team to come and fit it.

If you want to come visit it, be sure to checkout Curry’s, J9 Wednesbury or if you have a spare Β£70k to throw down, visit the Panasonic Website for more tech specs.

Why Twitter Rocks!

I’ve been speaking with people recently about twitter and its pretty save to say I’m becoming an addict!  I tweet in the morning, tweet at lunch, and tweet in the evenings, and I love seeing what others are upto. 

The applet I use (TweetDeck) has a feature to monitor the most popular words being tweeted on the wire (pun intended), so when I saw the words Hudson, Airplane, Crash, United and Airlines appearing in large words, I knew something had happened.  Those updates started appearing about 1/2hr before the UK news services picked up on the plane crash which, given the seriousness of the incident, I can’t believe that not one person expired.  The Pilot – He has Skilllz.   Hero of the Year?  Certainly so far,  but Obama takes his seat in office next week.

WeekEPG Database Structure

So, I’ve spent some of the weekend figuring out the WeekEPG data structure, based on the files on my dreambox.  Here is a note of my discoveries so far.

Main ‘Config’ Files.

On my dreambox, the main config files are stored in /etc/ and we have:-

  • channels.uk/it – Where the channel listings are stored.  Data format seems to be 
    1;2002;BBC 1 London;101;189d:7fd:2
    Scan Enabled (1=Y); Unknown (but suspect its just a unique id);Channel Name; Assigned Channel Number; ServiceID(in Hex):Transponder:NetworkID (2=Sky).
  • Dictionary.uk – Appears to be a translation table from the binary stream into text.
  • Themes.uk/it – Theme definition (Kids/Sports e.t.c.)
    THM;0;40;Children
    SUB;1;41;Cartoons

    Type (Main Theme or SUB theme);Whether Listing is a main or sub theme;Theme Unique ID;Theme Name.

Data Files

Stored in /hdd/weekepg (or where you’ve defined it in the setup).

  • titlesx.gep – Stores the program names, titles e.t.c. Note, there can be numerous ones of these.
    1A660416<>1231680600<>201<> Inside the Bermuda Triangle<>3600<>60
    Unique Program ID <> Time of program start (Unix Time) <> Channel Number (from the channel.uk def) <> Program Name <> Length in Minutes <> Theme (from Themes.uk)
  • summariesx.gep – Stores more detailed descriptions of the program, including summary description. Note, like titlesx, numerous ones of these.
    728056F<>A free holiday to Boston, New York or Barbados, among others, is yours when you book a featured stay and cruise holiday to Orlando and the Caribbean in this great Sky Travel sale offer. 
    Unique Program ID (matches titlex.gep UID) <> Detailed Description (may include subtite, series link and other information at the end of description.

So that’s what I’ve discovered so far about it.  I’m currently writing a PHP loader to import this data into a MySQL database, so that I can then write a further PHP script to be able to publish XMLTV formatted files for interpretation by MV and MythTV.  WeekEPG rocks, but I prefer the interface with MV, and could really use the data within MythTV for the Freesat Channels.

WeekEPG 3.1b

Note, this was originally published at satellites.co.uk, however all future updates will be posted here first!

This is a short post from me (really for my later reference) on what settings are required for WeekEPG 3.1b to be able to fetch the skyEPG into its repository. Its here because I really messed up my settings, and was only getting now/next data (circa 3000 titles) and no summaries, but with these settings I get 59000+ titles and 57000+ summaries.

My Setup:
DM600 running Gemini 4.50 for that Box, with WeekEPG 3.1b plugin activated.
So:-

Configuring WeekEPG

Make sure you’re in Radio Mode, tuned to ‘Hip Hop’
The service for Hip Hop for me reads as the following data, but of note, I don’t receive any audio:
Provider:BSKYB
Video PID:none
Audio PID:0d2eh (3374d)
PCR PID:0d2eh (3374d)
PMT PID:0132h (306d)
Transport Stream ID: 07d4h
Original Network ID: 0002h
Service ID: 0fd1h
Namespace: 11a0000h
Satellite: 28.2 Sats
Freq: 11777v
FEC:2/3, Symbol Rate 27499.

So Once you’re happy you’ve got the channel set:-
Yellow/WeekEPG.
From the EPG listing, press exit, then Setup.
Settings as follows:-
10 TStart Offs 10 TEnd Offs
0 , Local Time Offset Unticked
Font Size 20/18
Show Current Channel Ticked.
Use Offline Data Ticked.
Offline EPG Storage Path
/hdd/weekepg

Then press RED to choose the channel, and select Hip Hop.
Set Language to UK if necessary.
I would then press Save (blue)
Then back into setup
Finally Green to run the Log, and Yes to Confirm.
It takes about 30 seconds to grab the titles, then perhaps a further minute to grab the Summary Info.
As previously stated, you should get 50,000+ titles. If you’ve only got 3000 is, and no summaries, somethings not working.
So in summary, it seems that the EPG data is currently being transmitted on this channel, rather than on Sky1, sky News and sky Movies stated elsewhere – at least, thats how it seems on my system.
Hope this helps both myself and someone else.
Now to figure out how to get the WeekEPG data into MV

A series of Unfortunate Events…

This is more of a thread of appreciation than anything else, but needs a bit of background filling.

Last Night going home I suffered a blowout on the motorway.  What happened was the flange or collar on the shock absorber that holds the spring in place appears to have broken, slipped or failed in some other way, causing the spring to drop a few coils down towards the wheel.  This in turn rubbed on the sidewall of the tyre causing it to wear down and eventually pop. 

Anyway,  thinking it was just a burst tyre, I phoned the AA to ask for their assistance (as I understand it, you’re not allowed to change the tyre on a motorway) and was advised that they’d be out within the hour.  30 minutes yerman in his yellow van turned up, and had the wheel changed within 10 min’s, despite his butt being just inches from the 40-ton trucks going past. 

Well, having got the car back to my office on the space saver (luckily it was thin enough to not rub),  our local company service centre was able to organise a tow truck to come and pick it up, and its now gone off upto Aldridge to get fixed, AND they were able to organise a temporary replacement vehicle.

So really this is just a small note of appreciation to both the AA and Interserve Site Services for their expert assistance in getting things sorted out for me!  Top Job Guys!