The value of feedback

Posted on March 29th, 2011 by Luke Sheldrick.
Categories: Mutterings.
Tags: , , .

29 03 2011

I do sometimes question the value of review sites. Yesterday I bought a little 125cc Scooter to run around town on, and wanted to get the insurance setup, so when I picked it up, I could drive straight away.

I was looking at a few comparison sites, and one particular insurer came out cheaper than the others. Tried a few more comparison sites, all gave similar results. I went with one particular insurer, called them up, went through the paticulars, gave over my payment details. Job done. The chap seemed like a bit of a lad, but polite enough, said the paper work would take a couple of days to email through, as this time of the year is the busiest time for them. No problem.

I then thought I’d have a look about the company, just out of mild boredom. Found a review site, which was full of bad reviews on their setup process, mostly regarding docs that had been sent through wrong..etc couldn’t really comment further as hadn’t received my docs.

When checking my mail this morning, docs were in my inbox, all appear correct. So my experience didn’t seem to match everyone else’s. However would I go and give a good review? would anyone? I’d say not.

People usually only give feedback, when it’s negative. This is a somewhat over generalisation, however for the most part, true.

So what is the value of feedback sites? With the freedom of the Internet, everyone has a voice. Be it on a on a feedback/review site, forum, blog, twitter or the like. If people have a bee in their bonnet regarding a certain company, they’ll go and write paragraphs on how angry they feel, and how terrible the company is. Would they do the same for a positive? I’m not sure.

However, bring in new social media services, I’m thinking foursquare here. The idea is you ‘check in’ at place, and can leave reviews for others looking at that venue. I often give good reviews here, something short and sweet. The reason? because it’s so quick. Takes maybe an extra 2/3 seconds per check-in. I don’t need to write a lengthy review, with 10 options for different ratings, from decor to service.

As you can see my tips range from very positive updates, to beware of this place.

I use services like foursquare, over most review sites. Why? as I said above, mostly, people only (in my opinion) only write lengthy reviews, or go to proper review sites, if they’re pissed off.

Or am I completely wrong here? What do you trust?


Hack the Government!

Posted on March 27th, 2011 by Luke Sheldrick.
Categories: IT / Tech.
Tags: , .

27 03 2011

So I’ve been pretty busy for the last month or so, and was actually looking forward to doing nothing at all. However a friend had mentioned the ‘National Hack the Government Day’ hosted by Rewired State, so I thought why the hell not.


Basically, they get a bunch of dev types, a bunch of data, and let them do what they want with it. I was entrigued, and said I’d pop along, take some photos and do a bit of networking. However when I got there, I thought I may as well try and hack something up, I could simply not put it forward for presentation if I majorly failed.

I’m by far a coder by trade, but can usually get from A to B, sometimes via X, Y and Z. I wont go into the detail about what I hacked up, you can see my presentation here.

There were some really awesome projects hacked up, especially considering the limited time everyone had. The presentations were all very good. Lots were still coding right up until they were on stage.

After the presentations, and awards given out it was off to the pub to celebrate Rewired State’s second birthday. There was even an amazing Gin and Tonic cake. Was a really good day, and met quite a lot of people I know online, from different parts of the industry.

Below are some of the photos I took, there are loads more here.

1 comment.

Apple TV 2 & XBMC

Posted on March 19th, 2011 by Luke Sheldrick.
Categories: IT / Tech.
Tags: , , , , .

19 03 2011

I was browsing around the Covent Garden Apple store the other day, as I needed to get a new SuperDrive for my MacBook Air (MBA), as I’d cleverly managed to throw my other one out when I was having a clear out the other day.

I’d always been interested in the new Apple TV (ATV) , but never got one, as I have XBMC setup at home. On a nettop in the bedroom connected to my LCD, and actually on an original Xbox in the front room, so didn’t see the need. A few friends have total Apple houses (iMacs, Macbooks, iPads, iPhones, TVs, you name it, they have it)… they’re all very nice and all, but I never really felt the need to have the ATV.

Until, in the pub the other evening, a friend at work mentioned he’d bought one, odd I thought as he’s not the usual Apple fanboy. He explained that he’d bought one, jailbroken it, and installed XBMC.

I’d been battling with the Nvidia ION drivers on my nettop, so HD content wasn’t perfect. So when I was shopping, the impulse in me took over, and one was bought.

Jailbreaking was fun.¬†Seas0nPass doesn’t work if you have FileVault turned on, which I do. Creating a new user on the MBA, and making the IPSW on that user (without FileVault enabled). Then the way the ATV is constructed makes it somewhat difficult to plug the HDMI and MicroUSB cable in at the same time. On reflection, I think this is on purpose, as you don’t really need to. I was then getting 1602 errors in iTunes when restoring the custom IPSW, later turns out, you can’t have the power and USB connected. Restoring with just the USB cable connected did the trick. Seas0npass is currently tethered only, so anytime I power off the ATV, I have to connect to the Mac. Not a huge issue, as don’t plan on turning off too often, and have set it not to power off.

Once jailbroken with seas0npass, installing XBMC was easy, and setup in a few minutes. Have it playing full HD content from my NAS. The remote, optical out, and HDMI resolution alll work flawlessly.

The other nice feature is AirPlay, so I can stream the media from my MBA or iPhone 4. I would have been able to from my iPad too, but I sold that as hadn’t used it a single time since getting the MBA.

Overall am really impressed with the ATV2, for the price of it, it’s a stunning piece of kit.


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