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.


MythTV – Stuck Queue

Posted on February 3rd, 2011 by Luke Sheldrick.
Categories: IT / Tech.
Tags: , , , , , , , .

3 02 2011

I use DHCP at home, as most do, for convenience. Last week I changed the router at home to one compatible with DD-WRT as I was setting IPv6 up at home (something I should blog about later). When I set it up, until I migrated the old DHCP config over, everything on the LAN that had static DHCP allocations went a bit crazy. Once that was resolved everything went back to normal… or so I thought.

However I’d noticed that MythTV wasn’t recording anything. When looking through it had listed all of it’s encoders as remote and “currently not connected”, interesting I thought. It looked like somewhere along the line that box had got instead of So it didn’t think it was, well it’s self. Changing the DHCP assignments quickly resolved this.

A week later I noticed whilst programs had been recording, they were all sitting queued in Job Queue. Restarting the backend process nor did restarting the box. So I had a quick look on it’s DB and noticed the recordings were showing as remote, not local as they should be. Delving a bit further I noticed that it was listing the recordings as being recorded on “” instead of “sidekick”. I’d set the domain on the router, and it was happily distributing via DHCP.

So to resolve my issue, I changed the hostname manually, back to sidekick.

To do this on ubuntu is pretty simple, edit
with the desired hostname and then
/etc/init.d/ restart
However I was now stuck, with all the recordings showing as being recorded on the ‘remote’ host. The only way to fix this would be to edit the database manually. This is where it the less adventurous may want to stop.

So log on to your MySQL instance, it’ll prompt for MySQL’s root password.
sidekick:~# mysql -p -u root
Use mythtv’s database named mythconverg in my setup.
use mythconverg;
Then print the structure and contents of the jobqueue table.
select * from jobqueue;
This is what I was presented with.
mysql> select * from jobqueue;
| id | chanid | starttime | inserttime | type | cmds | flags | status | statustime | hostname | args | comment | schedruntime |
| 284 | 1001 | 2011-02-03 17:11:00 | 2011-02-03 17:15:01 | 256 | 0 | 0 | 272 | 2011-02-03 17:15:53 | sidekick | | Successfully Completed. | 2011-02-03 17:15:01 |
| 283 | 1004 | 2011-02-02 22:00:00 | 2011-02-02 23:05:00 | 256 | 0 | 0 | 1 | 2011-02-03 17:25:24 | | | | 2011-02-02 23:05:00 |
| 282 | 1001 | 2011-02-02 21:00:00 | 2011-02-02 22:00:01 | 256 | 0 | 0 | 1 | 2011-02-03 17:25:24 | | | | 2011-02-02 22:00:01 |
| 279 | 1007 | 2011-02-01 21:00:00 | 2011-02-01 22:00:01 | 256 | 0 | 0 | 1 | 2011-02-03 17:25:24 | | | | 2011-02-01 22:00:01 |

So I can see the that the job ran fine that came in after I changed the hostname. So what I decided to try is to update the hostname, and also the scheduledtime too as it was in the past.
mysql> update jobqueue set
-> status=1,hostname="sidekick",comment="",schedruntime="2011-02-03 17:30:01" where status=1;

So this will update the hostname and schedruntime for anything with status 1 (which means queued). I ran that and restarted mythtv-backend, and all the queue was then worked though.

Job done. Hopefully this may help someone else in a sticky position.



Posted on February 1st, 2011 by Luke Sheldrick.
Categories: Personal.
Tags: , , .

1 02 2011

Usually, I’d shrug off being ill, with the occasional rant about the seasonal flu. However January really has taken the biscuit.

The week before Christmas, I had an awful cold (I won’t compensate and call it flu). Luckily I was then fine for a few days over the Christmas break. To then come down with the worst case of flu I think I’ve ever had the week after. Literally a week in bed, was very grim. I suspect that was swine flu.

Have then been fine for a week or so, to then come down with another cold, again with a weasey chest. The cold has now pretty much gone, but I still sound like a burst hoover every time I breath in and out.

So I checked in at the local doctors this morning, to be greeted with a really caring, genuinely nice doctor. I told her what the history, and she had a listen to my chest, and concurred something was not right.

She prescribed me 500mg Amoxicillin, as she believes I’ve had a secondary infection in my chest. This may be causing a bit of a loop. Chest gets better (but weakens immune system) > Influenza takes hold due to weaken immune system > Chest… etc


I’ve never really been a fan of anti-biotics, you read about the super bacteria, that are cropping up all over the place. Some believe these are ‘evolving’ due to the over use of anti-biotics. I’m also not a huge fan of popping a pill at every opportunity. However, not taken any anti-biotics for the first 25 years of my life, I’m sure one dose wont bring on the resident evil stylie zombies… or will it?


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