‘Lost’ finale breaks download records for TV show

According to Torrent Freak, the ‘Lost’ finale is on track to receive more downloads than any other TV episode in history with over 900,000 downloads within the first day. They also recorded over 100,000 active clients on the torrent at the same time which is also some sort of record.

According to their stats 15% of downloads came from Australia where the free to air TV screening of the finale was delayed until several days after it was shown in the US. Clearly this indicates that when people can easily obtain their entertainment over the Internet they would rather watch the show as soon as it becomes available than wait until a time deemed convenient by their local TV station. If the TV programmers are surprised by this then they are somewhat out of touch with reality.

What’s up with Qantas?

A couple of recent trips I have made with Qantas have reminded me of my experiences with Ansett before their unfortunate demise. These issues include:

  • Frequent maintenance related delays.
  • Cabin technical problems, mostly with in-flight entertainment.
  • Sub-standard (compared to competitors) cabin amenities.

It was these sort of issues that prompted me to stop flying with Ansett, who later went bankrupt. I’m not suggesting that Qantas is going broke, but the way they are operating their fleet suggests they are not investing as much money as they should be in their aircraft. I would suggest avoiding any international Qantas flights operated using Boeing 767 aircraft as you will surely find a much better, and often cheaper, service operated by another carrier on the same route.

Getting mpeg video playback working on Windows 7

I recently took the plunge and bought a new PC after my ancient Athlon XP box became unstable. The new PC is using an Intel Core i5 CPU and ATI Radeon HD 5770 GPU. I decided to use Windows 7 64-bit as the OS because I have 4G of RAM and Microsoft does not allow the 32-bit versions of their OS to use more than about 3G of RAM.

While things have gone pretty well I have had 2 major issues that have bugged me (no pun intended).

  • No stable flash player for 64-bit browsers.
  • Most mpeg videos would not show any picture when playing.

The flash problem has not been a big issue since it has prevented most of the annoying web ads from displaying and I always have the option of using the 32-bit version of IE when I need flash (eg, Youtube).

The mpeg issue on the other hand was quite frustrating because I couldn’t find a workaround for it for some time. As it turns out just because my new Windows 7 OS ships with DirectX 11 that doesn’t mean that older DirectX functions will work correctly, such as GPU accelerated mpeg decoding. Thanks to a helpful thread on the Boxee forum I found a DirectX update tool on the Microsoft website. Running this tool downloaded and installed some DirectX components and now video playback is working perfectly.

You’d think Microsoft would test that sort of thing before releasing the OS so it works without updates but I guess that is too much to ask for.

For those who are interested there is a 64 bit beta version of the flash player available here.

Time to replace those smoke alarms?

The start of daylight savings time in Australia always prompts a reminder from the fire services to replace the batteries in your smoke detectors. Smoke detectors wear out over time and is a result should be replaced once they reach they reach the replacement age specified by the manufacturer. The ones in our house were several years past the replacement date so this year I purchased a pack of new ones and changed them all over.

For more info about fire safety in Victoria visit the Victoria Online fire safety page.

Fairfax becoming more social

fairfax-socialIn the morning I like to read The Age website rather than purchasing the dead tree edition. The paper has far more articles than the website but it is in an incredibly inconvenient format, especially for someone like myself who travels a lot but still wants to know what is going on at home. I also find with the paper edition that almost all of the interesting international news I have already picked up via the internet, often several days before it appears in the paper.

The point of this post however is the interesting social sidebar (pictured left) which now appears on some of the articles on the fairfax newspaper articles, such as this one. It tells you how many people are currently viewing the article, which other articles these people have read, and allows you to post a comment about the page on twitter. It’s creating a unique ascii string for people to include in their twitter post which ties it back to the relevant article. For the travel article I linked above the string is #fd-drcd, where I presume the fd is for fairfax digital.

I’m curious to know whether they are getting any feedback on the articles via this system (although the posts I checked didn’t have any), and also why it only appears on some articles and not all of them. If anybody has any additional info I’d be keen to hear it.

Updated response time stats

This site has been on the new hosting for a few months now so I thought it was about time to post an updated response time chart from the Google Webmaster console.

response time chart

Google have updated their webmaster interface since the last chart but you can see there has been a huge improvement in response time since I moved the server. Some of the other charts show that the rate of URLs fetched per day has also improved.

The move has gone very smoothly, largely due to WordPress having a simple interface for exporting the DB from the old server and uploading it to the new one. Hooray for WordPress!

SMS spam from +856207349489

I recently got my first foreign SMS spam to my mobile. It said:

You won $123,000 USD,send your email address by sms text message to(+856207349489)so we shall send you an email with more information on how to claim your money

Obviously this is some sort of scam, and a quick web search reveals quite a few people have received exactly the same message. Usually these sort of scams are sent via email because it cost the sender practically nothing and is very difficult to trace back to the individual responsible. SMS on the other hand almost always costs has a financial cost to the sender and is far easier to trace. The sender in this case has likely hacked or socially engineered they way into another party’s phone account in order to send out these messages. There is probably a fairly small window of time in which you could reply to the message before the SMS service is cut off by the telco who provides it.

I don’t think we’ll be seeing much SMS spam in the future.

Edit: The Age have published an article on this type of activity which they are calling Smishing (SMS phishing).

We have hosting

I moved the site over to the new hosting on the weekend and updated the site theme at the same time. So far things are running much faster than they were before. I’ll post an updated speed graph from the Google webmaster console in a few weeks when it has updated.

I’m still in the process of clearing out the link rot but I have cut down the number of broken links to around half as many as when I started.

That’s all for now.

NBN to sing, dance – Minchin

According to The Australian, shadow communications minister Nick Minchin has been quoted as saying: “Senator Conroy is claiming this all singing, all dancing NBN is also going to save the planet.” I’m taking his quote out of context, but it goes to show how petty and soundbite-driven politics can be at times.

The article I am linking to (well, until it link-rots away) actually raises some of the advantages the proposed NBN could bring to the country. I think once the network is built people will come up with all sorts of amazing high-bandwidth applications to use on it. Many of these will reduce the need to travel, bringing convenience and environmental benefits for most of us, but could be of huge importance for people with mobility challenges.