I’ve been going through some of the older stuff I wrote for bit-tech, and came across a couple of articles that never made it.  Rather than consign them to the digital dustbin, I figured – having already written them – I’d resurrect them here.

The first is an article about the agreement ‘twix AMD and Intel over the latter’s allegedly anticompetitive behaviour, written back in November of last year.

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I appear to have broken my netbook.

Well, ‘broken’ might be a bit steep – it no longer responds to a lid close event with the nice, neat standby mode it once treated me to.  Instead, it triggers the standby script and gets itself into a half-on, half-off state.

In this state, the power light is flashing to indicate that it’s in standby.  Unfortunately, it isn’t – everything’s still working fine.  The only indication that it even tried to standby is that my SD card unmount/remount script is triggered and the default keyring is locked.

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I came home tonight to find that my Internet connection had crapped out, but that’s not what this post is about.  This post is about how Billion – that is, the company rather than the oft-misused numerical value – software engineers are perhaps not the sharpest tools in the box.

After restarting my router, the syslog spat out the following:

Jan  1 00:01:33 DDNS: DynDNS can not be reliable if SNTP -time server do not
reply to modem correctly, Please fix SNTP -server address. 
Oct 21 19:13:50 syslog: NTP current time is Wed Oct 21 19:13:50 2009

That’s the DDNS service complaining that things might go wrong if it doesn’t know the current time – followed by the NTP service updating to the current time.  Apparently making those two things run the other way around is too logical.

Apostrophe's in the wild 6It’s not often that a mere sign – even one displaying a frankly staggering ineptitude with the English language – leaves me speechless, but this particular example of apostrophe abuse came close.

Note the shotgun-like approach to grammar involved in this image, where every single S is preceded by an errant apostrophe – with the  exception of “brows” and “extensions,” which I can only assume were missed by mistake.

The sign may declare that “Beauty Matterz,” but I posit that grammar ‘matterz’ more.

Roku SoundBridge develops a poor short-term memoryEver since switching to WPA2-AES security on my wireless network I’ve been having some problems with my Pinnacle-branded Roku SoundBridge wireless MP3 player. Problems like “strange, this used to be connected to the network.”

It seems that after a few days of working perfectly happily the device drops off the network.  Well, not quite ‘off’ – it sits there continually sending out DHCP request after DHCP request.  My router, being a good router that does as it’s told, sends out DHCP offers in response to these requests – which are routinely ignored by the SoundBridge.

Switching to a static IP on the SoundBridge doesn’t do a lot of good: although it fixes the Herring Sandwich Experiment qualities of the issue by removing the continuous DHCP requests, the device still drops off the network.

I’ve upgraded the firmware to the latest beta release, but there’s still no joy.  Next step is an e-mail to Roku.

miniDNLA configSince my PC blew up – and took Windows with it – I’ve been gradually making the switch to using Linux as my everyday desktop operating system.  Although I’ve been using it on my laptops and netbooks for years, I’ve usually kept Windows on the desktop for one simple reason: TVersity.

TVersity is an excellent UPnP media server which works perfectly with my media playback devices – the PS3, the Xbox 360, and the Roku SoundBridge in the bedroom.  Sadly, it’s Windows only – and most of the Linux equivalents have left me cold.

I stumbled across a small daemon called miniDLNA, written by a Netgear engineer for the company’s ReadyNAS range of network attached storage devices, which works like a charm as a TVersity replacement, with one exception – the damn thing refuses to be seen by the Xbox 360.  Thankfully, I’ve figured out why.

In the configuration file – /etc/minidlna.conf – the software makes reference to a “presentation URL,” which by default is commented out.  This results in an invalid default of, which everything except the Xbox 360 happily ignores.  The 360, however, decides to go visit this URL – and falls over.

To fix the issue, simply change the line to the IP address of your server and the port you’ve got miniDLNA working on – 8200 by default.  The entire line should end up reading:

# default presentation url is http address on port 80

Once that’s done, restart miniDLNA and everything should spring into life.

Sainsbury's FailAnother day, another sad tale of apostrophe abuse.

It seems that the simple rule of “an apostrophe never pluralises” is too much for the shopkeepers of our great nation.  While we’re already aware of the horrendous abuse piled upon the innocent possessive apostrophe by Asda, we could perhaps forgive the Septic owners – Mall-Wart – for their crimes, being as they are somewhat backward in the linguistic stakes as a consequence of their birth nation.

Sadly, there can be no such excuse for Sainsbury’s – and how ironic it is that the company name is correctly formatted with a possessive apostrophe of its own.  If only it could have alerted its guardians as to their folly as they proceed to litter an aisle sign with not one, but two superfluous of its brethren.  For shame.

You know what it’s like…  You fancy something new and exciting to listen to, but don’t fancy lining the pockets of industry fat cats by shelling out for yet more cookie-cutter mass-produced pap.  While there are pretty snazzy online radio systems like Spotify out there, nothing quite beats having a DRM-free download to add to your collection.

Sure, there’s always the less legitimate method; but what if you could have a completely free download with no guilt and no midnight knocks from the copyright police?

With this thought in my mind, I Googled my little heart out and tracked down the rather neat Jamendo: a free MP3 download service that offers only Creative Commons licensed work.  With some 22,000 albums to pick from, it’s a veritable horn of plenty – and there’s some pretty awesome stuff on there.  I’m particularly fond of the French group Myl-n So.

It’s all DRM free MP3, completely legal, and you don’t even have to sign up.  Neat-o!

Don’t say I never give you anything, wretches.

Apostrophe's in the wild 4: Asda LivingThose poor apostrophes keep getting abused – left out in the cold in places they have no right being.

Take, for example, this woeful tale of a poor innocent apostrophe who found himself sandwiched between “DVD” and “s” at the Asda Living store in Forster Square, Bradford.

Clearly there was some twisted logic in the minds of his tormentors: after all, you use an apostrophe to indicate missing letters, right?  The ultimate D in DVD stands for “Disc”, which means there are missing letters – ergo an apostrophe is required, right?

Sadly for our poor, misused apostrophe: wrong.  An apostrophe, as I’m sure you are aware, never pluralises.  Remember: no means no.