Archive for February, 2009

My N85 reads my e-mail to me!

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

N85 message readerI’ve just had a eureka moment with my N85. I love it when that happens! The first eureka moment I ever had with a phone must have been about 10 years ago was when I accidentally held the # key down on my phone – (a Nokia 7110 at the time – the one from the Matrix)? – and it went in to silent mode. I had previously been navigating through all sorts of menus to get to that, and there was a shortcut key straight to it.

Today’s eureka moment was very similar. I accidentally held the Messaging soft key down on my N85, and it started reading my new e-mails to me. This is a fantastic feature! Imagine you are in the car and someone e-mails you or texts you. You are itching to find out what it says, but are reluctant to cause a 10 car pile up just to satisfy your addiction to e-mail. No problem – just hold the Messaging key, and your new text or e-mail is read out to you! It’s brilliant. Thank you Nokia!

P.S., if you look at the reflection you might be able to tell that that blurry picture of my N85 was taken with my iPhone. The iPhone doesn’t read my mail out loud, and it doesn’t take particularly good close up photos. The N85 beats the iPhone on just about everything. Apart from web browsing. Fix that Nokia, and you are the kings.

Flash in windows media center

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Since my TunerFreeMCE code has been out there for almost a year now, I have picked up a fair bit of experience of playing flash on windows media center.

Most of the TV companies who provide flash video do so using the Akamai tech stack to secure and stream their content. They build their own custom flash players on top of that to provide their own flavour to the players, e.g. related videos and so on. The probably intentional side effect of this is that it is really not trivial to get in to their flash streams and do anything with it. It’s not like the have an rtmp url easily accessible for you to get hold of. There are ways of doing it, but not easily. There is for example a project on sourceforge called rtmpdump ( which allows you to download flash videos from the BBC and from Hulu. (more…)

How to add an overwriting message to a console application in c#.

Thursday, February 12th, 2009

As part of my TunerFreeMCE application, I have a console application which builds up a cache of all of the programs that can be watched. That can be a slow process at times, particularly on hulu and Five. I wanted to give the user some feedback of what was going on, so I put a bunch of Console.WriteLine messages in there. That worked OK, but it only gave people feedback when a task was finished, not when a long running task was in progress. What I really wanted was to add a progress update for long running tasks.


Thursday, February 5th, 2009

Happy New Year !!!
At last, just 6 days after the issue first happened, The Green Button is operational again! I’ll be responding to all of my backed up queries there shortly.

Creative Commons License?photo?credit:?Creativity+ Timothy K Hamilton

Dual Boot Windows 7 on an XP netbook

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

MSI Wind running Windows 7

As part of the Windows 7 Beta program, I wanted to see how it would run on my netbook, an Advent 4211, a rebadged MSI Wind. I didn’t want to completley blow away XP though, because this is only a beta after all. The main obstacle that you face with installing Windows 7 on a netbook is of course the absense of a DVD drive. This guide documents the steps that I had to take to make this happen. (more…)

Project Kangaroo looses it’s bounce

Wednesday, February 4th, 2009

Kangaroo from Walka Water WorksSorry. I just couldn’t resist a pun. Perhaps the loss of future pun opportunities is the saddest thing about the demise of this project. Anyway, as noted on my main site, Project Kangaroo was shut down by the competition commission today.

Of course, if you are using TunerFree MCE, you probably don’t care that much – you already have a single interface for all of the UK content, so this wouldn’t have added anything new. From my perspective though, it’s hard to say if it is a good or a bad thing. If they had produced a single way of handling on-demand TV, it would have made my life much easier when producing a media center interface for it. On the other hand, if they had used their combined might to increase the protection in the system, they could have shut me out completley. Perhaps it’s best for all media center users that this didn’t happen after all.
Creative Commons License photo credit: Tasumi1968

Windows 7 Versions

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Microsoft have just announced the versions of Windows 7 that they will sell. One of the most detailed descriptions I have reas is on Ian Dixon’s blog. For consumers in the UK though, the options are Windows 7 Basic (no media center, no Aero), Windows 7 Premium (adds Aero, Touch and Media Center), and Ultimate (adds domain support, Remote Desktop, Bit Locker).

This puts me in a quandry. I spent good money on Vista Ultimate licenses, mainly because I wanted the Remote Desktop capabilities which Premium didn’t have. Then I discovered that Microsoft had crippled Vista Ultimate between the beta and the final release by not allowing multiple simultaneous users, so I couldn’t remote in to my living room PC to fix things while people were watching TV. Basically that made my extra investment in Ultimate a complete waste of money. I am therefore probably going to go for Windows 7 Premium rather than Ultimate because I got so badly burned with wasting money on Vista Ultimate. At the same time?though I’m?worried that perhaps they have made it less of a lame duck this time, and I am going to miss out on something worthwhile. Damn you Microsoft! Your clever marketing to geek insecurities is working!

Perhaps Windows 7 should be the Vista Ultimate Extra that never appeared. Hint Hint.

The Green Button workaround

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

If, like me, you have been having issues with The Green Button‘s forums, you will probably be disapointed to see it isn’t fixed yet. There is however a workaround. Use Internet Explorer to log in to the site, and click on “Quick Reply” The Green Button workaroundThis opens a pretty nice editor to allow you to successfully post messages. Yes, I do think it’s coincidence that the only way to use this Microsoft site is with Internet Explorer.

Adding a version checker – code walkthrough

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

I was reading an article today on Symbian Guru about how more and more S60 developers are doing the right thing by including an automatic check for updates to their code. It guilted me in to realizing that it’s one of the big features that was missing from my TunerFreeMCE application. It also made me realize that I didn’t know what the best practice was for things like that, so I googled “c# check for new program version” and frankly what came back was irrelevant or overly complex. I had some very simple requirements;

  • Minimal web traffic – I pay for this hosting you know!
  • Minimal application impact
  • Easy for the user


The Green Button still having issues

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

A bunch of folks have sent me messages at TheGreenButton recently, and unfortunatly I didn’t get any notifications, so sorry about not responding folks. To make matters worse, I logged in at the weekend and spotted the posts, and was unable to send any replies. Any time you try to make a post, you get the following error;

The Green Button Dies

The Green Button Dies