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Saturday, 28 October 2006

A good day: received a nice letter from work notifying me of a promotion and payrise, followed by a party up at Stella and Malcolm's pub in Derbyshire with most of the family.

Sunday, 22 October 2006

So, Torchwood started tonight with a double episode. It's certainly different. It's difficult to pin down exactly what makes it different, but it's good enough to stick with. After all, the first episode was almost a direct rip-off of Men in Black so it can't be too different, can it?

Good to see in the first two episodes references to The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances, Boomtown, The Parting of the Ways, The Christmas Invasion (why is the Doctor's severed hand so important to Jack?), Doomsday and Babylon 5. I'm not sure whether or not the latter was intentional, if not it was really coincidental.

Gwen's supposed to be a Rose-like character, a way in to the plot, characters and organisations who already know each other. Unlike Rose, who was taken by the Doctor to show her a good time, Gwen's been actively employed by Torchwood, for what - a guiding humanity? Seems a bit of a stretch and viewers will need her to be more proactive if they're to stay on. Is she a fighter or a thinker? What'll be her dynamic in the group? How'll she prove useful to Torchwood's overall mission, rather than Torchwood 3's sudden desire to be more "helpful".

Still, I think RTD's probably got answers to all of these questions.

Saturday, 21 October 2006

A good day for clearing out my inbox and to-do list. This week's UK TV & Radio now features Five Life, Five US, QVC and Ideal World listings harvested from the DVB-T OTA EPG; fixed FTN and a couple of other channels which were having problems.

Still no word from David Joel, Head of Planning, ITV plc. So ITV's five channels still don't have publishable listings.

Thursday, 19 October 2006

London is now awash with free newspapers: the walks between stations on the way home become a gauntlet-running trial from one representative to another. Between Euston Square and Euston, there are - on average - three people touting the same paper!

The only place with any solice is the Tube, where the Metro sits quietly seething to itself on immigration, science, single parents and rising taxes.

It's almost as if it was a conspiracy to corrupt traditionally-libertarian Londoners with shallow, reactionary, xenophobic, right-wing, anti-science groupthink.

Saturday, 14 October 2006

EPG data's stopped working, perhaps related to the 0.20 packages of MythTV for Ubuntu Dapper I'm using. So looked into how to get it to use XMLTV. Obviously I don't want to use tv_grab_uk_rt when This Week's UK TV & Radio can provide an XMLTV feed I've got more control over.

Using the revamped script I wrote for Freevo, it can be used with MythTV by changing the last line to:

mythfilldatabase --update --file 1 -1 /tmp/TV.xml

Needed to manually set the XMLTVIDs in mythtv-setup (which is a pain of a program IMHO) to those used by bleb, but I've asked on the mailing list if bleb should shift to using similar IDs to tv_grab_uk_rt which isn't canonical, but is more widely used. Used mythautoicon to download the channel icons, as Myth doesn't seem as good as Freevo in downloading the ones specified in the XMLTV file.

Not impressed by MythMusic, though - it's interface is clunky and the sound quality is appalling.

I am thinking, however, of adding a TV::Grab::DVB to the TV code which will use tv_grab_dvb to ensure screenscraping of websites isn't required. Neat. Maybe take the opportunity to making the TV website fully database-backed, rather than XML-backed, and just provide extracts of the database in XML form for system interoperability.

Friday, 13 October 2006

Leadtek Winfast DTV1000 T card came (although ebuyer massively overcharged us on the postage, claiming it weighed 14Kg, rather than the 600g it actually weighed). Plugged the aerial in from the telly into the card and the antenna out from it back to the telly, ran scan and tzap and could then use dvbstream to create an MPEG which would play back in Xine using -V xxmc (still can't get mplayer to work with the Via XvMC code, so Xine it is).

Getting Freevo to work with the TV card was proving to be a bit of a pain, so decided to give MythTV another go. It's still fairly slow, and not as stable as Freevo, but the graphics are prettier. User interface has some nice touches, but frustrating in others.

Anyway, got it working relatively satisfactorily, even pulling down EPG data over the airwaves.

Thursday, 12 October 2006

With the DVB-T card coming for use with the Freevo box, I thought I'd look at the problems besetting XMLTV production from the TV guide. (Speaking of which, had an interesting email from ITV - we'll see if anything comes of it.)

In addition to incorporating Robert Davidson's patches to fix some issues (including optional end time behaviour), I fixed the missing time zone and added in channel logo URLs. More information on the mailing list.

This week's LWN has an interesting article on remote file inclusion vulnerabilities easily caused in PHP, and easy to find with Google Code Search. Dave refused to believe that people would be so stupid, one quick search later makes it trivial to find numerous sites vulnerable to a URL of the form:

As the article points out, all you have to do is change the included URL to point to some nasty PHP on your own server and it'll run as the httpd user on the remote box. Including remote code execution. Or privilege escalation vulnerabilities. Or zombification.


Sunday, 08 October 2006

The new, "flagship" version of Robin Hood started on BBC One this evening. It was enjoyable enough, although with all the sudden zooms, slow motion and action replays it left the whole piece with the tone of one long trailer for the feature proper.

Of course, it worked: we'll probably watch it again next week.

Wednesday, 04 October 2006

The reporting of the "chip and bin" or "pay as you throw" story has me really irritated. Quoth the BBC:

"The chips weigh the contents of the bin to within 500 grams."

The chips don't weigh anything (well, they have weight, but that's not the point). The chips allow a bin to be unique identified. A rubbish truck can weigh the bin and read the chip, allowing (supposedly) the amount of rubbish a particular house has thrown away to be measured. Ignoring the obvious problems with bins getting muddled, or other people using someone else's bin, how on earth are the chips supposed to weigh anything, given they're small, and non-moving.

It's probably indicative of the decline in the treatment of science/technology issues in the popular media, cf. the decline of Horizon and Tomorrow's World.

Update: I notice the BBC now say "rubbish would be weighed to within 500 grams on collection trucks and the chips used to identify which property the bin belongs to." Much better!

Sunday, 01 October 2006

Private entry

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