The New Age of Online Television

, posted: 19-Jun-2013 20:27

I've been watching with interest the announcements over the past few days regarding broadcasting of the English premier league football.

In a nutshell, the incumbant broadcaster - sky television, New Zealand's primary pay TV broadcaster - lost broadcast rights to the EPL.

What subsequently came out, was the set up of http://premierleaguepass.com, a subscription based online service for watching all 380 games of the league.

Quite a way down in the press releases and articles that were released it noted that subscriber would be able to watch all the games on PC, Mac, iPhone, iPads,  Androids and Apple TV devices.

This is where I think the service will fall down.  Yes watching a footy match on your iPhone or android phone will be great - for a highlights package, while on the train or bus. But do they seriously expect people to watch all the games on these small screens?

What about those with their 50" televisions and surround sound audio? Will they connect a laptop to the TV every time they want to watch a game? Standing up by the TV to navigate the desktop designed web site?

Where is the ability to pause or rewind the game, via remote, from the comfort of their couch?

While I applaud the break from Sky TV, the online, ondemand model in New Zealand is not mature enough yet for mainstream use. To transition for the average joe, a device is needed, a set top box, connected to the TV as is the sky decoder, with a connection to the Internet, a remote, and the ability to load user selected channels.  The reason for the user selected channels is becuase one single sport would not be able to sustain the costs of such a device by itself.  It would take colaboration by a number of networks and services to be viable (TVNZ, TV3, C4, Prime for example).

Such a device already exists, in the US, a roku. The roku combines the simplicity of use with the ability to add user selected channels -  either free or paid. 

The Apple TV is another solution, but short of adding each game as an "episode" or persuading apple to host premier league site for the New Zealand region (of which apple would take a cut of the subscription as they do with Netflix and Hulu) then this would not happen either.   To date apart from a number of US based services, only one other non US subscription based service has been added to the Apple TV (http://www.imore.com/apple-tv-gains-subscription-service-watchever-germany)

The other potential solution, is some of the smart TVs that currently sport App Stores.  The Samsung Smart TVs allow for the loading of a TVNZ Ondemand App and a Quickflix App.

Exciting times, and hopefully this will be the start of a new model of ondemand television in this country.




TVNZ Ondemand App behind UnblockUS Service - part II

, posted: 1-Mar-2013 07:14

Update, based on a commend @bagheera made, I reversed the process, put telecoms DNS servers in my router and used DNSMasq.conf to put all the overseas services to http://www.unblock-us.com


Here's the config I'm currently running:
log-facility=/var/log/dnsmasq.log
log-queries

server=/unblock-us.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/netflix.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/hulu.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/cbs.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/abc.com/go.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/mtv.com/mtvnservices.com/fwmrm.net/google-analytics.com/imrworldwide.com/demdex.net/scorecardresearch.com/quantserve.com/doubleclick.net/chartbeat.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/thewb.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/cwtv.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/crackle.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/nbc.com/video/library/full-episodes//<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/fox.com/theplatform.com/akamaihd.net/chartbeat.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/tv.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/pbs.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/vevo.com/fwmrm.net/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/history.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/logotv.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/crunchyroll.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/dramafever.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/dsc.discovery.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/spike.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/aetv.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/vh1.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/pandora.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/last.fm/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/lastfm.es/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/iheart.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/turntable.fm/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/mog.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/rdio.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/bbc.co.uk/iplayer/tv/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/itv.com/itvplayer/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/blinkbox.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>
server=/zattoo.com/<unblock-us.dns-server>

I've confirmed netflix, bbc, itv and ABC.com. 

The version posted yesterday included mylifetime.com which included the brightcove domain name - this stopped TVNZ Ondemand from working.  I've never heard of that network so don't really mind losing it.



Enjoy



TVNZ Ondemand App behind UnblockUS Service

, posted: 27-Feb-2013 19:39

Recently TVNZ brought out an Ondemand App for IOS.  Whoohoo!!

Happily I downloaded it and gave it a spin but to my dismay nothing would show up.  

I had a thought though, I use the http://www.unblock-us.com  service for accessing overseas media services.  A quick change to my iPhone to set the DNS to my ISPs DNS servers confirmed that this was the problem.

The router I use is a TP-Link WR1043ND - but using the Gargoyle-Router.com firmware (v1.4.7) - in this I have the unblockUS DNS servers which means all traffic is generally sent through them.  They confirmed that TVNZ was not a service they deal wtih and so it was best to not use their DNS servers if trying to access them.

That meant I was up for changing my phones DNS settings everytime I wanted to try using the TVNZ Ondemand app.  

Screw that I thought.

So a bit of googling revealed I should be able to use different DNS servers depending on the client doing the accessing - ok I thought, before stumbling upon being able to use different DNS servers based on the domain trying to be accessed - perfect!!

I'm not entirely sure of the full mechanics of it, but essentially on the router I was able to say, if accessing any domain that contains brightcove.com (the video provider used by TVNZ) then use my Telecom domain servers.

This is done by editing the dnsmasq.conf file in the /etc/ directory of my router.

I went for a pretty broad bruch stroke approach and inserted at the bottom:

# add entries to use telecom DNS servers for brightcove.com domain.
server=/brightcove.com/202.27.158.40
server=/brightcove.com/202.27.156.72

After restarting the router I tried the app and off it went.  

There's a couple of refinements possible, that is defining the servers down to a lower level.  I turned on dnsmap logging:
log-facility=/var/log/dnsmasq.log
log-queries
and this showed the domains being accessed and the name servers being used. 

So your homework dear reader is to try and limit the domains further.  That said, I had a look through BrightCove's customers and the only one I saw was ITV (accessible via UnblockUS) -and it didn't seem to be affected, so I've left mine as it.


Update, based on a commend @bagheera made, I reversed the process, put telecoms DNS servers under my router and used DNSMasq.conf to put all the overseas services to unblock-us.com - see the post at http://www.geekzone.co.nz/davidcole/8355



PDF Forms - why you no boxes?

, posted: 26-Jun-2012 09:04

I recently had a number of claims to make for insurance purposes. Both companies had PDF forms to download, print and send away.

Neither had and online claim system, but I guess that could be forgiven with the number of supporting documents (originals only) that had to be supplied.

But my handwriting is truly doctor-worthy. And upon having Adobe Acrobat Professional on my work laptop I used their form wizard to get 70% of the form fields, and then quickly ran through drawing the form
fields.

Now I didn't put in formatting, pretty drop down boxes, just pure text boxes - all that is really available to me if I was using a pen, but honestly it only took me about 20 minutes.  The result was a form that could be easily read by a human or OCR technology upon receipt by the insurance company.

I thought about this as I walked to work. For an extra 30 - 60 minutes on these forms, these companies could supply a forms enabled PDF file for those inclined to fill out via computer. I'm not expecting electronic delivery, as I'm still expecting to print it out to sign it and supply the supporting documents (that is a whole other conversation), but means that the form I fill out is more legible, has had more corrections made to it (rather than crossing out or reprinting), could include descriptions on fields, notes, prompting fields (via drop down boxes, lists, enforced date formats, enforced character limits and more.

Example form - this is from the New Zealand Passport Adult renewal form - PDFs a available readily from www.passports.govt.nz/Downloading-and-printing-forms

The instructions clearly state to write in CAPITAL letters, so "that our computer software can accurately capture your information" - well why not enforce the use of captials by using a form, and use a computer to enter the information?

For those not inclined to fill out via computer, then another version of the PDF, or in fact the same one (the forms text boxes will not print out when empty).
Example 2 - passport form with boxes - these display in Adobe reader - but do not print - what is the harm in having them?

Example 3 - Filled in by hand - being in capitals - my doctor worthy scribbling is not so evident.

Example 4 - which would you rather receive?

Seems like a win-win to me.  Why don't companies do this? Lack of knowledge? Lack of forethought? Antiquated thinking? Or just laziness?  I think it's antiquated thinking. Companies are so used to designing the forms for printing out and later using the same form on a web site for download, they didn't take it that one step further and forms enable the PDF files.



eReceipts - Why don't we have them yet?

, posted: 12-Jan-2012 10:01

An offhand comment yesterday to an owner of a Cafe about digital (or electronic) receipts got me thinking, why don't we have these already?

We've probably all seen the emailed receipts that some retailers seem to send out.  Apple sends your receipt as an email.  Some retailer send PDF files with an invoice/receipt for online purchases.

But I was thinking about what can we do to rid ourselves of all this paper you collect in your wallet.

A quick browse around the internet last night brought me to this page: http://www.thehotiron.com/index.php/site/comments/ideas_to_eliminate_and_automate_retail_receipts/

I really liked the idea of a iCalendar/vCard type implementation rather than a formatted email/PDF file.  The reasons are as follows:
  • It's data, can be loaded to a smart phone app, finance program, or just saved somewhere as a file.
  • It could be generated as a QR code - you can create a vCard QR Code that contains contact information - why not a receipt.  The QR code could be printed on the bottom of a paper receipt - meaning those that want electronic and possess a smart phone can scan it (rather than the current standard of taking a photo and OCR or manually entering the data)
  • It could be transmitted via NFC/Email/SMS or presented as a QR code on an LCD screen (this might be a bit slow though at a POS terminal).
So the next bit to look at is a standard.  Guess what, someone has already thought of one.... The Association for Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) already has an xml specification for a Digital Receipt: Here

Next I thought quickly about implementation.  It would be hard, and very unlikely, for every retailer to set up LCD screens/email gateways etc to send these receipts out....so I thought why not think a bit higher up the food chain...what do all the retailers have (well most of them here in NZ) - EFT POS terminals.  All leased or bought through one or two companies. 

With a bit of modification, the EFT POS receipts that are currently printed could include a QR code of a Digital receipt, or on authorisation the EFT POS merchants could send out receipts via email/sms (obviously this last idea would be a subscription based system), or include NFC technology (terminals which include this technology are already being implemented with the likes of snapper, Visa's PayWave or Mastercards PayPass).

It seems like we have most of the pieces they just need to be connected...

Do you like the idea of digital receipts?  Do you keep your paper ones?  Do you throw everything away?

How do we deal with the fact that a receipt is proof or purchase, and is used for your warranty claim?  Those that scan receipts, have you used one of those to validate your purchase?  Did the store accept it?

Sure there are some kinks to work out, but I don't think they're insurmountable.

 

 

 



Contactless Payments - part 2

, posted: 21-Sep-2011 15:12

Yesterday I blogged about feeling uneasy with the no-authentication-for-under-$80-transactions on MasterCards PayPass implementation for ASB Bank.  See here http://www.geekzone.co.nz/davidcole/7804

A number of the comments I received said "any fraud will be reimbursed", "its the bank or merchants taking the risk, not you", "they have insurance to cover that".  Yes they probably do.  I've been rung by ASB as a current customer to notify me of transaction found on a credit card I do use for internet transactions, and the process was remarkably simple and painless.  So I know it works.

But the issue is, why should something be implemented, that requires insurance and fraud protection.  Why not design it to lessen this risk.

I'm going to pull out of context some of the PCI DSS (link) requirements that service providers, merchants and banks have to adhere to:

8.2 Employ at least one of these to authenticate all users: something you know, such as a password or
passphrase; something you have, such as a token device or smart card; or something you are, such
as a biometric.

8.5 Ensure proper user identification and authentication management for non-consumer users and
administrators on all system components.

Ok, so these requirements really relate to the handling of card holder data, but why not apply this to your card.  The main piece of card holder data is your Card number, your PAN (Primary Account Number). To use the PayPass system you only have to supply one piece of card holder data - the physical card with the PAN embossed on it, why shouldn't requirement 8.2 also be applied, and a 2nd authentication criteria be used.

Pin numbers work, but can be slow when people miskey - but the really slow factor for these on EFT POS terminals is the time it takes to authenticate to the Auth Center - why not move the PIN authentication onto the chip, much faster (does potentially bring up the issue of cards being brute forced for pins).

Use biometrics - a thumbprint reader as part of the card, only a person with an authorised thumbprint can use the card - probably a little expensive, but hey it's my blog and I'm just spit balling here.

My point is, why implement something that needs some kind of fraud insurance to cover the banks and ultimately the consumer.  As the consumer you're paying for this in your bank fees and card fees.







Free $80 - come and get ur moneyz!!

, posted: 20-Sep-2011 13:11

Recently I received a letter from ASB Bank about a replacement credit card with an embedded chip.

"Great" I thought. I'd been wondering when they would come out, as chip cards are supposed to be more secure.

Part of the letter explained about a new contactless payment system incorporated as part of the cards called PayPlus. This is MasterCards implementation of Near Field Communication based payments (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MasterCard#PayPass ).  The Visa equivalent I understand is called PayWave.

The letter explained that for transactions of less than $80 no pin was required.  Now of course you do have to find a retailer that would support this, but I would assume these would start appearing, and the concept is similar to my Snapper card I use occasionally for the bus.

But the idea of no pin, no signature linked to my credit card had me a bit worried. 

As snapper is effectively a cash replacement - and in some ways it is more secure than your wallet (where your cash normally resides)* Because of this, the balance kept on my snapper card is akin to what I'd hold in my wallet, not much more than $20.

But the idea of up to $80 payments possible off a household credit card gave me shivers down my spine.  How many people do not check their statements?  Or if they do, only when it's sent to you?  Ok sure, the card has to be out of your possession, and generally you'd cancel the card as soon as you realise it's gone, but it still left me feeling uneasy.  With a regular credit card loss, apart from McDonalds**, there was a modicum of security, someone would have to forge your signature (probably fairly easy to do) or gain access to your pin.

But the thought of someone just having to tap the stolen, or misplaced card on a terminal to have access to your funds seemed to be a lowering security.  I like to think of this contactless technology as a cash replacement...and therefore the value of cash transactions - generally fairly low....not being linked to an account with enough money to cover the household spending for a month.

I saw another user ask @ASBBank on twitter if the limit could be (I assumed) lowered...this was something I'd been thinking of, and I asked if it could it be disabled entirely, the answer was no to both questions.

I'm all for new features, and quite like the idea of contactless payments, don't get me wrong.  But I don't particularly want it attached to a credit card that I've purposely never put on the internet, because it's used for the household, and so it's limit is appropriate for household spending.  I have another card with a $500 limit that I use for internet based transactions.  A separate, opt in, card would have been, in my opinion, the preferable way of implementing this.

BTW this probably isn't so much a dig at ASB Bank, and I think this would be part of their membership to the card schemes, and I'd imagine all the NZ banks would be doing similar.  And all have the same sort of implementation.



* if you lose your snapper and it's registered, it can be stopped and/or refunded.  If you lose your wallet, you've probaby lost your money.

** McDonalds (and maybe others) has allowed no pin or signature on transactions valuing less than $15  Correction, apparently it's $35 - which I think is worse.



Is there an App for that Scam

, posted: 5-Mar-2010 08:20

I had a thought while riding in this morning about a new potential financial scam.

 

If you're one of these people with one of those fancy new fangled phones that use apps for everything instead of mobile sites, them how do you know it's not stealing your information and sending it to a third party?

 

Did you check that app when getting it? Just like domain sitters, that sit on a misspelled versions of a popular site, the same could be done with an app. "Nationa1 Bank app", "A5B Bank app", while they show your all of your financial information faithfully, utilising information pulled from their mobile web sites', the app is, in fact, sending your user name and password to a third party that can then log on and play mischief with your financial details.

 

Now having not actually ever looked at these apps I assume a safe guard such as never storing login details could be used on the official apps, but again, if it's a non official version (and would Apple's vetting process pick this up?) then the user could blindly add in their login details and then wonder why their bank account is emptying....

 

Just a thought, you be careful out there....



Little Boys and their Sewing Machine Cars

, posted: 27-Dec-2009 11:09

I live on a main street and close to an intersection with a well used street.  What this means is a get a lot of idiots in their sewing machine sounding cars accelerating and decelerating right outside my door.
I must be getting old, I can’t understand why you’d want your car to sound this stupid.  It’s not a rumble like a V8, or growl like a good twin motorbike (Ducati Anyone?), but a whine, especially on the smaller cars, and don’t get me started on the annoying whiny rattle of a Wankel based engine like the old RX7s and RX3s
And why is it these cars are normally driven by idiots that think the rev limiter cutting the engine out  is the sign that they need to change gear?  Hello, this isn’t Gran Turismo here, or Mario Cart.
Many a time I’ve thought “I wonder if I can buy some road spikes off the cops” and lay them out right outside my house. That and thoughts of sitting outside with a high powered rifle.  Or more likely a camera to record the db rating and their license plate number...yeah I like that one, wonder if the cops would accept that....
I don’t understand how these guys get warrants, do they take their noisy mufflers off for warrant time and put them back on when they get home?  And do the cops ticket for excessive noise? I’m assuming by the amount of noisy cars around they don’t or that it’s hard to police.
One final thing, I refuse to call them “boy racers” they’re not, that just glamorises them.  They’re “little boys with sewing machines”.... it doesn’t quite roll off the tongue as well, but I feel much more accurate.



Breast is not always best.

, posted: 3-Jul-2009 08:31

Recently my wife and I had a little boy. Due on the 7th of May he came two days early by emergency caesarean. Because of the emergency c-section my wife didn't go through many of the traditional labour experiences (labour pains etc) some would say that's fortunate. What relevance that may have I'm not sure.

Anyway. Being a c-section birth means you stay in hospital longer while they make sure the major surgery the mother has been through heals properly. For this we were thankful.

The nurses and midwives at Lower Hutt hospital were excellent, from taking our unsettled baby in the middle of the night so my wife could sleep, to the burping tips and positions, to the countless pieces of advice on breast feeding. Which brings me to my point....

New Zealand and it seems Wellington in particular have very low breast feeding rates. So much so that the New Zealand government has a advertising campaign running at the moment (targeting Maori and Pacific Islanders it seems) to encourage breast feeding. Also the world health organisation is very pro breast feeding as well.

I Don't have a problem with this. If you can why not, it's free, nothing to sterilise, they're always with the mother in their handy and rather attractive containers.

But the problem comes if for whatever milk production is slow in coming. Remember how I said we didn't go through a lot of the normal labour process? Well this may have been a factor as the body releases hormones during birth to tell the body its having a baby.  Any way, short version after trying for the first three days to breast feed and struggling somewhat, the baby was weighed he had lost 10.6% of his birth weight. 10% is the magic number they want the baby to stay under, as pretty much all babies loose some weight at birth.

So after finding his weight had dropped a little too much the midwives wanted my wife to express to give the baby some extra after breast feeding. This all sounded logical. But what followed was 5 hours of 'stuff being done to my boobs'.

Expressing can take three forms, and from most effective to least effective is the baby suckling, a breast pump and hand expressing.  Over the course of the next 5 hours my wife had all three of these methods applied. There had been earlier attempts to hand express from some of the other midwives but the one that did it this day was particularly rough. Leaving my wife very sore. And so at the end of 5 hours when she offered to hand express again my wife said NO!

'We want to top him up with formula'.

You would have thought that we said we wanted to boil and eat the boy. After trying to talk us out of it and persist with the had expressing/breast pump, we were told 'there is a form to fill out'.  Ya what!?! You're kidding right??!?!? No.  Well bring it then and lets get going.

40mls he drank, the poor little guy was starving! 40 mls is a lot when your stomach is the size of a 20 cent coin (about 15mm).  So for the next 24 hours he was topped up after breast feeding, having 10 - 20mls at a time.  And when he was weighed 24 hours later he had put on weight.  Another 24 hours and another weight gain - time to leave the hospital.  Now he is breast fed exclusively, so even though we skirted the dark side by using formula we continue to breast feed the baby (I'm using the collective 'we' here btw!!).

The trouble is this isn't an isolated incident, why is it so difficult use formula, even to the point where it is detrimental to the baby.  I know of another story where twins has lost of 20% of their birth weight.  Still the hospital would not feed formula.  In this particular story, the parents checked out of hospital early and put the babies on formula, where they now thrive.

A third story I just heard where the baby was taken to special care with a rash, turns out the mother had no breast milk and the baby had not fed.  When the nurses came back into the mothers room she sat her down and said "your baby has not fed to 2 days", in shock the mother didn't reply, the nurse repeated, "your baby has not fed in 2 days", and just stood there, what is she to say, FEED HER THEN!!.  Thank you the nurse says, 'we cannot offer formula, but you can ask for it' - I mean WTF is up with that.  Here is a baby that is obviously sick, dehydrated, mother is in distress, and yet still she has to ask for.  This is what I don't agree with.

The ad campaign and posters that surround you are fine, antenatal classes also push breast feeding, so you hear it all through the pregnancy.  But to make any other option so difficult I find to be a very bad practice.  You are made to feel a failure (well not me, but the mother is), and this isn't good either, it's not always the mothers fault she cannot breast feed.

Anyway, rant over, our boy is a healthy breast fed baby, still growing, still putting on weight, and that's all that matters.





davidcole's profile

davidcole Cole
Lower Hutt
New Zealand


Been thinking it would be nice to have a blog but not sure if I have enough to say.

I'm an I.T worker from Wellington New Zealand.

I like my toys so this will probably have posts about my dealings with those.

My Cellphone is an iPhone 45s

I run a GBPVR based PVR at home to replace my video recorder, DVD player and to host all my music.


Music is a big thing for me and you can check me out on my Last.FM Profile

UnblockUS - Unblock your freedom - smart DNS




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