My main motivation was my wondering if my DLink DSL-502T & a WRT54G modded to run DD-WRT were causing double NAT issues and resulting in slow connections/torrents. You would imagine an all in one solution would at least half the possible causes for slow speeds. And since upgrading so far so good - more green lights than amber in Azureus/Vuze.
But as I've come to get used to the Homehub, I was hoping to get a feature of Leopard/MobileMe working - Back to My Mac.
The general use is to setup a zero configuration VPN between your various Macs that aren't all in the same location. If this thing
actually worked it would be an awesome. Remote Desktop/VNC, File Sharing - even Bonjour support all with no complex setup. The problem is it only works in ideal configurations - and most of those are centred around America's cable connections - and not an ADSL setup in NZ.
Back to the Homehub - although offering uPnP, it would seem to be lacking true NAT-PMP support. Via this Apple Discussion, I've found that looks like the same issues but on a BT Homehub (which is in no way the same box as Orcons).
OK, so the problem is that the BT Voyager 2100 only supports the WANPPPConnection service of UPnP, while Apple currently only supports the WANIPConnection service. There's a chance Apple could add WANPPPConnection support in a future release, but until then you're out of luck.
When I used Lighthouse, a dynamic port forwarding utility for OS-X, to give me some in depth info, it reports -
Lighthouse could not associate with the router '192.168.1.1' because of invalid protocol implementations
The router '192.168.1.1' sent invalid responses to Lighthouse's requests to associate with it. This may happen if your router doesn't support NAT/PMP or UPnP (please check its manual) or because their implementation is incomplete. It may help to upgrade your router to its latest firmware version (information on how to do this should also be present in the router's manual).
So my options would be to loose the Homehub, replacing it with a NAT-PMP supporting ADSL2+ Modem, ideally that supports Bridge mode - this turns it into a dumb modem that forwards everything through to your routers WAN port - including login and authentication - and hopefully NAT/uPnP. The I can use my Airport Extreme to get proper NAT-PMP.
I did some reading and it would seem that the newest revision of the DLink DSL-502T does this - look out for Revision C.
Has anyone out there managed to get a bridged modem connection working into their router and if so what gear are you using?
Also - Orcon seem to be shipping a 2nd revision of the Homehub, its still based on a Siemens SX763, the new model has a WPS button on the back to allow for easy Wireless pairing (if you're other gear supports it). The new Homehub also has a Orcon Logo screened on the top and theres no standard Siemens packaging - just a Orcon branded slip around a white box.
Yet Redmond, with it's infinite wisdom, decided to kill Mac support in early 2006 and then leave it to a 3rd party to continue offering playback support, via Flip4Mac. No DRM support but 99% of WMV content plays. It does the job. Of course the irony is it now plays in Quicktime, and not the ugly Windows Media Player for Mac.
Here's a post from a zdnet blog post on the discontiunueing of WMPlayer for OS-X:
....the decision to halt work on Windows Media Player for the Mac was a matter of prioritizing for Microsoft's Windows Media unit.
"It's basically a business decision for Microsoft," Anderson said. "Like any other company, we have business priorities. Our focus really is in delivering the best experience to Windows customers."
Sure. You want to keep it real. Microsoft has an operating system and want it to be a feature to support playback of your awesome video format. Everyone else can go screw themselves.
But seriously, do they really think a format they hope would displace the original AVI container format (and possibly Quicktime), can really win if it doesn't work everywhere. I'd argue making sure it's as ubiquitous as it can be is one of the main selling points. That means it must be platform agnostic. It's worked for PDF, MP3 - it could have worked for WMV.
A clipping of Microsofts Windows Media page in 2002
Via iTunes on Windows, Apple has managed to slip Quicktime on nearly every windows computer - and via that promoted (for better or for worse) it's other Windows applicaitions. Microsoft could have had this same 'in' on Mac's and Linux machines but for sake of "delivering the best experience for Windows Customers" it doesn't.
Of course hindsight is a great thing, and even in 2006 I don't think we could gaurantee that DiVX/XViD/MPEG4 would become the default format of video distribution on the internet and the widespread adoption of Bittorent for media sharing. Heck - we could be downloading files with the RV/RMVB extension now instead - or even *gasp* WMV - but we don't - it's all AVI. Fine AVI a orginally a Microsoft format but I don't think you could say its in anyway controlled or even promoted by Redmond.
But this isn't the only format that Microsoft is killing by it's pigheadedness - lets not forget MODI - Microsoft Office Document Imaging - MODI was introduced and installed by default in Office 2003 but was dropped by Office 2007 - it was a format that could have competed with the functionality of PDF but because Microsoft kept the format proprietry and only offered supported for it within that install it never went anywhere. The legacy of MODI is still around - anyone upgrading to 2007 or still just using Office 2003 will find an extra printer installed - a printer they neither really chose to install, explained to what it did and I gaurantee will ever use. The technology did eventually end up becaming part of Metro and then finally XPS, which on top of being a file distribution format is the foundation of Vista's printing subsystem.
This is of course a direct copy of OS-X's Postscript based printing subsystem - which is also the basis of PDF. Postscript & PDF are the industry standard for printing - on all platforms. Because of this ubiqutousness, one things for sure - XPS will never truely offset PDFs domince. Everyone can open files in the PDF format. The same can't be said for XPS - as of writing, and 2 years since it's launch, I could only spot 1 application that lets you view/edit XPS on a Mac and is a bargin at $US99 (not) and no support at all for Linux. Not a good way to get people onboard you're awesome new format MS.
Microsoft is the king of failed formats.
P.S. One last bitch -
Of course with the eventual failure of MODI/XPS, it would be good to see implementing system wide PDF support in Vista. I doubt that will ever happen though. Instead every man and his dog will continue to have to go off to Adobe.com and download Acrobat reader - giving another company an 'in' to the Microsoft system. I'm not condoning anti competitive behaviour, more that if Microsoft had much interest in improving the end user experience and if everyone has to install PDF support - then shouldn't it be on the list of needed features in Windows 7?
So Stuff.co.nz is reporting that as of today/tomorrow Vodafones Music store is about to loose it's DRM laden WMA's for 256k MP3's and not only that but off NZ's first true subscription service (still heavly DRM'd).
Apparently the costs will be the same at $1.99 a track and they don't say wether previous purchases will be able to redownloaded DRM free. I do like the fact they are quoted as saying "...at 256 kilobits per second, which makes them "significantly higher quality'' than those sold by many music download services, including Apples' iTunes" although if you buy an iTunes Plus (AAC DRM free) track you get a 256k Unprotected AAC which is better compression at the same bitrate. Also from what I can tell iTunes is actually cheaper still - $1.79 for a DRM Free track.
For subscription you're looking at $10p.month which certainly offers a sweet spot on pricing but sucks big time by only being available on VMUSIC compatible phones. If it is indeed only available to your phone and only your phone the advantage of subscription seems to go out the window and kids (VMUSICs main market) will just steal music as usual.
Of course theres no mention of iPhone compatibilty for the subscription side of things, but its safe to say it won't work.
Pic from Splitreason.com
I just read this article over at Venture Beat, and I must say it paints a pretty bleak picture of the XBOX 360 design process. To sum it up, Microsoft cut too many corners, rushed the thing to market and at launch had a failure rate of 68%!!! Yes more 360's were made that just didn't work than actually did - and they just kept on shippin' them.
Fast forward 2 years and after enjoying over a year of flawless play on my flatmates beige model, I finally brought a 360 Elite - I was willing to spend a little more on the Elite as I wanted HDMI, a black case and theoretically a newer design that would be quieter/more reliable. Fat Chance on that last one. My Elite last 2 weeks until its first crash and then only 2 weeks later it died completely. So for my $800 I got to enjoy 2 weeks of play, 2 weeks of on and off play and then 3 weeks of waiting. Add the cost of me shipping it to an AKL Airport based address, not a big cost but seriously - I had to pay for something that was not my doing. Interestingly I found it was shipped to Sydney for 'repair'. For that I got a free month of Live Gold - whoppee.
Since the repair I've had no issues thankfully but the more I think about it the more I've gone off Microsoft's console. I'm not rushing out to buy games and theres no way I'm spending $80 a year for Live Gold. Infact I was ever slightly pissed that I couldn't download the Force Unleashed demo when it came out and instead have to wait a week to get it - which is a Gold 'feature'.
Things that are good about my 360 -
It's Black (is this even a feature??)
The controllers are the best weight/layout.
Things that REALLY suck -
Noise from DVD drive
Lack of support of true DLNA uPnP - which makes DIVX support more of a gimmick than a usable feature.
Noise from DVD Drive (seriously it's that noisy).
Despite what you may have thought, the XBOX can output HD. With the right bits you can have your setup looking beautiful in HD and outputting true 5.1 sound. You can have you favourite movies/shows processed and upscaled to HD.
It can decode up to 960x540 videos, and upscale them. XBMC can also render the whole interface in HD and numerous skins have become HD specific - No more SD for you. Some of the awesome skins that are popping up check out AEON (below) or MediaStream.
And this is where I should mention the downsides - no true HD content. It has got enough CPU/GPU power unfortunately the 64mb of RAM the XBOX sports just isn't enough to store all the decompressed frames to keep fluid playback. Solutions are numerous but all pretty much involve throwing away the XBOX1 and running XBMC on a more powerful machine.
So how did this happen, you ask? In a slightly advanced move, Microsoft added the then new buzzword 'HD' support. Some games actually were released that support them. They enabled the ability to output resolutions of 576i, 576p, 720p & 1080i - keep in mind they only added this to the XBOX360 last year!
For a full list of games supporting HD resolutions theres a good list here. Only a few games truely supported 1080I though but a solid handful featured 720 support - for me the best being Amped 2 which supported up to 720P with 5.1. The only downside is that once they had announced the XBOX360, there was no real need to develop the XBOX's support for HD in other Territories.
NTSC only folks. Pooo to you PAL regions.
Or not if you have a modded XBOX and can run a simple app (Enigmah-x v2) to switch your XBOX from PAL to NTSC, and thus enabling the HD resolutions in the original green dashboard. Once you've enabled them, you can also enable it in XBMC.
I'm running a soft modded XBOX V1.1, with 80gb drive installed and a no name 3rd party component/optical breakout box ($NZ35 Delivered from USA). There are other no-names, but not all boxes are created equal. I've brought a couple of others from elsewhere and found them to have fuzzy images and slight colour sync issues.
The XBOX is running into my 37" Samsung Series 5 1080P 60hz LCD and a Pioneer VSX-915 Receiver. Media wise I have a D-Link DNS-323 NAS with 1tb storage, it's running via a 10/100 connection under the house to the lounge. I'm running XBOX and XBMC in 720P.
I've noticed some slowdown at 1080i in transitions.
My XBOX is softmodded with Auto Installer V4 for 007:AUF. I use a Mega-X Key 32mb USB key to copy hacked saves around. You can make your own controller port -> USB adaptor quite easily. With this system I can have a modded XBOX running XBMC in HD in about 20 minutes.
Obviously the biggest ones (for me at least) is the inabilty to play and HD content. But as I cover below, there are ports of XBMC popping up all over the show. Rule of thumb for downloads is look for the HR in releases eg - ***.HR.HDTV.AC3.5.1.XvID.avi. The HR stands for High Resolution (wiki) and is encoded at the max dimensions of 960x540 - which is the limit to the XBOX to decode easily.
I also don't really recommend upgrading the harddrive in your XBOX as it involves a PC with 2 IDE ports and a bunch of faffing around, and the chance you mess
up and the XBOX becomes a parts machine. If you must, maybe try this tutorial. It's a annoying as the default drive is usually only 8gb, although some shipped with 20gb drives inside. You can access the extra space but it requires formating the F drive in EVOX via RAW ftp commands (or a script).
Finally, the FAT-X Partition system only supports 8.3 DOS file names which is one of the reasons I don't really think the internal drive is really the way to store media. It's great for ROMs and other Apps but not large collections of media.
Also the depending on which XBOX revision you get, the DVD drive can change brands/models - some were really picky as far as playback of burnt media goes.
PLEX - This my dream. Either a AppleTV or MacMini running OS-X and with Plex, the OS-X Port of XBMC. Unfortunately neither the ATV or Mini have the power to deal with HD - the ATV doesn't have the CPU/RAM for OS-X and the Mini is still stuck back in the world of Intels GMA-950 graphics chipset. Of course if Apple release an updated Mini on the X1300 chipset or better - we'd have the best XBMC machine around - and with support for the iTunes movie store.
Of course theres other options - specifically MythTV or Vista MC. I just don't need a PC in my lounge. I need a basic (yet complete) end playback unit.
Theres also the Playstation3 which I must say looks quite promising, add the forthcoming PlayTV Freeview tuner and that it can serve via uPnP to my NAS. Also support for HD file playback, albiet picky on formats. No MKV files, no FLV. I like the openness of XBMC. Oh and the Bluetooth remote - not good for anyone who tries to stick to a Universal remote.
And of course the XBOX360, which I already own, but as anyone who has one knows, it's horribly noisy. It also doesn't support the uPnP DLNA standard. Instead it has some 'not quite standard' implementation of uPnP. Good job Microsoft - its IE all over again. I also have no faith that Microsoft will ever improve beyond the basic support its added for formats now.
phew.... I'm tired. Time to go watch some media and not type about it.
I suppose it was enivitable but there hadn't been an rumours at all. This is great news, not only does it make an AppleTV appealing but actually usable.
Prices seem ok, not fantastic. But low enough to warrant even a test rental/purchase for even the most timid user. Apparently theres HD copies of some movies which cost $1 more, I can't find one yet. File sizes range from 0.8-1.2gb in the movies I looked at.
700 movies, Studios included off the bat
- 20th Century Fox
- The Walt Disney Studios
- Paramount Pictures
- Warner Bros
- Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM)
- Sony Pictures Television International
Rentals (30day rental, 48hrs to Watch once you press play, play across all )
- New Release - $6.99
- Older Titles - $4.99
- New Releases - $24.99
- Older Titles - $9.99 - $17.99
The usual peev's -
No TV yet, which is sad but understandable. I hope this means that theres at least an infastructure for real video delivery and hopefully mean that TVNZ, TV3 etc.. can start deals with Apple.
Listings No way of finding movies by price or quality.
Bandwidth - So I pay $7 for a movie, and then need to pay for the gb of data also adding, say, $1 more to the price. More than a DVD.
DRM - Everyones favourite. Apple only - no Zune users.......
All in all though this is a really big day for NZ media distribution, as big as iTunes originally launching music sales in NZ. You can finally sit on your couch, click through a big list of Movies and click a button and be watching a rented/purchased movie in seconds (or minutes knowing NZ broadband). You can have the iphone to play it on finally, and make use of the gimmick of an ipod with video - just like most of the developed world. Exciting stuff - if only I had money on my credit card....... :)
Why show off products that you can't/won't make other than to try and make you competitors think you've got the next big thing, right round the corner. Of course the corner never comes. It's just the same thing as last year, with a slightly better camera on it, or slightly faster CPU......
Interestingly the last concept product Apple demo'd in 1987 (pre Jobs) was the awesome Knowledge Navigator. It has it all, although the AI is pretty smart, it isn't smart enough to loose the dickiebow. 20 years later, this technology still isn't available, although bits and pieces are there on various things, overall it's just a designers wet dream.
I feel the App Store system is working quite well but it seems that once a dev is 'in' theres no real test of worth for their apps.
Nullsofts SOCKS proxy app as a perfect example of the exact opposite of the rule is true also. Nullsofts App is legit and falls within Apples guides - yet it gets pulled, presumably because of AT&T's connection sharing rules - rules that are relevant to AT&T's market and could be legit elsewhere. Not only did they pull the App (twice!) but they didn't even bother to contact the dev with an explanation or even notification that it had happened.
We don't want Apple become big brother but some common sense - 'Does the world need this?' questions need to be asked. And if they need to be asked, someone needs to be employed to ask them.
What I don't get is that the $US999 I Am Rich app actually makes it live, but that NZ's own Orsome tvGuide v1.2 takes weeks to get through quality testing processes. Orsome, based on sales numbers alone have proven that it's a real app, and people are happy to pay, so why can it not be fast tracked?
I still think overall though that this is all just a teething process for Apple, the iphone and it's distribution model. If things didn't go wrong - it would be just weird. Long term, they've made a great way of end users to have a simple and easy way to get extra features for their phone. No need for manuals, complex distribution and install procedures.
UPDATE Apparently 8 people actually brought that I Am Rich app before it was pulled.....
Recently purchased a refurbished MacBook Pro via Apples online store.
I was a little unsure of how 'refurbished' my new laptop would be - is it second hand? is it a lemon from someone else?
If there was one reason I could be reasonably sure of quality is that all refurbs come with the standard 12 month international warranty and Applecare can be added at anytime in the first 12 months. Giving you 3 years total hardware coverage available anywhere in the world. The cost of Applecare does increase the price by another $495 - and it's a must have. My last MacbookPro purchase was a 17" 1st Gen MacBookPro - and after 2 years of problems has the whole machine replaced via Applecare. Although not perfect, the service from Apple was complete and I feel you do get a more complete warranty cover than other Notebook brands.
Anyway, back to the refurb, I had heard stories that some people recieved units in America with (*gasp*) fingerprints on it but over all found an almost new computer. Apple was listing a current generation 15" Macbook Pro (2.4Ghz C2D Penryn, 2gb, 200gb HD, 8600GT 256MB) listed at 22% off the RRP.
No matter how 'used' the computer could be, these models were only introduced 6 months ago, I knew the machine couldn't be that beat up. So I ordered the computer.
It was 4.06pm on Monday.
It arrived 10.31am Tuesday (yes the very next day).
Seriously scary service! I've order things from Auckland and they've taken longer to arrive. Shipping is done via TNT and all the necessary taxes are dealt with on Apples end. A paper reciept arrives a week later via the snail mail, funnily enough my credit card was charges as 'iTunes New Zealand'.
As it's a refurb, the unit came in a nondiscript whte box, with the computer surrounded in some solid yet basic padding and a long white Apple branded box (with all the standard cables/DVD/clothes inside).
Leopard was installed by default (as it is on all refurbs from Apple).
I took the computer out and it looked mint. I gave it a smell, it smelled brand new (you know the smell). It looked brand new. To be honest you wouldn't know it wasn't a fresh out of the box orginal if I threw it in a similar box.
The battery was brand new (as was the power adaptor) and showed 1 charge.
I don't need to take you on a full review of the comp, I've written this to pass on my experience of Apple Refurbishments more than cover a 15" MacbookPro. So I got what seems to be a brand new $NZ3200 laptop for $2499 - A real bargin. I would highly recommended this way to get a good deal on a Mac. If you want to see what current deals are available look for the link on the bottom left side of the site - there's plenty of iMacs, Macbooks/MacbookPro's and even Air's and AppleTV's.
And finally, what's broke? theres a couple of slight issues
The left side USB port isn't quite flush with the casing. This is inside the case not outside, and the plug still fits all the USB cables I've tried, so it as much an aesthetic (and microscopic) issue.
Also I've had a total of 4 occourances of a strange banding in the bottom of the screen similar to the pic below. It isn't life threatening and looks likely to be software more than hardware. I could kick up a fuss and get it replaced but for now it's just not a biggie.
Since buying this my flatmate also took advantage of the same deal (15" MacBook Pro) and his came in exactly the same state - a seemingly brand new laptop and a lower price.
The HomeHub is really just a Siemens SX-763 WLAN DSL Router. Its running a slightly modified firmware that has the Orcon settings preset. You can't flash newer vesions of Firmware, although Orcon can from their side of things. This could lead to an interesting future for this little hub - more on that later.
The Homehub features (according to Orcon) -
"This sleek wireless router lets you access your Broadband from anywhere in your house without plugs or cables.
What's more, because our network can talk to it, our helpdesk can easily support the device remotely to get you back online faster if there is ever a problem.
In the future, we'll be teaching the Homehub some cool new tricks to give you an even better Orcon experience through new and interesting services, so stay tuned..."
On the Siemens site it lists it features as -
- High-speed wireless data transfer at up to 108 Mbps (compatible with IEEE 802.11b/g)
- Integrated ADSL 2+ modem
- 4 Port 10/100 Hub
- External broadband access modem support (e. g. VDSL, cable)
- Support for up to 6 VoIP public telephone accounts (SIP Protocol)
- USB Support (SMB/FTP/Web/Printer).
So after ordering it, the unit arrived a couple of days later, interestingly I had to pay postage, with a white Orcon slip over a standard Siemens box. In the box were all the cables one could ever need to setup and use the unit. Network cable, phone, filters etc... Annoyingly Siemens have gone with RJ-45 (Network) Adaptor plug for the phone cable, not the smaller and standard phone plug - so don't go loosing your cables.
The Unit is one of the nicer Routers or modems I've seen, although it does feel a but light and plasticy. All the ports are nicely placed on the back. It can be mounted on a wall or look fine on a desk.
The web inerface is pleasent to look at, and functionally seems to include all the settings. There's wizards both for the absolutely basics and also for the security features. Add to that the normal Advanced Settings, It's feature packed but simple to get around. There's support for all the necessary wireless standards - WEP, WPA2-PSK, WPA-PSK or WPA2-PSK/WPA-PSK.
I'd love to go into the VOIP settings but as I have never been too interested in it before, I wouldn't know much. The fact they're there, and are quite feature complete shows a feature I imagine Orcon will use in the future.
Connection wise, the wireless seems solid, although I personally use an Apple Airport Extreme to run a parallel 5ghz Only 11N based network and a 2.4Ghz for older clients. Excessive. Maybe. A bonus of using the $5 a month homehub though.
Internet wise, in the Auckland CBD, just off K Rd I've got a 12286 kbps (upstream) ADSL Connection. Its strange as when the connection was first setup I was getting up to 22500kbps on the connection - close to ADSL2's limit - and now its back down to the top of ADSL1's top....... Orcon?
UPDATE As you'll see in the first comment, theres a bug and it's being worked on - although 2 weeks later and I'm still stuck at the same connection rate - and just enjoyed a shit 11k/s uploade to my webserver in the states. AWESOME! (NOT).
UPDATE 2 Well 2 weeks later (8 Aug) and we're finally back at full speed ADSL2 again - the modem is reporting 21412 kbps (downstream) / 1328 kbps (upstream) - near theoretical limits. I'll post an updated speed test blog soon.
Heres some results from speedtest.net -
Auckland -> Auckland (WorldxChange Communications) - 9907 Down / 354 Up
Auckland -> Christchurch (Snap Internet) - 6587 Down / 266 Up
Auckland -> Sydney (Mammoth Media) - 3327 Down / 333 Up
Auckland -> London (Namesco) - 1723 Down / 180 Up
Auckland -> San Francisco (Unwired) - 2739 Down / 194 Up
Things that aren't cool -
USB only does FTP no SFTP so not great for putting online.
Only 54g Wireless, although future proof in other features, if this was offered with 11n wireless it would be a must have for Orcon users.
The DHCP server won't list connected devices - Wireless status lists the Host name, Mac and IP's of any wireless clients but for the overall IP's - nothing. The settings are there - just broken, a bug that I hope Orcon will get on to fixing.
UPDATE Orcon do indeed have a forthcoming update. Orcon were nice enough to flash mine and it does indeed fix the issue and give you a bunch more information as to the ADSL2 connection quality.
Basic NAT Support - Doesn't do true UPnP/NAT-PMP. So, in my case, no Back to My Mac support between home and work. Just lots of manual and possibly insecure setup.
Things that are cool -
A full featured router for only $5 a month (on Orcon).
Assumably VOIP support from Orcon in the future.
I run a post production company specialising mainly in TV & Commercials. I also do graphic and motion design when it's there to be done. I've used Windows my whole life, but am now run Macs exclusively in our office and at home. Few issues. It just works.
My current setup is a Early 2008 17" Macbook Pro (C2D 2.5Ghz, 4gb, 320Gb, UWXGA Screen).