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Archives for : August2011

BigPond Movies Streaming: Worth it?

Short answer: No. The reason: Costs almost 80% the price for a single movie than what a subscription for unlimited content in the US costs for a month. We’re been ripped off in Austraila.

So, yes, I was so bored that I thought that I’d give out a legal option for getting a movie to my TV screen direct from the Internet. $5.99AUD for a single movie, why did I not stop and think? In the US, you can get a subscription to Netflix for $7.99USD, which at the current exchange rate is something along the lines of $7.55AUD. So, can someone explain why it is so expensive over here?


I was more or less curious to see how well it performed. I’m on maximum speed ADSL1, so in theory I get a max of 8 megabits, but in reality it’s about 6 megabits. Still, not complaining considering it’s the best connection I can get (no ADSL2+ ports available.) The results? Yep, it worked, without any problems. It didn’t seem well integrated though. You need to download a program to download the movie (and of course infect your computer with heaps of DRM,) but you just double clicked on it and it opened in Windows Media Player, even if it hadn’t finished downloading (so let it download for a minute or 2 to give it a good buffer, but then you should be good to go.)

I’m torn between a nice integrated experience, and not downloading more junk onto my PC. On one hand, it’d be really good if there was a single program that handled everything, from streaming to playing the movie. The main reason is that it’d have better streaming capabilities. Whilst my connection stayed up the whole time, what if something happened and the download stopped? How would WMP handle the lack of content to be played? Not only that, WMP didn’t support subtitles. It didn’t feel like I was truly streaming it (even though I effectively was,) pseudo-streaming maybe, because I was really downloading it, but it happened that I could play as it was downloading, providing the part I wanted to play was already downloaded. So you will miss things such as subtitles, proper buffer handling, and the ability to skip forward (to parts that say haven’t already been downloaded.) The download and then play model would have worked well a couple of years ago, but most connections these days should be able to handle true streaming. Whilst it’s nice thinking that I don’t have to download more junk onto my PC, I’m already having to download the downloader. Why not make it an integrated media player (providing it’s actually good.)

So whilst the service worked fine, even if it’d be better if it were more integrated, the price is way too high. The other night I got out Scott Pilgrim for $3 from a physical store, and that was for a week. Bigpond movies doesn’t actually have that same movie, but the lowest I’ve seen there is $4.99 (and it’s $5.99 for new releases.) Not to mention it’s only truly rented for 48 hours. Bigpond really needs to lower the prices (maybe $2 a movie?) and/or introduce a Netflix like unlimited service for a comparable price (no more than $10 a month.) They need to, because I can’t imagine using a service like that when it’s more expensive than going to my local video store and getting out a DVD.

Home VPN Server

Setting up a VPN server for my home network has been something that I have wanted to do for a little while, but just never got around to it. Well, today I had some spare time on my hands, so I figured I’d try to set up a server with a spare box I had.

Armed with Ubuntu 11.04 server edition, I booted off a USB drive on my optical-drive less low end computer, and away I went. It was very, very straight forward. I’ve worked with both Linux and Windows servers before, and I have to admit, whilst I feel that Windows is better supported and has more consistency among the services it offers and the way they are presented (probably because it does,) the learning curve for using a command line only server isn’t as big as I thought it’d be. I already run an Ubuntu server for my SVN server (part of the reason I wanted to set up a VPN,) and admittedly one of the first things I did was install a GUI, but it just made problems worse. So this time I just went ahead and stuck to the CLI, and it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting.

Anyway, a quick rundown of the tutorials I used to get it up and running:

Fairly straight forward process. Set up DMZ to point to my new server that I now have a static IP for. Setup VPN using the guide on bit-tech forums. It is almost complete, but is missing one small thing which is covered on pigtail.net.

Open /etc/sysctl.conf in a text editor (my favorite, vi / vim)
Find the line that says #net.ipv4.conf.default.forwarding=1
Remove the # and save

Then you can VPN in from any Windows computer. The only thing that I haven’t been able to do is access computers that are connected via VPN from my own computer on the network, but they can access all the network (which is what I care about more.) Basically, I tested it with 2 friends, and they could connect to my computer and browse my Windows shares, but I couldn’t connect to them. It’s a bit disappointing, as it would be good for gaming, but to be honest, as long as the computer VPN-ing in can access the network (it can,) it does what I want it to do for now.

Now I’ll never be stuck at Uni with old copies of my source code (as mentioned before, my SVN server was the main reason I wanted a VPN.)

Number Search: White Pages-esque Android App Coming Soon

In a past blog post I mentioned that I had another Australian based Android app in the works, and I’ve made enough progress with it to announce that I plan to release it soon.

The app is called Number Search, and is basically a White Pages app that isn’t a glorified bookmark (such is the case with the current app.) I still can’t give an estimate of whet I will be able to release it, there are still more things to do, but I’ve made enough progress that I’m confident that I should be able to get it out soon!