Archive for June, 2011

Getting on really well with the AB IPBox 9900HD but feel I need something with a bit more grunt (and a bit more community support). I looking to order the Vu+ Duo or Clarke-Tech ET9000 (or potentially both) and play around with the latest ViX team image.

I will also need to order a new octo LNB and some more ccable for my dish so I can have all these boxes hooked up at the sametime :)

I’m a little tempted to try building my own linux pvr (using something like the acer revo r3610 which I’m currently using for xbmc) with a usb twin dvb-s2 tuner. Not only should this have a lot more power, it will be a lot smaller and save me using two separate devices for pvr + htpc!


Further to my earlier post getting the AB IPBox 900HD up and running with Sky+ HD:

I had a bit of trouble initializing a large HDD (320GB worked… 1.5TB didn’t) so here’s the workaround:

Telnet into the box and issue the following commands (make sure you replace the /dev/sda if fdisk –l identifies your drive with a different path and 1400GB with a figure slightly smaller than the size of your disk):

fdisk –l
fdisk /dev/sda
mkswap /dev/sda2
swapon /dev/sda2
mkfs.ext3 /dev/sda1

The mkfs.ext3 command formats the disk and will take quite a while on larger disks (there may be a quick format option but I wasn’t in a hurry)

Once the box has rebooted your HDD will be mounted at /hdd – you need to make a folder /hdd/movies reboot again and you’re good to go!


I started identifying all twin tuner DVB-S2 enigma2 satellite receivers:

Then opted to buy the cheapest i could find- AB IPBox 9900HD for £200 on eBay. If i can see myself completely dropping the Amstrad DRX890 i may invest in one of the more expensive receivers.

It took quite some time to get the hang of it- i got through a number of firmware images before finally settling on the SWF 3.8 (found on this seemed most stable and to provide the best plugin/extension/emu/cam abilities.

I ran a scan and picked up all 1000+ channels but could only view the free to air ones… seems i need to configure a softcam to use the sky viewing card. I tried all of them not really knowing what i was doing but eventually pieced together bits of various guides to get oscam working with the following configuration files:

# oscam.conf
nice = -1
WaitForCards = 1
ClientTimeout = 5
CacheDelay = 120
logfile = /usr/local/etc/oscam.log

enabled = 1
au = 1
boxtype = ipbox
user = user
pmt_mode = 0
request_mode = 0

httpport = 16002
httpuser = root
httppwd = swf
httprefresh = 10
httpallowed =,

# oscam.server
label = SkyUK
Protocol = internal
detect = CD
device = /dev/sci0
Group = 1
EMMCache = 1,3,2
#BoxID = 001F1F1F
CAID = 0963
ident = 0963:000000

# oscam.client
user = user
pwd = password
group = 1
au = SkyUK
CAID = 0963

The HD channels didn’t work at first… but removing the BOXID=XXXXXXXX line from the oscam.server file fixed that!

Now i was ready to tidy up the channels- i found a bouquet on (just search for sky uk channel bouquet. Then using DreamBoxEdit ( open and upload to the IPBox (you will need to configure your box’s IP, ftp username/password in DreamBoxEdit- default username= root & password = swf)

The EPG wasn’t really showing a lot so i did a little research and it seems CrossEPG is recommended (available on It didn’t seem possible to download directly on the box so i ftp’ed it to /tmp and installed from the “setup -> software management -> install local extension” menu. After installation you need to reboot and can then access the CrossEPG setup menu- enable the OpenTV Sky UK (Astra2 on 28.2) provider and hit download. Your EPG should now be populated. I still don’t like the look of the EPG so need to do some more research!

Live TV can be streamed on the network easily using VLC media player and recorded programs can freely be moved around the network- love it!

Seemed to have a problem with network connectivity being lost a few times- restarting the network in the setup -> system -> network menu seemed to work but not too sure why it dropped yet…


Project Dedupe

Further to my previous entry about migrating my sites to a new hosting provider I have now resurrected the “Project Dedupe” wiki:

I started the project in 2006 while I was working on a data migration project and trying to dedupe a large dataset. From sourceforge:

“The project will be looking at data (the intention is to begin looking at customer name/address data but this may widen over time) and ways to intelligently detect duplicates using fuzzy matching methods and algorithms.”


I have no immediate plans to resume work on the project (other commitments)- but it’s out there for anyone to get involved.


Been pretty busy migrating my sites/domains over from flump to hostbig (let’s hope I don’t regret it). Hostbig offer unlimited space & bandwidth (I had filled up my 2GB with flump).

I had a few issues with e-mail (not sure the mx records updated properly when the nameserver update took place)- hopefully that’s now all sorted.

Anyway- biggest problem was migrating one of my mediawiki sites which had a 1.6GB mySQL database (using the cpanel backup/restore kept failing/timing out). I ended up getting one of the live support agents to run the import from the command line. This took care of 95% of the records then a sync with SQLyog sorted the remaining few thousand records.

Need to sort out SSH access ASAP- I think thing would’ve been a lot easier that way!


I’m often seriously impressed by cheap (or possibly even free/open-source) alternatives to enterprise software- so decided to look into purchasing some form of support ticket / helpdesk / issue tracking system to help me get on top of things.

I had a fairly small list of requirements:

  • Cheap (I will be the sole user so cannot justify much expense)
  • E-mail Integration (Clients must be able to e-mail and a ticket is automatically created. Updates must then be sent from to the clients)
  • Web based (I need to be able to access from anywhere, any o/s etc)
  • Time tracking (I want to be able to log “time spent” against each update to help with billing)
  • Hosted (It would be nice not to have to host myself and have some form of uptime guarantee and limited level of suppport)

I did a lot of googling and spent quite a bit of time on wikipedia ( and looking at each individual solution. I found a few offerings that I liked:

Help Scout ()


  • Free for up to 3 users, 150 tickets/month
  • Brilliant simple, neat effective hosted web front end (and novel concept)
  • Unfortunately it is a little too “simple” and doesn’t offer many features- it really is just notes (no time logging etc)

Zendesk (


  • Price looked reasonable at first ($9/month/agent for the starter package) but e-mail integration (domain mapping) is only available in the regular and plus+ flavours ($29/month/agents and $59/month/agent respectively)
  • Nice hosted neat interface
  • Good e-mail integration (really like the rules/actions/macros you can setup to streamline/automate workflows)
  • No time tracking (they offer the ability to add custom fields to the ticket but not to individual updates- a bit limiting)

I was still unconvinced and realised I was going to have to compromise on some aspect of the chosen solution. I started looking at products which don’t offer hosted packages or where their host-it-yourself package is considerably cheaper. Nothing excited me until I stumbled across:

Web Help Desk (


  • Quite pricey for a hosted solution but if hosting yourself free for a single user license- perfect!
  • Excellent e-mail integration
  • Clean modern web interface
  • Ability to track time against individual updates
  • Tons of other features (runs on all platforms, supports multiple database server technologies, reporting etc)

I am now using Web Help Desk! I will treat it like a trial for the first month (I think I will have definitely decided by that time whether it has any serious flaws). After a month I will treat it as a production system!


I’m not sure that the firmware upgrades offer much but I found it extremely hard to locate them so I’ve mirrored what I’ve found so far:

My drive was running firmware 1.01 and I was successfully able to flash to 1.04 but haven’t been able to flash to 1.12 (I suspect I need to go to 1.0 first? Still hunting for more firmware (I have a feeling the drive is rebadged so it may help to find out which drive sites behind the badge).

Ideally I was searching for a way of overcoming the 1.6x bd-rom (blu-ray movie) riplock (I’m still ripping my blu-ray collection using MakeMKV and it’s taking forever!). Unfortunately Media Code Speed Edit (MCSE) was unable to read/modify the firmware.

I’ll keep you posted if I find anything further!


Hacking Sky Anytime+ Part 4

Further to

Despite the term “hacking” my intentions I believe to be pretty innocent, but at the risk of upsetting Sky (and their legal team- I am unfortunately going to have to put this one on hold…

I have done some more research and it looks like my best bet would be to buy something like a dreambox or vu+ duo which will allow me to use my legit Sky+ HD sub but recordings will be unencrypted (which means I can archive/stream on any computer on my network :) – it may even replace my htpc (ability to stream to the box from the network, youtube etc).

Hopefully I’ll be posting back if/when I’ve ordered/received and experimented with said device!


Been busy as usual- neglecting the blog a little- so hopefully get a few updates out tonight :)

There’s been a lot of talk about solar power recently and the various schemes to reduce energy consumption and in turn utility bills!

From initial research it looks like you have several options:

  • Receive the equipment/installation for a minimal fee & sign an agreement to keep the panels for 25years (your energy bills will be reduced but any power generated in excess of your usage will be fed back to the grid with no reward)
  • Buy the equipment outright for a rather substantial fee (£10k+) and receive payment for any power generated in excess of your home’s consumption (some initial calculations suggest 20years roughly before your savings cover your initial investment)

I don’t really want to be tied in for 25years nor do I have £10k+ to spare so I thought I’d experiment with some cheap imported panels to see whether I want to invest more time/money in a long term solution.

I imported 4x 100W panels and 4 grid-tie inverters from china for roughly £800 and set them up temporarily in the back garden.

I bought a £10 extension lead from maplin which shows power throughput and hooked up the panels/inverters. I ran the setup for 2days (fairly decent weather wise for the UK) and generated 5KW of power (max at any one time was 340W). The video below is a bit poor as the monitors refresh at different rates, but you can just about see my home’s power consumption (top) dropping as the power generated by the solar panels (bottom) rises:

I was relatively pleased with how easy the setup was but after some calculations decided that it still wasn’t worth the investment (would be looking at roughly 10years to cover the initial investment). I’m selling the kit on eBay and hope to make my money back :)


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