Skip navigation

Category Archives: rants

In 2006 my girlfriend bought herself a MacBook, one of those white ones, pretty, easy to use, and all was well. About two years later the laptop started acting weird. I shut down even though there was still a lot of charge left in the battery and other strange symptoms. A call to Apple and a quick battery check in the store and she got a new battery thanks to the battery exchange program they had running back then, almost no questions asked, and all was well again.

A while ago the battery started acting up again. We came home from a short vacation and the battery icon had a cross over it and the battery didn’t charge. I got on the phone with Apple and they of course answered that I was SOL, but after refusing to accept that they told me to go to an Apple Support store to test if the battery was depleted, or defect. Needless to say it was defect, it had gone from acceptable performance to no performance in the blink of an eye.

Ok, so with the blessing of an Apple technician I called Apple again and now things started to get strange. The support now told me batteries were something you used up and that this battery too was used up even though the technician said otherwise. After a while I had the support guy accept that Apple didn’t manufacture their batteries to suddenly die after a years usage, but rather become less and less able to hold the charge. Based on this acceptance I tried pointing out that Konsumentköplagen (law to protect consumers here in Sweden) protected me from manufactoring errors, and as we both agreed that the battery was incorrectly manufactured, as determined by their party, this would give me the right, and according to me, right to a new battery.

This convincing had taken a while and the support guy was definatly not interested in Konsumentköplagen nor talking with me, so he redirected me up one level after he had explained the case to the next guy.

The next guy had been told by his managers that batteries were something you used up, and thus the Konsumentköplagen didn’t apply, but when asking for a legal reference to his statement that batteries was specifically not covered by the Konsumentköplagen he got a bit defensive, specially after me pointing out that the first hit on Google has the title ”Apple doesn’t care about Konsumentköpslagen”. After a short battle he sent me one step up to something he explained to be their office for more law-related questions.

This time a Danish girl answered and the conversation continued in english and she didn’t seem to have ever heared of the Konsumentköplagen, but was kind enough to give me a 30% discount code on a new battery from Apple Store. I accepted this as the alternative according to her was to talk to their lawyers, and that seemed like a too big effort considering the price of a new battery.

I’m still not completly sure who was right in this case, they never explicitly said that I was wrong. The Konsumentköplagen says that’s it up to the consumer to prove the manufactoring error, but as their technician had determined this already I belive that I was right, and I have still not found any explaination to the relation between Konsumentköplagen and batteries.

In January this year I rearranged my living room. After the furniture were in position and cables were starting to find their new routes, I realized that my TV-antenna cable was too short.

At the time it wasn’t unusual for me to get cought in front of the TV, zapping channels, watching random crap, and by doing so I also polluted my brain with those evil commercials that NOBODY wants to watch, but most of us watch anyway.

Instead of going out to buy a new one (so that I could continue to destroy my brain, bit by bit) I decided to simply ditch oldschool TV, and consume all content on demand.

Most series I follow were already available for download from great websites that really understands how to treat a consumer. The missing piece was my absolute favorite TV-station, Swedish Television, that has given me hours of interesting content since I was a kid.

At the time Swedish Television was accessible only through the webbrowser, by Real Media, or Microsoft Media Player, but after browsing some HTML source I managed to grab the URL to the Windows Media stream, and was able to play it successfully with Xbox Media Center. By using the python scripting interface to XBMC I could replicate the web interface as a browsable directory tree with all content Swedish Television decided to put online (which is quite a lot of material). I eventually released the script on the XBMC scripts portal for others to download and it seemed like others liked the idea too. To this day I’ve had 16804 downloads, and lots of positive emails that made it all even more worthwhile.

I’ve been free from commercials for almost a year now, and I must say it feels great. Visiting friends who still watch oldschool TV feels like walking through a time portal, and it’s kind of scary to watch commercials when you’re not used to them, they feel pretty offensive (which of course is the purpose).

Ok, so the year of 2007 has been a great year, but what about 2008? The future of Swedish Television on the web is uncertain. This weekend I had to update the script because the short news clips are now distributed using Macromedia Flash. Luckily the url to the .flv-files could be found in the HTML-source, and XBMC can play all formats known to man, so I still have access to all content I’m interested in. But using Macromedia Flash isn’t the only new addition to the webportal. A couple of months ago Swedish Television started to distribute some content with Move Media Player that would allow for higher quality streams, but required the consumer to install additional software on their competers. When I saw the news I did a little digging to see if I could access the stream, unfortunatly without much luck (may still be possible to find out where to reach them). During the digging I found out a bit more about Move Media Player and it seems to be using the VP7 codec which FFMPEG currently doesn’t suppor (but hopefully will soon). So using VP7 on the Xbox is a no go, for now at least.

FFMPEG not supporting VP7 isn’t that big of a deal. The frustration lies in that Swedish Television is produced by tax-money, and obligatory TV-licence that you must pay if you have a TV or a computer with a TV-card and you live in Sweden. We fund the production of their content, and they repay us with restrictions on the content by using proprietary and patent damaged solutions.

This is NOT ok!

Swedish Television put pride in their claim to be Free as in Freedom. I fully agree to this when applied to their content, but by locking that Free as in Freedom content into proprietary and patent damaged distribution forms they completly invalidate their claim.

Their locked down agenda also stretches outside their own web portal. In an attempt to gain more publicity in the younger crowd of Internet-addicted kids they started to publish some of their content on YouTube which offers really crappy video quality, and uses the non-Free Macromedia Flash format for distributing its content. I can see why they do this as a LOT of people use YouTube, by creating a link between YouTube and their own web portal they are likely to get more publicity, at least to some degree.

However, YouTube isn’t the only external site with damaged distribution forms they’ve looked at. The latest way to gain more viewers has been to establish a relationship with a new site called Joost. This site is run by the founder of Skype, and is even more closed down by requiring you to create an account to watch the TV programs that the population of Sweden has collectively funded. Sorry, I don’t see the public interest in associating a person with a tv program, maybe someone can enlighten me? I haven’t verified what codec Joost uses, but as Skype uses VP7, that is probably a good bet. But to play content from Joost, you have to blindly implement their P2P technology too which most likely will never happen.

I wonder how much money has poured into the pockets of Microsoft, Real Media and Move Media for providing the current solutions, and Joost for the new sidetrack, and the project of uploading their content to YouTube. I wonder how many hours of developer time those price tags could have translated to if Swedish Television had hired a group of good programmers to write the necessary tools and modifications to get a Free solution using Theora or Dirac up and running.

So, in my eyes the future of video on demand from Swedish Television using Free software without steping on patents is in grave danger, specially when (and it’s probably just a question of when) EU opens its arms for US patents. For those who agree with me I strongly suggest you sign this petition in hope of seeing the Free as in Freedom content using Free as in Freedom distribution forms:

http://www.namninsamling.se/index.php?sida=2&nid=1120

Update:
The Xbox Media Center script, Sveriges Television 0.94, can be found here.

Today was the last day I booted Windows on my laptop after work. And this is the story:

  • Open up the box
  • Solder the sweet spots
  • Start Mechassault
  • Load save game and wait for Linux to boot
  • Launch cmd.exe
  • Start ftp.exe
  • cd /mnt/C and put M8_LBA48_IGR_C-06.bin
  • Fire up telnet and issue raincoat -p /mnt/C/M8_LBA48_IGR_C-06.bin
  • Reboot
  • Realize that a modern OS like Windows XP ships crap shit software that uploads default in ASCII instead of binary.
  • Recomend a modchip to my friend while throwing random adult-only words at Microsoft.
  • Rant on irc
  • Write a blog entry

<rant>
Every morning, the same events occur. I stumble out the door, some 60’s rock or heavy ebm keeping my heart pounding yet another time, feeling more and more in control of my body as the caffeine kicks in, some basic instinct points my compass to work.This part I like, but then, 5 minutes later when I reach the train station things start falling apart. Suddenly there is an army of dropouts attacking me from every angle, completly surrounded, each and every one with their own arsenal, determined to score by forcing a paper into one of my hands, preferably both.
In the beginning I politely turned them down, but as the days went, and they kept attacking me I started to feel a dark and frightening anger climbing my back. The days of blindly ignoring the vultures swooshed past, and I decided it was time to act.

”Why don’t you just leave your papers on the ground like you used to? Stop ruining my morning!”

Needless to say, my pathetic attempt didn’t solve anything, 10 more meters and another dummy tries his luck. I breathe, in and out, silently trying to sooth myself, hearing some internal voice saying,

”They’re just dropouts humping the cashtrain in hope of staying afloat yet another month, it’s not their fault, they too are victims of some evil corporate cash cropper pulling the strings.”

I get on the train, open a book, travel to another reality, trying to ignore the fact that the same events will be repeated as I get off the train 20 minutes later.
</rant>

This morning I picked up my new Sony Ericsson K750i phone after several weeks of waiting. The service from Comviq was a bit shaky and just a week ago I was about to discontinue the order and pick another company, but after some compensations I decided to wait instead.

<rant>
The problems began when I first ordered the phone, or when I thought I ordered the phone. Something messed up the moving of my old number to the new service provider and the order was quietly put on hold by some evil computer without letting anyone know.

After two weeks I called Comviq and asked what was going on since I hadn’t heared anything from them since my original call. The support replied that they would contact me when they knew what was going on, and five minutes later I got an SMS telling me that my number was to be moved to Comviq the week after. Knowing that the order should have taken a total of 3 weeks I called them and asked what was going on, and this time I was told about the problems with the original order and that it would take about 2 additional weeks for the phone to arrive since they couldn’t send it before my number was all done.

Two weeks went, I got my SIM card and the paperworks but still no phone. The 18:th of July my previous provider revoked my SIM-card and now I had no phone to use at all. I called Comviq again and it turned out that the support who had reordered the subscription had not ordered a phone. After some calls I got in contact with a nice girl who provided me with compensation for the delays and sent my phone with prioritized delivery, and as of today I have this very cool piece of technology in my hands.
</rant>

<rant>
Today started way too early. Aparently the gamma male assigned to replace the bathroom window thought it was a good idea to drop in unannounced at 7.30 am. I’d got at least 6 hours of sleep so after a cup of coffee the day started.

Twenty minutes of work the builder decided he couldn’t finish the work at place so he brought the window with him. An hour later he came back and put the window in place, followed by loud complaints about the bad shape the previous builders had left the windows in.

Yey! After 2 months of transparent windows next to the toilet it was finally back to normal, or so I thought. When I opened the window I noticed that he hadn’t actually fixed the glass to the window frame, but left it kind of hanging there, and closing it again proved impossible without a huge amount of violence.

Redialed the number and a while later two other gamma males came by to clean up the mess of the first one. They stayed the whole afternoon fixing both the window and some other stuff that had been waiting to get fixed for quite some time. When leaving they concluded that they had to come back the next day to finish things up. So out they went, leaving all the garbage where it had landed. Some primal instinct tells me they will not show up tomorrow.
</rant>

Update: It’s been about 2.5 weeks now and they still haven’t come back. They also tore a 1.5m branch off my hops plant, that was the longest branch by the time, bastards!

<rant>
Yesterday a large search engine was shutdown here in Sweden. The shutdown was unexpected because the website provided no illegal material, only links (in form of BitTorrent files) to both free and copyrighted material, which is legal here in Sweden. Behind the scenes are the MPAA and the US government, who convinced the Swedish government to bend our laws to fit Hollywoods likings. The police confiscated the entire server hall, which affected a large number of companies unrelated to the search engine. The whole bust is very strange and is bound to fuel some flamy debates.

It’s probably just a matter of time before they force upon us (un)intelligent design teachings in school, and of course prohibit abortion.
</rant>

But there are some brighter areas in the otherwise cold, dark reality. I finished off a GObject this afternoon that hooks up the ALSA sequencer to the Glib mainloop and fires signals when I poke my Hercules DJ Console. I’ve played a bit with a small test program that allows me to control two instances of xmms2d. Yey for play/pause syncing two playbacks of the same track! 😉

Task left are:

  • find out what is the best way to find cue points
  • cache waveform preview
  • bpm analysis