Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bye Bye #Humax



A long long time ago we moved from tape to disk for Video Recording and (almost randomly) settled on a Humax box after some difficulties with Sony.

Just over 2 years we belatedly made the move to HD TV (the old CRT TV was perfectly OK until then) and, entirely satisfied with our Humax experience moved onto a FOX-T2 unit.

Regrettably, it was clear that Humax had downgraded the software.  Missing was the feature to start watching a program so many minutes into the broadcast.  When you move between devices in different rooms (be it 2 PVR's or iPlayer etc) it can be a damn nuisance to have to fast forward to the point where you want to catch up.

Then just under a couple of years into that unit's life the hard disk failed.  Humax replaced under warranty, and that's when we found out that the the HD recordings we'd faithfully backed up and copied onto the new box would not play.  This was determined to be a hardware fault* on the new box, but there were no replacements available.  At which the ever reliable John Lewis support kicked in.

We got the replacement the 2000T and then found some more calamitous problems: the tuners are of a lower quality and HD broadcasts broke up. A replacement had the same problem.

However, there are other issues with the latest Humax range.
* no front panel for data feedback (not a great loss, but...)
* No slow motion play back - really annoying when trying to see if that try was scored!
* an *incredibly* slow USB port, backing up/restoring takes days, not hours
* a cheaper, tackier feel to the product.

John Lewis played ball, and now we have a shiny new Panasonic unit...

That has it's own issues: only 32 recording slots, it does not permit watching a third channel whilst recording 2  (albeit only on the same transponder as one of the two), a weaker clash of recordings resolution, no folder structure for storing recordings.  But at least we can record and watch HD TV again.
A couple of benefits though - we can watch programs at 125% normal speed and still hear the soundtrack (great for those documentaries that squeeze 10 minute of information into a whole hour), more channels on screen at the same time in the program guide.  And slow mo is back

Muscle memory from many years of Humax is hard to lose, but the products reached the point of being unfit for purpose, and it seemed to me Humax no longer care about quality, performance and user experience.



*actually, it's not - it is by design.  However, if we'd have known that we would have used Foxy to decrypt then when backing up and then been able to watch them on the new one.  But tech support didn't know that... so we took their word it was busted.

#Lumia #Denim upgrade failure.

I tweeted last night about a Lumia 620 that seemed bricked by the Denim upgrade.  The jury is now in!
 
The handset is an unlocked “any network” device; it has taken all the upgrades to date and been used by Mrs B for about 2 years without any issues.  It’s entirely a business device – email, internet, phone and text – no games and only about 4gb in use of the 7.2gb free space.
 
Yesterday the phone presented a critical upgrade, (the language used did not describe it as either Windows 8.1 update 1 or denim, just critical).  So the upgrade was performed.  All went smoothly (no error messages, the standard reboot) and all seemed well.
 
However after a few hours, it was clear email was not coming down to the phone and when a sync was forced, an error was presented.  At this point the device became my problem (correctly so, I’m the local IT admin!).
 
Quick investigation demonstrated that the phone was no longer able to comply with security policies of the exchange server to which it was attached (albeit an Exchange 2010 box, not 2013); but, to be fair, MDM in 2013 and 2010 isn’t much different and the options there are the same. 
A quick trip to the exchange server EAS policies (Exchange Console, Organisation, Client Access) and I inspected the policy, a perfectly normal policy here:
 
So, some investigation – I found a few references to 86000C2A error code I was getting and discovered this post from a couple of years ago - http://blogs.technet.com/b/kristinw/archive/2013/03/15/windows-8-devices-fail-to-sync-with-microsoft-exchange-with-86000c2a-error-or-similar.aspx
 
It was good advice, and on checking I found that -WSSAccessEnabled  -UNCAccessEnabled were indeed $true instead of $false.  So, correcting that with a quick bit of PowerShell (as guided in that article) I was a tad surprised to find that the policy still failed.
 
Rather than muck around any further with a policy managing a number of devices  I created a new policy (through the EMC) to mirror the policy in use and more by instinct than anything else set the require encryption on device option to disabled.  Email started to flow.  Whether those two AccessEnabled polices were set to true or false; hmmm.
 
However, this was not the end of the problems.  The handset was largely unresponsive and spontaneously rebooted a couple of times.
Looking around there was plenty of free space, but a couple of issues:
  1. when I investigate the maps on the phone it reported that the UK maps (which were previously on it) required 1% more to complete downloading at about 340MB. I resumed the download, and it was very slow.
  2. Whenever I tried to use the internet, IE, Search tool, Microsoft Store - the phone would not connect (either on Wi-Fi or 3G data).
I noticed that when using search/IE a “checking location” message appeared at the top of the screen, disappeared and then nothing would happen.  The phone has location settings off for privacy reasons.
 
So, without any solid reason I deleted the maps (this took several attempts, included a deletion of the HERE Maps app) and although I eventually got them fully off the device, the problem remained.  Nor was I able to get to the store to reinstall the HERE Maps app.  But, via System, Applications, Maps I was able to get the UK maps downloading in full – but (interestingly, and perhaps critically) the download was about 540MB, not the 340MB it was previously reporting.
 
Upon completion of the download and a reboot, the phone’s IE, Search and Store functions all fired up again and things were back to normal.
 
I don’t pretend to understand what was going on, but I notice that even now search/ie check for location very briefly during their start up.  However I do wonder if somehow with the corruption in the mapping part of the system the location checks were somehow failing and the system was refusing to play ball with internet connections because it no longer was certain where it was.  I really doubt it’s that, or as simple as that, but…
 
Oh, for the record, I also connected the phone to an Office 365 Enterprise email account and tried the same policy issues there – and got the same result.
 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

A day to remember - for 2 reasons

Today we all know there is one thing to remember.  It is 11/11.  At 11am we shall (or should) all have pauses for 2 minutes to remember the fallen of the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries.  Those 2 minutes have just finished.

But it is also a happy day for me, for on 11th November 2004 I did my first day's work consulting as Corylus Business Systems.  At the time I was still in the notice period for potential redundancy from my then employer.  My expectation had been to find another IT Management position and was talking to my suppliers to see if they knew of any going, but instead a couple said "weeeeelllll, if you're going to be free, we could find you useful for a couple of things...".  Those couple of things expanded, many more contacts were made, more clients came about and 10 years on I am still going strong.

It's been an interesting 10 years with good and bad highlights (what else would you expect?!) but some that come to mind:
  • Somehow making enough profit so that within 12 months of starting I was in New Hampshire taking my MCSE certification at a 9 day boot camp
  • Managing to keep finding work without (yet) really engaging in marketing or selling activities - the power of the informal network.  Referrals and personal contacts are king.
  • Making the decision to fund myself every year for Microsoft Tech*Ed (now sadly extinct it seems) despite the double whammy of not being able to work, whilst still shelling out for the training
  • VMware going mainstream and getting my VCP training and certification more than once.
  • Annus Horribilis after 5 years - 2 good friends, both our Fathers, and my wife's brother dying.
  • The magic of working from home.
  • The magic of working for clients who value your work so much they actually pay you for it (sometimes it still seems like a miracle).
  • The day the exchange server died because of a bug I found and the horrendous 3 or 4am finishes for a week getting it all sorted without affecting client data.
  • The client that nearly didn't happen but a brief, well crafted, email led to months of work - including work many miles away in Edinburgh, and Kentucky.
  • Finding the space and time to go on the 2008 North American King Crimson tour (no employer would have let that happen!)
  • And many many more

But today is more importantly about remembering the fallen.  In the last few years I have turned my regard for the armed forces into something far more meaningful, and fund raised for Help For Heroes (they only started 7 years ago!).  Next year I will be embarking on my 5th major bike ride for them; and will be posting details before the end of the year on how you can help me do that; but to date, and thanks to many friends and family, I have raised over £10,000 for the blokes.  Being with the blokes on the ride and seeing their forbearance against what seem to us overwhelming problems is salutary and quietening. Chapeau!

And finally, my own remembrance act, taking place at 11am every day from August 2014 to November 2018 - my blog giving the daily casualty lists for the First World War:

http://firstworldwaronthisday.blogspot.co.uk/

Good morning