Australia rules modchips are legal

Now this is cool. I have to say that this is a relief from all the news stories about the DCMA screwing away consumers rights in favour of the mega-corps. The Australian IT is reporting that the High Court of Australia has unanimously ruled that mod-chips are legal. As this is now the second case to rule this way, a nice legal precedent has been set for any type of modchip for any system - ranging from Xboxes to DVD players. Of special mention in the article is this: However, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) intervened in the case and argued that region-coding was detrimental to consumer choice. It said that mod chips created artificial trade barriers between Australian and overseas games and DVD markets. I wonder what long term implications this case will have - especially with the ACCC's view on region coding... Update: This has been covered on Slashdot

Still waiting on BenQ...

Well, I'm still waiting on getting my 20" BenQ monitor back. It's been in under warranty since 29/8 - and still no word on when I'll get it back (it was supposed to be back on my desk weeks ago!). Maxtor sent me a 'refurbished' hard drive for the warranty replacement of a 160Gb SATA drive - that just fills me with confidence. The Digium TDM400P is back in the Asterisk VoIP server and running nicely. Hopefully, it will be the last thing I have to warranty in quite some time - of course the whole Apple Superdrive screwup will guarantee that it isn't - but I won't be surprised if I have to sit down when they finally get their act together and tell me what they plan to do.

The House of Wax

Never, ever go see this movie. Unless of course you want to see Paris Hilton die :). If you do happen to come across this movie, save yourself a whole heap of time and sanity and just skip to 72 minutes into the movie, and watch the next 5 minutes. It really is the highlight of the movie!

Hardware failures suck.

I'm now in the waiting time to get all of the replacement hardware that I've returned under warranty in the past few weeks. I've had to send back 2 x 160Gb Maxtor SATA drives, 1 x Digium TDM400P VoIP FXO and 1 x BenQ 20.1" LCD screen. The fun continues. The hard drives started pulling read errors and on a full format came up with bad sectors - very bad for data - even though they were less than 18 months old! The FXO card developed a fault where it wouldn't pass audio, and the LCD screen developed a couple of bright pixels.

This means I'm currently stuck using my trusty 12" PowerBook G4 (even with the dodgy Superdrive!) until I get my screen back. When will it end :)

Congrats to Tyson and Bec Clugg

If you know either of them, you'll know that Tyson has now married Bec! This makes it the only time in the history of the Clugg family that there have been three Mrs Clugg's alive. After being in the bridal party and having a great weekend, my congrats go to them both and I wish that they will have a long and happy life together. I think this was the most digital camera aware wedding that I have ever heard of - with well over 3Gb of photos being taken throughout the day. I know that this is at least 750 photos that I have access to, and many, many more that I will never see!

Apple SuperDrive Update.

As posted on my petition, I have sent yet another email to Apple Australias Hardware Manager, Geoff Winder. I don't know if I will actually get a reply this time, as it's been well over a month since my original email, and weeks since a follow up went unanswered. I have also tried calling Geoff, but only manage to get his voicemail.

Faulty Apple Superdrives.

As much as I like my new Apple gear, I have to say that Apple SuperDrives suck. I mean really suck. SuperDrives have to be the black hole of DVD writer suckyness. When I bought my gear, I decided to put DVD writers in both the 12" PowerBook, and the Mac Mini. Stupid me - and here's why.

When you put a DVD into these units, you will be very lucky if you happen to pick a brand of media that these units actually like. Chances are, if you don't say a prayer to your prefered diety first, your media will only be recognised as 2x media. It doesn't matter what the label on your media says - the SuperDrive will only treat it as 2x media. Different brand of media you say? What about 5 different brands? Heh. Still the same issue. Throw these discs in any other writer on the face of the planet, and they'll burn perfectly!

After months of trying to get Apple to actually do something about this firmware issue, as well as contacting the drive manufacturers (who said it's all Apples fault for using defective firmware!), nothing has happened. So now I've started a petition to get these drives to be a little less suckier. If you are also affected by this issue, please sign the petition at

Is Apple all about iPods?

Is Apple's revival all about iPods? Has this been the saviour of the company? According to a lot of the people in the industry, yes - however I think things are a little different. Here's a bit of a story as to why I think these people are missing the mark.

I've been using computers since the age of 4. Migrating from system to system, learning how to operate each one, and hacking those lovely classics for the ZX Spectrum including Jetpac and Manic Miner. As time went on, things got faster, better, and a lot more complicated.

As we fast-forward through the 8086, 286, 386, 486, Pentium, Pentium 2, Pentium 3, and todays Pentium 4 based systems (and yes, I've owned them all!), a lot has changed in how computers run. One thing has pretty much stayed the same since the Pentium era began. Windows. Now while Windows is a lot different under the hood that it was back in the first releases of Windows 95, the user interface is very much the same. It still has the same annoyances, people still have the same problems, and the usability is just not there.

As I personally have been very involved with the underlying workings of a computer system, I naturally gave Linux a try. The control you get is just great. You can tweak anything and everything you like. You have complete control over your system - unlike trying to persuade Windows into what you actually want to do! So what is wrong with this 'Control Freaks' OS? The GUI is crap. The multimedia system needs a lot of work. You'll be trying for weeks to get everything just the way you want - as you have to change everything manually. System integration between the basic areas of what a GUI should be are just not there leaving huge gaps in functionality.

So what is there left for the computer industry?

Apple. Now I have to confess, that I would scoff, make fun of, and dismiss anyone telling me that Apple Macs are superior up until a few months ago. This was really based on the hell that was OS9 - and even some of the mac zealots would agree that it was well deserved. Then came OSX. OSX is exactly what people like myself want from a computer. You get a great looking UI - and you get to keep the 'Control Freak' element in tact, as OSX runs on a FreeBSD based system. This means with my purchase of a 12" Powerbook G4 gives me a shell on the road or wherever I am, native access to rsync, and a whole host of other goodies from DarwinPorts.

Since my learning curve on Apple systems, there have been a number of people within my workplace and social circle that have been slowly dumping the Dell laptops and Windows XP in favour of Apple hardware and OSX - most of these people don't even own an iPod. I believe that the people who say Apple is only getting a comeback because of iPods should sit down with a Mac running OSX and experience it for yourself.

Quick Update

Haven't posted for a few days, so I thought I'd give a quick update.

I'm working on converting some Simoco PRM8038 units into single mode units - with very little success. My WiFi router got 'hacked' and it's firmware erased - this will probably help me to remember to actually change the login details from defaults some day. The X-band cable for the car is working awesome. I spent all of today looking around at suits for Tysons wedding - and yes, I do realise that for me to wear a suit is - well, abnormal. Oh, and I got a new tripod so I can start going and taking more time lapse photos etc.

That's been my few days.