Spring is here...

...and it's warming up over here in Sydney.

It was nice and warm over the weekend so I went to the Northern Beaches and stayed with James & Nads, needless to say beer was drunk, as we needed cooling off, with it being a record temperature for Sept, 32 degrees I think.

On the Saturday we rented a boat in the afternoon and took our fishing rods and floated around on Pittwater, avoiding the fish it seems. Especially disappointing as Nads had been telling us the night before how good she was at fishing and how she would be able to 'fish us under the table' so to speak... but no, no fish caught for the barbie for our tea :( Still it was a nice afternoon

Here's some pics of us on the boat

After getting back on Sunday night I have been busily setting up my media center pc, which is now up and running and set up with Vista, and Media Center, and also Media Portal which is a pretty good free alternative to media center, the project was started by one of the guys who worked on the original XBox media center project and you can see the similarities, it really is a nice app, and there is no messing around like in Windows Media Center, just point it at a network UNC share and off it goes playing the content on it.

So now that is sorted I can start to make sure everything is charged up and packed ready for my hols (haha, I'm already on holiday I hear you cry)

On Friday I am flying to Perth to visit James and Emma for the weekend, then I am off to Margaret River for some touristing :)

Margaret River is here:

View Larger Map

So expect a few photos in a new post when I get back. But not too soon, because I get back and then am straight off again for the long weekend on a houseboat on the Hawkesbury River, around the Wiseman's Ferry area, here:

View Larger Map

So that should be good too, fingers crossed the weather will be nice. I'll bore you with the details when I get back :)

This is the life

It's been a lovely day here in Sydney, sunny and warm, according to SMH weather a max of 28 degrees, a bit windy but that stops it being too hot. I'm sat in the botanical gardens with a deli sandwich for my lunch enjoying the sunshine!

I've included photographic evidence for the people that doubt that I ever leave my flat :)

PS3 & Ubuntu

After Dunc's comments on an earlier post about running Linux (specifically the Gentoo distro) on PS3 I thought I'd look into getting Ubuntu installed on my PS3 again in a little more detail... Ideally it would be dual boot, and would let me play media on my TV without any messy transcoding or media servers, just straight from file shares.

I discovered that yes it's possible to do, Sony provides a mechanism for partitioning the hard drive of the PS3, and installing a boot loader, all in the System Settings section of the PS3 o/s.

So, once I had downloaded the correct cd image which is a patched version of the powerpc/cell based desktop installed for Gutsy (7.10, from here) and burned it to a disc I got all excited and told the PS3 to install the "other OS". It picked up the otheros.bld (boot loader) from the disc and installed it, then I set the default system to be "Other OS" and rebooted, and lo and behold I had a nice flashing cursor and "kboot:" prompt!

Great, now all I need is a keyboard and mouse, lol! So a few days later I now have a USB keyboard and my mouse from my laptop and they are both plugged into the PS3 and the installer has booted.

Unfortunately the default screen size that the installer boots to is smaller than the window that it needs so I couldn't get past the language selection step.

To fix this at the "kboot:" prompt enter "install video=ps3fb:mode:X" where X is a value that relates to the required video mode, i used 35, which is 720p. (I originally tried it with 165, which is full screen 1080p, which worked and looked nice, however the install application severely struggled to do anything, it seems it has trouble with the bigger resolutions, 720p is big enough for the installer to show the whole window and fast enough to actually install properly)

Once through the standard install process and rebooted, I now have gutsy running on my PS3, and with a small change to /etc/kboot.conf to set the correct video mode it now runs in 1080p fullscreen.

So, onto the next problem... WLAN. The wireless lan is set up as WPA2 PSK in my flat, which doesn't work out of the box with gutsy. So out comes a long cable :)

Now I let it install all the updates after enabling all the repositories. The update app also told me that I could upgrade to 8.04 LTS, but after some digging (and one attempt at doing it) I found that this is not a good idea, the kernel is not compatible.

So, update the kernel time...

Following the script on page 4 of this post allowed me to update the kernel. Basically it downloads the ADDON iso that was released of the ps3 ppc kernel for 2.6.25, extracts the files from it, extracts the appropriate files from the RPM, installs the kernel and supporting files, and modifies the kboot.conf file to boot the new kernel. After that it was just a case of installing Petitboot as the bootloader rather than kboot so I have a graphical loader that works with the kernel. The alternative is to use th version of kboot that the script extracts.

Then I left the PS3 performing the Hardy upgrade, and rebooted once that had finished.

The final thing I had to do was to get WLAN working, which turned out to be straight forward after finding this post, which details downloading the wpasupplication package that has been patched to work, installing it, and then configuring it. I also put the package on hold (sudo aptitude hold wpasupplicant) as the binaries had been updated, so they wouldn't get overwritten by an update from the repositories.

So there we have it, Hardy installed on my PS3, and dual booting back into the PS3 o/s if needed, and I'm sat here geekily posting this entry from firefox in glorious 1080p Sony Braviavision!

However all is not good...

It seems that to allow other os's to be installed Sony locked down their machine with a hypervisor, and that this only gives access to a single core and restricts access to the RSX graphics processor, which means that the whole experience is a little sluggish. It's usable for browsing and reading email etc, but I installed VLC and tried to play some media off my laptop shares and they really didn't work too well... the xvids were 'ok' in a small window, but full screen they sucked big, and the mkv files were absolutely pants.

So looks like its back to PS3 o/s and TVersity for the time being, until the people that are working on getting access to the accelerated hardware manage to get a breakthrough, and one that works on the latest firmware.

Still it's cool to have it installed, handy for browsing the net when I can't be bothered to walk the 3 metres to my laptop! ;)

Streaming HD content to my PS3

Geek Post

Get ready for a geek post people, I've spent the last few days (in between going out over the weekend) re-installing my laptop a few times to get to the bottom of a problem I have been having trying to get HD content to play on my PS3, but it's all working now, and working nicely.

I use an application called TVersity to do on the fly transcoding of content from my pc and streaming it to the PS3 in a format that the PS3 can play. TVersity was (at the time of my research some months ago) the only app that would serve up xvid and divx content in a stream format that the PS3 could play, Windows Media Player won't, Twonky didn't (although that might have changed now). So I have been using TVersity since my new laptop arrived. I have some content that is in matroska container files (.mkv rather than .avi) which is usually 720p or 1080p content and this wouldn't play on my PS3 via TVersity. I'd end up playing it on my laptop using VLC, which plays everything and no messing around with direct show filters or codecs or anything like that, just install it and away you go.

But it doesn't help me play the content on my nice big telly, so I thought I'd see if I could sort that out.

After a few hours I had uninstalled my individual codecs for xvid, divx and ac3 decoding and installed the VistaCodecPack, which installs a number of codecs, including xvid, divx, ac3filter and the key ones for mkv files, haali splitter and ffdshow. Haali splitter is for direct show and allows it to recognise and process matroska container format, and ffdshow provides a number of codecs, specifically h.264.

Then it was a case of setting up TVersity, which is mostly a standard install, but with some additions.

1) Don't install the TVersity codec pack as it is not needed

2) Don't start the media server service, or the UI after installation.

3) Change the log on user of the media server service to a specific user

4) Modify the profiles.xml file to change the MPEG16 format to MPEG2 for the Playstation3 profile

Once this was done and TVersity sharing started the PS3 recognised the .mkv files, and would play them, great! But the sound was all garbled, not great!

It is this problem with garbled sound that has had me reinstalling the o/s a number of times as messing with codecs is a difficult process to diagnose, without getting into direct show graphs etc.

I finally tracked it down to some sort of codec issue with the user that I was setting the service to log on as, and I believe that this was caused by the fact that the user was created after I had installed the codecs and set them up, even when I log on as that user and set the codecs configs correctly to have ac3filter process ac3 audio it still would not play the audio correctly using that user. I have yet to prove my theory, but I set the service to run as my user and it works fine, yay!

So now I have HD content and ac3 audio being transcoded and streamed to my PS3 and onto my nice big telly and surround sound system, w00t!

    Update 24/08/2010

The best codec pack I have found is Shark007 just install the win7 and 64bit packs and it plays pretty much everything, saves messing around with individual codecs etc.

/Geek Post

First visit to Doyles at Watsons Bay...

...since I have arrived here this time!

James & Nads have been showing Andy and Kelly (who they met on their trip to Thailand) around Sydney and they wanted to go to Doyles as they had been told about it by people back in the UK. And too right, you can't get much better fish and chips!

What a great day for it too, clear blue skies, lovely warm sunshine, Spring is definitely here, and it was great to sit and have a fish and chip lunch next to the beach with a great view of the city skyline in the distance!

Then it was off to Bondi Beach before heading back to the city.

Yet again Doyles hasn't disappointed! :)

The Dark Knight at IMAX

What can I say, this was the first full movie I have seen at an IMAX cinema and it was incredible.

The movie itself was fantastic, dark, gritty, and Heath Ledger as the Joker was perfect, really captured the dark insanity of the Joker. Just as you thought it was about to end, something else happened and the movie continues, this made it seem longer than it actually was, which is all good in my book!

However, seeing it on a screen the size of a house, (no not a house, a tower block!) really made a difference, especially the city scape scenes. It was wierd as you were flying over Gotham the screen is so huge you look down and still see the buildings below you, you really get a sense that you are there in the chopper that is flying over the city.

I'll definitely be going to watch more movies there as they come out, can't recommend it enough!

Chinese Gardens in Darling Harbour

It's been a while since I posted about my travels, mainly cos I haven't done much, but today we took a trip to Darling Harbour on the ferry, had some lunch and had a wander around the Chinese Gardens that are there... Now, before I get any comments about "You? Walking round a garden? Are you mad?" I have to say it was a bit of a shock to see it right in the middle of Sydney, it's strange to see these waterfalls and willows and bamboo and Koi carp swimming around and then look a little further up and see the high rise buildings of Sydney around you.

For example, nice waterfall:

And here is some nice chinese buildings, with high rises in the background:

So despite the small amount of rain it was a nice half an hour or so, and it certainly seemed to cut out the noise and bustle of the city!

Oh god... I'm getting old! :(

These photos were taken with my iPhone too, pretty good quality for a phone :)

My iPhone has arrived!

The iPhone has been available (well officially available) over here for about a month now, to much hype in the press and in the shops.

I managed to hold off buying one (mainly because they were sold out from most places for a while) but succumbed to the lure of the sleek shiny gadget at the end of last week. I have to say that the more I use it, the more I like it, the apps that come as standard are easy to use and work well. It seamlessly switches between WLAN and 3G when it's in range of my access point. The built in GPS makes the map application very handy, and with 16GB of space for my music and video i've got the best of 3 devices that I would have had to carry around before, phone, gps receiver and music device, and especially in a device that is little bigger than my old phone and a lot thinner.

The multi-touch interface is great too, and the whole UI is based around it and very intuitive to use, it doesn't take very long at all to get used to it.

I think I've already said that Apple know how to design nice bits of kit, and they haven't disappointed with the iPhone 3G.

Chris Rock...


James, Nads, and one of their friends Matt (another Matt!) and I went to see Chris Rock on Saturday, at the Sydney Entertainment Centre in Darling Harbour last Saturday. He was very funny, making jokes about the penal colony that we are living in and the US Presidential elections etc. Well worth going to see.

It doesn't seem like almost a week ago since we went to see him, must be cos time flies when I'm having fun, I got a shock yesterday when I realised it was Thursday and not Wednesday!

In other news, my ticket to see Slipknot and Machine Head arrived today, woo!

I've wanted to go see them for a long time, and for anyone who doesn't know who/what they are; shouty metal band, who wear orange jumpsuits and strange masks!

The weather is picking up now as well, it's nice and sunny today and warm too (when you're in the sun).

Well that's my news for now, so I'll be signing out!


Friday night was curry night at the Quays apartments. James and Nads came over and were willing guineapigs for my attempt at lamb bhuna, pilau rice and bombay aloo.

All cooked from a new book I have called "The Curry Secret", the recipes which I had tried before as a practice run (well the curry and rice anyway) and was amazed at how they turned out, just like english indian restaurant curries, rather than the traditional home-cooked versions that most cook books have.

They were just as good the second time I tried, and the bombay aloo was fantastic too, even though I say so myself! :)

James and Nads liked it as well, so much so, I've had to order a copy of the cook book for them! :)

The other funny thing is that it made the whole place smell of curry, even the lobby where the elevators are. Mmmmm, lovely!