A Blog Less Ordinary

The blog of Dave Ingram

4 on Demand: Improved

For all that use 4 on Demand, the video-on-demand service for Channel 4 in the UK, I have a useful tip for you. Although it has a large number of programmes available for free, its interface is (to say the least) highly annoying. But there is a fix!

Disclaimer: This is non-standard usage of 4od, and while they may not be able to detect you doing this, there is a chance that this may violate their terms of service. I’m providing this method only for reference purposes, and for convenience in navigating their system, in a similar way to the BBC‘s iPlayer.

It’s essentially simple: instead of bringing the 4od system up in its own little window, use a browser. I’ve only tested this with IE7 (as that’s what runs within the dedicated 4od application window) but I see no reason it won’t work with Firefox too, as the BBC site does.

“But wait,” I hear you cry. “I don’t know the URL!”

Well panic not, for a little network sniffing later gave me this: http://vodapp.grid.channel4.com/c4site-web

Now you can open program downloads in multiple tabs so that you can just click “confirm” on each of them and let the downloads begin. This makes queueing an entire series for download at once much easier!


Overflowing with ideas

I’ve found myself overflowing with ideas as I try to focus on revision, so I thought I might as well scribble some of them down, if only to get them out of my head! To name the prominent few:

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Life moves on

Wow, it’s been a long time since I’ve updated anything here. Insight is moving along, but has currently stalled while I’m in exam mode. I’m not going to talk about that though — this is a rare personal post.

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The End Is Nigh

… and that’s it. No more lectures. Ever. Apart from revision lectures, but they don’t count in the same way. This feels like a bit of an anti-climax. It’s hard to believe that four years at university are almost over! It’s going to take some getting used to.

Of course, it’s not all over just yet – there are still exams to go.

Insight: FUSE

Well, I’m now ready to start playing around with FUSE and see where it gets me. I’m getting quite concerned now by how little time is left… we got our exam timetable yesterday, and it doesn’t seem too bad… although we do have two exams on the same day at one point. Still, I’ve got a few weeks to go…

Insight: Work so far…

Insight is progressing, but slowly. I’m working on the first prototype, which should essentially prove the concept of the indexing system. It turns out that writing a B+ tree is more awkward than I had thought, which is slightly depressing, as that is meant to be the easy bit! Then again, once the tree is done, it should be plain sailing for a little while.

I had my second marker meeting last Wednesday, which went well. I do need to find a way to explain Insight very quickly, however. People tend to look blankly at me and say “Why would I need this?” to begin with, then they might say something like “What about Spotlight/other indexing service?” or “Why in the file system?” but once I fully explain some of its potential, they get quite excited.

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Insight: First report done!

Well, after much hard work, criticism, and more: the first report is in! I’m actually only writing this post two weeks later because once it was done, I just had to take some time to catch up on everything else I’ve been letting slide while working almost non-stop on this report.

This report has outlined a number of my thoughts and decisions, and one of the last ideas to be considered for inclusion in the report was the issue of backwards compatability with existing systems. I have decided to follow the examples given in the paper by Gifford et al. on semantic file systems. I’ll be describing this in more detail soon… I promise!

Anyway, I’ve decided to make the Insight Outsourcing Report available here for anyone that’s interested. Once I get the time to deal with the site as well, I’ll give it a more obvious home.

Insight: Finished reading about BFS

Well I’ve recently finished reading the BeOS File System (BFS) book, and it was a very interesting read. There was a lot of useful information there, and it really helped me think about the system I’m writing. I’ll put some of the ideas that came to mind in this post.

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Insight: The presentation

I had a meeting with my project supervisor earlier, during which we discussed a few things about the Insight project. One of the things he reminded me about was that I have to give a presentation and demo of my project at the very end.

This will be interesting, especially for my project. The demo should be as impressive as possible, and should ideally have a big “wow!” factor. I’ve had a number of ideas in this direction, so I’d probably best put them here, although be warned: this may spoil the surprise for anyone who attends the presentation ๐Ÿ˜‰

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Insight braindump

Well this is going to be a very random and unstructured post, but I just wanted to note down a few thoughts and ideas before I forget about them… and I’ll probably update this a couple of times before finally giving in and making it a page. This is an evolving post.

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