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Yeah... it's Sunday... it's another vide grenier!

There wasn't much to look at, frankly. This one seemed to have a staggering amount of baby/infant clothing. Well, you gotta figure this stuff is expensive and a child of that age is growing fairly rapidly, so the trade in such is quite high.

I did notice an old Livebox, with a decoder of some sort beside. As an afterthought, I asked how much he wanted. He wanted fifty. I said thank you and started to walk away. He asked how much I had, I told him it was the end of my pay period so I only have a tenner on me (which was true). He laughed and said twenty five then. Mom said fifteen, chipping in a fiver. Sold.


I walked back with two white boxes and all manner of cables. I have pretty much everything except the remote controller for the decoder, which I can't find a replacement of (online) for love or money, though I'll keep looking.

Older Livebox and TNT receiver.

The main reason I wanted a spare Livebox is because our landline phone is VoIP and Orange uses an odd protocol, thus the majority of third party ADSL routers do not offer a phone socket. Which is a crying shame for the Livebox, generally, is "average" performance. My phone and mom's netbook both are locked to talking to the Livebox at 54mbps - so back in her bedroom the reception simply stops for these devices. My ordi fairs a little better as the WiFi card negotiates speeds down to 1mbps, but even so reception in my bedroom is usually only acceptable. It doesn't hurt as my ADSL feed is only 2mbps, but if I was pulling on a 20mbps wire, the link to my bed is usually less than that. Physically, I'm only about four and a half metres from the Livebox. The problem is, one metre of that distance is a solid stone wall. ☺

Anyway, got home and plugged in. A was expecting nothing, but it flashed some red LEDs. Thinking something might have been wrong, I looked online, to discover that the LEDs are red - only red.
I connected my computer the wired way and reconfigured the machine (logging in as "admin" with the password "admin" - useful for me it wasn't changed, but, really...). I didn't see an easy "reset config" option, so I just went through everything bit by bit. The previous owner's signin was there, but I was told there was an error signing in, so I guess his contract had expired. Once my details were in, the thing rebooted and I was online.
It took a little bit more fiddling to get WiFi working, but that was sorted, my computer connected, etc.

As I was testing, the box stopped responding and replied to everything with a "Upgrading firmware" message. Yes, in English, for it has an option to switch to English. It went through three cycles of upgrading before it was ready. This sounds odd, but I remember my PVR needed to be upgraded to the latest Torfu (older firmware) before I could install Arizona (newer firmware).

Now it's set up, I've unplugged it and put it in a box for use as a backup.

The Livebox itself is a Thompson/Inventel first generation. Accordingly it is enormous, although looking inside the casing, most of this is empty space! The Livebox UI is remarkably simple, but in essence the only real difference I've noticed in capability is that it doesn't support WPA2/AES. Voice calls sound reasonable (I only called the message service), and I've not had it running long enough to talk about security. As far as USB is concerned, there is a USB host and a slave. The host is obstensibly for a high quality "LivePhone", but it may have capabilities for printers and/or mass storage devices - a feature mentioned in the Livebox Mini user guide that was never actually implemented.
The USB slave is a facility where the box could act as a USB modem, for in its day, more computers had USB than networking. It tops out at around six megabit, but then again in those days you'd be pushing to get a full eight, unlike the twenty that is fairly commonplace now.


Aerial sockets on the back of the receiver.The second box is a TNT (digital terrestrial) decoder. The guy said it was a satellite receiver, but a quick look at the sockets said otherwise. It contains a ViaAccess card. When plugged into the Livebox's yellow ethernet socket and powered, it starts, says "init" on the front display for about a minute, before telling me some services are not available and then attempting to switch to TF1 but arriving at a black screen (can it not detect there's no aerial connected?). This is as far as I can go without a remote control. But, even then, I remember our analogue signal was abysmal (all I got with a little monochrome TV and five metres of wire was Canal+ on VHF), so I'm not holding out much hope for digital. Still, it is something to consider playing with on a rainy day. A modern all-in-one remote might work with it?


Science fooled?

There is a fundamental difference between religion and proper science: Religion claims to provide answers. Science claims to provide explanations. Science can tell us why the sky is blue, but it didn't make it so. Through these explanations we can derive answers and solutions, for example binary encoding, electronics, and satellite communications allow you to read this pretty much anywhere on the planet. But we did not create binary, not did we create the semiconducting properties of silicon any more than we created the electromagnetic spectrum, or the concept of geostationary orbit. These were all derived from explanations.

Do not be fooled by charlatans and people who tell you that science provides all the answers. For just as the Catholics have a problem with sexual abuse by priests, science suffers from those who provide the result and require the scientists to devise a theory to fit it - usually spurred along by some sort of commercial interest. Likewise, every so often we get a nutjob who makes a foolish declaration such as "We have now discovered everything there is to discover", which in religious terms would be like the Pope declaring "I have met God, and He is me".

I say all of this because we're on the brink of witnessing either an epically embarrassing equipment failure, or that little piece of evidence that utterly shreds everything we thought we know. Namely, an itty bitty thing travelled faster than the speed of light.
Given that it takes something like eight minutes to get a signal all the way to Mars, a distance of a mere 400 miles could be excused as a timing inaccuracy. But if it is true, and some stuff can break the speed of light, it will have Massive Consequences for certain fields of research.
Most of our science will still hold up, as Newton's Laws hold up against Einstein's later concepts. Newton's Laws fail in unusual situations (high gravity, etc), but they are simple enough yet complete enough to make them a suitable option in general space travel. Despite, technically, being incorrect. Or perhaps not so much incorrect as incomplete. And this is what science is - an incomplete explanation of everything to which, little by little, we add details as we know them and revise the stuff we now know better.



Given the recent events with Palestine and also that fashion designer bloke, I would like to ask - why do we have the concept of anti-semitism?
Wiki defines it as:
  • Antisemitism (also spelled anti-semitism or anti-Semitism) is suspicion of, hatred toward, or discrimination against Jews for reasons connected to their Jewish heritage.
While this is all perfectly reasonable, we hear about people being accused of being "anti-semitic", but we rarely hear about the same being applied towards those of other beliefs. Surely to be pro-semitic is to be anti something else? Are we fighting one form of discrimination with another?

I'll give an example - in the news the other day, a big bomb went off in an Arabic country (don't recall which) which killed a bunch of UN people. It was claimed as the work of Islamic fundamentalists.
In recent years, there has been a tension between the state of Israel and its neighbours, namely Lebanon and Palestine. Every so often, somebody from one of these countries will attempt to make a poor show of defiance by blowing themselves up in a marketplace, killing a few natives. In traditional form, Israel retaliates - usually by sending a few helicopter gunships to teach 'em a lesson. It is the usual over-reaction by Semitic fundamentalists.

In the above paragraph, one phrase is accepted, sanctioned, and widely used by the media. The other, most likely would fall into the category of anti-semitism. However, from where I stand, I can't see any difference. Either is tarring the people of an entire faith by the actions of a few radicals. Not all Jews are Israelites, and not all Muslims are terrorists.



Leading on from which, I understand that - by and large - the UN is a toothless monster. They pass directives, they devise resolutions, but in the conflict and strife-driven places, those are pretty much ignored.

That said, why should Palestine not be offered the right to be recognised as a place in its own right? What is Israel so afraid of? Being caught red-handed? Being told to bugger off out of "occupied territory" (a euphemism for "a bit we rolled into and stole")?
It is interesting that all of a sudden the Israeli PM pleads for peace talks and a resolution to the crisis. Yes, I think the Palestinians would like peace as well, but I agree with the Palestinian bloke who doesn't seem to interested in talking. There's been something like half a century of "talking" and nothing has progressed. I think the Israelis would like to continue talking for it means a lot of discussion, a lot of negotiation, and ultimately, nothing happening. But from the aspect of the Palestinians, it's a case of "screw this, time to attempt something a little more concrete". Can you blame them?

America, for its part, wants to sort out where it stands on the issue. Obama claims that they will not be getting involved, yet if it came to a UN vote, they will apparently veto... which is getting involved. What is America afraid of? Upsetting the Israelis?

The situation in the Middle East really needs to be resolved one way or another, but the important thing to remember is - compromise. Palestine cannot kick out the Israelis, it is too late for that. Likewise Israel cannot make reference to land they owned two millennia ago. We have to deal strictly with the here and now, so both sides will not be able to get what they want. The key is to come up with some sort of solution that is acceptable to both sides. I say we for Palestine and Israel have been at it for some fifty-odd years, so maybe with UN help things can progress? Back in the '80s, the idea of any sort of peace in Northern Ireland seemed far off. It came to be, so there is hope for the Middle East too.


Name shenanigans

There's a competition running, in some of the publicity given out with the post. It is a seed company. You can enter a draw for a €599 laptop. The competition is not luck based. It will be accorded to the person with the most points from the letters of their name, where A=1, B=26, C=2, D=25 (etc). So if you have a short name, such as Amy Burr, you might as well not bother, while somebody with a name like Marie-Catherine Featherstone-Wittington-Smythe will stand a much better chance.


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Buddy Holly (186), 27th September 2011, 12:09
Odd competition. One would be inclined to invent a name to take advantage of the numerology..

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