These days, I’m not entirely convinced movies need websites. They can be costly, nobody I know visits them (including myself) and quite frankly everybody just looks at the trailers on YouTube (or wherever) and waits for the movie to be released. When the iTunes, DVD or Blu-Ray is released, you usually have extras to tide you over for BTS stuff.

Sony’s system admins look to have made a bit of a boo boo recently. The new teaser trailer for Spiderman: Far From Home hit YouTube. Within the description was an URL: https://spidermanfarfromhome.movie.

ALAS!

The problem is that Sony uses a service called Akamai to provide security and performance at the edge. This means that Akamai is actively sitting in front of the origin servers and will cache content as well as protect against attacks via it’s web application firewall.

The problem here is that Sony didn’t update the bare domain (spidermanfarfromhome.movie) to point to Akamai. It’s pointing to Sony’s own servers. And their servers, while it has a TLS certificate with multiple SANs (Subject Alternative Names), it doesn’t reference the bare domain – just a subdomain (www.spidermanfarfromhome.movie). Hence the above error.

Sony just needs to update the DNS to point the bare domain to Akamai, and all would be good. The Akamai TLS edge certificate DOES contain spidermanfarfromhome.movie within it’s list of hostnames, so won’t error.

It would have been better for Sony to have advertised www.spidermanfarfromhome.movie instead – most people are still used to the ‘www’ prefix anyway…

(As a side note, Sony yet again muck things up by linking to various legal pages (such as their Terms of Use) at sonypictures.com which is served unencrypted – D’OH)

Alas poor Xbox One X, I didn’t use you as much as I’d have liked. You became a bit of a brick sitting underneath the TV gathering dust. Hence it was off to the local CeX for you, and in with a Sony UDB-X700 mid-range UltraHD (4K) Blu-Ray player.

The problem with modern console gaming is not only having to buy the console in the first place, but you also have to factor in:

  • A Multi-player subscription (Xbox Live in the case of the Xbox, or Playstation Plus for the PlayStation) – an extra monthly or yearly cost.
  • Cost of the games. This varies – but usually between £40-£100 depending on the game and publisher. The alternative is a subscription service such as the Xbox Games Pass or PS Now for PlayStation.
  • In-game purchases. Extra skins, weapons, whatever.

I’ve determined that given the overall level of gaming I do versus the number of movies I watch via Blu-Ray or UltraHD Blu-Ray, I’d be bettter off with a dedicated player. A player which didn’t have a hard drive in it which would be a pain in the neck to replace if it were to fail.

So the Xbox One X has gone and has been replaced by a Sony UDB-X700 UltraHD (4K) player. I’ve always been a big fan of Sony products, and the UDB-X700 is no exception. It’s a mid-range device which has won many awards – including a coveted What Hi-Fi? 2018 Award. One of the things that attracted me to it was a decent remote control (you try finding a decent remote with the Xbox One X), HDR->SDR conversion (my LG 4K television does not have HDR because I bought it too early – frigging technology, eh?), and built-in app support for Netflix, BBC iPlayer, etc.

The Sony UDB-U700 in all its glory

Actually, the last thing doesn’t matter too much to me – the Apple 4K TV does pretty much all of the “smart” TV stuff (alongside the Sky Q box and even my LG TV’s ageing WebOS which doesn’t see anywhere near the same level of commitment in updates from TVs from 2017 onwards). The Sony apps are decent enough, though I found that when it first streams content the picture is all blurry until it’s had a chance to play catchup and buffer enough data to continue. The Apple TV and Sky Q box does not do this. But’s nice to have a backup, just in case. And besides, I DO like the big Netflix button on this player’s remote control.

The picture quality is excellent regardless of whether or not you have an HDR TV. And the HDR to SDR conversion thing is a new feature I’ve never come across before, but does – I suppose, having not seen HDR before (thanks, LG, thanks) – do a good job. Adjusting the setting during playback allows you to adjust the conversion. Apparently setting it high will result in an image that is closest to HDR, but you pay for it in reduced picture brightness.

Audio is fine. I don’t have any Dolby Atmos speakers or even a surround sound system. I usually pipe all audio through my TV to drown out the neighbours (especially their frigging noisy dogs). But very good stereo reproduction from what I’ve played so far. Very sharp, very crisp.

All in all, an excellent player at a decent price. Having owned the super pricey and now utterly defunct Oppo UDP-203 a few years ago (sold to somebody who truly appreciates the Oppo line of devices despite they’re leaving the audio-visual market), this unit certainly gives as good as it gets. And Sony isn’t about to give up making audio-visual devices any time soon!

9/10

When I left university, my first job was working at a local company in Norwich that specialised in building, selling and repairing PCs. I learnt to build a PC from scratch – installing the motherboard, CPU, RAM, hard drives and CD-ROM drives and how to diagnose problems with existing systems. But the overall goal was to set-up a local Norwich dial-up ISP and offer other services such as web design and hosting. Thanks to having some experience with Linux, I got the job of running the ISP. I did the lot: building servers, running them, writing software for dial-up set-ups, providing technical support and finally web design for clients.

Norwich’s third ISP, Albatross Networks Ltd.

At the time (this was around 1996/1997), there were a few big national ISPs. Demon Internet was one of them. It was a techie’s dream ISP in many ways – it offered unfettered access to Usenet, gave you a static IP for free, provided a comprehensive internet web/email client (Turnpike) and a subdomain of your own choosing in which you could use to receive email to as many email addresses as possible.

For example, if you had a username of wibbler, your hostname would be wibbler.demon.co.uk. You could have [email protected], and you’d be able to use Turnpike or some other third party email program to filter incoming mail. This was all before spamming and phishing became a real problem.

Albatross’ front page. Which I designed. Badly. Hey – computers had much lower resolutions in those days, and you wouldn’t have seen that overlap! 😉

I implemented a similar system at Albatross (no static IPs though). Demon was the ISP that I wanted to emulate. And as of today, Demon Internet has been given its death sentence by current owners, Vodafone. RIP, Demon.

It’s almost everybody’s New Year resolution to get fit. Stay off the booze, eat more healthily, etc. etc. But in my case, it’s truly a resolution that I intend to keep.

For most of my adult life I’ve always been quite “bulky”, but over the past few years I’ve been putting on the pounds. And it has been worrying me.

The good old days when I used to speed walk to Woking (3 miles)

This wasn’t always the way. When I was working for my last employer, they very kindly provided an electric pushbike that I used extensively during the time we were based in Guildford. I lost a lot of weight and was much slimmer than I am now – and before that too.

2018. Scruffy fat git.

But in the remaining year or so at my last employer, and the first year and a half at my current employer, I must admit I haven’t been looking after myself as much as I should be doing. Though the weight hasn’t been that much of a change, I have gone up several sizes in T-shirts and trousers.

So towards the end of last year, a work colleague prompted me (and others) to start getting into shape. We started a 5K club. The 5K being steps, not mileage. The aim is to walk at least 5k steps at lunchtime – preferably at a fast pace. We had a couple of sessions and I must admit I found it a bit of struggle at first.

So this prompted to make additional changes – I’ve completely cut out soda. I’ve been a long term drinker of Diet Coke and Pepsi Max. Rarely drunk tea. Drunk lots of Starbucks and Costa Coffee daily. I gave up regular coffee shop drinking long ago (when I added up how much I was spending!), though I will admit to having one or two very infrequently. I now stick with tea, regular shop bought coffee (and even then, it’s occasional), and water. Fizzy spring water is acting as a go-between while I readjust to non-sparking spring water.

As the work 5K club has gone on, we’re supporting each other more. Another work colleague has recommended Berocca (or the Boots equivalent, Revive) which provides a bit of an energy boost as well as providing vitamins and minerals. It comes in tablet form and dissoves into water. So I’ve had that every day for a week now. I also take cod liver oil tablets and Glucosamine Sulphate for joints.

This along with walking up a steep hill every day, along with getting out and about more has really been helping. I’ve been feeling great over the past few days and hope to keep it up. In terms of meals, I’ve cut potatoes out as much as possible and have increased things like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower and green beans. I’ve also added baked beans into my diet more too. I have two meat dishes per week, with the rest of the meals using meat substitutes. I also have rice, often from an Uncle Ben’s packet. Breakfast is usually Chocolate Shreddies (yes, I know) and lunch is home made sandwiches (ham, roast chicken, Quorn chicken slices or similar) along with a couple of satsumas for deserts.

This is quite the far cry from takeaways of the past (one of the 5K club members has had similar experiences). On-call is such that it isn’t too much of a problem anymore. I work from home one day a week.

I monitor my progress through my Apple Watch series 4 watch which records the steps and calories. My Withings Body smart scales record weight and send it through to Apple Health so I have a complete record of activity throughout the day.

Hopefully we’ll start to see improvements over the next few weeks and months. My colleague has already said that she’s seen an improvement in me since we started, so I must be doing something right! I’m aiming to get a pedal exerciser or even an exercise bike so that I can do some workouts at home (and at work – pedal exercisers are cheap and portable).

At the age of 42, staying fit and healthy is now a priority if I’m likely to see 43, 44, 45, 46 and so on. I can only see now that it doesn’t have to be terrible – and having a support network around you only boosts and helps you get better at it.

Here’s to a healthier 2019!