Friday, February 13, 2015

More Musings on Raspbmc

This a follow up to this post.

I spent a couple of hours trying to figure out why the shared database had stopped working... The problem? My raspberry pi versions had gotten out of sync. One updated, the other didn't.

Given that Raspbmc uses it's very own idea of an update system, this isn't trivial. So, my number one tip: If you are running multiple pi's and they are using a shared database, and it's all working fine, turn off updates.

If your Raspbmc versions have gotten out of sync, you're going to need to ssh into your Raspberry Pis and run the following:

 sudo rm /scripts/upd_sys/*.sh  
 sudo wget -P /scripts/upd_sys  
 sudo wget -P /scripts/upd_sys  
 sudo rm /scripts/upd_hist/kver  
 sudo rm /scripts/upd_hist/xbmcver  
 sudo rm /scripts/upd_hist/svcver  

After that reboot. It may be tempting to do it from ssh, but it seems better to do it from the GUI. You'll need to do this on EVERY Raspbmc Pi running Raspbmc using the same database in order to get their versions all to the current version. After that, turn off updates.

As great as Raspbmc is, it is a broken system... Their reinventing of the wheel isn't really doing anyone any favours. What would make sense is providing their own apt repository and providing a solid upgrade path from Rasbian...

Monday, February 9, 2015

Picking A New ISP

I've found myself raging at Orcon ever since I switched my Internet to them.

It's been a whole thing... Initially, the install happened just after the billing cycle so for one month, I ended up paying twice for the same services. Not strictly Orcon's fault, but frustrating nonetheless.

Then, when the switch over did happen, there was a problem! Back with the Chorus guy to the cabinet. THEN there was still a problem. While I had Internet, I didn't have phone. Another couple of weeks wait..

Fast forward a month or so and there's some dicking around with the phone lines that resulted in a SSSSLLLLLOOOOOOWWWWW connection.. again. So I email Orcon and get a "have you tried turning it off and on again?" response. Not cool...

A ½ phone call that resulted in a factory reset router (COMPLETE pain in the arse as I then had to configure the router to my network again - get it on the right subnet, configure the leases in the DHCP server, sort out forwarded ports etc.) and finally it got escalated.

And that's when the communication stopped. Completely. No word from Orcon at all.... until a couple of weeks in. Chorus had put a line from over the road, to a junction point and I was getting Internet at about half the rate that I had before. They seemed to be continuing trying to fix the problem (rather than sharing a line). Chorus started digging up the footpath, and then Orcon sends an email saying that it's all fixed now!. Wait... what? Chorus are still out there, Orcon didn't contact me when the shared line went up, and Chorus hadn't switched me back over to our original line. Screw you Orcon! Fail for communication!

In the meantime, I get an invoice from Orcon (I've paid for 3 months by this stage and have had 1 incident free month)...

Anyway, so the phone/Internet goes down for half a day while Chorus switch me back to my line. It's about 1Mbps higher than the shared line.... So around 60% of what it was...

And finally, they send me an email basically saying "You're on an old plan. But don't worry because we'll switching you to a new plan! Your base rate is now $95". Queue much cursing as I try to find the base rate I have been paying. I find something about $65.22 with some comment about it excluding tax... but I can't find a base rate. I'm assuming the base rate is the cost for the basic services before the addons (phone bits and pieces). The email also includes a "you'll see the change in your invoice" which just has me cursing. That's a great big "we're doing shit, we're not telling you how we're changing (just what) and we won't tell you how much of an effect that has until we charge you for it".

That cursing has changed to "fuck you Orcon" and a great big "I need to find a new ISP".

But here's the thing... An ISP isn't an ISP anymore. They're also telecommunication companies...

So there are few basic questions that don't really get answered:
  • Do they provide phone over copper?
  • Do they provide phone over a SIP service?
    • If they don't, why aren't they partnering up with other providers like 2talk?
    • Do you need to provide your own SIP gateway or do they provide it?
  • How do you make comparisons?
Phone services aren't easy to compare. What do you get for your money? Is national calling included? And what's with the limits on that? i.e. 1 hour / national call free.

The alternative is having 2 separate providers:
  • SIP
  • Internet
The problem with SIP providers though... they feel like a great big giant backwards. Each plan seems to have monthly limits on the areas you call (local minutes, national minutes etc.).

Soooo.... does anyone out there have any suggestions?