Instant Watching, I think not

NetFlix offers Instant Watching of movies directly from their website so I decided to give it a whirl. NetFlix doesn’t currently support FireFox so I was forced to use Internet Explorer 6. After I clicked Instant Watching, I was notified that my Windows Media Player was out of date. I downloaded the 25Mb update to Windows Media Player and Microsoft demanded that I validate my XP Pro license.

After letting Microsoft sneak a peek of my machine I installed the Windows Media Player update successfully. Of course, this update required a reboot and after trying unsuccessfully without the reboot I acquiesced. I opened Internet Explorer again and tried Instant Watching. This time I was notified that movie playback required a component of Windows Media Player to be upgraded. I tried installing the component and was greeted with “Internet Explorer has encountered a problem and needs to close.”

Now I remember why I enjoy using FireFox so much. I tried one last time to Instant Watch and received the following error:

Server Connection Error
Make sure your computer has a live connection to the Internet and that security software is not blocking the Netflix Movie Viewer’s access. If you have an active, unblocked connection, close all browser windows, then try to play a movie again.
For further information, see our Internet and Server Connection Error FAQ. If the problem persists, or you would like assistance, please contact Netflix technical support and report the following error code(s):

I wish I only wasted an instant. This whole fiasco was the result of Digital Rights Management (DRM) and the software to support it is not even half baked.

Time Changes

Daylight Saving Time Changes in 2007 for US and Canada
Updated 15 December 2006

Beginning in 2007, the United States and Canada are extending Daylight Saving Time (DST) by three weeks in the spring and one week in the fall. DST will begin the second Sunday in March and end the first Sunday in November. Previously, DST began the first Sunday in April and ended the last Sunday in October.

I wonder what impact this date change change will have on computer systems. Handling date / time changes isn’t as easy as one would think. On a brighter note, this will allow for a longer waterski season. Woo hoo!

Open Source Software

I have been using more open source software (Ubuntu, ruby on rails, rsync, etc.) lately. I am impressed at how open source just works! Many of the commercial closed source software applications that I use at work don’t come close to the same level of quality. These software applications don’t just work and require vast amounts of patience and persistence.

Linksys Products Are Junk

I had nothing but good experience with Linksys wired products. My Linksys BEFSR41 EtherFast Cable/DSL Router was a faithful and bulletproof device. Early this year I decided to install a wireless network powered by a Linksys WRT54G Wireless-G Router along with several Linksys wireless access points. My (version 4) Linksys WRT54G Router intermittingly dropped connections and a rather unstable network resulted. After six months of usage the power light started flashing continuously and it no longer functioned.

I contacted Linksys and followed their RMA process. I elected for the replacement to be shipped UPS Ground since this option was free. Linksys’ representative estimated that a replacement would ship in 1-3 days and take 7-10 days to arrive at my work address. I took a week off work and went to waterski school in North Carolina.

I never received any notice from Linksys that my replacement router had shipped, so I decided to contact them today. First I tried their technical support number and they verified my case number, RMA number, and all my normal profile information. However, they could not tell me if my replacement router had shipped yet since they didn’t have access to warehouse information. They supplied customer service’s phone number and I called them. Customer service verified my case number, RMA number, all my normal profile information. However, they could only tell me that they received my broken router and were unable to check the warehouse system to see if my replacement router had shipped yet. They supplied the RMA department’s phone number which was the same number that I had dialed to get them.

They then clarified that I needed to dial that phone number, hit 3, hit 3 again, and then hit 6. I followed their directions except I listened to the voice menus and discovered that I really needed to hit 3, hit 3 again, and then hit 4 to be connected to the RMA department. After a long wait they told me my router was delivered on July 5th, only 5 days after my original request. They provided the UPS tracking number confirming that it was delivered and signed for in the company mailroom. I checked with the mail room and their delivery manifest showed it delivered while I was on vacation. However, I never saw the package.

Linksys should have e-mailed me the tracking information so I could have made proper arrangements after it was delivered. I even wrote this request on the RMA printout included with the returned router. I guess I am out a Linksys router and the shipping costs. Anyone have any non-Linksys router recommendations? I see that NetGear routers are pretty popular.

It is also important to note that Linksys’ Online RMA Status Lookup Tool was able to find any information on my RMA:

We apologize for the inconvenience but we are currently experiencing technical difficulties for the following reasons:
1. The web site is currently experiencing connection problems.
Please contact the Customer Service Department at (949) 271-5461 for RMA Status between the hours of 6:00 AM and 5:00 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST).


Joshw gave me a heads up that my blog comments were broken. Thanks! I fixed the problem and you can now use the comments functionality without error.

Please let me know if you find any other problems, since I switched web hosting providers.

Web Hosting

I have always used *.phtml file extensions for my php web applications. Today, my web hosting provider decided to no longer grant Apache execute permissions for web files ending in phtml. Consequently, all my websites were down while I investigated and determined this was the issue. To correct this problem I renamed all my *.phtml files to *.php following the steps below.

1) Backup everything.
2) Find extent of problem:
find -name *.php
3) Change *.phtml files to become *.php files within the current directory
for f in *.phtml; do mv ./”$f” “${f%phtml}php”; done
*I didn’t trust my ability to do this globally.
4) Fix links in files
for arg in `find www/ -name “*.php”`; do perl -pi -e ‘s/phtml/php/g’ $arg; done;
for arg in `find www/ -name “*.php3″`; do perl -pi -e ‘s/phtml/php/g’ $arg; done;
*I have some legacy *.php3 files. I probably should clean this up.
5) Change *.phtml references in db to *.php
I think I only needed to update meta_page table
Please let me know if you notice anything that is still broken.

XBox Saga Continues

Fortunately one of my blog readers had an XBox also affected by the power cord recall and loaned me his replacement cord (since he wasn’t using it). The replacement power cord is a bit usual. Think a plug hog style with built in reset along with other buttons and lights. Only Microsoft could build a power cord that would need to be rebooted.

The replacement power cord didn’t fix my problem. I will open up my XBox tonight and see if I can figure out anything obvious.