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Archive for December, 2008

BootIt NG problems with Lenovo/IBM Laptop

December 23, 2008 Leave a comment
I’ve been playing around with trying to use BootIt NG with external USB 2.0 drives on my IBM Lenovo T60p Thinkpad.

I had a lot of initial problems in trying to get the external drives recognised. After a lot of trial and error, it seems BING won’t work with these as external USB devices in BING. Instead, what you have to do is boot the machine with the drive connected and running, and let the BIOS pick it up as an external drive.

In other words, if you press the Blue Thinkpad button on boot and hit F12 – Select Boot Device – and you see the external drives in the list there, then it appears to mean the BIOS has recognised them natively, and then BING will also recognise them as ‘native’ rather than ‘USB 2.0’ drives.

If the drive isn’t recognised at this point, then the alternative is to let BING provide the USB drive support… and it doesn’t; mine hangs and reboots when it initialises the USB 2.0 drivers.

Also, my laptop seems to pick up the drives intermittently; sometimes they appear in the Boot list, sometimes not. I have three enclosures, all from eBay – 2 x USB 2.0 SATA for 2.5″ drives, and a USB 2.0 IDE for a 3.5″ drive. The former work (most of the time); the latter never does.

Also, I’ve tried building a Flash stick for booting BOOT IT NG; this behaves the same way as the USB drives. If the BIOS recognises it, then it’ll boot from it. I’ve been able to boot from the Flash stick, and then work with one of the USB drives with it.

I’m guessing this issue is probably due to a combination of the USB drive firmware, BING, and the Lenovo Laptop BIOS. Getting the three to work enough that I can rely on a particular combination for backup has been a pain.

Categories: Uncategorized

Using BBC IPlayer from Abroad

December 10, 2008 2 comments

OK, a bit of a long one, this:

I’m currently in South Africa, and hankering for some UK TV.

Now, BBC iPlayer, Channel 4’s 4OD, etc. all check your IP address and only grant you access if you’re in the UK. There are workarounds for this: you can use a Proxy Server, that directs all your web traffic through a UK-based server, so that you appear to be in the UK. Easiest to implement, but any decent proxy server will cost you a fair bit for the privilege of redirecting all your traffic.

You can also use the excellent OnSpeed, which is also based in the UK, and at £24.99/year, cheaper than the other BBC iPlayer busters. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work, such as where I am now (my hotel seems to block OnSpeed’s ports).
Or.. you can try Plan C, which is what I did.

I have my Home PC in the UK on all the time, sharing media, recording TV for me, etc. I also run an SSH server on it (Bitvise’s excellent WinSSHD) – which allows me to tunnel any traffic I want to privately to my home network. Also – using the Tunnelier SSH client, I can add new tunnels to this whenever I want, at my client end (ie. without touching the server).

So: a quick visit to ccProxy’s web site, where I downloaded a quick and simple demo version of ccProxy – free for light use. I then installed this remotely at my UK home server… giving me my very own private proxy server. I told it to listen on, say, port 8080, disabled anything other than HTTP, and also set it to accept external connections, in the Advanced Settings (otherwise it’ll block you).

I then created a new tunnel from port 8080 on my local laptop, to 8080 on the home server.

Finally – I configured IE’s proxy settings to tell it to use 127.0.0.1:8080 as a proxy.

So – fire it all off, and…. IE tries to direct my web traffic to my local port 8080. Tunnelier intercepts this, and fires it down the SSH tunnel to my home server, where the traffic emerges, and then finds my ccProxy server – which finally fires the request over to the BBC iPlayer site. iPlayer, happy to see this request from a UK address, then gives me access to the content.

Phew!

Now… I know what you’re thinking. This means the hundreds of Megabytes I watch or download also travels this tortuous path, and overwhelms my home broadband connection. Right?

Well, no.

If you watch the streaming media, then yes, it will do this. But if you choose to Download the episodes… then it uses their download manager, which is a Bittorrent client. It receives the details from the BBC site, but then contacts your local peers directly to download the actual video…

…at which point, you’re not talking to the BBC any more, so there’s no need to look like you’re in the UK. So: pause the download, kill the SSH and remote connection, and then restart the download. iPlayer downloader now continues downloading direct from the clients, who couldn’t care two hoots where you are. You can collect the rest of the program at your local broadband speeds.

Of course… if you find a free proxy that works just well enough to start the initial torrent, then you can do that too – no need for all this private proxy/SSH tunnelling faff. But – this was quick and simple, and I maintain complete control over the traffic and where I send it.

It’s working for BBC. 4OD also works fine like this, although it needs to open IE even just to view the downloads, so you’ll need to make sure IE is working OK.