Hedders' Ramblings

Gaming, home tech, politics, music, whatever really

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Chatty chatty, Roku

I have a Roku streaming stick at home. It’s a convenient way of hooking Netflix, Amazon Video and NowTV up to the telly in the living room without having a mass of boxes, cables and so on.

As a streaming device, it’s great and works really well. But, as is so often the case these days, it turns out there may well be a sting in the tail.

See, I recently decided to set up pi-hole on my home network. It’s a great tool, and super-helpful in the never-ending battle to keep Internet nasties, creepies and snoops away from my kids. And it revealed something that I didn’t know.

The Roku phones home. Like, a lot. A host called “cooper.logs.roku.com” shot straight to the top of the most queried domains in the pi-hole. Seems the Roku tries to hit it twice per minute, every minute. It seems that it is, by a country mile, the chattiest thing on my home network. Which, when I tell you that we have multiple Amazon Echos, IP telephony and every games console under the sun, you will appreciate takes some doing.

I get that the device would need to phone home periodically to check for software updates and stuff. That’s pretty normal; sensible, actually. But, every 30 seconds? What on earth is it doing?

I got curious. So, I went and had a look at Roku’s privacy notice.

Reading between the lines, it looks to me like the Roku stick is basically sending all of our viewing habits back to HQ. The privacy notice doesn’t say why, or on what legal basis. It looks like it might also have mapped my home network and sent all of that info back to Roku too (although some Wireshark sniffing didn’t capture anything interesting other than SSDP traffic, which you would expect from a home media device).

Either way, it’s sufficiently concerning that I’ve submitted a subject access request (which, despite being a tech lawyer, I’ve actually never done on my own account before). Assuming Roku honours it, hopefully it will tell me what they’re up to.

On Boris Johnson

I was going to write a great long screed about how Godawful this man is and how dreadful it is that a handful of complacent parochial Boden-clad shitsacks from Tunbridge Wells, who can’t describe someone as “black” without whispering the word and who secretly think we should bring back hanging, are going to make him our Prime Minister and there is absolutely nothing that I or anyone else can do to stop it.

But really, it boils down to this: Boris Johnson is basically a slightly more rubbish version of Donald Trump. If that doesn’t make your blood run cold, then I don’t know what will.

Although, he does have slightly better hair.

UPDATE: Please don’t make this ludicrous mendacious vacuous tit Prime Minister. Please:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-politics-48766451/boris-johnson-i-make-models-of-buses

E3

I stopped caring about E3 years ago. I think that might have changed. Cyberpunk 2077. A remake of Panzer Dragoon. VTM: Bloodlines 2. Elden Ring. Witcher 3 on Switch. PC Engine Mini.

Dribble…

Miyazaki and GRR Martin are indeed collaborating

Eurogamer story here:

https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2019-06-12-elden-ring-is-from-softwares-biggest-title-yet-in-terms-of-sheer-volume

Excuse me. I’ve just come.

Speccy!

A few weeks ago I bought an untested, loft-find ZX Spectrum+ from eBay. This is the first model of computer I owned, and I still remember the endless hours I devoted to fiddling with it and playing the simple games it could run. It taught me to code, too. It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Spectrum+ was my best friend when I was a kid.

Anyhow, the untested loft buy didn’t work. Quelle surprise. But Speccies are pretty easy to fix; even my limited knowledge and rudimentary soldering skills can deal with a machine this basic, surely?

Turns out that I was right. First problem was that the power supply was shot. A modern PSU with the right pinout, voltage etc cost me about eight quid. With that in place, the machine powered up just fine. But the keyboard didn’t work. OK, so I replaced the membrane. Still no joy. After a certain amount of swearing it turned out I had neglected to reconnect both of the ribbon cables properly. Hook those back up … and everything works except the sodding Enter key. Which is a bit crucial, really.

So, after taking the keyboard apart again, I found that the rubber mat which presses down onto the membrane had lost rigidity under the Enter key and wasn’t quite making proper contact. A couple of small stickers to shim out the difference and … we have a working Speccy!

A bit of a scrub later, and I reckon it’s come up lovely.

Yes, I know. It’s no Amiga, or ST, or even C64. And yes, I do own examples of all of those machines. But the humble Speccy was my first love, and it’s wonderful to own a working one again. No, you have something in your eye.

Child Psychology

Fabulous, informal acoustic version of one of my all time favourite bands, the mighty Black Box Recorder, playing what might be their signature song.

Tell me this isn’t awesome. Go on. Come at me.

Tricked out Atari

Here’s my now fully tricked out Atari ST:

It’s a 520STE upgraded with 4MB RAM and TOS 1.62. It has an HXC floppy emulator (for loading disk images from a USB thumb drive), an adaptor to allow for a modern-ish USB mouse rather than those horrible bricks from back in the day, and best of all an UltraSatan, courtesy of the magnificent Lotharek.

I do own rarer or more collectible retro machines, but the ST is a bit special. I’ve deliberately kept it very close to how the the original machine would have been in the 90s, just adding a few useful modern conveniences here and there rather than going overboard on the upgrades.

When I was a kid with a Spectrum+, it was the Atari ST that I drooled over rather than the Amiga, for some reason. Don’t get me wrong, I like the Amiga very much. I own two of them. And yes, I know that the Amiga was technically superior to the ST. But there was something about those old Silica Shop adverts that made the ST seem like this whole other world of possibilities. And let’s be honest – it just looks way cooler than the Miggy. Look at the slant on those function keys; totally pointless, but so awesome.

You utter, utter fools

34% of the vote for a far right populist party with no policies beyond some half-arsed notion of sticking-it-to-Johnny-Foreigner-because-we’re-British-dammit, led by a sort of cartoon mashup of Roderick Spode and Alan B’stard. Seriously?

I am truly, truly disgusted by my countrymen.

When I say “my countrymen”, I am talking specifically about the English. I suspect there will now be an even stronger resurgence of the Scottish independence movement, and who can blame them? They’re handcuffed to a lunatic.

Meanwhile, those of us in England who have not entirely taken leave (and indeed Leave) of our senses can only look on in resigned horror as the swivel-eyed demagogues, talentless chancers and spivs of the far right revel in their victory before gleefully marching the country off into the cold, and the dark, and the unknown.

I love my country dearly, but right now I despair of it. Winter is coming, as they say.

You know you’re screwed when…

… a Daily Mash article reads like simple reality:

Oh dear God no

Ashens eats (some of) a 50 year old tinned ox tongue. This might be the worst thing I have ever seen.

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