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Archive for September, 2011

Apple TV2 Jailbroken

tmpC8D1Some time ago, I took my (then) Apple iPhone 3GS and jail-broke it. Why? Because I could and because I was sick of Orange trying to charge £10 a month for letting me share the 3G connection with my laptop.

That’s all history now, Orange have been kicked into touch in favour of the vastly superior THREE company and I now share unlimited 3G with my various devices.. When I moved up to the iPhone 4 I really could not see the point of jailbreaking the phone – but the Apple TV2 is different.  One of the biggest uses for Apple TV is to watch movies and guess what – you’re stuck with iTunes on your PC and Apple format movies.

Neither of the above is a problem for me – but converting movies to Apple format is not something your average person has much time for (couple of hours per video)… and so I took the plunge and had the thing jailbroken using the latest Sn0wbreeze (yup, that is spelled correctly).

The process is easy enough and takes a matter of half an hour including setup but the results are spectacular. Now I can watch movies and listen to music in a variety of formats. Not only that but I also have access to a NetGear ReadyNas Duo, an inexpensive and rather neat network backup device which just happens to be able to stream to the Apple TV – which means no more need to leave a computer on to access movies, pictures and music on the Apple TV. Between the low cost of Apple TV2 (sub-£100) and the Duo ~(sub-£100 excluding disks) – and the nature of the Duo which means with 2 disks you have redundancy (both store identical content – so if one disk goes down you continue on as normal) I now have a reliable solution for handling media at home without using a PC and without lengthy media conversion to suit Apple. It just so happens that software is available for both iPad and iPhone to handle this scenario also.

So is it worth jailbreaking the Apple TV2?  Most definitely – but if it turns your box into a stone – you are of course on your own – follow the Sn0wbreeze instructions carefully.

Dolly Parton Concert at the Metro Radio Arena

Dolly Parton ConcertLet me start by saying I have no interest in Dolly Parton – I’m a Rush/Yes/Pink Floyd kind of person myself, BUT she’s one of Maureen’s favourites to I agreed to go along, quite prepared to be bored silly all night.

I’m not about to go out and buy her records as I think she sounds like a chipmunk, but I do have to hand it to her – first grade professional show – and I was rather amazed at the range of instruments she can handle – and the range of music styles she’s written for. Before the show, as the hoards came rushing in, vendors were selling “Dolly” hats with LED lighting so lots of people were done up like Christmas trees which was quite good. The stage lighting throughout the show was superb (the only down-side being the ONLY two large video displays, which, for those of us at the back, were frankly rubbish. That and a small number of feral teenagers who felt the need to scream like baboons from time to time preventing others from hearing the lyrics, only slightly detracted from what was otherwise a first class show).

Dolly Parton ConcertWe left the Arena approaching 11pm, hungry as hell, on a Saturday night – no problem you might thing… I don’t go to Newcastle much these days having lived there for a decade and not being particularly impressed then – but it’s getting worse – thousands of people looking for food and what do the takeaways do at 11pm – CLOSE.  One by one as we were driving up through Westgate Road – they were closing down. What?  A decade ago when we lived there I remember having a kitchen drawer full of price lists with opening times as late as 12.30pm – today by 11.30pm the place is a ghost town – granted Westgate was never the highlight of Newcastle – but it’s gotten a lot worse by the look of it – and it looks distinctly like you’re somewhere other than Britain. We eventually found a Chinese open just off the A69 – the girl at the counter had the most rotten teeth you can imagine and the food was, well, crap! So much for rounding off a great show.

I guess it’ll be another decade before I bother to venture back to town on a Saturday night. Awful.

But back to the superb concert – check out the photos – sorry they’re not better – I didn’t think they’d be keen on large cameras so just too the iPhone – which can’t really do something like this justice. You can click to enlarge them but don’t expect miracles.

Dolly Parton ConcertDolly Parton ConcertDolly Parton Concert

Dolly Parton Concert

Incidental Pictures from Spain and France

Just a bunch of assorted images that didn’t make it into the Spanish Blog the first time around.  From our summer visit to Spain and France. These images will all expand if you click on them. Hover for descriptions – which also show in the expanded versions.


Motorway café in Spain

Selection in Carrefour in France

Estate agent in SEES in France

Passing view in France

Back in England... rain and traffic jams

A Storm Brewing…

Storm brewing in Galera

The image above is not doctored AT ALL – it is merely a panorama – several shots stitched together. This was taken early evening in Galera in Andalucía near the end of August this year – the weather was changing from the normal super hot summer to a brief storm. I don’t think I’ve ever seen colours like this in the sky before!

To put this in perspective here is a panorama from roughly the same spot, somewhat different angle the day before…both are taken from around 3,000ft above sea level.

Galera on a normal day

A Nice Corner of Britain – Sandbach

Yesterday, having returned from our trip to Spain, we needed somewhere for dinner while staying at Cranage Hall in Cheshire.

Purely by luck we decided to take a trip to Sandbach and I suggest anyone travelling take a look in.  We had dinner at the old Barn which has just recently become a restaurant – but the whole area really needs examining. Rather than rant on here- I’ll just show you some photos I took while wandering around late evening…

Feel free to click on the images to enlarge:

The church

Old Barn

Old Barn

The village - Sandbach

Church at Sandbach