Monday, April 20, 2015

British Gas Hive Home App For Windows Phone?

Hive Home rules out a Windows Phone app on its official FAQ page.
I really like Hive Home, the wireless-come-remote-access central heating/hot water system from British Gas. It's a great example of the "Internet of Things" in action. However, isn't it about time that the tech gurus at Hive Home developed and distributed a Hive Home Windows Phone app?

At the moment the FAQs page on the Hive Home says the service has no plans to develop a Windows Phone app. Ok, I accept that the Windows Phone platform isn't anything like as big or as popular as Apple iOS or Google Play for Android devices. But Windows Phone is growing in popularity. According to ZDNet, Windows Phone in the UK overtook BlackBerry in August 2014 notching up 3.5 million users.

Porting the existing smartphone app to the Windows Phone platform isn't really a major or particularly expensive job so its seems a little lazy to deny Hive Home customers with Windows Phone an app of their own. Come on lads, get your fingers out.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Why XBMC Kodi Video Add-Ons Can't Replace My Cable Package

The main menu screen on XBMC Kodi 14.2.
I've been messing around with the video add-on services for XBMC Kodi lately with the vague thought of cutting the cable on my very expensive pay-TV subscription and switching to an IPTV box instead.

The free and open source Kodi media player certainly has lots going for it, including a front-end for watching live TV and an integrated PVR, but most people go for Kodi not to stream their own digital music and video files across a local network but to access the wide range of video add-ons available.

The video add-ons for Kodi promise much, including free access to the latest movies, sports channels and premium subscription-only channels, including adult XXX content.

To a novice user, locating and installing the necessary Kodi video add-ons to open up this world of entertainment might not seem easy. Typically you will need to find and install a repository and then load the video add-ons of your choice, such as Navi-X, from the applicable repo. They aren't difficult to find online and you can install the ZIP file to Kodi from the programs menu screen.

Add live TV channels to Kodi.

At first the range of channels and video content available seems hugely impressive with live sports, movies and TV stations from around the world curated and presented by the various video add-on services. Whether you want to watch the live output from a U.S. cable station, stream the latest blockbuster movie or watch an English Premier League Saturday 3pm kick-off game, the video add-ons at first sight appear to offer all these options.

But here's the rub. Links to much of the premium content stop working after a very short time and, because the channels offered by so many of the video add-on services overlap, remembering the good links that do work is a bit of a challenge (even with add-ons that offer the option to store favorites). If I used Kodi for much longer then I wouldn't be surprised to see "Stream Not Working" burned into my screen permanently.

Finding a working link to a live football game, for example, takes so much trial and error clicking between the channels on the various video add-on services that the game could be well into added time before you get to see anything on screen (if you can find a link at all).

The reason for this, of course, is that the content is all illegally streamed by "bedroom operators" and the major broadcasters and rights-holders understandably see to it that working links don't last for long. Their efforts seem to be paying off because there's absolutely no way I'd get rid of my nice, reliable (if expensive) premium cable television service for an alternative as unreliable as the video add-on services available over Kodi.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Fix: Apple iPhone Keeps Restarting With Vertical Lines on Screen

Is your Apple iPhone 4 or Apple iPhone 5 running iOS 7 or iOS 8 restarting every few minutes and displaying green, gray or pink vertical lines across the screen just before it powers off? This has happened to my iPhone a few times lately and, fortunately, there's a really simple fix that doesn't involve the hassle of a complete factory reset.

I first noticed a problem with my iPhone 5S restarting a few months back, but it happened only once so I didn't think any more about it. After the restart, the phone worked just fine so there didn't seem any reason to worry.

Last week, though, the iPhone started to restart more frequently and this got gradually worse with the iPhone eventually restarting every two to three minutes. Just before the iPhone powered off to restart, I noticed that vertical pink, green or gray lines appeared on the screen and then the screen gradually faded out to black before the Apple logo appeared.

So I tried everything reasonably possible to get the iPhone working correctly again, including a soft reset, hard reset, a factory reset and then a recovery mode/iTunes factory reset. Still the problem wouldn't go away. My worst fear was of some catastrophic hardware failure that would result in an expensive trip to the Genius Bar at my local Apple Store. Happily, though, there's a much easier solution that works perfectly.