XBMC, Transmission, Flexget, Youtube-DL.

With these pieces of software your torrents/TV shows and Youtube subscriptions automatically download to one easy to use interface(XBMC).

You can also use this interface to access streaming video services such as iPlayer and Radio services such as Radio 1 Extra.  Using the XBMC Remote app on your smart phone you can control your video streaming with the usual buttons (pause/play/skip etc.).

There are no Ads on your Youtube subscriptions and Ads can be skipped if they are embedded in the videos by the content uploader.

I’d recommend using a laptop instead of a Pi, the Pi just doesn’t have enough grunt for this type of setup.  Basically next time you have an old laptop lying around and you are thinking of a use for it, spend a few hours whacking linux and these tools on it and you wont look back.

Open source software is completely insecure and unsafe to use

Over the last few weeks I’ve heard a few people assert that open source is less secure than proprietary software. I try to arm my readers with as much intellectual firepower as possible and I wouldn’t be advocating open-source in Education unless it was fit for purpose.. So here you have it.. 3 Common misconceptions educators have about open-source debunked…

DEBUNKED – Everyone can see the code therefor it’s easier to exploit it.

All software has security holes. Open-source is more secure because people spot security holes early on and patch them. You can actually see what authentications are used and how badly/poorly they are written. Passwords in open source software have even more security because the methods used to access them are completely open so they are often encrypted/hashed which is more than can be said for Sony and some big Edu tech companies who’s name I won’t mention..

DEBUNKED – Anyone can add to the project therefor it’s easier to add exploits.

Projects have maintainers and many contributors, pull requests (requests to put code into the software) are publicly view-able and have to be merged by a maintainer IE a person of considerable experience/authority. Most pull requests on large projects are often checked by multiple people and tested using unit, integration and full stack tests PRIOR to merge into a final release. Open source projects also publish their patched exploits as security advisories, this gives sysadmins the ability to quickly respond to potential threats. Propriety software has no incentive to accept they had a security hole so tend to quietly patch security fixes in major updates.

DEBUNKED – Surely by default a house with an open door is less secure than a house with a door?

Open source projects have doors and windows just like any propriety software but the doors and locks are specifically designed to be secure by default. Open source projects tend to encourage active security testing and try to engage with the security community to co-operate on security vulnerabilities instead of shutting them out. This means the open source community is not as frequently targeted with malicious hacks, most of the successful hacks are reported to the site admin by the hacker themselves.

If you believed any of these misconceptions ask yourself why and who has lied to you?

C’mon people, OAuth is open source and we all use that every single day (Google, Twitter, Facebook etc.). The common miss-conception that open-source is less secure than proprietry software is just bonkers, we know better and it’s our job to spread the message!

Is it illegally anticompetitive for Google to give schools Google Apps for free?

Today a French court ruled that Google has broken the law by providing the Google Maps API for free. While this may seem like an extreme ruling it is based on the fact that Google used to offer the service for free then began charging once all of their competition had been beaten into submission. I wonder if Google are trying to do the same with schools and Google Apps?

Microsoft and Google have been caught out doing predatory pricing on quite a few occasions in the past. Essentially predatory pricing is where you provide a service for free then after a period of time (Usually once all of your competitors have been destroyed) you start charging for this service. Companies accomplish this “scam” by providing propriety software, propriety software is basically software that can only be provided by one company. I am constantly warning the schools of the risks of investing in propriety standards and I’m sure that nearly all of my readers are tired of me beating on this drum… In this case I think the court actually got it wrong.

Google Docs doesn’t thwart our ability to develop PrimaryPad, PrimaryBlogger or SchoolEmail further, it’s obviously that Google Docs does affect our bottom line but we develop PrimaryPad because we believe in our products and in we know that our contributions towards Etherpad and an open standard for collaborative writing on the web will ultimately be the winner of the war. Remember folks.. Good customer service and open standards always win.

Being part of an open source project isn’t just for geeks.

Since 2009 I have been working on an open source project, the project is called Etherpad and it’s goal is to provide an open collaborative document editing platform. When I first “joined up” I thought I could just help by fixing bugs and writing guides about how to deploy the software but this role quickly evolved.

I found myself taking on various roles and I thought I should share how diverse open-source projects are and the skills required in the hope to encourage more people to get involved even if your background isn’t in programming or software development.

Community and awareness

Maintain the project website
Organize community events
Watch out for etherpad mentions on social networks and via web based alerts(Such as Google alerts)
Promote community awareness via social networks, video sharing websites.
Engage with new developers to encourage them to join the cause
Provide accomodation for community events
Create explanitory and tutorial videos
Establish relationships with competing projects
Ensure the project can recieve donations


Provide anonymous usage statistics about software usage
Provide a framework for development focused discussions
Decide on the project goals and mission statement
Develop the project, programming and graphics design
Review code submissions
Test new code


Ensure legal compliance
Organize conservancy membership

Could an Android update be the reason you replace your next TV?

Ever owned an android phone that has been late to receive an Android update crippling some functionality? It is pretty frustrating. Your TV may have same issue. In the future when a new great game is released and the only way you will be able to play it is by getting an entire new TV. Google apologize because an update for your TV is not available due to Android hardware restrictions. Sony point at Google. Sony win because you buy another TV.

Sony’s new TV potential poses this exact problem, it runs Google Android and it is speculated that it has the same processor as the Motorola Droid. I’m a big fan of Smart TV as a whole, I just hope that Google / Sony were smart enough to allow modular upgrades of the Android device.

It would be awesome if the big TV players could develop an open standard so other operating systems, not just Android could leverage the warm glowing screen in our living rooms. It will also be interesting to see if any camera functionality is build in for video conferencing and for Kinect like control.

Sony you are in charge here, make it open and the community will do the rest. Note: Please no comments about Android being O/S. I know it is, but that doesn’t mean there is choice if the TV platform is closed.