Foxtel iQ3 – The worst piece of technology this year?

Foxtel IQ3 Website
Ladies and gentlemen, it appears that we have a definite contender (and likely winner) of the 2015 Shonky Awards! When you pay a premium for cable television, it is every Australian’s right that, they get premium hardware… or that at least works… or that works on occasion… at least I now know, this was a woeful fallacy I was under.

On IT News (http://www.itnews.com.au/CXOChallenge/404155,innovating-for-your-life.aspx#ixzz3aeJON2n7) an article which seemingly Ms Nell Payne (Group Director Technology and Operations at Foxtel) had input into states the following:

“The company faced a bit of a hiccup when the iQ3 first launched over performance issues, though the cacophony of complaints has now hushed.”

To IT News (which was likely paraphrasing discussions with Ms Payne) and to Ms Payne herself, I provide the following response… I have an “iQ3 Saga File” My summary file on the saga currently sits at the following (time to grab some popcorn):

The first block is things that I have personally raised or have encountered myself. Wherever possible I have provided a link to at least one relevant forum post for the major items. I also highly recommend the “Overall less than spectacular operations during release” section.

At the very bottom (“Posts that say it all”) I have gone through the last two pages only of one of the forums (user feedback only, I figured this was more than enough to illustrate my point).

Throughout the process I have been very active on the forums (some of the post linked below are my own or posts I have been involved in), I like to think I am an extremely level-headed individual and I work in I.T. and know what system design, development, and testing is like… I do it day-to-day. This is one such post that I believe is quite level headed http://community.foxtel.com.au/t5/Foxtel-iQ3/class-action-regarding-IQ3/m-p/56879# (first reply).

The only way I have succeeded in using my box is to use it primarily for watching TV live or download SD catchup (recordings have been too flaky). I have been lucky enough that after much complaining and a formal complaints process, Foxtel agreed to re-activate my old IQ-HD box for 6 months at no cost until the issues were ironed out (I feel it is only fair to now let the community know) they also agreed to refund the full cost of install and the IQ3 (not all has been applied to my account yet).

The questions I ask of Foxtel are:

  1. Why have we gone just shy of 60 days since release with no update? Bundling everything into one will only likely cause new bugs rather than logical, incremental fixes with time to test in between.
  2. Why has senior management not addressed the Foxtel community yet?
  3. What will be done to compensate those that have suffered had crippled iQ3 boxes for two months (and counting)?
  4. What is being done to review your user acceptance testing plans and procedures? As has become apparent, the testing that the iQ3 was put through has failed to reveal an embarrassing number of issues.
  5. What plans are being put in place (if any) to put in place a sufficient beta testing program including real life users to test real world scenarios of future updates (to better put them through their paces)?

So feel free to vent and/or add your comments below is there anything I have currently missed from the below?

Cheers,
Stuart

My current outstanding list of bugs include:

User Interface Issues:

In some ways it has been a step backwards as well:

Overall less than spectacular operations during release:

Posts that say it all:

TorGuard Review 2015 – My VPN of choice as an Australian

TorGuard Website
Choosing a VPN provider can be difficult, you want one that provides great customer service, security, reliability and most importantly, one with servers close to you as well as around the world. When my account with Astrill came up for renewal recently, I decided it was time to review the field again.

For a limited time, due to Australia’s new Data Retention laws I have managed to get Torguard to provide me a 20% off any Torguard plan coupon for my readers. You can use this by heading over to Torguard and using the following coupon “AnonymousVPN”.

I use a VPN for a variety of reasons, I find them extremely handy for security reasons, I now have two static IP services with TorGuard so that I can restrict certain things I log into by public IP address. This also means that I can connect to these from anywhere in the world. As many Australian’s will know, they can also be used for “Geo dodging” services that are restricted to certain countries. Being a lucky user of Foxtel I personally don’t have that issue but if that is your end goal you will be happy to know that TorGuard has servers all around the world you can connect to. Lastly, they are handy for getting around firewalls when you are in a restricted environment (and have a legitimate reason for needing to get out of the firewalled environment)

The starting point is to find providers that have a good reputation, if Anonymity is what you are looking for you will probably be familiar with TorrentFreak’s roundup of providers that don’t keep logs (2015 edition). I checked out:

  • Private Internet Access
  • TorGuard
  • IPVanish
  • NordVPN

I came up with the above list based on those that have servers within Australia and will also note that some of these I have used previously. After testing the speeds of each provider, TorGuard turned out to be the best VPN for me as a Sydneysider. I am not necessarily saying that the others weren’t good, but I lost very little overall speed on my connection when using TorGuard, which was one of my primary goals.

After testing and selecting TorGuard, it was refreshing to see most things included. Astrill offers upsell after upsell (even for example if you want to use more than a single device), the only thing I have had to pay for extra so far with TorGuard is my static IPs (which are not a necessity for most people). I have found the service to be exemplary, support tickets are answered promptly, the service is solid as a rock and I have stayed connected for days at a time (usually only losing a connection when my ADSL drops sync… still hanging on for this NBN we keep hearing about).

The OSX client that comes with TorGuard was easy to use, I opted to purchase a full Viscosity license to get the latest version and configure it myself, I am stoked with it as a VPN client, however you will be happy to know that the clients that TorGuard offers are simple, easy to use and sufficient for 99% of all users needs.

So if you are looking for an anonymous VPN service that has endpoints in Sydney, has anonymity as a priority, is affordable, reliable, doesn’t require long contracts and above all… JUST WORKS! I can happily say that TorGuard is well worth looking into.

As always, when I review a service that I love, I have put an affiliate link here in the post. If you would like to visit the service directly please visit http://torguard.net.

Pinentry and Pinentry-Curses on Mac OSX Backspace Issues

So this is going to be short and sweet… for those of you that are looking to use pinentry or pinentry-curses (at least in my case installed with Homebrew) that are having problems with the backspace character not working properly… this might just be up your alley.

Recently while using the LastPass CLI (for writing an integration with Alfred) on OSX Yosemite, I had an issue where pinentry-curses was registering the backspace character as a new character… not a backspace.

The fix was rather simple in the end… just execute the following in your terminal before the related command:

TERM=linux-vt

That seems to be enough for it to look correct (which if you just use linux the pinentry box looks very wrong as some characters are not recognised) and the backspace character now works correctly. It is a win win 😀

Hope that helps someone else!

Stuart