When companies just don’t listen

I got a call from my mother-in-law yesterday morning while I was driving, she was telling me that a man at the door wanted to install the NBN and do something to her connection. She gets a lot of harassing phone calls and door knocks so I told her she should say no and we will sort it later, she said the man claimed if it wasn’t done now it would cost to do it later, this set off some alarms to me and I told her, just say no and he can leave a contact number or card for us to follow up later.

I called after a few minutes and all was ok but as expected he left no card or contact.

When I got home I checked with the NBN site about installations for her, officially it says;

We’re currently getting the nbn™ broadband access network up and running in your area.
There’s still work to do before we connect your premises.

So I sent some feedback on their contact us page, I wrote;

My mother-in-law was approached today by people claiming they needed to install new networking/internet services in her house so she called me to check. The person then did not leave a card (on request) but claimed that if she didnt do it now there would be a charge to do it later. I believe this is another scam opportunity and people will be fleeced by it.

They were nice enough to get back to me quite quickly;

Thank you for your enquiry to nbn. The reference number for your enquiry is xxxxxxxx.
First of all, we would like to say sorry about the experience that you and your mother-in-law encountered in relation to the incident of getting connected to nbn™ network.
Although our rollout map indicates the address xxx Xxxxxxx Street, Xxxxxxx VIC is in a Service Available area, your address is currently Service Unavailable. Service Unavailable means that the nbn™ network is available in your area however additional works are necessary to allow a service to be connected.
Please note that a standard installation of nbn™ equipment is currently free of charge. It is best to speak or ask from your preferred Retail Service Provider if they have any other fees involved.
Our rollout map can only provide an indicative view of serviceable addresses. We apologise for this inconvenience.
When your address becomes Service Available on the nbn™ network, nbn will contact you via mail correspondence. We suggest that you register with us via the rollout map and we will be in touch when you are able to connect to the nbn™ network.
If you require further information, please reply to this email directly or call us on 1800 OUR NBN (1800 687 626), quoting the above reference number and a consultant will be happy to assist you.

But this left me confused. I did not make an “enquiry to nbn”, It was not an issue of “getting connected to nbn™ network”, I really didn’t need to be confused by the fact that it is in a “service available area” but “currently service unavailable”.

Basically the person did not read or understand my email, so I replied;

This was not a request to get the NBN connected but an unsolicited attempt to get into my Mother-in-laws house under the guise of an NBN installation.
She called me to confirm her concerns at the time, that this was BS and not genuine.
A lot of people, particularly older people are not aware of what is occurring in the NBN roll-out. I submitted this report to let you know that your brand is being mis-used and exploited.
Please don’t apologise for the experience, do something about the lack of understanding the public has in regard to connections and services being delivered by your product and how that is being exploited in cases such as this.

And again with an even quicker reply;

Thank you for your enquiry to nbn. The reference number for your enquiry is xxxxxxx.
We do appreciate letting us know about the experience your mother-in-law had with someone mis-representing themselves as an nbn employee. We do take these instances seriously and we have an active media campaign in affect to educate the public what to expect with nbn. Unfortunately there are those out there that will take advantage of every new situation. 
If you require further information, please reply to this email or call us on 1800 OUR NBN (1800 687 626), quoting the above reference number and a consultant will be happy to assist you.

Yes, they take this very seriously and they have an active media campaign in affect. Again, not helping.

Later that day my wife talked to her mother and got some more info. Sure, there has been some workers around lately doing digging work in the area and she may have thrown out junk mail that talked about the NBN. Her English is not great and she gets a lot of door knocking sales and some really harassing phone calls so this appeared to be another in the long line of bogus sales tactics.

Why did the NBN not know what was happening when I reported it? Why did they not understand my concerns or care? Why did the guy at the door tell her it would cost later if she didn’t do it now? Does it cost people more if they are not home to answer the door? Does it cost more if they threw out the pamphlet? According to NBN it doesn’t but they have no idea what is going on in the street, they are four or five contractor-company-contractor-installer levels removed from the coal-face and their media campaign is not effective.

Thanks for sorting this out so effectively nbn



MythTV – My personal video recorder

I have been using a product called MythTV for over 10 years, it is basically software that allows you to view and record television. I originally set this up in a desktop PC as it uses decoder card to receive and decoded regular transmitted television, mostly free to air but also satellite and pay-tv too. Most of these interfaces at the time only came in full card form, more recently there are many that also work with USB, but at the time this was the reason for using a PC. Also, all this recording fills disk space so having a few drives is helpful and thus the space in a normal desktop case was handy.

Over time this machine has been rebuilt, sometimes because I had decoder cards fail and other times because of increasing hard drive options otherwise it has remained as a 64bit AMD processor , 2Gig of ram and with a nVidia Geforce 6200 video card. I liked this card because it was fanless and thus quiet. This card is only a DVI out but with an adaptor works quite well converted to HDMI however the audio does not go through this card, I have to run this separately from the motherboard.

I have stuck with it as it’s the best PVR solution I have found. Even what I have seen with pay based services and other alternatives nothing compares with the quality and flexibility Myth offers once it is setup properly.

Mythtv is a unix based program and for a while came as a bundle called Mythbuntu as a full install of Ubuntu and Mythtv. I used this a few times to setup my Myth system however even this does not make life simple, it’s a complicated program but when it works it does so very successfully.

Recently I had the chance to replace the hard drives with an SSD, this would further quiet the PC down and should work even better. Time for another rebuild. I found this time that Mythbuntu was no longer developed as a package and a bit difficult to download as it was so I had to go to separate Ubuntu and MythTV installations which is where my latest ‘fun’ began.

Since Mythbuntu, Ubuntu has developed through that version 10, past 14, beyond 16 and now 17 is the current, also Ubuntu comes in various flavors that provide different desktops and performance including the original Ubuntu Gnome, Lubuntu (light weight), Kubuntu and Xubuntu just to name a few. I tried all of these but constantly had a screen tearing issue, any rapid screen movement (even dragging windows around) caused horizontal splits in the video.

I solved this screen tearing with Xubuntu and implementing Compton. Compton is a screen composition program that works much better than that supplied by the OS itself. Now onto installing MythTV.

It should be that simple, sudo apt-get install mythtv goes through the motions and sets everything up ok, one would hope but not so quick.

As I said, MythTV is complicated. It operates in two parts, a back-end and a front-end. Both of these parts can run on one pc and work together but if you wish you can have a back-end (in a server room for example) and a front-end next to the tv. You can have multiple front-ends in different rooms if you like. I haven’t gone to that extent so I will keep this story to (mostly) one machine. Mythtv also uses a mysql database and as I said (above) television decoder cards.

It’s important that you have a decoder card compatible with Myth, many are listed here but I have also found (now) this is an issue when selecting your Ubuntu version. Version 16 or 17 has issues with some cards, the drivers don’t seem to be supported any more and are not so easy just to ‘install’ and I also found (with much frustration) that the myth software and the mythweb add-in interface do not want to work together and get the required rights and permissions necessary to work properly within the program and the database. I believe the security changes of mysql caused me lots of problems. Because this is a stand-alone machine I fixed most of these problems by going back to Xubuntu 14.04.

I have 2 cards to decode terrestrial free to air tv (you can get others for satellite or pay tv) and also one of these cards is a dual-tuner so I can record three separate programs at the same time. With digital TV, many channels work on the same frequency such as (here in Australia), Seven provides also 7-Two, 7-Mate and 7-Flix, these can actually all be recorded by one card simultaneously so three tuners are more than enough.

OK, so with Kubuntu 14.04 installed using a basic machine name/username and password, autologin to desktop, confirm your location and keyboard type  – trust me on this as you may have trouble later doing quotes and pipes later.

Install Compton, create its config file and get it running at boot time to fix the screen tearing issue. 

At this point I like to manually set the IP address. By default this will setup as DHCP from your router (a random IP on your network) so it’s best to edit this and set it to something permanent on the machine, change this to something memorable like <- this will soon become clear why.

sudo apt-get install mythtv does do all the hard work. It will get and setup most of the dependencies including mysql. A couple of basic questions along the way include if you have other front-ends (say YES).

Next I sudo apt-get install mythweb, this provides a great web based interface to Myth including an online tv guide and the option to record programs and watch recordings online. Questions, pass-worded access (your choice) but is this the only use of your web server, say no.

Now to set things up run the myth-backend setup program.

In the back-end and change the server IP4 from (localhost) to your manual ip of and also the ‘master backend’ ip to – leave all the ports as there default but for the security pin enter 0000 (4 x zeros)

Also for me at this point I ensure that your sound card is set properly. I have to tweak this to confirm it is outputting on my Digital connection and that sound is working. Try playing a video from a USB stick to test this fully.

Next, add your decoder card. This should be found automatically and leave the options as-is for now.

Add a source, this is where TV guide information will come from. Give it a name and (for most countries, we will cover Australia next) there are options for you here to select where in the world you are.

In Australia we have a problem, TV stations hold their guide data close to their chest so we use a program called Shepherd to fulfill what Myth cant do for itself. In the myth-backend add the source, call it shepherd and select ‘no grabber’ as the option.

Then you set the input connector, this links the added ‘decoder card’ to the ‘source’ and then finally, go to the channels editor and perform a ‘channel scan’. This is like tuning a digital tv for the first time and then ‘add all’ of the found channels.

Back in Australia we install Shepherd, there are many dependencies but generally the install works well asking a few questions about your location and channel options. The linked Shepherd guide will serve you well with this but be sure to run Shepherd as a normal user, no sudo here.

When exiting the myth-backend setup it will ask you if you wish to restart the backend (say yes) and then if you wish to ‘mythfilldatabase’, say no.

Now that you have a card installed, a source configured, that is linked with your card and the backend is running we will run mythfilldatabase manually. In a terminal enter mythfilldatabase (again as the normal user, no sudo) and watch what it returns. Any errors may be due to connections to the database or other problems from things not yet setup properly. You can break (ctrl-c) from this and make corrections if they occur.

In Australia this operation invokes Shepherd which will scrape data from various web sites to get guide data. It does this slowly on purpose and this process (especially the first time) may take 1-2 hours to complete, be patient. Once done though it will run every hour and generally update guide data daily.

If this went well then you can view Mythweb at (your ip) from any machine on your network or run the myth-frontend on your new myth pc. Mythtv allows watching live tv and also picture-in-picture to the max, I have had 4 pictures-in-picture shows running at once. Of course you can also record tv and watch it later.

The Mythtv frontend may need some settings checked. Setup general has many tweaks you should not need to go near but playback Video and Audio may need to be set to be sure you get the best performance and output quality possible. The other main option I go into here is the Appearance/Theme , select something more pleasing than the default but be aware this can take up resources and slow TV viewing down.

I use the mythweb to interact with a nice tv guide and also select any program I want to regularly record. I also have my router set so myhomedomain.secret:9090 is directed to so I can check and record anything from external locations too, but mainly I set programs I like to watch regularly to record anytime it’s on.

I have also tried running Kodi either on my Windows pc or on a Raspberry Pi and enabling a MythTV plugin. This allows this new device to connect to your MythTV-Backend (via IP number and the pin 0000) and use it to either watch live TV or recordings at another location in the house.

This is just a quick guide to getting started, the app, options, additional plugins, remotes and even smartphone apps you can get for it are endless so i hope the above helps and enjoy.