Nik's Technology Blog

Travels through programming, networks, and computers

How to get the BBC iPlayer on your Nintendo Wii

You can now get the BBC iPlayer on the Nintendo Wii games console!

Before you can start watching programmes broadcast on the BBC over the last 7 days you'll need to connect your Wii console to the Internet (see instructions below) and download the Opera web browser from the Wii Store (Which costs 500 Wii points or about 3.50 Pounds Sterling).

Before you can buy Wii points to purchase the Opera web browser you'll first need to register online at www.nintendo-europe.com and "link" your Wii console to the Nintendo account you just created online, Nintendo have a guide on how to link your Wii Shop Channel Account to your Club Nintendo Account.

Once you've linked your account to your Wii console you need to go to the Wii Shop accessed from the Wii Home Menu on the console and purchase (by using a credit or debit card to buy some Wii points) and download the "Internet Channel".

Once downloaded and installed you're ready to go!

From the Wii Home Menu select "Internet Channel" and navigate to www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer, you can then use your Wii remote to zoom, pan and scroll around the web and the iPlayer.

You can read more info about the BBC iPlayer on the Wii console at BBC Internet Blog.


To connect your Nintendo Wii console to the Internet with Wi-Fi follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Wii home menu
  2. Select "Wii options" on the bottom left
  3. Click on "Wii settings" on the right
  4. Click the right arrow
  5. Select Internet
  6. Click "Connection Settings"
  7. Select "Connection 1"
  8. Choose "Wireless Connection"
  9. Select "Search for Access Point"
  10. Click "Ok"
  11. You should be presented with a list of local wireless routers, select your wireless router from the list
  12. If your wireless router is secure, you'll be prompted to enter your Wi-Fi password
  13. Click to save your connection settings
  14. Click "Ok"
  15. The Wii will now test your connection and then prompt you to perform a system update, click "Yes"
  16. Return to the Wii menu when prompted

TradeDoubler Affiliate Trademark Keyword Bidding Reminder

Following on from Google's change of stance, allowing UK and Irish AdWords users to bid on trademarked keywords of other companies, TradeDoubler the affiliate marketing platform has sent its affiliates an email.
The email reminds TradeDoubler's affiliates that even though Google now allows its AdWord users to bid on trademarked keywords, it does not mean that any previous keyword bidding restrictions TradeDoubler's merchants had previously with their affiliates are now a free for all.

They warn that any affiliate activity that goes against a TradeDoubler merchant's terms and conditions will mean action will be taken such as removal from the programme or network and forfeit of commissions.

Use Browser Toolbar instead of Address Bar to Avoid Phishing Sites

I've just read a post over at Search Engine Journal about statistics from Hitwise UK suggesting British users are increasingly using browser toolbars to search for domains they know already like tesco.com rather than typing them directly into their browser address bar.

I use this technique a lot because I frequently misspell a domain name or get the wrong domain extension for a website. When this happens more-often-than-not you get a holding page, cyber-squatter site, or worst still a site that attempts to mimic the intended destination in order to "phish" log-in details.
When you use a search toolbar to navigate to a domain the top search result is most likely going to to be the real domain.

Time to start testing your websites in Safari on Windows?

Apple recently added their Safari web browser to the Apple Software Update and pre-checked the box by default. This effectively means that a lot of Windows users will now, possibly without knowing it, have installed Safari.
I'm not going to discuss the ethics of this practice here, instead read John's Blog - CEO of Mozilla.

But what it means for the humble web designer or developer is that we should really be installing Safari on our Windows machines and adding it to the list of browsers we test our sites against as the number of users is bound to increase as a consequence.

Apple pushed Safari web browser through their Apple Updates service

Competition in the browser business is good and over the last few years Firefox has begun to gain ground on Microsoft's Internet Explorer domination. It has also forced the browsers to become more standards compliant, thereby helping web developers and designers design cross-browser, cross-platform web pages.

According to Apple, Safari is a standards compliant browser built on the open source WebKit project, so hopefully if your pages have been built to W3C standards they will require minimal checking, but it is always wise to test. Apple have a range of web developer resources for the Safari browser, including the Safari CSS support, Safari developer FAQ, and a general web development best practices guide.

Product Review: Train Signal's IIS Web Servers CBT Video Training

As an ASP.NET web developer, I think it's important to understand and know how to configure Microsoft's web server, Internet Information Services (IIS). Depending on the organisation you work for you may or may not get the opportunity to tinker with IIS, but this shouldn't stop you from learning the basics.

You could go out and buy a book on configuring IIS and then install IIS on your computer to practise what you've read, but thanks to the guys at Trainsignal.com who have kindly sent me some of their training videos, I've discovered a much easier way of learning.

Train Signal CD-ROM

Train Signal provides video training courses for Microsoft, Cisco and CompTIA certifications, including CCNA, A+, Network+.
I'll also be reviewing the Cisco CCNA training videos here soon.

Train Signal's IIS Web Server video training covers both IIS 5 and IIS6, and features topics including installing IIS, creating test websites, hosting more than one website using host headers, adding security, setting up an FTP server, and web server optimisation.

Train Signal CD-ROM menu

The course is taught by Scott Skinger, President and founder of Train Signal. Scott has many years of experience in the IT field, holds various IT certifications and is a competent instructor. The videos are easy to follow and Scott's narration is second to none.

Train Signal lab book sample

The series of videos are backed up with a written guide in the form of the lab book, which comes as a printable PDF on the CD ROM, this goes through the same steps featured in the videos and includes network diagrams like the one above to help you set-up your own lab.

Train Signal video player

If you want to get up to speed on a particular Microsoft product, obtain an IT certification or you don't like reading IT text books then I definitely recommend you give these training videos a try.

Course Contents in full:

Introduction
Lab Setup
Setting up the lab
Computer 1
Computer 2
Computer 3
Lab
Scenario
Installing IIS on Windows 2000 Server
Creating an HTML file
Hosting Ben & Brady's site
Configure DNS so Internet users can find your website
Testing the website from the client
Lab
Scenario
Creating a test website using an HTML file
Creating an additional website on the web server
Creating host headers
Configuring DNS for the second website
Test and view website from client
Assigning site operators
Adding security to a website
Test and view the website from a client
Lab
Scenario
Downloading and installing service packs and hot fixes
Setting NTFS permissions
Disabling Netbios over TCP/IP
Download and run The IIS lockdown tool from Microsoft
Enable and view logging

Wingdings and Webdings Character Reference

Here's a useful reference to Wingdings and Webdings character sets. I find these characters are sometimes useful in design, especially using a tool such as Adobe Fireworks.

Use them as starting points for creating icons. The trick is to use the "Convert to paths" option in the "Text" menu of Fireworks, this converts the font character to a vector image which you can tweak to you're hearts content.

Use this chart as a quick reference to get the image you're after.

Webding and Wingdings caharacters

Blogger.com has changed their feed syndication

It seems that Blogger has changed the type of syndication feed they use during the last month (Jan – Feb 2008), I discovered this when my Atom feed XSLT transformation broke when I published my last post.
I originally wrote XSLT to transform the previous feed type for my homepage blog updates, which assumed the following heirachy with the Atom 0.3 namespace:

<feed>...<entry>...</entry></feed>

Whereas the latest feed has changed to use both Atom and openSearch namespaces and the following structure:

<rss>...<channel>...<item>...</item></channel></rss>

The root node seems to suggest it is the RSS 2.0 standard, using the Atom namespace, which is peculiar, notice the openSearch namespace too...

<rss xmlns:atom='http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom' xmlns:openSearch='http://a9.com/-/spec/opensearchrss/1.0/' version='2.0'>

Here's my updated XSLT to convert the new Blogger.com format.



<?xml version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>
<xsl:stylesheet version="1.0"
xmlns:atom="http://www.w3.org/2005/Atom"
xmlns:xsl="http://www.w3.org/1999/XSL/Transform"
xmlns:openSearch="http://a9.com/-/spec/opensearchrss/1.0/">

<xsl:output method="xml" indent="yes" omit-xml-declaration="yes"/>
<xsl:template match="channel">
<div id="FeedSnippets">
<xsl:apply-templates select="item" />
</div>
</xsl:template>


<xsl:template match="item" name="item">
<xsl:if test="position()<6">
<h4>
<xsl:value-of select="title"/>
</h4>
<p>
<xsl:choose>
<xsl:when test="string-length(substring-before(atom:summary,'. ')) > 0">
<xsl:value-of select="substring-before(atom:summary,'. ')" />...<br />
</xsl:when>
<xsl:when test="string-length(substring-before(atom:summary,'.')) > 0">
<xsl:value-of select="substring-before(atom:summary,'.')" />...<br />
</xsl:when>
<xsl:otherwise>
<xsl:value-of select="substring(atom:summary,0,200)" />...<br />
</xsl:otherwise>
</xsl:choose>
<strong>Read full post: </strong>
<a href="{link}">
<xsl:value-of select="title"/>
</a>
</p>
<hr />
</xsl:if>
</xsl:template>
</xsl:stylesheet>

Product Review: uCertify PrepKit Exam Simulator

I was kindly sent a uCertify PrepKit for review back in December last year for the Microsoft C# .NET 2.0 Web-based Client Development exam (70-528). I'm looking to take the Microsoft MCTS .NET Framework 2.0 Web Applications certification this year, and needed an exam simulator and part of my study.

uCertify start-up logo

I've been so busy lately its been difficult to find the time to sit down and put the exam simulator through its paces. Anyhow I've spent a good few hours testing my .NET knowledge with this PrepKit to allow me to confidently evaluate it.

The PrepKit features a bunch of questions that closely follow the style of questions featured in the Microsoft exam, obviously the PrepKit does not contain real exam questions, but uCertify claim they are "realistic", and they are supposed to get you used to the kind of questions you should expect to see when you come to take the real exam.

uCertify PrepKit main menu

The tests in the PrepKit contain between 15 and 40 questions each and you’re given 120 minutes to complete each one, but I found that choosing a shorter time and reducing the amount of questions I needed to answer allowed me to spend more time using the PrepKit, because I don’t often have 2 hours of uninterrupted revision time.

There are two different modes to choose from before starting a test. Learn mode and Test mode, Learn mode allows you to get feedback on the current answer immediately whereas in Test mode you can only review the answers at the end of the practice test.

uCertify PrepKit test question page

When you complete a test you can review the questions and go back and look at any questions you may have answered incorrectly. You can also choose to re-take just the questions you got wrong. When you re-take the test the multiple choice answers change order to keep you on your toes!
During a test you can pause the timer to take a call, make a coffee etc, tag, print, review and bookmark questions.

uCertify PrepKit test history page

Every test you take with the PrepKit gets recorded in the Test History section, from here you can go back and review all the practice tests you've taken, review all the questions you got wrong, re-do the whole tests or re-do only the questions you got wrong.

Custom tests can also be created to turn your weaknesses, based on your test history or certain topics into your strengths.

Besides the practice tests the PrepKit contains study notes, quizzes and tips and flash cards to help assist you in understanding the topic.

USB U3 Smart Drives: Drives That Make Your Applications & Data Portable

USB flash drives have increased in capacity in leaps and bounds since I last purchased one. In the few years since I bought a Crucial 128MB Gizmo!, the price of flash memory has been literally free-falling, due partly to economies of scale and the mass adoption of flash-based mp3 players.
The size and sheer variety of these devices is astounding, but what I wasn't expecting when I inserted the drive was for a Launchpad application to start running, pre-loaded with special software!

SanDisk u3 Smart Drive - Cruzer Micro 4GB

I had in fact purchased a 4GB SanDisk U3 Smart Drive. U3 is a technology developed by SanDisk which effectively creates a platform for developers to build applications that install directly onto the flash drive rather than the host computer. This means that not only can you take your data with you, but you can take your applications too!

U3 Smart Drive Launchpad

When you insert your U3 Smart Drive into a USB slot on any computer, the U3 Launchpad is loaded, which is effectively like the Window's start menu, but instead contains menus to configure the drive, run installed applications and access your data. Nothing is installed on the host PC, so you can take your applications and data with you and its all secure and synced with your data on your PC back home.

The software that's available includes Skype, Firefox, Opera, various password safes, Thunderbird, OpenOffice... The list goes on. Some applications are free, while others cost a small amount of money, but most have downloadable trials. Here's a full list of U3 software.

Watch the video below for a quick guide to the U3 Smart Drive technology.

Certification Revision: A Technique

I get a lot of people email me asking me how to revise, or produce cram sheets for certification exams they are going to sit, they refer to my CCNA exam cram notes.
There are of course many ways to revise and learn the nuggets of knowledge needed to pass exams, but this post is about the technique I use.

Know the Exam Syllabus

If you are just intending to pass the exam and not learn the subject fully, make sure you only learn topics which are covered by the exam.
Most certifications have exam topics or syllabi on the web. These topics will form the basis for your revision. As an example, here are the topics covered by the Cisco CCNA exam.

Personalise Your Revision

Glance through the course/exam topics and highlight the areas you think you'll need to concentrate on more. These will be topics you know nothing about or not confident in.

Get a Good Certification Book

Buy and good book on the certification making sure you read reviews left by other readers to make sure the book is good, and covers the topic in the way that suits your learning style.

Peoples' minds work in different ways; you may be a very visual person, who likes lots of diagrams and examples so you can "see" the topic, or you may be very auditory and just prefer text heavy books, the other type is kinesthetic, these types of people learn by doing. You can discover what kind of thinking style suits you by reading more about learning styles.

Summarise Your Revision Notes

Set aside a letter-size piece of paper and write each main topic/chapter (from the syllabus of your chosen certification) at the top of each page. You should now work your way through the exam topics, reading, practicing and learning as you go along. When you come across a formula, important piece of information, table of data or picture, if you think it will be useful for your revision then add it to the appropriate revision sheet. Once you've covered all the topics you'll have a sheet of revision notes per topic.
The important thing here is that you try and stick to 1 page per topic. That way you'll find the condense part much easier.

The easier option is to purchase a good CCNA cheatsheet.

Get a Good Exam Simulator

There are a lot of exam simulators on the market, so it may be worth your while investing in one of these to help test your knowledge as you go along. It will also boost your confidence and point out areas where you need to concentrate your efforts.  Check out internetworktraining.com for free CCNA practice tests and CCNA flash cards.

Review Your Revision Notes & Learn

If you don't review your revision notes then what was the point of making them in the first place? Just reading a book from cover-to-cover will not enable you to pass an exam, unless you already know the topic very well.
Learn the notes you've made ready in preparation for the next phase.

If you want to retain the information beyond the exam, then forget about cramming for the exam the night before. The best method is to spread out your revision into small revision periods of up to 40 minutes, with breaks in between. Go back to topics frequently to allow them to sink into your long term memory.

Condense Your Notes

The condense phase will aim to condense your revision notes from 1 page per topic to 1 page in total!
You should aim to create your exam cram sheet about a week or so before the exam, since it will contain only the last pieces of info you're having trouble remembering. It will also contain little sketches, diagrams and mnemonics to jog your memory.
The reason why you should only aim to have one page, is so that you can quickly glance at it before the exam and not overwhelm yourself with info. You want your mind to be fresh and reading 20 pages of revision notes prior to an exam isn't easy or recommended.

For ready-made revision notes have a look at Internetwork Training CCNA cheatsheet.

Revision Motivation

I find a good way to motivate yourself to revise, is to book the exam. This then sets you a deadline to work to and enables you to focus on your objectives.

Good Luck!