Is Piracy Simply More Convenient? – NowTV DRM

For Christmas I purchased my Dad a NowTV HD box, this is essentially a Roku 2 media player which Sky have re branded to run their NowTV app. Now before I continue I will say I think NowTV is actually really good, with the NowTV HD box came a 6 month Sky Entertainment pass, which gets you access to 13 TV channels you can stream on up to 2x devices at the same time, and access to a huge Netflix style back catalog of content. My dad has really enjoyed watching many series on this, along with some of his favorite programs on Discovery and Sky Atlantic.

Anyway getting to the point of this blog, my Dad had told my mum their was a documentary about a band she likes on the NowTV box and wanted to know if she could get NowTV on the main TV in the living room. As this TV has a Chromecast connected to it I said if she installed the NowTV app on her Nexus 9 tablet she could simply Chromecast it to the TV like she can with the BBC iPlayer and other simlar apps.

After installing the NowTV app, signing in and trying to play an episode of a TV show to test it works she is told her Nexus 9 can’t be used for NowTV as it’s been modified. This was rather annoying, her tablet had been rooted when she first got it so I could restore a backup made of her apps / save games on the older tablet she had, it had however been un-rooted so it could then take over the air updates as normal. Despite this it appears Sky can some how detect the tablet was one rooted and essentially refuse to let the device be used for consuming NowTV content.

Next i tried my Mums Moto G mobile phone, which the NowTV app worked fine on. My mum could sign in and play content on the phone fine. However when trying to Chromecast to the TV she is told by the NowTV app she is unable to do so as the limit of 4x devices has been reached on the NowTV account.

It appears each Chromecast device on your home network is classed as a new device by NowTV. that seems a very unfair restriction to have considering the phone is the device been used to interface with NowTV, the Chromecast is essentially allowing the content to play on a TV instead of the small mobile phone screen. Content can’t be played on both devices at the same time

Now you might think why not just remove a device from your NowTV account to allow the Chromecast to function?

DRM is here to cause you problems too, you can only remove then add a maximum of one device per month. Because I had already removed the Nexus 9 (which NowTV refused to work on) then added the Moto G I was unable to remove another device to add the Chromecast until the following month… Great.

After all this messing about I am wondering why i didn’t just spend 60 seconds downloading the documentary my mum wanted to watch, instead of spending 45 minutes trying to do it the legal way and stream it from NowTV.

DRM only actually hurts consumers paying for content, everything on NowTV is available on torrent websites, or even with a simple Google search. Yet people who actually want to do the right thing and pay for content have to jump through so many hoops and restrictions to watch something legally.

You have to wonder why bother when piracy is simply more convenient?

MSI Wind U100 Netbook Windows 10 Install

MSI Wind U100 Windows 10

I recently found my MSI Wind U100 Netbook out and thought as Windows 10 is currently a free upgrade for Windows 7 and Windows 8 user i’d give it a try and see how well it runs on the MSI Wind, a 7 year old netbook.

MSI Wind U100 Background:

The MSI Wind U100 is a netbook (small laptop) that I purchased in 2008 which got me though my second and third years of University. Back then thin / small laptops such as the Macbook Air didn’t exist. However in mid 2008 “Netbooks” became the next big thing in the computing world. These were essentially small / light laptops with a 9 or 10″ screen powered by an Intel Atom Processor.

The Intel Atom was really power efficient at the time, which allowed netbooks such as the MSI Wind U100 to have a 6 hour battery life. Back then i remember thinking this was amazing, previous to that your average laptop was 15″, big, bulky and you would be lucky if you got more than three hours of battery life out of it. I remember taking my 15″ Acer Ferrari 4000 laptop to University a couple of times in my first year. I quickly concluded it wasn’t a viable option, although it would fit in my bag, my back and neck hurt from carrying it around all day as it was just too heavy.

MSI Wind U100 Specifications:

  • 10″ 1024×600 screen
  • Intel Atom N270 single core processor at 1.60 ghz
  • 2gb of DDR2 ram (upgraded from 1gb)
  • 160gb hard drive
  • 10/100 Ethernet
  • Wireless B/G/N
  • Bluetooth
  • 4 in 1 cardreader
  • Microphone
  • 1.3 megapixel webcam
  • 6 cell battery which gave about 6 hours usage
  • Weighs around 1.18kg
  • Came with Windows XP home edition

Even at the time the MSi Wind U100 wasn’t a powerhouse, however connectivity / portability and battery life was where the MSi Wind U100 excelled, that was exactly what i wanted. It could run Microsoft Office 2007 (later 2010) and browse the internet perfectly fine, all i needed to get through my University day.

In addition the MSI Wind U100 had great comparability with other operating systems. When i first got the MSI Wind I ended up with a quad boot setup consisting of Windows XP, OSX, Ubuntu and an early beta build of Windows 7. Early alpha versions of Google’s Chrome OS worked well from the SD card. Eventually when Windows 7 was released i got rid of my quad boot setup and simply stuck with Windows 7 as it worked even better than Windows XP which the laptop shipped with, something which surprised me. Windows Vista didn’t run well at all on the Intel Atom based processors.

This sort of leads me on to this blog post, I thought as Windows 10 currently available as a free upgrade i’d see if it was even possible to run Windows 10 on my MSI Wind U100 and how well it worked.

 

Installing Windows 10 on the MSI Wind U100:

As i had Windows 7 Ultimate installed on the MSI Wind at the moment i downloaded the EN-GB version of Windows 10 Pro from Microsoft’s Tech bench website.

As the MSI Wind doesnt have a DVD drive i simply extracted the contents of the ISO with WinRAR and started the upgrade process.

I was warned i would have to download an EN-US language pack after upgrading to Windows 10 if i wished to continue using the same language. This was fine though as I downloaded the EN-GB ISO on purpose given I live in the UK. Back with Windows 7 Microsoft never had a UK specific version of Windows (not that it really makes much difference apart from a few spelling differences)

I chose not to keep any files / settings when upgrading as my Windows 7 install was over 6 years old, so I wanted to start fresh:

6 Year Old Windows 7 Install

The Windows 10 installer did its thing, when i came back to the MSI Wind U100 about an hour later I was prompted to create a user count. It took a while to set things up after that and end up at the desktop, shortly after the drivers for the GPU were automatically installed. I than ran Windows Update and the most recent updates were downloaded.

After that the MSI Wind U100 was good to go, looking at device manager drivers had automatically been installed for all the hardware inside the MSI Wind. Wireless, Bluetooth, the card reader and even the built in webcam all worked fine:

MSI Wind U100 Windows 10 Drivers

Windows 10 seems to work well enough on a 1024×600 screen too:

MSI Wind U100 Windows 10 Desktop

How does Windows 10 perform on the MSI Wind U100:

I’d honestly say Windows 10 works as good as Windows 7 on the MSI Wind U100, it boots up in around 30 seconds and is ready to use. Microsoft Office is as usable as it ever was on Windows 7 and my day to day applications all work fine. Microsoft’s edge struggles a bit when loading webpages that contain flash adverts, however flash content was never that great on the MSI wind anyway!

I remember thinking when buying the MSI Wind U100 that the Intel Atom N270 only been a 32bit processor would limit the ability to upgrade to more modern operating systems in the future. However back in 2009 I was pleased to hear Windows 7 would still have a 32bit version, however fast forward 6 years later and the 32bit version of Windows 10 also works perfectly on the MSI Wind U100.

Not bad at all for a £280 Netbook i purchased 7 years ago, the MSI Wind U100 just seems to keep going.

I hope my experience of upgrading to Windows 10 on the MSI Wind U100 might be useful to someone else, I don’t think i’d personally pay to upgrade to Windows 10, however for free during the first year you might as well. For basic internet / office use the MSI Wind is still very much usable in 2015.

Colored Title Bar On Windows 10 – Remove The White

Update: The Windows 10 1511 Build 10586 released in November 2015 now nativity supports colored title bars. The title bar colours can be configured in Settings > Personalise > Colours.

The white title bar for active Windows on Windows 10 is a bit bland / lifeless and it can often make it quite hard to distinguish between and active window or an inactive window. Plus lets be honest a bit of colour never hurt anyone, especially if you are spending 8+ hours a day using a PC.

Below, the bland white title bars on Windows 10:

Windows 10 Title Bar Colour Change

So how do i get a colored title bar on Windows 10 and add some colour on my desktop?

Unzip then install UxStyle, this consists of a tiny system service and a kernel driver that are loaded into memory which patches Windows on the fly to allow unsigned themes to load, meaning no system files are modified.

Next you need to unzip and copy the Colored Title Bar Theme for Windows 10 to C:\Windows\Resources\Themes as shown below:

Windows 10 Title Bar Colour Change

 

Now you can simply load the Windows 10 “Settings” app, go to Personalisation > Themes then click on Theme settings.

You should now see you have three installed themes – Windows 10 Black, Windows 10 White and Windows 10, as shown below:

Windows 10 Title Bar Colour Change

If you want a Windows 10 black or white theme choose the appropriate one, however to have a colored theme you can control select the “Windows 10” theme with the colored icon as shown above.

You can now go to Settings > Personaliseation > Colours and turn off “Automatically pick an accent colour from my background”, you can then select an accent colour, which will also be the colour of your title bar:

Windows 10 Title Bar Colour Change

Of course if you want a random title bar colour you can let windows automatically choose one based on your current background, this can allow for colours you cant normally choose from.

You should then have a colored title bar, just like in Windows 8. Below you can see I have a nice light blue title bar, much nicer than the default white i’m sure you will agree!

Windows 10 Title Bar Colour Change