Tag Archives: block

Ustream Problem

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We took live calls again last night. I discovered that some of you are unable to view Ustream content – and your ISP may have some major splainin to do.

My assistant Kat knew I was about to take calls, and opened her browser to my live stream page. She wanted to follow along as she always does. However, when the page loaded, the Ustream box did not. There was nothing there at all. She shrugged and thought something was wrong with my page, so she went straight to the Ustream.tv home page. There, she was greeted with nothing more than a blank white page – and a very strange message.

Kat apologizes for the bad quality of the screenshot. She was rushing to get that, call the ISP and call me… and didn’t take the time to make sure it was high quality. She simply wanted to make sure she GOT it. The message on the screen stated: Page content cannot be displayed. Please contact your service provider.

Kat thought something odd was going on, and tried two other browsers… attempted to go through her OpenDNS account, AND tried viewing via the Adobe Air app built for my stream. Not a single method would work. Everything was blocked, giving her that same cryptic message. For those of you repeatedly asking… yes. She cleared her cache, restarted the modem herself with a hard reset, and all of the other minor things you have suggested. She’s a Microsoft MVP in Consumer Security y’all – she knows her way around computers.

She then put in a not-so-friendly call to her ISP – BrightHouse networks in Indianapolis. The tech there was extremely patronizing, according to Kat. The lady claimed they would never block anything… yet she said out loud that: “This is strange… I cannot access it here, either.” The rep called a manager over, neglecting to put Kat on hold… she could hear every word. There was something said along the lines of “Well open it up for now then.”

Shockingly, the issue was fixed moments later, via a modem reset! Isn’t that magic? Keep in mind that Kat had no issues viewing ANY other site. Her connection was fine. Her ability to view Ustream was NOT.

When she hung up with her ISP, Kat called in to my stream to tell me about this. As she’s talking, several people in our chat room started saying they’ve been having the same issues lately. Most of them were with BrightHouse also (in other parts of the country), but there were other ISPs involved, such as Time Warner.

Now, I cannot say for certain that BrightHouse (or any other ISP) was blocking Ustream. However, it sure does seem that way, does it not? This is completely and absolutely wrong. An ISP should not arbitrarily decide which content their customers can and cannot view. Yes, Ustream uses up a lot of bandwidth. Is that not why we have to pay such high prices for our services every month? If there is no limit to the amount allowed to use each month (Kat reports there is not), then why would sites such as this be blocked?

Have you run into this issue yourself, either with Ustream or another site? How have you (if you did) resolve it? Please leave us a follow-up comment here on the blog, or send me an email.

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LEGO Block Building Software

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When I was a kid, I would get into trouble all the time for trying to build with my LEGO blocks when I was supposed to be sleeping. To this day, I have a box of LEGO blocks, and I still build things with them. Well, you can also do some LEGO construction using your computer!

The official LEGO computer program is called Digital Design. There are currently 763 different LEGO bricks to choose from. Using these, you can design your own projects, then order the pieces you used if you wish to build it at home for real. You can choose from partially built models, or a blank slate to create the design of your dream. There is no obligation to actually order LEGO bricks, so let your imagination wander!

There are a couple of good open-source applications which are LEGO-like, but not endorsed by the company itself. The first one of these is called LDraw. LDraw is an open standard for LEGO CAD programs that allow the user to create virtual LEGO models and scenes. You can use it to document models you have physically built, create building instructions just like LEGO, render 3D photo realistic images of your virtual models and even make animations. The possibilities are endless. Unlike real LEGO bricks where you are limited by the number of parts and colors, in LDraw nothing is impossible.

Second, we have BlockCad for Windows. BlockCAD is a freeware program for building virtual models with Lego-like bricks. You can save your models, or save pictures of them (.bmp, .jpg), even reuse a complete model as a part in another model. Everything can be controlled with the mouse, but it’s also possible to use the keyboard for most of the commands, making ‘routine building’ more effective, and there is a minimum of text involved, to make it easier for kids.

Last but not least, there is the BrickSmith offering for OS X. Bricksmith allows you to create virtual instructions for your Lego creations on your Mac. The magic is based on the LDraw library, a collection of 3D models of Lego building blocks created by enthusiasts from around the world. With Bricksmith, you never have to worry about running out of parts!

So, do you still play with LEGO’s? What do you like to build? Have you used any of these programs… or will you try one out after reading this? Let me know!

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