How to fix DRM playback issues on Linux

We have been having issues playing back new content on TVNZ On Demand due to their accepting a new DRM protected video format for their service.

This has only happened in the last few weeks and confirmed by their techs. From the text of their email to us when we notified them of the error, they do not have a fix and only suggested a starting point for some potential solutions.

It appears that it is the HAL module that is the sticking point.

Following the Adobe link provided, correctly mentions that the HAL module is the missing piece, but the instructions to install it do not work. It appears that the HAL module is no longer available. A “HAL-INFO” package was available, but this did not solve the problem.

After trying all of the solutions proposed by Adobe, I tried a few additional options, such as installing the Flash plugin provided as an installable package from within Mint (this did not work either)

I did some more research on the net and found the following page

Specifically this to install a package including HAL

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mjblenner/ppa-hal
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install hal

The key thing here is that there is a PPA in the repository that contains HAL. Since trying to install HAL by itself fails, this packaged version includes the HAL libraries.

Interestingly, there was a mention in the output of the installer about “Keeping HAL alive” so it does seemt o be in response to the demise of HAL as an installable piece in it’s own right

With all of my trial and error, I have not gone to a clean system and installed just the above PPA to test it outright. However, I am pretty confident that this PPA will resolve the issue.


The Psychology of Headline Writing


Headlines You Won’t Believe Till You Read Them. And Then You Will Cry

I made a comment on Facebook yesterday describing my disbelief about the current format of headline writing

Am I weird (don’t answer that yet) in that I find the current trend of internet headlines eg: “You won’t believe what happened….This will make you cry etc yada yada yada” completely counter productive.

My first thought is manipulation and spammy. In fact making a headline I am LESS likely to click on, not more as they would hope???

Am I alone in ignoring these manipulative headlines?

So I wondered about what supports these ideas.

Headline writing is marketing and marketing is psychology.

Upworthy is one of the stars of the headline writing business and it isn’t a fluke that they have become so successful. They spend plenty of time and effort testing and measuring their headlines and content for the best results. (See this post from KISSmetrics) Right now, it seems that this current style of headline works the best.

I am certain that over time, people will become less interested and more immune to this style of writing and sites like Buzzfeed and Upworthy will need to change also.

This blog post over at The Moz Blog : 5 Data Insights into the Headlines Readers Click has some great research and information such as

  • Explosion in content competing for readers’ attention: A Day in the Internet  shows that 2 million blog posts, 294 billion emails, and 864 thousand hours of video are created daily. Each day also brings 400 million tweets .
  • 80% of readers never make it past the headline: According to some sources, on average, eight out of 10 people will read headline copy , but only two out of 10 will read the rest.
  • Traffic can vary by as much as 500% based on the headline: According to Koechley, tests show that traffic to content at Upworthy can vary by as much as 500%  simply because of the headline. “The headline is our one chance to reach people who have a million other things that they’re thinking about, and who didn’t wake up in the morning wanting to care about feminism or climate change, or the policy details of the election,” he said.

Each of these bits of information show why so many article sites, some directly copying the style of writing (and headlines) of Upworthy and co, are being launched. Attach some ads to these articles and if you can generate some virality around them, money can me made.

We see similar changes over time with other styles of advertising, whether it be on TV, Radio, Print or the Internet. These mediums and their advertisers need to compel those who see their ads to take action. Whether that is by using the emotions of shock, laughter, happiness and sadness or other methods such as visual/audio styles, questioning techniques and props/actors.

So for today, this style of headline is the way, but who knows what we will be presented with in a year or two. Whatever it is, you can be certain that is has been well researched and measured to make sure they get the best bang for their buck.


April SEO Workshop

SEO Workshop 29th of April in Kerikeri

I am presenting a SEO workshop on the 29th of April at Woodlands in Kerikeri.

With plenty of things changing in the world of Search Engines, it is a great time to get up to speed with the do’s and don’ts of making your website as findable as possible.

Here are some of the things we will cover:

  • How to change the key items of content on your website
  • What are good links and what the bad ones look like
  • How to identify those SEO scams that appear in your inbox
  • What is Adwords

If you can make changes to your website yourself, then you will find practical ways to work on your site. If you have someone to do it for you, then you will have the knowledge to ask for the right things to be done. 

There will be plenty of time for questions, lots of the things learnt in these sessions is from the discussions we have with attendees about their website.

The cost is $65 incl gst and includes morning tea.
Numbers are limited to 20 so grab your space.

The session will run from 9 am till noon.

To book your place, either email me at or call on 09 4016656.

I look forward to seeing you there.