Pitivi timeline end is in the wrong place. How to move the end of the timeline?

Once again the Internet has failed me. I was using the Pitivi non-linear video editor, and discovered my three minute video had the end of the timeline (where the video ends) at over ten minutes. This would triple the render time: unacceptable, time is money.

You can reach the start/end of the timeline by pressing the Go To Start and Go To End buttons on the video player thing. I spent quite some time trying to find how to alter the timeline end.

Turns out there’s no way to move or adjust the end of the timeline. However if you close the project and reopen it, Pitivi correctly detects where the last clip ends and makes that the end of the video. Render time reduced.

Printer review turns into commentary on content farming

My old Canon MP610 is something like 17 years old, and does the job I need it to – sits in the corner out of the way, occasionally used for printing and scanning.

I even got it to work in Windows 10, though I don’t know what’ll happen with my next OS once Win10 falls out of support. (It may be possible as a consumer user to pay for updates, but it won’t be cheap.)

Anyway, I sometimes ponder a new printer. Not that I need one, but if I did, this review caught my eye:

The Verge: After a full year of not thinking about printers, the best printer is still whatever random Brother laser printer that’s on sale.

It’s not just a printer review; it’s a commentary on the new world of AI, content farming, and hopeless Google search results, and it’s well worth a read.

New used laptop

I just realised it’s the new year, and I should push out some posts that I wrote last year but never got around to finishing.

I’m rarely in a rush to upgrade my laptop – the old one is a secondhand Thinkpad T430 which I got in 2018 – that model was first released in 2012.

It’s been good, and I was reluctant to invest the $1000+ for a new one, so I thought I’d try another secondhand one: an ex-government T480s for $499. i5-8350U CPU (1.7 GHz), 12 Gb RAM, 256 Gb SSD.

This is a big upgrade for me – from then 7-year-old tech to 4-year-old tech. The T480s was first released in 2019. It got good reviews at the time.

Comparing the CPUs in CPUBenchmark.net’s ratings, the old scored 2639, the new 6265, or 2.37 times faster. Up against that is a shift from Windows 10 to Windows 11… which at first glance seems to have more cruft in it, but runs mostly okay… except Chrome, which is a little slow to get going.

(For comparison the new-used desktop that I recently got given has an i5-4670K CPU that scores 5557, but it’s got a much better GPU.)

Laptop setup:

  • It came with Windows 11. I did a reset on that to get rid of anything funky.
  • It also came set up to automatically logon as “User” – after creating my own standard and admin users, turning off the auto logon seemed quite tricky, and I ended up using the SysInternals Autologon tool, which once found was quick and easy.
  • Find the Lenovo site and check for driver upgrades. For some reason the Lenovo tool for checking for updates is quite finicky, and needs to be run as an Admin user. Updates included a BIOS upgrade.
  • Swap Ctrl-Fn in the BIOS – I just can’t get used to Ctrl being anywhere but the bottom left corner, as on every other keyboard I use
  • Turn off Touchpad taps. I’m terrible for false clicks on this, though this one seems less prone to it than the T430

Other than these last two dot points, the keyboard seems good, as Thinkpads generally are.

The proper touchpad buttons are at the top; on the T430 they were at the bottom. This may take a bit of getting used to.

But overall I like this new machine. Heaps lighter and thinner, faster, better screen.

(I also recently got a new used desktop machine, courtesy of a friend who was upgrading. It’s a beefy beast, but uses Win10, and can’t be upgraded to 11. No matter, at least for now. 2023 seems to have been the year of new PCs for me.)

WordPress Collapse-o-matic plugin retired

For anybody using the very handy Collapse-o-matic plugin on WordPress, according to a (slightly vague, and difficult to find) support post, it’s being retired due to ongoing security issues.

The plugin provides an expandable section in blog posts.

Fortunately WordPress now supports this natively via the Display block type. Some people are hunting around for other plugins with additional functionality, but Display looks good to me.

One issue I had was finding which blog posts used Collapse-o-matic.

The solution I found was in the WordPress admin posts page, search for [expand

Then it’s hopefully easy enough to move the relevant content into a Display block, and deactivate the plugin.

For anybody else using WordPress, this is probably a nice reminder to review WP plugins and check for any other vulnerabilities that haven’t been widely advertised.

Fast uploads on NBN

I had been on Uniti Wireless for some years for home broadband. Costing $79/month, it was pretty good, and is the equivalent of NBN 50/20 speeds. But I really wanted faster uploads, and Uniti recently has had slow down problems, with speeds dropping randomly through the day. And twice this year it’s had outages.

Plus, since I joined Uniti, my street got NBN, opening up more options.

But I don’t understand why it’s so hard to find NBN plans with upload speeds of 40+ Mbps, and why they’re so expensive. You basically have to pay for 100 Mbps or higher downloads to get faster uploads.

Search sites like Finder have the option to look only for 50+ upload speeds, but then all it finds is one 250/50 plan costing $209/month, which is overkill.

Canstar only allows you to filter by download speeds. It does find one 100/40 plan from Belong, which Belong’s own web site doesn’t know about. Very helpful. Ditto TPG. The big companies, Telstra and Optus, don’t even offer fast uploads.

I found a reviews.org page that supposedly highlights fast uploads. Two of the five options listed are only 20 Mbps. Really?

Anyway, after some hunting around, here are a few options I found:

ProviderPlan Download/UploadInitial monthly costUsual monthly cost
Leaptel500/50$109 for first 12 months$129
Aussie Broadband100/40$109$109
iiNet450/40$119.99 for first 6 months$149.99
Superloop100/40$75 for first 6 months$89
Exetel100/40$74.99 for first 6 months$88.99

I’m sure there are more, but let’s not make the decision harder than it has to be.

As I understand it, Superloop and Exetel are the same company, which is why the pricing is near-identical. I’m somewhat suspicious of the amount of advertising Superloop is doing at the moment, and wonder if they have an influx of customers, what support will be like when something goes wrong.

My old provider, Uniti (using fixed wireless) has been pretty good but continually falls down with poor support when anything goes wrong.

iiNet I’ve used in the past and they were very good for support, and their service includes mobile internet as a backup during outages. But their only plan with 50+ upload is 450 download, which I don’t need, and is way more expensive any anything else.

But I ended up with Aussie Broadband, which has a very good reputation for good support. So far so good. 100+ downloads, 35-40 uploads.

Good by world standards? Probably not.

But fine for AU. I’m happy with that for now.

WordPress issues and Cloudflare

Cloudflare will speed up one web site for free. I’ve used it a fair bit over the years for my main blog, and it seems to have been pretty good.

Recently I struck some issues:

  • I could not save a post with the word “Casin0” in it. (actually spelt with an “o”; I was referencing the town in NSW.)
  • Sporadic “Updating failed. you are probably offline” errors from WordPress when trying to save (existing) posts
  • Sporadic image upload failures

On the first I temporarily gave up and spelt it with a zero. This is still unresolved, and it affects this blog too. It’s probably a web host issue – a security filter somewhere.

But while researching the second issue, I saw a reference to Cloudflare, and tried turning it off. It resolved it immediately. I suspect it was the cause of the third problem too.

Now I’ll need to more thoroughly investigate WordPress caching. The W3 Total Cache free plugin seems to do an okay job.

UPDATE: And then the error started coming back, but only for saving new posts – not editing existing ones. It seems I need to keep investigating.

One problem I’ve had is WP Multi-site seems a bit dodgy, at least with my setup. There are instructions for turning it off here.

Still worth trying turning off Cloudflare if you’re having issues though.

Refreshing Facebook link previews

Sometimes when posting a link, something goes wrong and the preview doesn’t come up properly.

I hit this issue yesterday when posting a link from my personal blog. At the FB probe went looking, it seemed to hit a database error, so that’s what it said. Not very helpful.

I tried the site itself, and it was up. Retrying from FB didn’t fix it – it was now in the cache. Thankfully there’s a way of refreshing it:

Go to https://developers.facebook.com/tools/debug/

Enter the URL and it’ll show you the current cached preview image, and any errors.

Click the Scrape Again button to refresh it.


iPhone – directions in Google/Apple Maps not being announced

I was trying to figure out why my iPhone driving directions weren’t being announced – in both Google Maps and Apple Maps.

All the relevant options seemed to be on – within the apps and in Settings.

As is sometimes the case, the typical internet help articles weren’t any help at all. They made various suggestions for settings I’d already found, along with restarts, reinstalls, and factory resets which I didn’t fancy doing as I had no confidence they’d help.

It took finding this Apple Community discussion to solve it. Bluetooth was the problem.

The phone was sending the audio via Bluetooth, but unless the car was on the BT Audio setting, it wouldn’t hear it and repeat it. I do use Bluetooth occasionally in the car for podcasts, but usually it’s on the radio.

The Apple Community discussion mentioned a setting for audio output. I haven’t actually found that yet, but turning off Bluetooth on the phone works just as well.

EDIT: I’ve also found that Google Maps on iPhone won’t announce directions when the screen is turned off to conserve battery. Apple Maps will continue to announce directions. Apparently Google Maps on Android will do it.

There is no way to block, reject or prevent payments being made to your phone number via Paypal

How can I block PayPal payments to my mobile phone number?

None of these

How do I confirm my mobile phone number with PayPal?

I found some articles in our Help Center that might help you. Check them out! If you need more help, please rephrase your question or type “need more help”.

How do I confirm my mobile phone number with PayPal?

How do I add, edit or remove a phone number on my PayPal account?

How do I edit my customer service email, phone number or website URL on my PayPal account?

– PayPal Assistant

need more help


Hi Josh. I am not sure what you mean by block payments? Are you referring to notifications?

– Beth

No, I don’t want PayPal payments available to my mobile phone number. If someone tries to make Payal payment to my mobile phone number, I’d like it to fail immediately.

I see that right now your phone number is not confirmed and would not be able to receive payments at this time.

– Beth

But I get a text telling me I’ve got a payment, as far as the payer is concerned they’ve successfully made a payment. I don’t want this. I want payments to my mobile to fail, immediately.

In the sender’s account it would say that the payment is pending since the phone number is not confirmed. Unfortunately there is not a way to auto deny payments sent to your phone number. I apologize that this is not something that PayPal is able to do.

– Matthew

There’s also no way to reject payments sent to a phone number, other than contact the payer and ask them to cancel it from their end. Unless I want to refund payments to my mobile, which I do not.

The payments sent to your phone number will be reversed automatically after 30 days have passed, with no action required of you.

– Lindsay

uBank management and developers are a bunch of dummies

uBank, who I have chewed out before, has drawn my ire yet again. After several blissful years of not using any of their software, I found it necessary to do so again because they’ve done something to themselves, like a merger/rebrand/reverse takeover thing. As such, I get an un-requested NFC debit card. They then proceed to migrate all the customers off their existing IT systems – including me, who has no desire to migrate from, or even use said systems.

This causes me to need to log into their system. It won’t let me in, because I have a password that complied with their old requirements — that wouldn’t let you have a special character (*#@% etc) — but that password doesn’t comply with their new requirements — must have a special character (*#@% etc). Presumably, every damn customer has this problem.

No worries says the computer, let’s reset your password. Please confirm your identity by answering your secret question – “What are the last four digits of your private health insurance?” I dutifully type this in, but surprise surprise, this value has changed in the last ten years. At this point the computer suggests maybe I tell it the last four digits, and I scream.

A seventy-plus minute wait on hold (scratchy line, annoying announcements, bad hold music), I speak to the guy. The guy says, “so, what’s the last four digits of your private health insurance?” and I explain that number has changed in the last decade, and perhaps we could use some other technique to identify me. We do all the usual things like name, birthday, address and then my password is reset to a six digit number and SMSed to me. Couldn’t let me into the system with my old, 620-bit strong password that I knew. Now we have an almost 20-bit password that I had to wait 82 minutes for. Couldn’t just SMS me a reset six digits when I say, “dunno, forgot”. No, I had to wait over an hour to sort out this mess of a process. And great, now I have to generate and save a new password.

So I suggest perhaps we should change the secret question now, and get told that “oh, that’s not a thing anymore” and I just facepalm. New system uses 2FA, old system uses it for password resets, old system wouldn’t use for password resets. Morons, the lot of them.

And then I find out that their fabulous new system allows you to see transactions all the way back in the past… all the way back to 364 days ago. Because disk is expensive.

They don’t have a million customers, and they don’t each do a thousand transactions a year. That billion transactions a year they don’t process would require hundreds of gigabytes to store, and last I checked you could pick up a 240Gb SSD for less than $50.

And pagination! Show more than 10 things on a page! This isn’t 1992!

I believe the new system is meant to be an improvement on the old one. Money well spent.

Why are streaming apps so dodgy?

Why are commercial streaming apps so dodgy?

In the past few weeks I’ve seen two that I use develop major issues with Chromecast (I think it’s a 1st generation model) from iPad (iPadOS 15.7), which I’d have thought is a very common use case.

Britbox, at the moment, flat out doesn’t work for me. You try to start the stream apart from a big logo, nothing happens. And I’m not the only one:

Disney Plus works, but has more subtle problems.

  • Audio cuts in and out during the credits at the start and end of the program
  • The subtitles turn themselves on every single time I start watching something – they have to be repeatedly turned off.
  • Rating and content information only appears at the end of the program
  • The ”buffering” spinner keeps appearing during the stream, perhaps for half-a-second or so every few minutes – even though the internet connection is strong and fast. Thankfully the audio and video doesn’t drop out.

I’ve also tried on a newer Chromecast. Some of these problems don’t occur on a third generation model, but on the older unit, even switching Disney Plus to the low bandwidth option doesn’t help.

Playing streaming video is meant to be the core business of these companies.

All the others I’ve used recently (apps from all the Australian TV networks – ABC, SBS, 7, 9, 10, Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Apple TV Plus*) are okay – how is it Britbox and Disney Plus are so bad?

And why did they work a few months ago, but now they’re broken?

*Apple TV Plus doesn’t work with Chromecast – I use it with an old Lightning to HDMI adapter that I’ve got.