Category: General


Being a collector of retro computers and games consoles I’ve always been disappointed to see my older kit slowly turn yellow with age, despite my best efforts to keep them away from too much UV light.

Recently I discovered that the process can be reversed, and that a handful of ingredients, all relatively easily obtained, plus a dose of UV light is the key to doing so.

Details of the process and ingredients, plus the back story of how this all came about can be found here: Retr0Bright

The basic gist is that many manufacturers added bromine to their plastic casings as a fire retardant, and it’s that bromine that causes the yellowing when exposed to UV light.

I’m not going to go into details about mixing up Retr0Bright, save to say make sure you wear eye protection and latex gloves, because one of the ingredients, hydrogen peroxide, can be quite nasty.

What I am going to talk about are my first experiences with the lovely whitening goo!

First off, it really is best to use a blender to mix in the Xantham gum used as a gelling agent, as it has a tendency to clump, and in fact I would suggest that you experiment with the amount you add, and even add in slowly in order to get a nice smooth consistency.

Personally I used the amounts recommended, dropped straight in, but ended up with something really thick and goopy, with some clumps, even when using the blender. I’ll add in a bit at a time next time with blending in between.

I had 3 items to test out the goo on, an Apple adb mouse and keyboard case, and an Atari ST case, and spread the mixture across the parts.

The key to the process is exposure to UV when coated with the goo, so mine were placed out in the sunshine. A point to bear in mind here is that you should wrap/cover the coated parts in cling film to prevent the goo from drying out.

Once the sun went in I popped them under a UV bulb on a timer, as I wanted to give the parts around 8 hours of exposure.

The results so far have been a mixed bag, with a good even change of colour on the Apple parts, but a very dappled result on the Atari, which to be fair was extremely badly discoloured.

To be fair, the Atari needs probably a second or even third go.

Looking at the process as a whole, I’d say that one of the difficulties, and aside from getting the texture of the mix right, is getting the UV distribution right, and sunlight is best for that, but I think if you wanted to do this on a regular basis, it would be worth setting up a permanent work station with multiple UV sources.

I’m going to do this again, and will also add some pictures, but it may be after I get moved to our new house.

So, as a fan of retro computers, I’m always looking for ways to expand my collection (See the Museum part of this site), and recently started looking at an area of my collection that was missing something: The Atari ST.

I managed to pick up an Atari 1040 STF fairly quickly, but the lack of modulator meant that getting anything other than Hi Res, which works on modern VGA monitors with an appropriate cable, was a pain.

So I resolved to try and get my hands on an STFM model in order to plug that gap.

A non working 520 STFM with good casework came up cheap on eBay, and I though if I could get it running again, then that would suffice, and if not, then it would hopefully yield some useful casework.

Well, I couldn’t bring it back to life, but it did yield a reasonable case, keyboard, PSU and newer TOS roms for the 1040 STF, plus the mainboard may yet be saleable as parts only, as it looks like some of the bits are in reasonable condition, and in fact somebody with greater electronics skills than I may yet be able to ressurect it.

An unexpected bonus was to find installed a Marpet 2MB ram upgrade kit, which will go with the mainboard and PSU as things I can resell to reduce the cost of Project ‘E’.

So, I determined to get a working mainboard to go into my case, and was surprised to find an STE mainboard, with PSU and 1 meg of RAM installed, and all the metal shielding, for just £26.99 plus a very reasonable £7 postage.

A few queries later, I was satisifed it was a runner, and purchased the board before somebody else could beat me to it!!

The idea of Project ‘E’ was thus born, to turn an STFM into an STE, and I awaited the arrival of the new components, which arrived on the 23rd of December, just 4 days after purchase, and quite amazing given the Christmas post!

So, I sat down with my 520 STFM case, and worked out just what would be required in order to slot the STE mainboard in.

As it happens, only 2 minor mods were needed.

1. 2x holes for the audio output.

2. The removal of a plastic lip that supports the cartridge slot.

First off was the 2x new holes for audio out.

As the picture shows, the centres line up vertically with the outside edges of the power switch slot, and horizontally with the modulator hole (At the very bottom of the picture), which is about the same size.

I marked the centres, drilling out both holes, then filing to allow a phono plug to connect properly with no interference.

Next was the lip. The next picture shows the lip beforehand, indicated by the yellow box.

With the case bare, I used a set of side cutters to remove the bulk of the lip, then filed the remainder off flat with the base of the case as below.

With both mods done, the STE board was able to slot into the STFM case, and I was able to reassemble and successfully test the machine.

The difference is visible above, with a metal tongue from the shielding supporting the cartridge slot, rather than the plastic lip on the case.

All in all about an hours work from start to fully assembled working machine.

STE fans will note that I haven’t mentioned a case mod to allow access to the STEs two additional joystick ports, found at the front left of the machine.

Well, that may come later, but since I have no intention of using them, it seemed like a lot of work to mod the case to do so, hence, for now at least, they are going to stay neatly hidden.

Interestingly, the case appears to have slight marks in the moulding that appear to indicate where the hole should be cut, which suggests to me that these, or at least some sort of other port, was intended there, and that it was catered for when the case moulds were made.

Thats my retro fun for the day, happy modding everybody 🙂

 

So, storm on Monday, there’s a power outage. Everything important is on a UPS, and though it did expire due to the length of the outage, everything seemed to survive and powered up ok.

I have a Netgear ReadyNAS Duo that I use for some storage and file backups, and normally my backup software burps, because it loses its connectivity to the ReadyNAS, and this seemed to be the case, so I did my usual tweaks to fix it, and walked away.

Unbeknownst to me, the usual tweaks hadn’t worked, because it wasn’t the usual problem! The ReadyNAS now won’t recognise either drive and I am running R-Linux for Windows to scan the drive and recover, and at the moment it looks hopeful, and I at least have a mirrored array to drop the files onto for now, but it’s a major pain in the rear!

R-Linux can be found here: R-Linux for anybody in the same boat, and I will update once I have the results, but having a wierdy file system is not one of the best features of the ReadyNAS Duo, it has to be said!

Update number 1

It’s looking good so far for R-Linux 🙂

It found about the right amount of data in my ReadyNAS disk, and is currently in the process of restoring it for me.

TBH if certain files can’t be recovered, it really isn’t the end of the world, as long as the main stuff can be dragged back kicking and screaming!

I guess my next update will be tomorrow.

Update number 2

Happy days, all data recovered. I just need to work out whats up with the ReadyNAS now!

Update number 3

So, ReadyNAS is back on line, but a factory reset was required. I’m certain I have a config backup somewhere, but I’m thinking a clean fresh setup is the way to go, so best to just crack on. Don’t you just hate it when hardware crashes that badly! Damn storm.

On the positive side, it’ll give me an opportunity to have a clean up of all the crap I kept on there!!

Having had a fairly lazy week off work, I’ve managed to cram in quite a few hours of retro computing. I have finally been able to get my Atari ST tested, and aside from the minor glitch of the internal floppy disk cable being partially disconnected, and having to buy a mono VGA cable because my home made one wasn’t working, I’m pretty happy with the results. Mono it may be, but it works fine on modern LCD displays. I now also have the means to write ST disk images to real floppy disks that the ST can read, courtesy of a piece of software called floimg running on an old Dell laptop with Windows 2000.

Lots more successful with the Amiga 1200 though. It has an internal scandoubler, so gives crystal clear images on any modern LCD display, boots up faster than my smartphone courtesy of the OS installed on its internal HDD, and thanks to the PCMCIA network card I just installed, I have Web access (though limited), and can upload and download stuff to it via FTP. The support the Amiga still has is ASTONISHING!

One point though, it has the WIERDEST TCP/IP setup for DNS of any computer I’ve used, but it does at least work.

I get my Amiga kit from amigakit.com, and am using the wired Easynet adapter. Wireless is also available :-), but you must have the OS installed on HDD for either the wired or wireless to work.

Hopefully the Retro scene will continue to flourish for many years to come.

Now, where did I put my Atari 800XL?

🙂

So, I got my first Arduino board, a UNO, on Friday (Thanks Etang Electronics via eBay), costing a smidge under a tenner.

Today was the first time I had to play with it, and the results were good. The free IDE software, downloaded from the main Arduino site here: Arduino on the web is simple and easy to use, and getting my first program uploaded and running was extremely easy.

As a first shot, I simply took some example code from the site, and modified to do my bidding.

The goal was to make the onboard LED flash ‘SOS’, wait 4 seconds, and repeat. My code is below, as it’s good to share 🙂

Go get an Arduino folks, and make stuff, the number of sensors etc is AMAZING! I can see me spending some time with it in the not too distant future.

/*
Blink
Turns on an LED on for one second, then off for one second, repeatedly.

This example code is in the public domain.
*/

// Pin 13 has an LED connected on most Arduino boards.
// give it a name:
int led = 13;

// the setup routine runs once when you press reset:
void setup() {
// initialize the digital pin as an output.
pinMode(led, OUTPUT);
digitalWrite(led, LOW);
}

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever:
void loop() {
//Signalling SOS with on-board LED
//First S
digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(250);               // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second

digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(250);               // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second

digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(500);               // wait for a half second before moving on to O
//Then O
digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(1000);               // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(1000);               // wait for a second

digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(1000);               // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(1000);               // wait for a second

digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(1000);               // wait for a second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(500);               // wait for a half second before moving on to the last S
//Finally S again
digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second

digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second

digitalWrite(led, HIGH);   // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(250);               // wait for a quarter second
digitalWrite(led, LOW);    // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(4000);               // wait for 4 seconds before looping again
}

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I have been with 3 in the UK for a long time now, probably going on 8 or 9 years, and I’ll be honest, my signay at home was ‘ok’, but not great, though usable.

Then for a while, we started to lose signal entirely (I say we, as my wife is also with them), to begin with, over the weekends, then during the week, the signal would just be poor, two bars if you’re lucky.

I’d heard from a friend that 3 offered signal boosters that were connected to your broadband, so I decided to call them and see what was on offer.

It took some prodding, and more than one call to speak to the right people, but I was eventually told that I was in a known area. It arrived a fiew days later for bad signal, and that they would offer me a Home Signal device for free. The normal cost if you just ask for one is £130!!.

However, due to the known signal issues, mine would be free. It arrived a few days later, and is the simplest set up you could wish for.

You fit the supplied SIM card in the bottom, plug it into your broadband, and power it up. Aside from telling 3 which numbers will use it (Up to 32 per home address), which you do via a website, that really is it.

We now have full signal, in and around the house, and never miss a call or text.

If you’re in the same boat, I’d advise you to call 3 and see if you’re eligible for one of these helpful little boxes. (Yes, they are really quite small).

3HSignalThere is a post script to this, in that mine started flashing a red warning light at me over the last few days. The problem? Simple fix, remove the SIM card, clean the contacts, and put it back in and reboot 🙂 Happy days!

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I have had an Untangle appliance for some years now, guarding my network from the internet at large. I like to share things like this 🙂

The great thing is, that there is a free version of this prebuilt security appliance that everybody can use, and it really is very easy to set up.

You can download it from here: http://www.untangle.com/ as an ISO file, that you can then burn to CD/DVD and use as installation media.

My original Untangle server was running on an HP DL360 G2, which was more than up to the job from a hardware perspective.

Originally, I used my BT firewall with the Untangle device in bridge mode, but recently I have removed the BT device since moving to BT Infifnity, since Untangle supports PPPOE.

This turned it into Router mode, and has greatly enhanced my security, since the Untangle firewall has a superior firewall to the BT device, let alone the configuration is easier and more flexible.

You can find the differences between Bridge and Router mode here: http://www.untangle.com/untangle/how-to-deploy under step 3.

Untangle also adds a whole host of other features, such as virus scanning, spam ans spyware scanners, ad blockers, so it really does give you a much better patform to control access to/from your network.

As well as recently moving to Router mode, I also retired my HP DL360 G2, on account of noise, heat and electricity consumption. It’s been replaced by a laptop. Yes, you heard right, a laptop.

So, not only have I now upgraded to the 64 Bit version of Untangle, it runs very nicely on a dual core 1.8GHz laptop with 4 GB RAM, a nice side effect being the fact it now has it’s own built in UPS, being a laptop 🙂

The only thing I needed was a second NIC, for which I was able to get a new Cardbus adapter off Ebay for the princely sum of £5.

The whole process was quick too. It took about an hour or so to install Untangle fresh, and then import the settings from the old server.

I really can’t recommend it enough, especially if you have some spare hardware around that meets the minimum spec.

So, go and untangle yourselves folks!

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So, I recently decided to retire my Exchange 2003 server, in favour of Exchange 2007.

There were a lot of reasons for this.

Firstly, my Windows 2003/Exchange 2003 server was an old HP DL380 G3. In itself, a great, reliable server, which cost me only £20 off Ebay, but getting on a bit, and very noisy in my home office, especially combined with the HP DL 360 G2 I was using for an Untangle server, and the newer Dell T105 which was already running Windows 2008 and Exchange 2007.

Secondly, at work we have Exchange 2007/2010, so I had a desire to expand my skills to better enable me to understand the environments I need to support.

Thirdly, I wanted to also migrate a number of sites I ran (OWA, WordPress) over to IIS 7 due to the improved security features, and ease of management.

And last, but by no means least, the two HP servers are making my electricity bill look like that of an actual data centre, so I wanted to retire them both, enjoy the quieter office, and save some pennies.

The migration from Exchange 2003 -> 2007 was really not so difficult, with the only issue being the move of my wife’s mailbox, which reported there may be activesync issues. It would be her account! She did have issues, so I had to re-do the account on both her iPhone and Galaxy Tab, but all was fine after that.

So why, I hear you asking, is it more secure, but more annoying?

Well, certain feature like tarpit are enabled by default, and also it’s more secure when trying to connect over telnet, and it has some excellent anti spam features built in.

Now comes the annoying bit. Many things can be done via the GUI, but if you want to get at all the really neat stuff, you have to visit the Exchange Powershell CLI. Yes, I said CLI.

For example, enabling the anti spam features requires running some scripts from the CLI, as does adding a list of custom blockwords to the anti spam component.

You can add blockwords via the GUI, but it takes FOREVER!!!!

Same goes for blocked email domains and senders.

CLI = power in the case of Exchange 2007 and beyond. I guess I’d better get used to it!!

So finally Jelly Bean finally arrived on my HTC One X on Monday, a couple of months behind unlocked/unbranded phones.

The delay was due to the first build failing testing with 3, and HTC having to deliver a second build. The guff that 3 add has more than a little bit to do with that.

What annoys me the most is that valuable customers get left behind, and folks who don’t pay for a contract phone jump the queue.

Still, the I have it now, and so far so good. Battery life doesn’t seem that different so far, but I need to give it a chance I guess.

One big difference for me is the improved email client, which now allows html email with my Exchange 2003 activesync setup, whereas before I could only get plain text.

The addition of the Best Deals application gives you localised deals to you, and there are minor updates to some of the other embedded apps.

Google now is also a welcome addition, providing up to date information based on things you do, when you do them and where you are. For example, driving home it automatically gives me an eta.

The updated UI is not massively different, mostly minor tweaks and changes, but the underlying changes from project butter make what was an already slick UI email even better.

So, so far so good, and I’m a happy bunny 🙂

Ok, so after some badgering, I finally got some information on the Jelly Bean update for locked/branded handsets on Three UK.

It seems that they have a second build in testing now, the first having failed, and it will be released ‘as soon as its ready’.

Overall I’m more than a little disappointed with Three on this. As a loyal customer of about 7-8 years I’ve always had a branded\locked handset and stuck with them as overall I have no problems, but users of unlocked\unbranded handsets get the updates first, and as a customer who is paying more to be loyal to Three, I expect to have the update at the same time or earlier.

It isn’t like the update suddenly surprises them, they know it’s coming, so concentrate on getting the updates ready for the same time.

I guess the argument is that HTC are in control of the updates, so they can release to handsets with non brand CIDs when they want, but the carriers should either stop filling their handsets with unwanted bloatware so that the update is simple, or work harder with HTC to get the updates ready for all in time.

I had exactly the same issue with my HTC Desire, and I ended up rooting and flashing it in order to get the software level I wanted, something I don’t want to do with my One X.

What is even more galling is the fact that Samsung look to be releasing Jelly Bean officially for the Samsung Galaxy S2, which means my work phone, a much older model, may possibly get the update before my One X.

I may yet have to consider unlocking my bootloader so I can get a custom recovery on my phone, and back it up so I can try flashing to a stock JB rom, but each time I think of doing it I have a little twitch…….

I love Delicious, and it has been my portable Internet index, full of all those useful links I’ve found over the years.

I have used its sidebar a great deal, so when the plug in for Firefox updated and the sidebar disappeared, along with its icon, I was a tad annoyed.

However, after a little digging I found that the sidebar is still there.

Just hit ctrl + B and there it is again 🙂

I am really getting into Minecraft now, but so annoying that I can’t connect to my home server from the Xbox and Android versions. I do hope this happens in the future, or I’m going to end up with 3 or 4 different worlds on the go!

OK, so I promised to do a post on how to run the Windows version of the Minecraft server as a psuedo service.

I don’t intend to get into the ins and outs of the server.properties file, see Google for that 😛

To get the bad news out of the way, whilst it does run in a service like mannner, it won’t shut down. You have to kill the javaw.exe or javaw.exe *32 process, then go and set the services to stopped in the services console (Services.msc if you want to run it manually).

It does however run GUI less and allows you to log off the server whilst it remains running. If you also specify different ports, you can have multiple ‘Services’ running and serving up MineCraft. I currently have 2 running happily side by side on slightly different ports.

Bad news out of the way, you can set it to auto start, and it works quite happily, restarting your MineCraft server after a reboot 🙂

So, how do I do this chicanery you ask?

There are only two tools you need TBH, one of which is built into Windows 2003, Windows 2008 and Windows 7, and the other is freely downloadable as it’s part of the Windows 2003 Resource Kit.

Here’s the steps you need, based on my install which has the MineCraft server executable installed into a directory on the E: drive of my server called Minecraft. Don’t forget to replace e:\Minecraftt with your own directory.

1. Create a directory on E: (or whatever drive you’re using) called Minecraft.

2. Download Minecraft_Server.exe to the directory you created at step 1. Run it once to create the file and directory structures it needs.

3. Download srvany.exe to the directory you created in step1. Google it, you can’t fail to find it.

4. Open a command prompt and type the following, ensuring the space is present after the = sign: sc create Minecraft binpath= e:\Minecraft\srvany.exe

5. Hit enter. The base service is now created. Don’t worry if you stuff it up, just type: sc delete Minecraft and it’ll be gone 🙂

6. A little work remains. Execute the comand regedt32.exe from the run box and locate HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Minecraft in the registry.

7. Right click on the Minecraft key, and select ‘New’ then ‘Key’. Name the new key Parameters.

8. Right click on the new created Parameters key, and select ‘New’ and ‘String Value’. Give the new string the value AppDirectory, and give it the value e:\Minecraft

9. Create another new string value called Application with the value e:\Minecraft\Minecraft_Server.exe

10. Create another new string value called AppParameters with the value server.properties

11. Finally execute services.msc from the run box. Locate the Minecraft service you just created and double click on it.

12. In the general tab set the startup type to be Automatic, and on the log on to be Local System Account.

13. Click ‘Start’ and off your Mincraft server goes. Just check for the presence of javaw.exe or javaw.exe *32 in Task Manager.

14. Log off your server, in the knowledge that Mincraft will continue to run whilst you’re away 🙂

15: Go play Minecraft and connect to your server.

One last thing, is that if you do decide you want to run multiple servers, make sure you name the services you create differently i.e. Minecraft, Minecraft2 etc, and set the port in the server.properties file. You’ll also need to create a separate directory with s different containing all the Minecraft files, as you can only run one site per folder. I use e:\Minecraft and e:\Minecraft2.

If you’re having issues with the server.properties file not being read, make sure all the AppDirectory and AppParamters are set correctly. You can also add server.properties to the Start Parameters field of the service.

As I said, it is a sort of pseudo service, in that it doesn’t stop when you stop the service, so you have to kill the process, but it is better than having to stay logged on to your server.

One word of advice if you do end up running more than one server on the same box, is to make a note of the PID of one javaw process so you don’t close the wrong one down by accident.

An export of my Minecraft service reg key is below. You can modify the directory names to suit and import into your registry, just make sure you create the service first.

By the way, only do this if you’re confident you’re not going to stuff up your server, as despte having tested these instructions thoroughly, I can’t be held responsible for what you decide to do to your own server 😛

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Minecraft]
“Type”=dword:00000110
“Start”=dword:00000002
“ErrorControl”=dword:00000001
“ImagePath”=hex(2):65,00,3a,00,5c,00,6d,00,69,00,6e,00,65,00,63,00,72,00,61,00,\
  66,00,74,00,5c,00,73,00,72,00,76,00,61,00,6e,00,79,00,2e,00,65,00,78,00,65,\
  00,00,00
“DisplayName”=”Minecraft”
“ObjectName”=”LocalSystem”

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Minecraft\Parameters]
“Application”=”e:\\minecraft\\minecraft_server.exe”
“AppParameters”=”server.properties”
“AppDirectory”=”e:\\minecraft”

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Minecraft\Enum]
“0”=”Root\\LEGACY_MINECRAFT\\0000″
“Count”=dword:00000001
“NextInstance”=dword:00000001

So, do you have a locked HTC One X on 3 UK?

According to their support team, who I asked directly, Jelly Bean should be coming at the end of November.

Oooh, I do hope so 🙂

So, Apple has finally launched a smaller version of its best selling iPad, and it looks, from initial reviews I’ve read to be yet another high quality product.

But, was it really necessary for the mini to be made in the first place?

For a start, the pricing seems really extreme for a tablet with the spec of the mini, with the current 7 inch tabs, such as the Kindle Fire HD, Nexus 7 and Nook HD, all having higher screen resolutions and ppi figures, and equally good or better CPUs and similar storage capacity.

The base iPad mini is £269 for the 16GB Wifi only version , £70 dearer than the 16GB Wifi Nexus 7 @ £199. The Kindle Fire HD 16GB can be had for just £159, with the Nook HD coming in somewhere in between.

That £70 difference might not seem that much, but given that people are economising still, I do wonder if the price point could be a dealbreaker, especially if you follow the pricing structure up, where the mini overlaps the full size iPad quite deeply, and begs the question ‘Why buy a mini when you can get a full size one?’.

I personally have not had any hands on, but looking at the reviews and videos so far, I find myself answering the question ‘Does it offer anything compelling over the competition? (Including other iPads)’ with a ‘No’.

I don’t doubt that it will sell by the truckload, but I can’t help that its Apple thinking they’ve missed a trick to cash in and racing to play catch up when they saw the success of the Nexus 7.

It seems these days that Apple is just about the money, and as I’ve said before, I think that’s a shame.

So, I had some spare time today, and having downloaded the Windows 8 preview, I thought I’d have a crack at installing it.

Tbh the process of installation was if anything, easier than Windows 7, even taking me through a seamless wifi setup to get online, even before I’d got to the login screen.

I wasn’t over enamoured with using my Hotmail credentials to log in, but I’m going to see how it works on a domain (if the preview works with domains), so that may be a non issue. That said, I could have used other credentials, but the Hotmail ones seemed most logical.

What really made me wrinkle my nose though, is the new Metro UI. My initial impressions are that whilst it may be great for a tablet, it isn’t so good for a traditional PC. To be fair, I need to play with it some more, and I will, but the UI has changed so much, that I have a nagging doubt that I’ll buy into it as my next desktop OS of choice.

Assuming that Metro can be turned off, then I may yet be persuaded, but that is something I’ll need to report back on.

I understand that Microsoft want to rationalise the look and feel of the OS across platforms, but I do wonder if this is a bridge too far.

So, I’m not generally known for my rants about Apple, but more and more I am beginning to think they have turned a corner down a very dark road.

Many years ago, when I first got into IT, Apple was the radical, different company, whose tech was the preferred tool of writers, artists, musicians and the like, and in a world where computers and computing was generally biege, they stood out as being different, and we loved them for it.

So what’s changed? Well whilst nobody was looking, Apple decided that they should become Global Super MegaCorp no1, and have slowly and insidiously become like all the other major corporations, only with much, much more money in the kitty.

It seems to be the Apple mantra now, to obliviate (Harry Potter ref there) all other companies using their fantastical industrial design and their huge piles of cash.

This just isn’t the Apple of old, and I’m wondering how long it will be before people start to notice.

IMHO, Apple has become a money grabbing patent troll, that has lost its way in the pursuit of greed and global domination.

Rant over, but to me it’s a shame that special something they had has vanished behind a pile of cash, a briefcase full of patents and more biege.

So, I just discovered that Google Analyticator is dead, which is a shame as I’ve used it for some time.

For all those of you also in the same position, the Google Analytics Dashboard seems to do a very similar job, so if you need to move to a new plug in, this seems to be one that works nicely, and is extremely simple to set up.

Next, I’ve installed GTrans, which was a WordPress recommended plug in. Seems very nice and allows your site to be translated into different languages by selecting from a drop down list.

Both seem to be nice plugins, so if you’re a WordPress user, have a go, worst cas you’ll just remove them if you don’t like 🙂

 

I just checked for updated firmware for my One X, and was surprised to see there was an update waiting.

It was large, weighing in at 165 megs, but downloaded quickly over wifi, and was installed in about 5 minutes.

Android is now at 4.0.4, and Sense is at 4.1 and the software number is 2.17.771.3, which seems to be a big jump past the last version. I’ll be interested to see what sort of a difference it is makes to the phone overall.

So I’ve had the updates a few days now and wanted to make a note of what I’ve seen so far.

Visually, it looks much the same. HTC Sense always was a nice UI, even before the update, but now it seems even smoother and just that little bit slicker, and there is something I can’t quite put my finger on with the visual quality, but it seems, well, nicer.

The biggest improvement I noticed was the battery life, which overall seems to have improved hugely, and is not dissimilar to my work Galaxy S2, which is also running ICS, albeit 4.0.3. Considering the extra CPU power in the One X, this is a good thing.

Another area where battery life seems to have improved is gaming. I take full advantage of the Tegra 3 chipset and run games like Max Payne, Dead Trigger, GTA III, ME Infiltrator, Dead Space and Shadowgun.

These used to make for a very low battery, and a very hot phone, but after the last update, these things seem to have improved immensely.

So far I haven’t any other info about this latest ICS incarnation, but as and when I do, I’ll post it here.

Update your phone now, and enjoy the bonus battery life 🙂

So, my wife would like an iPad, so we take a look at eBay to see how much 1st gen ones go for.

Well to say I was shocked is an understatement, because you can go and buy a refurbished 2nd gen one for less straight from Apple.

Why do people persist in paying more on eBay, I just don’t get it.

Shop around fools……