Saturday 24 October 2009

AVG moaning at you?

Have you been on the end of adverts from AVG warning that support for version 8.5 (the current version) is being withdrawn?

Well, as per usual it seems like the staff at AVG try their hardest to make it as complicated as possible for people to upgrade from the free version 8.5 to the new free version 9.0

Most of the website is designed in a way that channels you towards downloading 9.0, so you get the latest PAID version.

Anyway, here's the shortcut link to their website. Download the 72Mb AVG9 FREE Edition install file here:

Hope this helps.


Thursday 17 September 2009

Ubuntu Firefox - bus error?

Annoyingly, I was hit with a problem after an update via update-manager on Ubuntu.

Firefox just wouldn't start and when I invoked it via a korn shell, I received the rather terse error 'Bus error' and nothing else. How wonderfully educational.

I took the option of installing Galeon, and then got hit with the same error. In the end, I installed Lynx (great text browser) and had a poke around.

My eventual 'solution' was to check the updates history, and then uninstall Firefox via Synaptic. Some of the related programs that were uninstalled were ubifox and xulrunner.

Afterwards, I was able to start Firefox again - to my relief.

Saturday 5 September 2009

USB batteries - do your bit for the environment!

I've always tried to use rechargeable batteries, and it must have been at least 15 years since I felt the need to buy anything else.

I'm known to some as Gadget Boy and I was asked the other day about my USB batteries. I've had 4 of them now, and purchased them around 2 years ago. I'll have to admit that they are quite expensive at around £10 for just two AA size batteries!

USB batteries - UK based website

Still, they are very, very useful things to have. Run out of battery power? Simply stick them in a laptop, your PlayStation3, your PC, in fact anywhere that has a USB port. They start charging immediately (solid yellow light) and then turn to a flashing light whilst trickle-charging.

Whoever had the bright idea to make these things in the first place was a genius.

Saturday 22 August 2009

It's a boat, not a ship

Yesterday really was the BIG day for my mate Ed, who has been busy building a small boat for the last year or so. And it's in his garage in Bromley, of all places.

We went to Chobham to pick up his new trailer from De Graff Trailers, near to Langland Stud Farm. I must admit that I was slightly concerned at the bulk of the trailer sitting atop my roof rack on the Audi badboy, but it was as stable as a rock - as you can see from the pictures.

Ed had a slight problem earlier in the day when he parked up outside my gaff as he had to call a taxi to get him to the pavement! Photographic evidence is there for all to see...

That's enough exertion for one day, I've decided I'm going to have a very lazy day today :-)


Tuesday 28 July 2009

UK ISP speeds - July 2009 Ofcom report

Interesting results shown below, that were released today:


All services at 8Mbit/s except Virgin Media at 10Mbps
Source: Ofcom

AOL are slower than O2, Orange, Plusnet, Sky, Talktalk, Virgin
BT are slower than O2, Virgin Media and faster than Tiscali
O2 are slower than Virgin Media, and faster than AOL, BT, Tiscali
Orange are slower than Virgin,and faster than AOL, Tiscali
Plusnet are slower than Virgin, and faster than AOL, Tiscali
Sky are slower than Virgin, and faster than AOL, Tiscali
Talktalk are slower than Virgin, and are faster than AOL, Tiscali
Tiscali are slower than BT, O2, Orange, Plusnet, Sky, Talktalk, Virgin
Virgin are faster than AOL, BT, O2, Orange, Plusnet, Sky, Talktalk, Tiscali

Lucky I'm on Virgin! :-)

Wednesday 8 July 2009

Virgin Broadband - upgraded!

Today I ran a speedtest and was pleasantly surprised to see that my free upgrade from 2Mbps to 10Mbps had been implemented.

Can't ask for anymore really can I? :-)

Well done Virgin.

Thursday 25 June 2009

New flat UK plug

I saw this video recently of a designer's attempt at a new style of UK 3-pin plug.

See the video here

The UK plug is acknowledged as one of the most sturdy and safe electrical plugs in use in the world today, but this new flat-style plug is very interesting - especially useful for travellers, and also for use in the home.

My last plug count for the computer desk was 18 plugs!

Monday 8 June 2009

My new ISP - much better

Here's the test results from

Same line speed of 2Mbps, but it only costs 1/4 as much and the latency is 37ms as opposed to 337ms! That's nearly 10 times better than ANTEL.

My Virgin cable internet is due to be upgraded from 2Mbps to 10Mbps at no cost during June 2009.

Saturday 23 May 2009

Sony - excellent Customer Care

I had the pleasure of taking a call from someone at Sony CS today.

They rang me to apologise for all the problems I'd had with my PS3, and offered me a free game, cancelled my subscription to their 'ContinuousPlay' service, and re-instated the 12 month guarantee, effective immediately.

An excellent response from them, and it's merely confirmed in my mind that they are great to deal with -- it's nice to see that instead of seeing someone as customer XYZ, they've actually managed to renew my faith in the company.

Well done SONY, I hope they treat other customers in a similar manner. If they do, then they will have very happy customers.

Top hole! I'm off to play some Call of Duty again hehe ;-)

Wednesday 13 May 2009

Sony PS3 dead again (3rd time)

My play time suddenly ended yesterday when the PS3 decided to go all 'borked' on me.

Same problem, the feared YLOD (yellow light of death, and 3 beeps).

I'll be on to Sony UK Customer Care about this, since it was only replaced in December 2008. That was a factory refurbished unit apparently, but it looked like new to my untrained eye. So that's 4 months use... for the flagship product.

There HAS to be a design fault with this 60Gb model. Friends that have the 40Gb model have had no problems.

Tuesday 12 May 2009

Windows 7 (RC) hangs on boot with external monitor

I have installed Windows 7 (Release Candidate - Build 7100) on my laptop and the install went through fine. However, booting into Windows 7 results in a black screen with the Windows logo showing, every single time.

It will sit there all day long if you leave it, but I lost my patience after 20 minutes. Windows 7 will then complain on reboot that it wants to fix your computer by doing a 'Start repair" but hold on.... it will fix things temporarily but you'll be back to square 1 when you reboot.

It would seem that Windows 7 gets easily confused by the fact you have a second external monitor connected. Now I would have thought that if XP can successfully install and run without problems, then the new all singing and dancing techno kid on the block would be able to do the same, without breaking into a sweat. Not so.

To fix the problem, I rebooted the laptop without the second external monitor plugged in. I then shut it all down cleanly and powered off. I connected the second external monitor (which incidentally I use as my MAIN display) and booted up again.

All fixed.

I cannot believe that Microsoft made such a stupid error, and a basic one at that. Most, if not all laptops that I have encountered on my travels have had a VGA port on the back for rigging up to an external monitor.

Why it doesn't complain about it at install time is anyone's guess.

Thursday 7 May 2009

Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty and high CPU on xorg

I'd noticed recently that my CPU usage had crept up on my ACER laptop with an ATI graphics chip and was slowing down simple things like scrolling. I switched off my folding@home client straight away, and then delved deeper.

I tried the usual fix-all of moving my .gconf path so it would be recreated next time I started the Gnome GUI but this made no difference.

I discovered an option however on the Xorg file xorg.conf which controls the graphical setup. Simply adding the following 2 lines to my xorg.conf file and then restarting gdm and all was back to normal. I love it when a problem like this can be fixed by typing 2 lines into vi ;-)

Section "Device"
Identifier "Configured Video Device"
Driver "ati"
Option "Accel"
Option "AccelMethod" "XAA"

Sweet potatoes, as they say.


Saturday 2 May 2009

Swine flu and the media

I saw this recently after it was sent to me by Maggie of 'Maggie & Dave' fame... and I thought I'd share it with you.

It just seems to sum up the massive media exposure given to the subject, and dare I say it - perhaps too much?

Funny though!


Thursday 23 April 2009

New release of UBUNTU

There's an upcoming release of UBUNTU, which is an alternative operating system to Windows that I run on both my laptop and PLAYSTATION3. I currently use 8.10 (Intrepid Ibex) but the new version 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope) is due for release very shortly:

I've already installed the upgrade by using the development version and it's rock solid. I'm currently upgrading the PLAYSTATION3 as I write.

As an alternative to the world of Windows, I thoroughly recommend it. It's free, it's open source and thoroughly reliable. Hasn't crashed on me once in 18 months of use.


Friday 17 April 2009

Pathetic ANTEL, my ISP

I've had reason to ring ANTEL recently, even though I don't speak Spanish - such was my frustration.

They charge me 35 GBP a month for a pony service. That's for a 2Mbps connection.

Here's a list of my recent results from

I suppose I should just be thankful I don't have to rely on it for work purposes. ANTEL are a bunch of thieves and it's money for old rope. 3 times the cost, and 10 times slower, and that's when it's supposed to be running at full tilt - which I hasten to add never happens, unless you just happen to be downloading from a site somewhere in Uruguay.

Interestingly, when I phoned them, they said they don't guarantee times/speeds outside of Uruguay. Well that's complete nonsense - do they think the internet doesn't exist outside of Uruguay? Idiots, the lot of them.


Wednesday 15 April 2009

Interesting stuff on Google Books

I found this whilst recently browsing the 'interweb' so I'll share it with you, if you fancy the idea of reading up about my home town of Wallington, Surrey:

Wallington (TinyURL)

I found out from this excerpt that my road (Clarendon Road) used to be called Cathcart of all things!


Saturday 4 April 2009

It's all go ....

Big excitement today when there was a major accident right outside where we live.

Apparently a motorcyclist and pillion passenger were trying to escape from the police, and came the wrong way down Luis Lamas and collided with a Citroen people carrier. As you can see, the people carrier was carrying a disabled person and they were stuck inside the vehicle after the accident.

I was concerned for the biker as he didn't look in a good way. His mate ran off but was soon collared by neighbours. Apparently a gun was involved, and that was used in an attempted robbery just prior to the accident.

The biker wasn't wearing a helmet but I didn't feel sorry for him after I found out what he and matey-boy had been up to with that gun of theirs...

Friday 3 April 2009

Grub problems - error 17

I got this error after installing the Ubuntu 8.10 Intrepid Ibex and then the dreaded Vista.

The error usually happens because Linux and your BIOS detect your hard disks in different orders. GRUB tries to translate between the two using the file in /boot/grub/, which is automatically generated. Chances are, it guessed wrong.

In my case, I have three SATA hard disks.

My BIOS sees them as:
HDD1 - 80 GB - Windows
HDD2 - 80 GB - Linux
HDD3 - 250 GB - Media

Linux sees them as:
/dev/sda - 80 GB - Windows
/dev/sdb - 250 GB - Media
/dev/sdc - 80 GB - Linux

So it generated assuming that order was correct, i.e.:
(hd0) /dev/sda
(hd1) /dev/sdb
(hd2) /dev/sdc

When the installer installed GRUB using that data, it tried to install the first part of GRUB on /dev/sda and told it to look for the OS on /dev/sdc. Unfortunately, this translated to "install on (hd0) then look for the OS on (hd2)", so it was looking for the OS on the wrong drive.

To fix it, you have to teach GRUB which order the BIOS uses. To do this, follow these steps:

1) Boot from the Ubuntu CD
2) Open a Terminal (Applications->Accessories->Terminal)
3) Run "sudo -s"
4) Run "mkdir /ubuntu"
5) Run "mount /dev/sdc1 /ubuntu" (where /dev/sdc1 is your Linux root partition)
6) Run "chroot /ubuntu"
7) Run "cd /boot/grub"
Edit (using vi or another text editor)

In my case, my new was:
(hd0) /dev/sda
(hd1) /dev/sdc
(hd2) /dev/sdb

which told GRUB that sdc was really the second hard drive, not the third.

9) Run "grub"
10) Type "root (hd1,0)" (where hd1,0 is your Linux boot or root partition using the BIOS order)
11) Type "setup (hd0)" (where hd0 is your first boot drive, almost always hd0)

You should see a message that it's now telling GRUB to load 17+(hd1,0) instead of 17+(hd2,0) or something like that. This is what we want.

12) Edit menu.lst

You need to change references from (hd2,0) to (hd1,0), or whatever your Linux boot drive was autodetected as to whatever it is according to your BIOS.

If you get this step wrong, you'll see an error message something like:
Error 17: Cannot mount selected partition

meaning it's looking for a Linux file system on that partition, but it can't find one (because the drive device number is wrong in menu.lst).

13) Reboot

14) Celebrate

Complete respect to the Ubuntu forums and Mikel Ward, from Melbourne in Australia in particular. Excellent detailed post.

Tuesday 31 March 2009

Windows Vista and its huge disk space requirements, plus my external monitor

As part of a project to get my girlfriend's laptop up and running again (minus its CD-ROM drive), I've had the displeasure of installing Vista again.

I am astounded at how much disk space it seems to consume. Two common problems appear to be Windows Event reporting alongside what's called the (side by side) Winsxs folder.

Allowing for 20Gb for install, I found that after only a few programs had been installed that the whole Vista OS had eaten up nearly all of my disk space. 20Gb for an operating system - I DON'T think.

Running the disk cleanup tool gave me back some of the space (4Gb) but it was unable to do much with the gargantuan winsxs folder. How the developers at Microsoft sleep at night, no-one knows. Total bloat in my opinion.

My recommendation is to set Windows Error Reporting to Off, which can be accessed via the Control Panel (Settings|Control Panel|Problem Reports and Solutions). Goodbye and good riddance.

On a more happy note, I was pleased to be able to get my external monitor hooked up to my ACER laptop. This can be a right royal pain under UBUNTU 8.10 Intrepid Ibex with its overly complex xorg.conf file editing etc. so I was pleased to be able to do the following.

Press Windows key and X to bring up the Mobility Center [sic]:

From there, you can simply enable the external monitor. Very useful.


Mutant fly lands in Montevideo

I was alerted to a monster fly in the living room when my girlfriend Ale grabbed hold of me, clutching my arm and shrieking 'Get rid of it, urrghhhhhh'. I went to the window and on the curtains I saw this enormous mutant fly, rather dozy and quite happy to be swatted. I tapped it lightly with a flip-flop once it had landed on the floor and was surprised to see its thorax crack open slightly. After gently taking it outside by holding its wings, I went and grabbed my K800i to get a picture of the unfolding nastiness. The fly was obviously ready to impregnate something with its load. Disgusting.

At this point, Ale was going a bit mental so I managed to take another picture before giving it the big squish treatment.
I suppose that's nature at work but it's still yukkaroo.

My mate Ed suggested that I put them in a jam jar and watch the maggots feast on their dear departed parent but I'm not that bad ... hehe


Saturday 28 March 2009

AVG antivirus, new free version 8.5

Here's the link to download the latest version of AVG's antivirus product:

AVG free antivirus download

It gets larger and larger each time, with this one clocking in at a hefty 60Mb!



Sunday 8 February 2009

Monday 2 February 2009

Let it snow

I woke this morning to find that I'd received an email from my Dad, telling me that they'd been snowed in.

It's apparently the worst snow for 18 years - and it's just typical that I'm not around to enjoy it. What I'd give now to be able to go out and play in the snow, throwing snowballs at my god-daughter Hannah or even try to give it some 4-wheel drifting in the badboy Audi.

Here's a pic of my car all snowed in... only the aerial is visible. And there's also one of my parents back garden.

Tuesday 13 January 2009

Mosquitoes - and why DO they exist?

I was carpet bombed last night by a lone mosquito. Ale got the same treatment too, so picture the scene at 3:30 in the morning - trying to hunt down the bleeder whilst peppered with pink patches of Piracalamina, a wonderful product I must say.

When we finally found him, he got the squish treatment (naturally) and we managed to drift off to sleep around 4am.

Even though we are on the 4th floor, these irritant fligs seem to somehow make their way inside the apartment and lay in wait for what I assume is JB's sangre dulce. It really does wind me up why these creatures exist, and how much damage they do - and of course I'm talking about their activities elsewhere in the world.

I am investigating the possibility of making up an amateur trap involving the cunning use of yeast and a coke bottle. I WILL catch the blighters!

My venture back into the world of Windows

I've always been interested in the latest OS from Microsoft as it promised to offer a lot more than Vista ever did, namely in terms of speed. I eventually managed to download the 32-bit beta version and get it installed under VirtualBox OSE in Ubuntu as a virtual machine.

First impressions are speed, speed and yet more speed.

This is good news for anyone that was mildly surprised that Vista wouldn't run well on their laptop/PC simply because of all the huge bloat-boat that Vista is. It does still look pretty much the same on the inside though. I'm off to test the 64-bit version to see how that fares.

Currently Windows 7 as a beta gets the thumbs up from Johnnyboy simply because they seem to have addressed the speed problem that afflicted Vista when run on fairly modest hardware. Of course, that could ALL change when the product goes live...

Thursday 1 January 2009

Happy New Year everybody, welcome 2009

Hope you all have had an enjoyable evening, and the headache's not too bad hehe

We're taking the opportunity of a break in Playa Verde, approximately midway between Montevideo and Punta del Este.

This looks to be a WiFi free zone so don't expect to see me online for at least a week or so.

Pics when I get back.