Thursday 28 October 2010

Internet radio stations

Bearing in mind the time I spent in Uruguay in 2008-2009, I developed a love for all things internet radio-based.

Some of the stations I listen to on a regular basis include Deep FM, and PointBlankFM.

I've also been able to add a gadget to the right hand side of my blog as you can see...



Thursday 2 September 2010

LG GH22LS50 DVD burner

I've had all manner of problems with this particular DVD burner from LG, but only when using it under Ubuntu. Trying to burn using either CDs or DVDs usually resulted in producing a coaster, which is no use to man or beast.

After booting into Windows 7 this morning, I checked the LG ODD firmware update tool and it said that the drive had been upgraded from version TL01 to version TL02 firmware.

I rebooted back into Ubuntu (Lucid Lynx 10.04) and tried burning a DVD ISO image using my trusty k3b application. The drive sounds like a rocket ship and managed to burn my hefty 4.3Gb ISO image in no time at all! Wonderful stuff.

I would suggest that anyone having problems in burning with this particular drive should update their firmware from TL01 to TL02.

Friday 20 August 2010

PS3 jailbroken with USB dongle? Read on...

I've been reading various online reports about the PS3 being hacked with some USB dongle device. Videos have been surfacing on the 'tinterweb' purportedly showing how it all work. There is one in French, but a more useful Aussie one can be found, courtesy of OzModChips.

The website of the USB jailbreak device in question ( is currently down at time of writing but I have managed to grab the text of the website below:

PS Jailbreak is a USB plug and play solution that installs in seconds, keeping your valid warranty seal in tact.
Easy to use installer and GUI takes you step by step.
Compatible with all production models FAT and SLIM. Supports all regions: USA, JAP, PAL and KOREA
PS Jailbreak disables forced software updates and will never brick your console.
Supports all games (it does not allow backups of bluray movies , dvd movies , or past consoles games)
Backup games to your internal hard drive or external hard drive through USB, and boot directly off GUI. Eliminating the need for expensive blueray burners and costly blank media.
Play backups off your hard drives 2x as fast as off the blueray drive. This eliminates lags and glitches to provide you with smoother game play.
Open up your console to a new generation of homebrew applications. Load homebrew apps/games off any USB hard drive/flash drive.
Fully updatable with new features/updates by connecting PS Jailbreak to any computers USB port.

The USB device, which apparently sells for around £80 (US$120), is plugged in prior to booting. When the PS3 is switched on, the Eject button is also pressed in quick succession. LEDs light up on the USB device to indicate mode of operation.

Its basic premise is that you seem to be able to perform backups of games to an external HDD, and then be able to run them as if you had loaded the game CD/DVD/BluRay into the drive on the PS3. This sounds great in practice.

Although BluRay discs seem to be quite resistant to scratches, once a game disc fails to load - then you are stuffed. Time to go out to the shops and buy another. This device fits the bill for my requirements, although having said that, I can see other miscreants using it for copying say rented games.

I'm convinced that Sony will be trying their best over the next week or so to release a new firmware update to negate this device's effect on the operation of the PS3. If they are unable to do so, then I might be interested! It may possibly give me the option of being able to perhaps reinstall my Ubuntu Linux as another OS to use, which was the 'other os' option that Sony so kindly removed for me in a previous firmware update.

Fingers crossed.

More info available here in the Register article:

PS3 jailbroken - The Register

Tuesday 17 August 2010

SATA connections

I'm a touch 'old school' when it comes to connections inside or outside computers. I had the pleasure of sorting out a PC that belonged to the parents of a dear friend over the weekend, and all seemed to be going well.

They had a rather dodgy version of Windows 7 installed and Microsoft Security Essentials was complaining that it might not be 'genuine software'. I elected to remove this and install Grisoft's excellent AV product called AVG. All was going well, until I went to reboot. I had removed a game CD from the CD drive prior to rebooting.

System rebooted and promptly told me there were disk errors - press Ctrl Alt Del to restart. Each restart then displayed differing errors, namely - slight corruption on the BIOS screen, failure at different points of the boot process, and oh dear, it was all going wrong for Johnnyboy at that point.

After checking the obvious, and then booting into my OS on my USB flash drive, all seemed OK. I normally carry around an install of Puppy Linux 4 OS to assist me in case Windows can't boot. And that happens rather too often for my liking.

Opening up the case revealed a rather warm PC. The power supply unit (PSU) was in the opposite corner of the case to that which I was expecting, and consequently covered most of the motherboard connections for the PC/case. I hadn't been able to figure out why I wasn't able to boot up after simply removing the CD.

After a bit of prodding around and checking, and then reseating cables, I discovered the cause. The CD drive had ejected rather forcefully (a good example of this effect would be a slide hammer) and in doing so had made the connection for the SATA HDD lose partial connection with the motherboard. I suspect that this was mainly due to the heat build-up and subsequent heating/cooling effect when the PC was switched off and on, and therefore making the connections possibly somewhat looser than required.

IDE connections are very firm and secure, but hard to work with in the confines of a PC case. SATA cables are great, and easy to work with but the less than solid connection has always concerned me. If you ever have troubles booting your PC after installing a new HDD, then I would certainly recommend checking the SATA cable connections as a first port of call.

Friday 13 August 2010

Dad in hospital last night

I had a frightening moment this morning when I woke to find a text msg from my Mum, saying that Dad had gone to hospital at 3am this morning on a 999 call. Apparently, he had breathing difficulties.

I arrived at the hospital to find my father in good spirits. It seems that he had suffered his first asthma attack, which wasn't too bad I guess for a 73 year old spring chicken. So panic mode over, and I can now relax again.


Thursday 12 August 2010

Call of Duty - Black Ops

The latest offering in the Call of Duty series of games is called Black Ops. There's a preview video available here:

Call Of Duty: Black Ops

The ability to send a remote-controlled car  is ingenious - think something along these lines: (Tamiya model r/c car)


After my return from Uruguay last year, and a consultancy position working at my last company on an LDAP/Active Directory implementation project, I'm looking for work.

If there are any openings within your organisation or company, then of course I'd be glad to hear from you. Skills include HP-UX, Unix, Windows, Linux, ssh, DNS, TCP/IP, LDAP, Active Directory, rsync et al.

Thursday 24 June 2010

AVG - latest download link v9.0

To save you all that time and effort, here's a link to the latest version of AVG (free edition):


Clicking on the above link will take you straight to the Download page for the installation files for AVG9. As per normal, the FREE version is tucked away, some would say almost hidden on the main AVG site.



Sunday 9 May 2010

Slow Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx)?

Recently, network performance on my Ubuntu box was appalling - to say the least.

Pings were taking 3,500 to 4,000 msec, a traceroute would take forever and a day to complete. Webpages were affected too, sometimes taking up to 30 seconds to load.

I could see that DNS resolution was slow but this wasn't a problem just with Firefox. It seemed to be affecting the whole OS.

I checked that DNS wasn't using IPv6 (which it wasn't) and also double-checked all the usual suspects; namely /etc/resolv.conf and /etc/nsswitch.conf

Originally I suspected that my Sony Ericsson K800i was causing a problem as I've taken to connecting the phone quite regularly nowadays, for transferring photos and also charging it. When connected, a message appeared on screen saying Network disconnected, and this made me think that perhaps Ubuntu was using the GPRS on my phone to access the 'tinterweb' ;-) This wasn't the case though.

The problem turned out to be a service called 'Ubuntu One'. I use it for syncing my local data to the so-called cloud. It seemed to be working fine but after checking the settings, I saw that the Limit Bandwidth option was set to On, but the default limits were set to Upload 2,048 and Download 2,048. As soon as I disabled this service, my pings went from 3000-4000 msec down to 20-300 as I would normally expect.

I think I'll be syncing manually from now...

Thursday 1 April 2010

PS3 firmware - update v3.21 - UPDATED

I am now connected to the PSN but still using version 3.20 System Firmware. I managed to achieve this using the Logan5 tool proxy. Everything works fine - yay!

Custom firmware is currently being looked into by the man GeoHot so I'll probably give that a bash when it gets released.

Sony - you are a bunch of twonks.

PS3 firmware - update v3.21 - WARNING

I was so close to installing the latest update, but somehow managed to spend 30 minutes online on my PC reading The Register - which revealed that the latest update removes the ability of your PS3 to run LINUX!

You appear to have a choice but no choice. Yesterday, I was able to play online games on the PSN and also boot my PS3 into Ubuntu. I've also played around with the Yellow Dog version but went back to Ubuntu in the end. Today, I can either accept the update and then not be able to use my Ubuntu. If I don't accept the update, then I can no longer play online games, and this accounts for around 80% of the games purchased.

It is simply outrageous that Sony have even thought about this, let alone actually implementing it. They are removing a feature that was advertised as being integral to the PS3 at launch. Where Sony stands from a legal viewpoint is far from certain. My analogy is that it's similar to a car manufacturer deciding to remove the stereo or sat/nav from your car, simply because they want to. You can then use the car as before (minus the stereo or sat/nav) OR sit there in your garage listening to your music whilst going nowhere.

Early adopters such as myself have invested big money in the platform and I simply don't understand Sony's logic. Like I said, they have 'given' me a choice when in fact there simply is no choice. I purchased the PS3 because it had the ability to run another operating system (OS), as well as play games obviously.

I am awaiting Sony's response on the matter.

Wednesday 17 March 2010

Can't open Word docx ?

Hello. I get hit with this type of question on an alarmingly regular basis. It's normally something along the lines of "I've been sent this Word document but I can't open it?"

To solve this annoying problem, there are a few options available:

  1. Download OpenOffice, an alternative to Microsoft Office
  2. Send the document to me and I will convert it for you from docx to doc format
  3. Buy Microsoft Office 2007 - not recommended unless you have a fat wallet.

It all stems from Microsoft's decision to change the default document type in Office 2007 when saving a Word document as .docx format. It used to be .doc format e.g. Shopping_list.doc but would now be saved as Shopping_list.docx. Since most of the world and his dog use versions of Microsoft Office 2003 or earlier, you won't be able to open it. Ridiculous logic but then that's Microsoft.

My recommendation would be to use the open source product OpenOffice. This suite of applications is able to open the new file formats (XML based) such as .xlsx (Excel) and .pptx (Powerpoint). You can then save the document in .doc/.xls/.ppt format. Personally, I use both Office 2003 and OpenOffice. That way, I am able to open any of the newer file formats and still be able to use (in my view) the infinitely superior Office 2003 suite - compared to the nasty Microsoft Office 2007 suite.

Tuesday 2 March 2010

PS3 now working again after Feb29th date bug fiasco

My old fat PS3 didn’t work properly all day yesterday, and the only games I could successfully play were Colin McRae ‘DiRT’ and one of my old WipEout 2097 games. All the others failed to start with some trophy/copyright error. I’d tried setting the clock manually beforehand to see if it would ‘fix’ things but it didn’t.
Switched it on at 12:20 am this morning (minus RJ45 network connection) and without contacting the internet or doing anything else, my PS3 was then back to complete normality.
2 things.
1) Sony appear to have let 24 hours pass to let the bug fix itself.
2) More worrying is that my system wouldn’t let me play more than 90% of my games.
A poor show Sony, and the lack of updates was inexcusable. I’m currently on the 5th PS3 (initial 60Gb launch model) so you could say I’m more patient and loyal than some ;-)
Give it a couple of days and there will probably be a new firmware update, applicable to just those old ‘phat’ PS3 owners.

Saturday 20 February 2010

Facebook site was down

Oh dear, the Facebook site was down today. What is everyone going to do?

I'm quite happy since I've been able to watch Arsenal v Sunderland at the home of football (Emirates/Ashburton Grove) via the wonderful p2p sopcast player.

Good luck to both Arsenal and the Facebook tech guys ;-)


Saturday 13 February 2010

Those people that use Google for EVERYTHING

I came across a story recently which amazed me. I've seen this behaviour myself where some people tend to use Google to then search for Facebook and click on the result, as opposed to actually typing into their browser's address bar.

Take a look at this website:

You can quickly see that it's not Facebook.

However, that hasn't stopped lots of retarded people from posting msgs on that completely unrelated website saying 'Please let me login to Facebook' without realising that it's not Facebook. The stupidity of some people amazes me.

Enjoy reading the comments, although some are not safe for work.


Monday 25 January 2010

USB resets on external hard disks

My syslog entries on Ubuntu x64 revealed lots of errors over the last month, specifically in relation to USB errors.

Jan 23 15:23:52 colossus kernel: [ 1806.970046] usb 1-1: reset high speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 2
Jan 23 15:23:52 colossus kernel: [ 1807.131881] sd 4:0:0:0: [sdb] Unhandled error code
Jan 23 15:23:52 colossus kernel: [ 1807.131888] sd 4:0:0:0: [sdb] Result: hostbyte=DID_ERROR driverbyte=DRIVER_OK
Jan 23 15:23:52 colossus kernel: [ 1807.131894] end_request: I/O error, dev sdb, sector 205518871
Jan 23 15:24:53 colossus kernel: [ 1867.600085] usb 1-1: reset high speed USB device using ehci_hcd and address 2

These USB resets caused either of my two external HDDs to make the dreaded clicking noise, which made me suspect that either one or both of them might be faulty. Both drives were normally plugged into the back of the server on the motherboard itself, which has 4 ports available.

This time, due to work commitments, I had been ferrying my disk drive around and therefore found it more convenient to plug into the front mounted USB2 hub that I'd installed a couple of years ago.

After doing the usual rounds on the forums, quite a few posters were suggesting some physical damage to the hard disks whilst others suggested it could be an NTFS problem. A small percentage of posters suggested that using a hub may be the cause of the problems. After exhausting the first two options, I then plugged both HDDs into the motherboard USB ports and lo and behold, all was working fine again.


Skype on Ubuntu Linux, plus pulseaudio problems.

After experiencing a load of hassle in the past with regards to getting Skype working at all on my 64 bit install of Ubuntu (Karmic Koala release), I was pleased to find that Skype now offer a 64 bit version to download.

After a quick one-button install, I was up and running. It seems to run even sweeter on Ubuntu, compared to Windows. Top marks to the developers for supporting this platform!

Prior to this, I'd started to investigate why the sound system in use by default on Ubuntu (pulseaudio) was giving me so many problems. My system would always start with the sound muted which was very annoying, although I fixed that quickly by hacking a script together to run on boot.

What really got my goat with pulseaudio was its inability to remain stable and usable for any length of time. Music played through Winamp was hit and miss, with radio static/crackle sometimes rearing its ugly head. Don't even think about mentioning Spotify since that caused all manner of problems! My solution to the problem was rather violent (in UNIX terms) because all I did to resolve the situation was to perform a killall on pulseaudio:

# killall pulseaudio

This would sometimes sort the problem out, but not always. After a lot of digging around on Ubuntu forums, the general consensus of opinion was that the pulseaudio system is still a 'work in progress'. Not an ideal situation I feel, so I took the executive option of removing the crud and installing a proper sound system, aka esound.

# sudo aptitude purge pulseaudio
# sudo aptitude install esound

All is now well in the world of sound on Ubuntu x64 and I am very happy that this great software seems to have fixed all of my sound problems. All the more exciting is that I can now select my webcam mic as a recording sound source. Perfection!


Wednesday 20 January 2010

Mark - bruv would have been 40 today!

It's my dear bruv's birthday today and it made me wonder how things would have turned out had he still been around?

A lot has happened in the last 10 years or so since he departed this earth. It's a shame he never got the chance to meet Ale, or see how his nephew and nieces have developed. There's not a day that goes by without me thinking about him in some way, shape or form and I miss him dearly.

I just hope that he made the right decision for himself and that he's happy where he is...

JB x