Friday, 3 April 2015

Insert boot device

I would either use a Windows installation/recovery disc or USB to try and repair the MBR.

An easy way to determine if BIOS still sees your disk is to go into it (usually press F2, F10, F12 or Delete when the computer turns on) and go to the boot order/priority section. If a hard drive is listed with a model or serial number, then your hard drive is correctly installed and that means the issues is your MBR, which can be fixed easily with a Windows installation disc.

I will highly recommend an additional diagnosis, cleanup, defrag, update, and getting a Windows repair USB stick for safety against it happening again.

Windows To Go & First SSD Experience

My experience mostly covers external SSD drives with Windows To Go (8.1) installed.

Patriot Supersonic Magnum (Manufacturer) (Amazon)

Good points:

  • Speedy with large files e.g. backup images
  • Convenient size

Bad points:

  • Very poor speed for small files - so not good for Windows To Go at all
  • Quite bulky on the width, so may not be able to plug in things to ports next to it

Imation Ironkey W300 (Manufacturer) (Amazon)

Good points:

  • Very small SSD - size of a normal USB stick
  • Excellent speeds (400MB/s read and write even with BitLocker enabled)
  • Excellent speed even when connected to USB 2.0 (nearly unnoticeable difference)

Bad points:
  • Does lag/freeze temporarily sometimes (not enough to write to Event Viewer, so possibly caused by antivirus software)
  • Very expensive for the storage sizes (£300 for a 128GB drive)
  • Can get very hot
  • Cap does not fit onto the end of the stick

Transcend ESD400K SuperSpeed USB 3 (Manufacturer) (Amazon)

Good points:

  • Cheapest SSD for a decent performance
  • Very small size (wallet card sized)
  • 3 year warranty

Bad points:

  • I had major problems with this device and timeout errors after 2 weeks of use .This was apparent under both Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu 14.10
  • Transcend customer support was not helpful


Freecom Mobile Drive Mg USB 3 (Manufacturer) (Amazon)

Good points:

  • Very thin and stylish design akin to Apple Mac
  • Excellent performance speeds
  • Stylish casing
  • No regular lagging issues that I have seen

Bad points:

  • Cable that comes with it is not as stylish
  • More expensive than other SSDs available
  • Comes formatted for Mac (but of course can easily be reformatted by Disk Manager)


Useful notes for Windows To Go users

  • I highly recommend installing Classic Shell to bring back a proper Start Menu (which is returning in Windows 10)
  • There are several ways to optimise your SSD, just searching for it is likely to bring up results, but the main ones I remember are:
    • Enable TRIM - Windows 8.1 should automatically take care of this for you and prevent defragmentation
    • Disable Superfetch - Samsung recommends disabling this 
    • System Restore - to save writes, it would be best to disable this, but make sure you keep an external image backup in its place - my preferred favourite is AOMEI Backupper because of the small installation, speed, SSD optimisation and freeware.
    • Disable search indexing
      • Empty the index (Control Panel - Indexing Options - Advanced)
      • Disable the Windows Service
      • Right-click the C:/ drive and untick 'Allow files on this drive to have contents indexed in addition to file properties' and apply to all files and subfolders
    • Disable write caching - my reason is below
    • Hibernation or hybrid sleep - personally I prefer having the option of hibernation, however, my computer doesn't seem to always properly handle booting from hibernation properly, so I've disabled it
  • Check you set the low battery options - go to Control Panel, Power Options, Change plan settings, Change advanced power settings, Battery, Critical battery action. Make sure you change this from the default 'Hibernate' if you have disabled Hibernate! I have set it to Shutdown.
  • To install Windows without it being certified Windows To Go, use WinToUSB - requires an ISO or installation disk
  • Use EasyBCD to disable the timeout on the Windows Boot Manager screen so that you can easily get to the recovery options if you break your Windows (pressing F8 on startup isn't guaranteed to work anymore)
  • I regularly got the Event Viewer errors 'Reset to device, \Device\RaidPort1, was issued.' by USAPStor and 'The IO operation at logical block address 0x78f47c0 for Disk 0 (PDO name: \Device\0000003a) was retried.' by disk with the Transcend and the Freecom
    • Changing the hidden ACHI power settings didn't work
    • Changing the cable to a gold-plated one didn't make a difference
    • Upgrading the Intel RST drivers didn't work
    • Upgrading the Renesas USB driver provided by Microsoft caused Windows to bluescreen on boot. I could have tried using the Intel USB 3 driver. There are no updates to the UASPStor.sys driver from Microsoft since 2006.
    • Disable write caching on the disk using Device Manager - fixed the issue for me
  • Speed up your SSD boot time by disabling startup items using Task Manager
  • If using an external SSD, then use Disk Manager to take the internal HDD offline, and the Device Manager to disable the disk altogether.
  • Don't use an automatic SMART monitoring program like Acronis Drive Monitor because it may cause a serious about of lagging and timeouts. Only use this for traditional HDDs. 

For a detailed breakdown of SSD speeds and prices I could find on Amazon at the time, see here:

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Why is there no more space on my computer?

Possibly system restore is creating more restore points, or you haven't emptied your recycle bin in a while?
Get C-Cleaner to clean up temporary files.
Get TreeSize Free to determine where all the space in your computer is being used.
Go to DownloadMoreRAM to get more memory for your computer for free.

Climate Change

Neil deGrasse Tyson's Cosmos episode on climate change was really compelling. The planet Venus is a great example of what could happen and the importance of balance.

Brian Cox believes that nuclear fusion research would be the best source of energy right now, whereas Neil believes either artificial photosynthesis or solar farms would be able to power our civilization millions of times over.

Algae is the best producer of oxygen purely because of the surface area - trees only account for 20-30% of all oxygen.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Why should we use 7-zip, instead of Windows' in-built zip compression?


  • Free (open source) (as opposed to WinZip and WinRAR) and still in development
  • Excellent compression ratios and a customisable level of compression for many formats
  • Support for opening ISO, WIM, RAR and many more formats
  • 64-bit support
  • Very small installer (only 1MB)
  • Windows' in-built compression format does not warn you if the folder you're trying to extract the folders to is too deep - instead it gives you a red herring password prompt
  • Opening ZIPS with Windows in-built can take a long time - 7-zip is near instantaneous for regular sets of files

There are a couple of points against:

  • 7-zip isn't the most user friendly - WinZip is better, but it's certainly a lot less cluttered
  • When creating multipart files, the 'DVD' option is set to 4480MB - if you try an burn a file this size with Windows's burning tool, it won't tell you that the file will actually get slightly trimmed. So I would recommend using CDburnerXP, or InfraRecorder instead, or if you reduce it to 4400MB then it will work fine.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

AirDroid: Alternatives

Instead of AirDroid, I use:


  • Texting - MightyText
  • Whatsapp - Whatsapp Web
  • AirMirror - not yet compatible with Android Lollipop 5.0.1 (requires root)
  • Notifications - Pushbullet
  • File transfer - up to 10MB - Pushbullet; greater than 10MB - AirDroid :D
  • Contacts - Gmail Contacts

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Human Universe - Final Quote

BBC - Human Universe

"Science is unreasonably effective. It's generated knowledge beyond all expectation. It's also delivered perspective. Yes, we are an insignificant speck, in an infinite universe, but we're also rare. And because we're rare, we're valuable.

So what are we to do to secure our future? Well, we must learn to value to the acquisition of knowledge for its own sake. And not just because it grows our economy or allows to us to build better bombs.

We must also learn to value the human race, and take responsibility for our own survival. Why? Because there's nobody else out there to value us or to look after us.

And finally - most important of all, we must educate the next generation in the great discoveries of science. And we must teach them to use the light of reason to banish the darkness of superstition. If we do that, then at least there's a chance this universe will remain a human one."

Professor Brian Cox - Human Universe (episode 5)

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Doctor Who - Death In Heaven unanswered questions

- How was Danny able to get over the Cyberman programming after switching his emotions on? Is it due to the power of love again?
- What was the point of being the President of the World? He didn't even use it to do anything. Is it because he didn't want it anyway?
- Why was Osgood so easily convinced to hear Missy whisper? Is she just that convincing? Either way she would have died anyway, Missy still got out of the handcuffs.
- Did Osgood etc. go to the Nethersphere after being killed by Missy's red death ray? Seems unlikely as she killed Seb.
- How does a full cyber conversion happen just by it raining? Proper machines were needed before.
- Why convert the dead and not the living? Is it because with the dead and the Nethersphere, people's personalities could be erased, resolving the problem of converted humans fighting against their programming? Which didn't work in Danny's case?
- Was that really Missy's plan all along, just to give the doctor an army and see if he turns to evil? What does she get out of it?
- How did the Master escape the Gallifrey in the pocket universe (here it is described another dimension instead) - Missy does hint at this
- The Doctor went to the Gallifrey coordinates, but surely he was looking at the real world, not the other dimension/pocket universe?
- How did Danny get converted even though he was on a table under a sheet? Did the water drip onto the sheet, drip up, or go into the air?
- How long has the Nethersphere been around? (It was hinted it's been around since humanity started believing in the afterlife) - so who set up the hard drive in the first place?
- Who setup the other Cybermen tanks in the world? How did they remain hidden? (TARDIS has the same ability?) Were there more of the Gallifreyan hard drives or was the only one in St Paul's? (Latter seems likely due to its size inside)
- Why did Missy have control over the Cybermen? (using the wrist device) Technology stolen from the Timelords?
- Why did the kid that Danny killed have a body, does he not need his original? This is a similar way to how Missy was able to fully enter and exit the Nethersphere however - maybe until she was apparently killed, she was the only person allowed to transfer in/out? (Assuming the hard drive records metal self image or physical properties of the person)
- Is 3w entirely responsible for the creation of the small handful of Cybermen in each city (the elite afterlife), the administration regarding being cremated or not)
- Why was the internal of the Nethersphere with the Cyberman logo in mind? Can it be redesigned as necessary against whatever Timelord defaults there are?

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Upgrading Cloud Storage: Comparison Chart

If you need more cloud storage and aren't sure where you should put your money, here is a nice comparison chart showing some of the most popular cloud sync services and their annual costs based on storage sizes.

Any grey cells are where that storage size is not available. Some of the providers can give more than 1TB as well and some have more mixed ones in between.

If you'd like to see any providers, post a comment and I'll be happy to add them.

View full-screen version here on Google Drive (ha).

Money Supermarket have a chart of rates and providers, but it doesn't compare price per GB, which the one below does.

Monday, 21 April 2014

Recommended Android Apps

Social Networking/Messaging

  • Facebook & Messenger
  • Twitter
  • Foursquare
  • Whatsapp
  • SimplyText
  • MightyText

Games

  • Quiz Up
  • Dead Space
  • Despicable Me
  • Wind Up Knight
  • Cut The Rope
  • Angry Birds
  • Flow Free
  • Cookie Clicker
  • Draw Something
  • PewPew
  • Memory Trainer
  • Wordament

Themes/Widgets

  • Dashclock
  • Freshbacks

Music/Photo/Video

  • Cartoon HD
  • Plex
  • Movies Planet
  • QuickPic
  • Shazam
  • Spotify
  • TVcatchup
  • VLC

Maintenance

  • Clean Master
  • TasKiller
  • App Cache Cleaner
  • Battery Notifier

Security/Access

  • 1Password
  • KeePass
  • AirDroid
  • Authenticator
  • RD Client
  • Remote Control

'Find My iPhone'

  • Lookout Security
  • Android Lost
  • Prey
  • Android Device Manager

Location/Scanning/Shopping

  • Barcode Scanner
  • Google Goggles
  • Fancy
  • Wish
  • Just Eat
  • National Rail
  • RAC
  • Google Opinion Rewards
  • Tube Map

News

  • Zite
  • Flipboard

Tools/Keeping Organised

  • Automatic Call Recorder
  • SolCalendar
  • Instant Heart Rate Monitor
  • Google Keep
  • Link Bubble
  • OI File Manager
  • PushBullet
  • Speedtest
  • Swype
  • Wifi Analyzer

Dating

  • Blendr
  • Grindr
  • Hornet
  • Tinder
  • Jack'd
  • Bender