Sunday, 17 May 2015

Most popular acts on Britain's Got Talent 2015

Based on number of YouTube views - BGT YouTube Channel
Updated: 25/05/2015 23:00

Entries that are striked through did not get through to the next round.
  1. Old Men Grooving 15.6m
  2. Roller skaters 14.4m 
  3. Talking dog 14.3m 
  4. Golden Buzzer (Simon Cowell) - Calum Scott 14.2m 
  5. Karate girl 12.3m 
  6. Jamie - Magician 9.3m 
  7. UDI dance group 8.4m
  8. Golden Buzzer (Ant & Dec) - Boyband dance group 6.5m 
  9. Male strippers 6.3m 
  10. Maia Gough 4.0m 
  11. Golden Buzzer (Amanda Holden) - Revelation Avenue 3.5m 
  12. Isaac - singer and pianist 3.4m 
  13. Henry - young singer 2.9m 
  14. Becky 2.1m 
  15. Hypnodog 2.0m
  16. The Neales 2.2m
  17. Matt McCreary parkour 2.0m
  18. Jade Scott 1.3m
  19. Misstasia 1.4m 
  20. Thigh slappers 1.5m 
  21. Aaron rock singer 1.1m
  22. Magdalena contortionist 1.1m
  23. Golden Buzzer (David Walliams) - Lorraine Bowen 1.6m
  24. Golden Buzzer (Alesha Dixon) - Entity Allstars 1.1m
  25. IMD Legion 0.8m
  26. Lisa - hula hoops 0.8m
  27. Welsh choir 0.7m 

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Fictional examples of a world without recycling

Is our world destined to become like these if we don't change our attitudes to recycling?

  • The Simpsons episode Trash of the Titans, where Homer's concept of burying all the waste under Springfield causes an eruption of waste all over town, and they have to move 5 miles away.
  • The Futurama episode A Big Piece of Garbage where New York sends it waste out into space, but it returns
    • Also notable is the issue of global warming in episode Crimes of the Hot, where they basically drop a very large ice block at the North Pole on a regular basis.
  • WALL-E - The Buy N Large corporation owns all businesses, government and utilities, leading to mass consumerism and a disregard for proper waste management, resulting in the entire population of Earth taking spaceships to live in space, permanently

Also an interesting topic is some crazy ideas in science fiction for recycling methods.

Friday, 8 May 2015

UK politics is like a war

It is certainly a tribal thing, which really, it isn't even the place for it. All the parties follow a paint-by-numbers fashion and appeal to the public to win voters anyway, when there is no real guarantee of policies coming into fruition.

This is the exact reason I do not like representative democracy - because a partisan government detracts from the real issues, creating a literal belief system and popularity contest, which has more regular media coverage than something as essential as science. It compares with religion, football or even “Apple faith”.

It’s logical to me to have a direct democracy instead, which is how Ancient Greece managed politics, and many countries today aspire to or are emulating. Unfortunately, power is more important to people than accurate representation, which, in my opinion, creates a false democracy.

In my opinion, as well, a direct democracy would also increase the overall intelligence of the country too, because voting directly for policies literally demands that you learn about the advantages and disadvantages of policies before casting a vote. In our system however, you can vote based purely on your favourite primary colour. 

Thursday, 7 May 2015

General Election 2015

If you don't know who to vote for, use a website to help you decide (iSideWith, Vote For Policies, Vote Match - Google will help you). Don't choose a party or personality because of what your friend or the media say. Make your own informed opinion, don't join a bandwagon.

If you are still undecided, or believe none of the MPs are fit to run the country, write 'none' or 'no confidence' diagonally over the selection side of the ballot (don't leave it blank).

If you are missing your ballot, don't worry, as long as you are registered, you can still vote, just take ID.

If you don't have the time, remember you can vote between 7am and 10pm (last time for queue entry).

If you are unsure if you are registered, check using to see if you are (and get a free credit report).

If you don't have the effort or are apathetic, remember that many countries don't have the freedom of choice, and our country historically hasn't always been equal for voting rights. It is a privilege.

Make your vote and make it count. As a qualified citizen and member of the UK, this is one easy step to making a difference to the future of your country, and ultimately, your life too.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Representative Government

Unfortunately as we have a representative government, there can be no silver bullet party, therefore defending such parties with such passion is an overhead. 
We should be debating policies and not  deciding which party is better, because none of them are inherently fit to decide for an entire country. It’s like trying to put a jigsaw together, but it’s missing all the edge pieces. 
Working in government is like group projects at university. None of you want to be there, someone always gets lumbered with the bulk of the crappy work, and the others just sit around doing nothing or making excuses and arguing.
No small group of people will ever get it right all of the time, when there is an entire subculture of its own providing such a high layer of abstraction, over-simplifying important decisions into paint-by-numbers parties reduced to symbolicism of primary colours. It is the weakest example of a simulacra I know. There are many comedians out there that I would agree, understand the people of this country much better than many politicians. 
However, all of the parties hold merit, including the Green Party. For example, their environment, austerity and transport policies seem highly reasonable to me, e.g. introducing a nationalised Oyster-card-like system, and investing in renewable energy, will really bring our country up to date and in true competition with the rest of the world, than just with Europe. We shouldn’t be a country that scrabbles for the cheapest solution, we need to pioneer a future for our children and adapt. 
I personally believe we are already in a dystopia. Regurgitating continued abuse without qualifying one’s claims is no better than the Daily Mail headlines and does cause me dissatisfaction and concern. 

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.