26 April 2016

Mobile Phone Coverage Charts

Ofcom have some very good and accurate charts for mobile phone coverage.

Data: http://maps.ofcom.org.uk/check-coverage

This set for example just shows 4G data and indoor, as that would indicate the best signal in terms of penetration and speed.


The data seems to line up fairly well with a study I did 3 years ago:

Vodafone - 80%
O2 - 77%
EE - 68%
3 - 51%

17 April 2016

Desktop Operating System Market Share and Fragmentation

Here's a nice chart I made to show the fragmentation of desktop operating systems - so I'm combining what the current market share is for each O.S, against when it was released. Basically what we are seeing here is Windows users are running some of the oldest operating systems available, whereas the Mac creates a trendline.

Information for Linux isn't available, but generally they are patched very fast, and account for a very small amount of desktop computers on the internet. I've explicitly not included other operating systems older than 2000 because they are less than 0.01% usage share.

Raw data source: Net Market Share


13 April 2016

Why you should upgrade to Windows 10



  • Windows 10 is the last big O.S rollout, so you'll never need to buy Windows again
  • For home users with genuine Windows 7 or 8, it is free to upgrade until July this year
  • Windows 7 and Windows 8 will become obsolete by November this year. By that I mean, you won't be able to purchase either of them anymore - the only Windows you'll be able to buy will be Windows 10. The O.S'es will still get updates on Extended Support until 2020.
  • From my experience, it's the most stable, fastest, most intuitive O.S so far and I wouldn't go back
  • The Start Menu is back with tiles as it was stupidly removed in Windows 8, though I still use Classic Shell (free)
  • There is a free update to get new features of Windows 10 in summer this year, dubbed the Anniversary Update
  • It's free to download and make a CD or USB installer of Windows 10 using the Windows 10 Media Creator Tool (and it has both x86 and x64 - although you should be using x64 systems by now)

Some things to be aware of


  • If you have the ability, I'd recommend doing a brand new install rather than an upgrade so that you aren't left with your old Windows and old copies of all your installed drivers - some people report that wireless doesn't work after an upgrade, which is due to Windows cloning them in case you want to go back. Also, it means you can save space on your hard drives by not keeping the original Windows 7 or 8 System Reserved partition. This does mean your OEM's partitions will be erased, but they are not worth going back to for the hassle.
  • If you do upgrade, run cleanmgr and C-Cleaner afterwards to clean up your system
  • It's worth reviewing all of the privacy options and the settings regarding Windows Update, I would dial them all back a bit
  • If you have video display issues, or issues with any other components, then use this tool in this link to install your own drivers from the OEM rather than use Microsoft's ones

'I have Windows 7. Why do I need to update?' (original post)

  • Windows 7 mainstream support has already ended, so you'll no longer get free support from Microsoft
  • This also means that you won't get any more security updates either, so your computer will become more vulnerable to attack
  • You will not get any new functionality introduced in newer operating systems
  • As time goes on, some programs will lose support for Windows 7
  • Windows 10 is more user-friendly, more efficient, more stable, more reliable, more secure, and has the best device support



29 March 2016

The Evolution of Anxiety: Why We Worry and What to Do About It

This Lifehacker article is a great and useful read, and I've provided some of my own comments below.



My thoughts:

Types of thoughts that people have:
  • 'All I can think about is how I'm ever going to live life without being anxious 24/7'
  • 'I fundamentally do not understand anything going on in my life'
  • 'I need to figure out what to do with my life'
  • 'I think about everything'
My experience:

I don't have medically diagnosed anxiety, but pretty much everyone I am sure has had times of anxiety when things get overwhelming, you question reality, the future and your identity.

There was one point at college where I was extremely stressed with the amount of work to do, and I took a deep breath, and realised there literally was nothing I could do to fix everything immediately and in one go... so I learned to stop caring, relax, and then do everything in bite size chunks. I learned to just take every single thing one at a time and deal with everything "as it comes", very much. I do care very much about everything, and at college people often told me that I over-analysed everything too much.

I worry about new situations, not as much as people I've known with Asperger’s, but it becomes a physical problem as well for me.

My analysis:

We humans put a lot of responsibility on ourselves to resolve all of our issues by ourselves. It's often the case that we try to 'hold everything together', I think of like trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle and on a time limit to see what it says once all the pieces are in place. There are some gaps, some pieces you don't understand what to do with, and you don't know how to tackle it in the best way. We become frantic over trying to get all of it done, that we end up struggling, we put too much pressure on ourselves to sort our whole lives out in one go.

Everyone goes through self-tests of awareness, which can happen at any time during their lives but often starts during teenage years.

How to reduce anxiety:

I don’t believe there is a single method that works for everyone. Everyone needs to find their own way that works for them. You will find a way to deal with it in your own way, whatever you have to do. They can be categorised thusly:
  •       Creative outlets
  •       Distractions, or “shifting anxiety” to something immediately achievable
  •       Tackling issues directly 

It’s important to keep moving forward with your life when you have anxiety or stress. Once you’ve hit rock bottom, you can only go up, and you might just need to face the issues head-on – just admit the thoughts sitting in the shadows, at the back of your mind, and tackle them. Think about what your concern is really about – only once you do that, can you get a grip on it and get control of your life back.

Creative outlets
  •       Art – drawing, painting, whatever comes natural to you – and you don’t need to be good to make art. A lot of art is just a raw expression of emotion.
  •       Sport – exercise, boxing, ju-jitsu, swimming, and anything else you might like, can help you process things, get back to reality, and move on.

Distractions

The problem with distractions is that they can be obsessive, so they should not be the only answer you take.
  •       The internet, especially YouTube For example, this lonelyisland video
  •       Going for a walk
  •       Talking with friends
  •       Listening to music, watching movies
  •       Eating and drinking


Tackling issues directly

The first step is to always take a deep breath. If you are in a critical situation, counting to 10 and closing your eyes helps, and you can push it down and away to deal with it later - the main reminder for me of this is when Jack on Lost was operating on a patient and heard about his dad passing away - he needed to save the person's life so he just counted to 10 and then dealt with his thoughts after the operation.

Planning

Coming up with a plan has helped me in many situations before. Sometimes I get very nervous before big meetings, and it doesn’t settle well with me. So all I do now is just make sure I spend more time preparing and thinking something through, and give myself time to relax. Take everything in bite size chunks. Brainstorm your thoughts. Work through them one by one.

It can go a bit overboard however with the planning – you might feel like you have to get everything sorted right now. If you knew everything going on for the rest of your life however, it'd be boring! If you had every moment of your life planned out, you’d lose the excitement and surprise that you normally get out of life – you would be compelled to rebel and be different. So in other words, live in the moment, take every day as it comes, and do things that make you happy.

Overwhelming

There is no pressure to fix everything at once. Think of it like a car, there might be several problems with the car, like failed engine or low battery, but you would only ever fix each part one at a time. There's no need to get everything working in perfect unison, you just have to deal with things as they happen. That is the best that anyone can do. Relying on others is more than acceptable.

Another way of looking at it is that each problem is like an obstacle course. You have to jump over hurdles, crawl under nets, swing over monkey bars, etc. Every problem needs a different way to tackle it – there isn’t a single answer for each of them, but the only thing that is in common is your approach to the problem.

Life will throw a lot of problems in your way, and you have to figure out how to get around them. For a lot of the things thrown at you, you may have absolutely no idea how you’re going to get over them. You just need to figure it out. Another way of thinking of it is like a doctor – a doctor or nurse has to know an array of different tactics to solve medical issues. It’s an adaptable applied set of knowledge. As life goes on, your knowledge base – your tactic base – will become stronger. It’s not something you can force on, it will happen on its own, and you can always expect life to throw things at you.

Compartmentalisation

It's always better if you try to work on isolated things instead of trying to fix everything at once, you need to learn to compartmentalise. Take each thing in bite size chunks, have a plan, and deal with everything piece by piece. Don't worry about all the stuff going on - often there are things we worry about that we can't do anything about, so there is no point in worrying - you just have to let things play out.

It's important to not worry about things you can't control. If you missed the bus only by a few seconds, don’t put the pressure on yourself – it happens to everyone. Just think of an alternative – can you wait? Could you walk, get a taxi, another form of transport, etc. Can you get a coffee in the meantime?

Writing things down helps me process them and forget about them – I don’t have to remember what the idea was, I only have to remember where it was “saved”.

Often these things have a habit of taking care of themselves too, and it can be more fun seeing everything come together. Focus on what you need to do a day at a time, don't try to be a perfectionist, and don't ever feel like it's your job to do it entirely on your own - people are more than happy to do favours and take the load off to help you, it comes with the nature of being a friend. You may not feel like you want the help, or you don't want to burden anyone, but sometimes it's exactly what you need.

Remember, life is a rollercoaster. You can't stop the cart so there's no use trying to do so, it has ups and downs and bends and twists and double backs, it will bring you anticipation, fear, joy, and a thrill, but most importantly, you should just let yourself enjoy it.

Other places for advice

Realistically, no single person can manage all their problems on their own. So don't ever feel like you need to fix everything on your own.
  •       Talk to a friend, a colleague, a teacher or a professional
  •       Talking to a therapist – some work places also provide them
  •       Defence mechanisms explain our behaviour and the varying levels of maturing when it comes to responses 
  •       Dan Howell has done some really good videos:

Update: More advice

Another example of something I've been asked to help with:
"Feeling up and down, just want to get my life on track"

My response to this is:

That's the thing though, life is what you make it, man. Life doesn't always have to be a big house with a white picket fence and 2.3 children. Life doesn't have a straightforward recipe. It's kind of like learning how to cook for the first time without any help. It's scary, and confusing, and tiring, and you don't always get what you want, but that's exactly what the point is! 

Life isn't about the destination, it's about the journey

It's not about planning everything out, and having to have everything in order, you just have to deal with everything as it comes, one at a time, it's about living in the moment. If you spend all your time worrying about what to do with your life, it gets in the way if you actually enjoying life as it is! You just have to accept life isn't something you can control, you can't predict every eventuality, you gotta just deal with what is thrown at you and go with what is right. Bad things happen, but there's nothing you can do to stop them, you just gotta accept them and move on. You gotta adapt, be a survivor, and most importantly, learn to just live.


27 March 2016

Windows 10 Apps stopped working since time went forward?


  1. Run sfc /scannow
  2. Run wsreset.exe
  3. Synchronise the Windows time using time.nist.gov or time.windows.com
  4. Restart computer
Should be fixed :)

03 February 2016

Fictional character's desires to leave the planet


  • 'I don't want to live on this planet anymore!" - Professor Farnsworth, Futurama
  • Dr Manhattan leaving Earth for Mars, The Watchmen

26 January 2016

Half Life 2 Episode 3: Prediction

Some ideas from http://forums.steampowered.com/forums/showthread.php?t=791259


  • Continue where it left off 
    • Gordon and Alyx are alive in the bunker. Eli has been killed and Alyx is mourning. Dog comforts her.
    • Possibly Gordon can show this expression somehow too - taking off his glasses for a moment and wiping them to clear away the tears. screen going black, they wake up. But Gordon has been a lot of people die already and he wasn't fazed, so he may not react at all.
  • Picking up the pieces
    • Alyx will have a newfound anger towards the Combine. Speech about the Combine not valuing life, in the same way they do with the stalkers. She's glad he didn't suffer and it was quick. She will talk about the advisors and perhaps reveal something or make a note about them.
  • Going to the Arctic
    • They will obviously take the helicopter, but perhaps it isn't fueled, so Gordon and Alyx will travel back to base and meet with Magnusson and Kleiner. The vortigaunts may escort them. Gordon will have to fill up the helicopter with collected fuel, and possibly find a valve/steering wheel to attach.
    • It's possible it won't be safe to launch the helicopter at this base, so it will need to be transported to another base first. They may find the base has been destroyed
    • A map of resistance bases towards the north should point out where Gordon and Alyx may have to drop off.
    • Dog will stay behind and protect the base. Alyx will be tearful.
  • They will reach the arctic
    • The helicopter will inevitably run out of fuel and crash, or possibly be hit by something. Possible an advisor will mentally attack them and cause them to lose focus so they crash. There will be a blizzard and they will have to travel to a base.
  • Getting to the Borealis
    • They may have to take a ship to get there
    • There may be several bases in the way
  • Releasing Mossman
    • Possibly at Kraken base
    • May find footage or information here, or a layout of the area
    • Mossman was going to be interrogated by the Combine so we have to help her escape
  • At the Borealis
    • There will be a heavy Combine presence. Snow uniforms or Elite Combine, Advisors, and new enemies. Possibly similar to stalkers, but adapted for the environment. There will be grey or snow hunters as well.
    • There will be advisors hibernating or feeding energy into the experimental technology. They will walk past an advisor doing this.
    • There will be elements of Aperture Science technology. Computer screens, white walls etc.
  • The "bad" technology/device
    • The technology "could compromise [the resistance's] work"
    • Risk was compromised when competing with Black Mesa which obviously caused the ship to disappear from Aperture and appear in the Arctic
    • It can be used against the Combine: "advantage for humanity" - "waste of potential" to destroy it or for them. There is no controlling "that kind of power"
    • The technology though is obviously extremely dangerous and could be used for good or for evil. So many people and large armies can be teleported anywhere in the universe immediately. We know that black hole technology is involved as a quantum tunnelling component for the Portal device.
    • It will clearly be portal related. 
      • Half Life 1 was about the resonance cascade being created at Black Mesa, being held open by the Nihilanth, who was then destroyed by Gordon.
      • In the interim, the Combine invaded Earth in 7 hours
      • HL2 was about Breen escaping Earth and going to the Combine overworld. Gordon destroyed the machinery supporting it.
      • Episode 1 was about overloading the reactor to send a message to the Combine world for reinforcements. They did successfully send a message but it caused the reactor to explode and destroy City 17.
      • Episode 2 was about the remnant portal turning into a superportal to allow the Combine through. The resistance stopped it by sending a rocket with a cancelling signal.
      • So Episode 3 will be the Combine's final attempt to do something portal-related. 
    • My theory based on the HL/Portal universe:
      • A superportal generated at the end of Portal 1 in GLaDOS' chamber and teleported her, Chell and parts of the chamber to the car park on the surface of the facility.
      • The Borealis was teleported sometime before the events of HL2:E2, and very likely before GLaDOS killed everyone before the start of Portal 1, with the new somehow getting to Black Mesa with an informant perhaps.
      • The entire Borealis and part of the dry dock was teleported to the arctic. This is somewhat similar to the behaviour of GlaDOS in Portal 1 - a big sizeable area of stuff was just teleported away.
      • So obviously this technology is a superportal-making device over large distances. Through the use of portals, it would allow them to avoid using the border world Xen as a relay. Or it could allow portals to be created without the need for a lot of power - just a portal device is needed.
      • The Combine obviously want to 
        • Get home - just disappear from Earth and leave forever
        • Bring reinforcements through by opening a massive portal again
        • Teleport the entire Earth to the Combine Overworld (most likely and most epic! Seems likely because we know the technology is too powerful, unpredictable and takes an unexpected amount of things with it, and it doesn't act a portal exactly - unclear)
      • So

        • Perhaps the playing around of black holes could result in the entire earth (or sections of it) being repositioned throughout space. 
        • Perhaps it could damage space time. 
        • Perhaps it could allow time travel. 
  • Possible theory: The device goes wrong / the Combine successfully use it
    • Something could go wrong and a chunk of Borealis and the arctic are transported to the Combine homeworld or another dimension.
    • The combine reinforcements reach Earth and start another invasion.
    • Gordon and Alyx have to escape the Combine forces, destroy the entire solar system by overloading the device / splitting up the combine, and get back to Earth
    • Gordon is perhaps transported to a different dimension and has to find his way back. Perhaps he travels in a tesseract and can see time.
    • Something has to be lost or sacrificed.
    • The vortigaunts will help out.
    • Barney could possibly come back.
    • The G-Man's world or home could be seen
  • The device is destroyed as it is too powerful
  • Ending
    • The G-Man captures us
    • G-Man is killed or turns out to be someone we knew, like Gordon from the future
    • Gordon is killed, but the vortigaunts save him

11 January 2016

The Meaning of Life, Living, and Being Alive

One day I will go to sleep and I won't ever wake up again.
Whenever that is I want to make sure I've lived a life being happy and making others happy.

There is no God or afterlife. There is no soul that lives on after us. We are life that has just happened to occur on a tiny spec of dust in a near infinitely sized universe, that has evolved far enough to have consciousness, a deep understanding, free will, and a conscience. That gives us no right over the millions of life forms and sub species of every human before us to have also had a soul. A soul cannot be born or evolved: everything that makes us human is bound by matter. We just got shoved with a complex brain with an embedded deep requirement and desire for meaning and reasoning that makes us want to live forever.

Religion was created as a psychological safety net to protect us from the truth, paranoia, fear and existentialism of how alone and unimportant we are in the universe. It seems like a betrayal that we are forced to live a life and make choices and we get nothing out of it after we die. It's truly scary to think we won't be alive anymore. Religion was created as a way of controlling people before politics and science existed. It's just a way of life as someone tried to immortalise themselves and their thoughts.

The best we can do is how that we've had a good and happy life and done the best at doing so, having never wasted our time. I imagine being on your deathbed, old, surrounded by the people that love you. Or it could literally happen any day, you'll never ever wake up or have a consciousness again. You get 90 years to live safely and healthily and then you're done, like a sand timer.

Your life right now is just one part of the story of humanity. There have been over a 100 billion people ever alive, and look how far we've come from our tree-dwelling ancestors, and then from dinosaurs. Look how far we've come from the first specs of life as oil bubbles. Your life is part of a wave, a cog in a machine, it's one ball of water in a river that is carving and eroding out a new part of the same river - it's constantly creating a new river in history and the riverbed of time. You've just been dropped into a segment of our history of life that's been going on for billions of years, at a stage where there are billions of us on the planet and we've developed intelligence and free thought beyond any of our counterpart species. We are alone in species because there is none other that has multiple languages or millions of words and interpretations. Words were created to allow us to depict and manipulate reality: to bend it to our will. No other species does it better in the eventual job of basically moving matter around the planet, and into space all that humans may occupy it. We are skeletons in bags of bacteria with a conscious brain trapped and carefully plugged into it that controls the rest of the body. It's our purpose to use that body as best we can, we've only got one of them.

Because we are alone and not able to communicate with any other species of life, we make more of ourselves to communicate with instead. We should try and meet as many people as wet can to try and never be alone when we die: we want someone to care about us. Although being alone is a good time for reflection and creativity to count towards the portfolio of your life.

We shouldn't be negative or make the experience any worse for anyone. No suffering should ever deliberately be created, but it cannot be avoided altogether. It's never on anyone's grounds to make the lives of others worse. Bullying, and harm to others is against the right of others to do good in this world.

The meaning of life (why does life exist) is to survive, to prevail. Even survive the universe if we can.
The meaning of living (why do we exist) is to change/influence/inspire the world for the better, to leave something of us behind (children, art, whatever is our baby) that follows our footsteps, in our likeness, and continues to improve upon us. A part of a continuity on how to lead your life (what instructions, values, morals and beliefs you have) that allow you to continue on the same story every parent before you has been telling.
The meaning of being alive (why do you exist) is to be happy (thanks to the work of others in bringing you food and entertainment), make others happy, and harmonise the two aspects above into a story that others can follow. It's a two part exchange. You are receiving that happiness/goodness of others and you need to make happiness/goodness for others.

I want you to wake up every day and know exactly what your plan is. How are you going to help the world today. Aside from meta stuff like food and clothes and a shelter and cleaning etc, how are you going to be the best you can be today. Don't get distracted or procrastinate or be lazy or stare into your screen. Have at least 3 things to do every day. Of course give yourself a break once in a while too.

Listen to the bells in your head. Stop and think before you respond at all. Think about others and how best to help them. Really try and understand what people want. If you have to do other stuff in the way because you're eccentric, take your own time out to do it.

Don't be selfish or think of your own needs.

05 January 2016

Have you been stuck with 'Installing Windows Updates'?

Have you been stuck with 'Installing Windows Updates' before, right before you leave work?

There is a way to know when the updates are coming, so that you can install them in your own time. There are also ways of postponing updates to install on shutdown, so that you can do them at your convenience. The reason that updates are installed “as soon as possible” isn’t to make your life inconvenient, it’s to try and keep your computer secure, and therefore protect you and your company from vulnerability.

When do they arrive?
Windows Updates come out every second Tuesday of every month. 6PM UK time is 9am for Microsoft though, so we won’t get the updates until Tuesday evening – so it’s more than likely you’ll get the updates come through on the 2nd Wednesday of every month.

So what should I do?
What I would do is setup a reminder in your email or calendar, every 2nd Wednesday of the month, in the morning, to manually go to Control Panel > Windows Updates, and then click ‘Check for updates’, and then choose to download and install them during the day, before you leave.

Can I postpone updates?
Yes, there are a few things you can do:
  1. Go to Control Panel > Windows Update > Change settings > Choose the 2nd or 3rd option, ‘Download updates…’ or ‘Check for updates…’, rather than the first option.
  2. Follow the instructions on this website to prevent your computer automatically installing updates once it’s downloaded them when you Shut Down your computer: http://www.askvg.com/how-to-disable-install-windows-updates-and-shut-down-option-in-windows-start-menu/
  3. If you still don’t have enough control, run “services.msc” from the Run dialog, and scroll down to ‘Windows Update’. If you right-click on it, you can either set it to Manual, or Disabled – but obviously please be aware this is a security risk and you must make sure you manually install the updates yourself as soon as you can.


18 December 2015

Word and AutoRecover

I have AutoRecover set to save every one minute, and I usually place my documents in a folder synced with a cloud storage desktop app. So every document I work on is always saved. And I always change the default AutoRecover and other useful locations so they are easy to find.

Alternatively if you get Office 2013/2016 you can save the document straight to the cloud (it even works with Google Drive now) so it's backed up literally as you type.