30 December 2013

Free Stuff, Discounts & Offers

Here are some places I recommend for discounts and free stuff

Free Music
Free eBooks

Mobile/Android only
Free trials
Harder to get
  • Burger king vouchers - sometimes ask in-store for vouchers
  • McDonalds - Metro sometimes has them
  • Vodafone - Vodafone do a discount for employees of certain companies
  • Apple - student discount at university
In Reading only
  • Domino's uni vouchers (Fresher's Fayre)
  • Subway uni vouchers
  • Nandos free meal (Fresher's Fayre)
  • Sizzling Spice (multiple visits in-store and you'll receive a £10 off voucher)
  • Pizza Hut (in the post/on delivery)
  • Bed Bar Member card - for a few places in Reading
Christmas only
  • iTunes 12 Days of Christmas/Gifts
  • Compare The Meerkat - free meerkat toy
  • Southern Electric - iplan 7% discount
Other links to check out

5 November 2013

Dependence on Technology

There is a really old post (like, 2006) that was on IMDb that I posted, can't seem to find it at the moment, but I saved a copy.
I think I was replying to some guy about a film where we are nearly dependent on technology.

Does technology make us lazy?
I agree exactly, technology is there simply to make things easier for us to do - they automate our processes (hence automaton, 'automatic' prefix to everything). For example, washing machines, self-checkout services, pacemakers. Technology in this sense both protects and extends our lives without it.

Will we ever become dependent upon technology for survival?
I feel that for certain ways of survival this is true - for example, any medical system e.g. pacemakers, life support systems, kidney filtration etc. This also extends into the secondary field of technology which enables you to survive, e.g. if you need an organ transplant, the tightness and agility of the communication and transport technology is essential here.
As for being fully dependent - this begs the question of how much of us is really human - take the game Deus Ex, the film Blade Runner and the Sprawl Trilogy (Neuromancer etc.) by William Gibson - which detail on cybernetic humans - however in these forms the human is still in control. But in both cases, without technology, people (if you can call them that) cannot live.

Designer babies
This begs the question, if people can design their own babies, why can't they choose a baby that is not a 'normal' baby, e.g. one that has 3 heads, red eyes and tail? Once we have the ability to play God like that, who is to say that people won't try to make something out of the ordinary. Just watch an episode of Fringe and you'll understand.

Meaning of life
This goes into another big question about the meaning of life - the meaning of life in general being 'to survive'. Viruses are so powerful and dangerous because of their ability to adapt to new environments and harness the nutrients of its environment - a suitable reference point here being this video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7DkeQ0roAM ("A Virus Walks Into A Bar") - "it completely takes over the cell to it's own uses - your cells under new management". Through natural selection the most different and capable ones survive. With humans, if you don't adapt, then you reject it.
What I'm trying to get at here is that it is vital that we adapt, doing whatever is necessary to survive. Technology is a step in this direction as with research we can find new ways to survive - some of this may be fringe science perhaps (e.g. cryogenics, uploading your consciousness to a computer). Any episode of Stargate or Fringe can take you in this direction. I am certain that in order to survive the death of our sun, we will need technology to leave our planet, assuming we haven't killed ourselves by then, asteroids haven't come to kill us etc, this is all discussed on here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Risks_to_civilization,_humans_and_planet_Earth
And then what do we do when the heat death/big crunch happens? How do we survive beyond that? Technology and science go hand in hand in this area and will undoubtedly play a large role in our future.

What has science fiction taught us about our dependence on technology?
The danger of the dependence is highlighted in various science fiction entries. The Matrix, Ghost in the Shell, iRobot, Terminator etc.
In The Animatrix, The Second Renaissance Part 1, you can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAjdlwnTg5w
"Man made the machine in his own likeness. Thus did man become the architect of his own demise." Like happened in iRobot, a robot kills a human. "Who was the say the machine, endowed with the very likeness of man, did not deserve a fair hearing?"
This shows us that if we give machines too much power and artificial intelligence to be like us, and humans remain stubborn, robots will do the same. If we become far too dependent on technology, we may become slaves to it. And in many ways we are already slaves to the "cold and emotionless rule of machines" as we work and spend a lot of our lives just getting technology to work (technical support and database engineers to name only a few). But what is the gain of this? On such a micro scale such as having access to the Internet, there are still a lot of problems such as viruses, spilling coffee over laptops, electrocution and fire by overheating batteries that have to be recalled (there are many sources on all of these e.g. http://www.dellbatteryprogram.com/, http://www.reuters.com/article/2008/10/30/sony-battery-recall-idUSN3030020920081030) And with the threat of cyber security, technology and the Internet in general are extremely dangerous. When your military of defence or NHS laptop (http://www.zdnet.co.uk/news/security-management/2011/06/15/nhs-laptop-loss-could-put-millions-of-records-at-risk-40093112/) is stolen or hacked, there is a great threat and technology is the catalyst in the equation. Technology has therefore become a "double-edged sword" (reference to Jeremy Clarkson again). It gives us great power but it is not to be played with irresponsibly.

Technology is a good slave for us, but only a slave. As a master, it is unpredictable and full of danger. Imagine what the risk management forms would look like working for Cyberdyne Systems (Terminator).

20 October 2013

Existential Thoughts on The Meaning of Life

Wrote this and left in draft about 2 years ago, just a mind dump really. Finally decided to clean it up a bit and publish. I will add some pictures and diagrams when I can be bothered.

Why do we want to be happy and why do we bathe in sadness?
Why do we exist in this universe?
What is the point of being alive?
Why do we have all these intricate emotions and feelings?

How do we exist beyond death?
If we died, what would be be, would it be like Amnesia where we float in another dimension and are able to meet other souls who can communicate with us, would that be the rest of our lives? In that case we had emotions, but emotions are human, they are neurotransmissions sent around the brain to stimulate a reaction, invoke a memory and therefore craft a response or change the internal structure of the neurons by creating and adapting new memories. How could you possibly have this in a soul that doesn't have a body?

Senses are the things of living creatures, not of spiritual soul beings. It would not be possible to interact with the world unless there really are things such as ghosts, the flotsam and jetsam of Torchwood that seeps through from the beyond and touches with our reality - but that is just a fantasy idea to make us believe there isn't nothing after the end of our lives.

So why do we exist, why do we have this capacity for free will and choice and knowledge and emotion and a desire to be intelligent, the intelligent people are more likely to survive and adapt to situations and make sense of the world rather than an ignorant fat lazy cow sitting in some council flat thinking about Big Brother and her hair and her kids and all the taxes and her husband and candles are the most important things in the world.

So what can we actually do when we are interacting with the rest of the world when we are dead. Nothing. We could be sitting in darkness. But consciousness is an entirely human thing is it not? How would something like that transform into another state and exist our bodies or live on and what would happen after millions and millions of years. Maybe the reason we have happiness is just an extra extension that we have evolved and there is no afterlife.

Then why are we actually alive? What real difference will it make if we were actually all dead right now? What if the entire universe didn't exist. What if nothing existed? Why do we exist? Why do things have to be this way? Is our goal to keep ourselves and the rest of the species alive as much as possible? Like with food and so on. Can we get to a point when we don't need food or bodies anymore? Imagine yourself being dead right now, how would that impact the human race and the rest of the world. It doesn't matter how it affects people because they are just people, they will live. There are so many people, why does it make a difference?

Why do we have banter and why do we have sadness? Is sadness meant to keep us going and make us a better person so that we can be stronger next time? But why do we bathe in it and let ourselves be upset and not do anything about it? Why do we stay single? What is the point in being happy?

Is there a point in being really rich or very poor, surely if we wanted to keep as many of our numbers alive as possible we would need to give money from the top rich people and give it to the poor so that as many people as possible can survive in the world, and then we would have to make sure food supplies and drink can derive. Will we really end up at a point when some of us start dying off like any other bacteria because we cannot live in our environment anymore, or will it be the environment we have to worry about more, re: are we actually a sustainable species or not?

Why do we need any money at all, why are we so caught up about £10?

What if we stripped our bodies down to be like that of another creature, like a whale. All whales do is eat, search around for food, communicate with others, and breed offspring. It's a basic life. What about dogs, they have a lot of energy, maybe they have emotions as well. Maybe they can feel happy and sad. Maybe all animals can feel happy and sad, but why do we need to feel happy and why don't we do anything about being sad? Or are there lots of people who just don't give into sadness?

Why starve yourself - it helps you to adapt to situations where there is little food

Why do gays exist in humanity - why does it exist in other animals - one example because some species i.e. lizards can reproduce without any male counterpart, they can survive on their own

A picture of how many gays there are in the world (5%) and how many curious people there are in the world (10%), how much would it fill a country, are there still 7 billion people in the world.

...insert picture...

We get urges because they are calls to enable our bodies to survive, they are things we don't get a lot of control over, we can postpone them and keep ourselves occupied but they do indeed are the prime source of all behaviour

Everything else is secondary - entertainment, music...
Why do we need to be happy? What does it enable us to do?

How small we are in the universe

...insert picture...

Explain survival of bacteria, we are a lifeform that has covered the planet, a very successful life form being able to live in a multitude of environments.

.insert explanation...

Why are we so small in the universe?
Maybe each sun and black hole is an experiment, an individual test to see if life can survive there.
Maybe we are meant to extend our reach to the edge of the universe an exit a great big round sphere that someone else has in their lab.
But then why do they exist, are there other instances of life that exist somewhere else in the universe - probably yes but far far away from us in entirely different circumstances

Show a timeline of the history of the universe then when life probably began one earth then the dinosaurs then humanity and how much longer our earth and sun will survive and when the predicted end of the universe is
Put in the end of the dinosaurs as well as other threats to us like asteroids and sun flares and polar changes etc

.insert picture...

We are so small, there is just us on earth and a space station and people who've been to the local area
But there is just so much space between planets and stuff, maybe we are not meant to be able to travel to the edge of the universe, maybe there is a reason everything is so far apart, maybe we are just fumbling in the dark, or maybe we need to try and drive as long as we can, maybe we are a test.

18 September 2013


After a whole year of waiting since last September, finally the NHS have removed a small sore lump of tissue from the base of my spine, this time done by a hospital, and removed properly, than by my GP.
There have been many nights that I have just cried myself to sleep because of how painful and helpless I've felt about it.
In many ways I am upset, relieved and angry that it had taken this long to remove something that could have become much worse, when it actually could have been properly treated within a couple of weeks of first diagnosis.
After my stitches are removed next week, I hope very, very dearly that it doesn't ever return. Being able to sit or lie down again without any pain is absolute bliss right now and I hope so much it stays like this.
This really makes me think that if surgery needs to be done, it should be done immediately - on the same day if possible. It is less of a risk to perform treatment immediately once a couple of doctors have successfully diagnosed it, rather than your treatment put onto a waiting list that may actually never get back to you, leaving you suffering and allowing your conditions to get worse.
I really do think that treatment should be performed immediately, to decrease risk, decrease suffering and ensure better communication between the whole chain of healthcare.

22 June 2013

Workplace Pensions - how much will you really save in 40 years time?

Right, so this automatic-enrollment for workplace pensions, let's figure out how much would actually go into the pot.

I'm 23, and the default retirement age is 65, but most people retire for their state pension between 61 and 68.
So this gives me a default of 42 years.
Pension is only taken out from one month of payroll, so this means there would be 42 x 12 = 504 contributions.

Now, you wouldn't have the same salary for 42 years, but let's establish a baseline:

The minimum contribution is 1%, with a company contribution of 2%, and you get a small tax relief.
This tool can help you figure out what the contributions from yourself, your company and the government will provide in total:

I've taken my own details for one year from the page linked, and then just calculated what it would be for the rest of my life.

So looking at this, if I did save the minimum contribution into a pension instead of an ISA with 2% interest, I would get double the amount I saved.

9 June 2013

Fix Most Common Windows Problems

I'd just like to outline some steps everyone should take when trying to troubleshoot their computer. He are some of the most common things I get asked.

It doesn't work
Performance/speed issues
  • Install all Windows (operating system) updates - both recommended and optional (no need for language packs, Bing or Security Essentials if you always have AV)
  • Update all installed software and plugins
    • Use FileHippo, SUMo and any Software Updaters already installed
    • Update Microsoft Office from File - Account - Update.
  • Update all drivers from your OEM
  • Disable or uninstall toolbars for your browser
  • Uninstall unnecessary software e.g. a second antivirus scanner, old versions of software
  • Clean temporary files, caches, logs, recycle bin, registry etc.
    • Use C-Cleaner, Cleanmgr (delete your old restore points)
    • Something both of these miss out is the C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution folder
    • There are many software products out there than advertise as cleaning, decluttering and optimising your PC, many of them make things seem worse than they really are and some are more damaging than they are worth
  • Defragment disk - Defraggler or the Windows version will do
  • Check for problems by running sfc and dism /restorehealth
  • Delete old files that you definitely don't need anymore to save disk space
    • This includes setup files in the C:\ drive
  • Install free Soluto software to help keep track of things slowing it down and any updates available
  • Install free Acronis Drive Monitor to keep an eye on hard drive failure (computers often slow down when the hard drive starts to fail)
  • Install 'Core Temp' which shows the temperature of the processor in the bottom-right of the screen (if it gets hotter than about 80 degrees there might be a problem with the cooling which might help identify why it would slow down)
  • If still having issues, try doing a refresh install of Windows, or completely fresh install.

If you think you may have a virus/malware
  • Update your antivirus product and scan the whole computer
    • If you don't have one, get one!
  • Microsoft Security Essentials
  • Avast
  • AVG
  • Comodo
  • ClamWin


  • Norton
  • Kaspersky
  • McAfee
  • Trend Micro
  • Dr Web
  • E-set
  • Others
Temporary free antivirus
Download, install and run a temporary antivirus solution (even your prime antivirus can become compromised

Also as a recommendation
  • Install free 'Prey' software to help locate the computer if it is stolen

26 May 2013

Windows 8: WTF's

Seriously Windows 8, I mean, seriously, come on.
Will not use this crap operating system as much as I can.

Fail 1: My password changed on my wireless account, when I try to connect to it, with Windows trying to use the old password, it doesn't tell me the password has changed. Windows 7 normally does this - it just asks for a new password to confirm. Windows 8 just gives up entirely.

Fail 2: Apart from my connected WiFi, there is no way for me to tell or configure WiFi access points manually. I can modify ones I have saved, if I right click them, but there is no separate menu in either this UI, or available via the Network & Sharing Center, to change them. Windows XP was the first to introduce this, and Windows 7 is quite good at managing them I would say. But this is just going plain backwards. From this list, I can't tell which one's I've saved (successfully connected to before). This is like going the way of Apple and just abstracting out too much information.

Fail 3: Somehow, this Travel app costs about 1/3rd of a gigabyte. I've never even used it. What could it possibly have in it? A travel encyclopedia of the world like Encyclopedia Britannica? Photos from every country? A streetmap of everywhere in the world? I hardly believe so.
Also, Minesweeper says it needs 142MB - really? It's like 2MB game in all previous editions of Windows, I mean seriously!

Fail 4: Windows Update has "a problem" checking for updates. Doesn't give you an option to try again, just says there is a problem, doesn't even say what kind of problem. All previous Windows, I've never had a problem with checking for updates, let alone installing them.

Fail 5: Right-clicking the Start screen previous brings up some shortcuts, in a seemingly completely random order. Useful but not so useful.

Microsoft, get your act together. For the sake of all desktops and tablets everywhere.

17 April 2013

How life began

Source: http://www.ted.com/talks/danny_hillis_back_to_the_future_of_1994.html

So if you go back about two and a half billion years, the Earth was this big, sterile hunk of rock with a lot of chemicals floating around on it. And if you look at the way that the chemicals got organized, we begin to get a pretty good idea of how they do it. And I think that there's theories that are beginning to understand about how it started with RNA, but I'm going to tell a sort of simple story of it, which is that, at that time, there were little drops of oil floating around with all kinds of different recipes of chemicals in them. And some of those drops of oil had a particular combination of chemicals in them which caused them to incorporate chemicals from the outside and grow the drops of oil. And those that were like that started to split and divide. And those were the most primitive forms of cells in a sense, those little drops of oil.

But now those drops of oil weren't really alive, as we say it now, because every one of them was a little random recipe of chemicals. And every time it divided, they got sort of unequal division of the chemicals within them. And so every drop was a little bit different. In fact, the drops that were different in a way that caused them to be better at incorporating chemicals around them, grew more and incorporated more chemicals and divided more. So those tended to live longer, get expressed more.

Now that's sort of just a very simple chemical form of life, but when things got interesting was when these drops learned a trick about abstraction. Somehow by ways that we don't quite understand, these little drops learned to write down information. They learned to record the information that was the recipe of the cell onto a particular kind of chemical called DNA. So in other words, they worked out, in this mindless sort of evolutionary way, a form of writing that let them write down what they were, so that that way of writing it down could get copied. The amazing thing is that that way of writing seems to have stayed steady since it evolved two and a half billion years ago. In fact the recipe for us, our genes, is exactly that same code and that same way of writing. In fact, every living creature is written in exactly the same set of letters and the same code.

So what was the next step? Writing down the DNA was an interesting step. And that caused these cells -- that kept them happy for another billion years. But then there was another really interesting step where things became completely different, which is these cells started exchanging and communicating information, so that they began to get communities of cells. I don't know if you know this, but bacteria can actually exchange DNA. Now that's why, for instance, antibiotic resistance has evolved. Some bacteria figured out how to stay away from penicillin, and it went around sort of creating its little DNA information with other bacteria, and now we have a lot of bacteria that are resistant to penicillin, because bacteria communicate. Now what this communication allowed was communities to form that, in some sense, were in the same boat together; they were synergistic. So they survived or they failed together, which means that if a community was very successful, all the individuals in that community were repeated more and they were favored by evolution.

Now the transition point happened when these communities got so close that, in fact, they got together and decided to write down the whole recipe for the community together on one string of DNA. And so the next stage that's interesting in life took about another billion years. And at that stage, we have multi-cellular communities, communities of lots of different types of cells, working together as a single organism. And in fact, we're such a multi-cellular community. We have lots of cells that are not out for themselves anymore. Your skin cell is really useless without a heart cell, muscle cell, a brain cell and so on. So these communities began to evolve so that the interesting level on which evolution was taking place was no longer a cell, but a community which we call an organism.

Now the next step that happened is within these communities. These communities of cells, again, began to abstract information. And they began building very special structures that did nothing but process information within the community. And those are the neural structures. So neurons are the information processing apparatus that those communities of cells built up. And in fact, they began to get specialists in the community and special structures that were responsible for recording, understanding, learning information. And that was the brains and the nervous system of those communities. And that gave them an evolutionary advantage. Because at that point, an individual -- learning could happen within the time span of a single organism, instead of over this evolutionary time span.

So an organism could, for instance, learn not to eat a certain kind of fruit because it tasted bad and it got sick last time it ate it. That could happen within the lifetime of a single organism, whereas before they'd built these special information processing structures, that would have had to be learned evolutionarily over hundreds of thousands of years by the individuals dying off that ate that kind of fruit. So that nervous system, the fact that they built these special information structures, tremendously sped up the whole process of evolution. Because evolution could now happen within an individual. It could happen in learning time scales.


But then what happened was the individuals worked out, of course, tricks of communicating. And for example, the most sophisticated version that we're aware of is human language. It's really a pretty amazing invention if you think about it. Here I have a very complicated, messy, confused idea in my head. I'm sitting here making grunting sounds basically, and hopefully constructing a similar messy, confused idea in your head that bears some analogy to it. But we're taking something very complicated, turning it into sound, sequences of sounds, and producing something very complicated in your brain. So this allows us now to begin to start functioning as a single organism.


And so, in fact, what we've done is we, humanity, have started abstracting out. We're going through the same levels that multi-cellular organisms have gone through -- abstracting out our methods of recording, presenting, processing information. So for example, the invention of language was a tiny step in that direction. Telephony, computers, videotapes, CD-ROMs and so on are all our specialized mechanisms that we've now built within our society for handling that information. And it all connects us together into something that is much bigger and much faster and able to evolve than what we were before. So now, evolution can take place on a scale of microseconds.

So now we've speeded up the time scales once again. So the first steps of the story that I told you about took a billion years a piece. And the next steps, like nervous systems and brains, took a few hundred million years. Then the next steps, like language and so on, took less than a million years. And these next steps, like electronics, seem to be taking only a few decades. The process is feeding on itself and becoming, I guess, autocatalytic is the word for it -- when something reinforces its rate of change. The more it changes, the faster it changes. And I think that that's what we're seeing here in this explosion of curve. We're seeing this process feeding back on itself.

Now I design computers for a living, and I know that the mechanisms that I use to design computers would be impossible without recent advances in computers. So right now, what I do is I design objects at such complexity that it's really impossible for me to design them in the traditional sense. I don't know what every transistor in the connection machine does. There are billions of them. Instead, what I do and what the designers at Thinking Machines do is we think at some level of abstraction and then we hand it to the machine and the machine takes it beyond what we could ever do, much farther and faster than we could ever do. And in fact, sometimes it takes it by methods that we don't quite even understand.

Teaching evolution to a computer

One method that's particularly interesting that I've been using a lot lately is evolution itself. So what we do is we put inside the machine a process of evolution that takes place on the microsecond time scale. So for example, in the most extreme cases, we can actually evolve a program by starting out with random sequences of instructions. Say, "Computer, would you please make a hundred million random sequences of instructions. Now would you please run all of those random sequences of instructions, run all of those programs, and pick out the ones that came closest to doing what I wanted." So in other words, I define what I wanted. Let's say I want to sort numbers, as a simple example I've done it with. So find the programs that come closest to sorting numbers.

So of course, random sequences of instructions are very unlikely to sort numbers, so none of them will really do it. But one of them, by luck, may put two numbers in the right order. And I say, "Computer, would you please now take the 10 percent of those random sequences that did the best job. Save those. Kill off the rest. And now let's reproduce the ones that sorted numbers the best. And let's reproduce them by a process of recombination analogous to sex." Take two programs and they produce children by exchanging their subroutines, and the children inherit the traits of the subroutines of the two programs. So I've got now a new generation of programs that are produced by combinations of the programs that did a little bit better job. Say, "Please repeat that process." Score them again. Introduce some mutations perhaps. And try that again and do that for another generation.

Well every one of those generations just takes a few milliseconds. So I can do the equivalent of millions of years of evolution on that within the computer in a few minutes, or in the complicated cases, in a few hours. At the end of that, I end up with programs that are absolutely perfect at sorting numbers. In fact, they are programs that are much more efficient than programs I could have ever written by hand.

Now if I look at those programs, I can't tell you how they work. I've tried looking at them and telling you how they work. They're obscure, weird programs. But they do the job. And in fact, I know, I'm very confident that they do the job because they come from a line of hundreds of thousands of programs that did the job. In fact, their life depended on doing the job.

13 April 2013

Oblivion - Timeline

Jack and Julia meet each other at the spire, where Jack proposes to Julia.
USA launches Odyssey into Space, Nasa are back on Earth, spearheaded by Sally. 
On-board the shuttle are Jack, Victoria, Julia and the rest of the crew. Vicky takes a photo of the two of them.
They are assigned with investigating an unknown object in deep space, so they go to investigate. This object is the Tet.
The Tet pulls the shuttle in, and Jack releases the cryogenic sleeping pods back to Earth, where they stay in Earth's orbit seemingly forever.
The Tet invade Earth. They blow up the moon and kill most life on Earth, our nukes do nothing to stop them and we lose the war. The humans starve and die, those remaining find shelter from Oblivion, including Malcolm Beech.
In the next 50 years
The Tet installs hydro pumping machines on Earth to drain it of all natural resources for energy, and to deploy drones to sweep up the remaining humans. However, some humans are safe from the drones and pose a threat to the Tet, as they learn how to destroy the hydro machines - the drones aren't enough to stop the humans for good. So, the Tet devise a plan. They clone Jack and Vicky, who were abducted before the war - in the process, their memories are copied. They wipe their memories and dispatch them to Towers that the Tet have installed on Earth. The Tet also design an interface called Sally, based on the real Sally of Nasa, capable of being rendered in real time. The Tet provide them with protection, clothes, water, weapons and bubble ships.
The Tet then give some false backstory memories to every Jack and Vicky to make it seem believable. They tell them humans won the war against an alien species called the Scavs, and they are assigned with performing droid maintenance. They tell them humanity escaped to Titan, orbiting Saturn, and the Tet is the last main base of humanity on (well, above) Earth.
The droids seek out and kill any form of life they encounter, and Jack  repairs them, because the robots can't repair themselves or locate missing, expensive and explosive drones. The Tet have mapped Earth into grid sectors and told the clones that radiation surrounds their grid zone, when really, a whole other Jack and Vicky live on the other side of the barrier.
Team 49 are 2 weeks from completing their assignment and are given promise of drinks with Sally at the Tet - really, they are just going to be killed and replaced with new clones, perhaps the Tet realise they can't keep the lie up any longer, or the clones don't last longer than 5 years.
Malcolm's team have encountered hundreds of Jack clones, none of them clever enough to figure out the lie they are being told and unknowingly submitting themselves to the Tet. Every cycle, the Tet get a bit better at being convincing.
Malcolm's team crack the GPS codes of the orbiting Odyssey, and plant a transmitter on the derelict spire, transmitting a signal to the lost shuttle.
This is where the film starts..
This intrigues Jack 49 who goes to investigate, cuts the cable, and causes the Odyssey to come crashing down to Earth to find the crew. Finding Julia triggers his memories, something that hasn't happened to any Jack before, and when he outruns the droids that are sent to kill him, he realises something isn't right when he finds a clone of himself, Jack 52. Jack and Julia rekindle their love from before the invasion, and spend the night together.
Jack teams up with Malcolm, takes Malcolm to the Tet and leaves Julia by his lake house, taking the 10 fuel cells that Malcolm has salvaged from broken droids. Sally is intrigued but confident that she has the upper hand, trusting Jack. Jack destroys the Tet, the clones, the hydro machines and the droids, sacrificing himself for humanity to grow again.
Julia's and Jack 49's child discovers the remaining members of Malcolm's team, with them, Jack 52.

26 March 2013

Maven instructions for Windows

set JAVA_HOME to be a JDK directory (that contains BIN)
set proxy in mvn/confg/settings.xml
turn off any commented out dependencies
add any extra appendices from MVN repository website
build each directory, this goes into userfolder/.m2/repository
build the main product folder
mvn.bat clean install (inside each folder with POM.xml)
result jars are in the target folder

28 February 2013

Comparing CPU performance on low-medium end computers

Benchmarks provided by: www.passmark.com
Prices/specs provided by: www.ebuyer.com

Soluto New Reports Feedback

Review on the Soluto Activity Reports being introduced, for survey/feedback.

Attached is a sample of our upcoming PC activity reports. The report lists the various events that happened on the PCs you're supporting in the past week.
The report will be sent via email on a weekly basis.  


I like the idea but don't know how often I would be concerned about reading them. If I know there is an issue and want to resolve it, then yes, I would want to see these kind of history reports to see what was going on and perhaps even what the user was doing at the time. So these reports would have to be available from a central place with date filters etc. rather than emailed out. 

Biggest concerns for me on other user's computers are not necessarily power consumption or time wasted, Windows is updated so often that it doesn't make a massive difference overall really. My worries would be, has the user been installing potentially malicious software, have they had trouble using any piece of software or issues connecting to the internet etc, and what have they tried to resolve it. Then I'd also want to keep track of information like has the computer gotten particularly hot lately, if so, perhaps it needs cleaning. Then all the other stuff like are the latest versions of programs installed, esp security updates, Windows updates, virus updates etc. In the long term it would be good to be warned of hard disk failure as well.

With the boot times, it would be good to see some kind of overall trend, rather than just raw values for every day. If, over time, boot time is getting slower, then maybe it's a cause for concern to maybe do a system cleanup, defrag and check the startup apps etc. So say, in the last month, boot time has gone up 10%, it would be good to know what caused it.

11 January 2013

How to improve your credit rating

How you could increase your borrowing options - A good credit rating could make it easier to borrow extra money when you need to. So if you're thinking about applying for credit, the tips below could help with your financial planning.

What not to do

  • Regularly exceed your agreed overdraft limit - Unauthorised overdrafts and excesses could be seen by lenders as financial stress and abuse of credit.
  • Borrow excessively - Over-exposure to debt can place pressure on income and meeting your everyday living costs and repayments.
  • Make too many late payments - Lenders will be able to see missed or late payments, defaults and County Court Judgements on Direct Debits, credit cards and bills.
  • Make multiple credit searches and applications at once - Applications will appear on your credit report as searches, and too many in a short time could be seen as financial distress.
  • Change address too frequently - Frequent changes of address can show less stability and be viewed negatively by lenders.

What to do

  • Make sure you are on the electoral roll - This allows lenders to make sure you are who you say you are.
  • Show you can use credit sensibly - Manageable debt can help you to establish a good credit history, which can help with future borrowing.
  • Make sure your outgoings don't exceed your income - This will help you avoid getting into unnecessary debt.
  • Ensure you make regular salary payments into your primary current account - A visible regular source of income will mean you appear more credit-worthy.
  • Demonstrate money management skills - Pay off existing debt, make credit card repayments on time, and pay your bills via Direct Debit. This shows you are more likely to meet future credit repayments.
  • Keep current accounts in credit - Accounts kept in credit show less sign of financial pressure and build lenders' confidence.
  • Reduce or remove overdrafts - An overdraft is a form of lending, so if you're not using yours, removing or reducing it can have a positive impact.
  • Close dormant current accounts and cancel unused credit cards - Closing any dormant accounts you have will help prevent them potentially harming your credit profile.
  • Ensure information on your credit report is correct - Mistakes can happen but don't let them harm your credit profile.

Source: Barclays