29 December 2016

Sad movies that make me cry



In order of how much they made me cry.
  1. Hachi: A Dog's Tale
  2. 12 Years A Slave
  3. A Monster Calls
  4. Grave of the Fireflies
  5. Spirited Away
  6. Bridge to Terabithia
  7. Titanic
  8. Up
  9. Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince
  10. Brokeback Mountain
  11. Iron Giant
  12. Lion King
  13. Toy Story 3
  14. Inside Out
  15. Princess Mononoke
  16. North Sea Texas
  17. Butterfly Effect

22 December 2016

Life lessons for everyone



My thought process from this

Imagine you're dying tomorrow and you want to teach the right way of things.
Capture questions you are asked.
Bad things I've done in my life and learnt from.

General advice

Work on your weaknesses. Always try to improve. Always challenge yourself and things to beat. Reward yourself.

If something bad has happened in the past, you can't change it. You can only move forwards. You have to accept it and move on.

Use your pain of lost loved ones to fuel yourself doing good things and helping others.

Don't neglect your family, they are the only ones you've got. One day your parents will be gone forever. You can always do some other thing another time. Building good memories of your family will be better. Don't sacrifice your time to work to family either, your family remembers you, but work doesn't remember your overtime. (Overtime to me just means under staffed).

Find what you enjoy in life, what makes you happy.

Take opportunities. Not risks.

Try new things.

Always have a Plan B for everything. A way to back yourself up in court. Justifying. Nothing without reason.

We can't rely on deities to save us, we are on our own. It's okay to be alone. In many cases it's better. Don't have to think of someone to look after, to worry about, can sleep properly.

You are an ambassador of the universe. Show the universe, and the world, the best you can be.

Anyone can die at any time, you never know when it's going to happen. So make use of your time - even your spare time - to do something memorable or constructive. Destructive behaviour helps no-one and avoids your problems.

Mistakes propel us forward and everyone makes mistakes. Mistakes are there so a lesson can be learned, they aren't there to test you, they are there to make you a better, worldly, well-rounded, adaptable, tolerant person.

We often only learn the value of things after we've lost them. Try to identify the things you value the most and don't take them for granted.


Specific practices

Lists are everything. Make up pros and cons. Brainstorming your ideas and thoughts onto paper, or keeping a diary can help you sleep better. The process of turning thoughts into concrete ideas allows you to view them more objectively, and deal with them another day.

Read anything and everything (a la Matilda).

Play safe; don't think of just protecting yourself, but protecting others as well.

Save money. Don't live between payslips.

Punctuality reduces issues for everyone else.


Internal reactions

If stressed, take a deep breath and count to 10. Push away your feelings. Imagine you're on an island and a whale nearby is eating your manager (a la The Office US). Compartmentalisation helps you to focus. My mind sometimes just says "fuck it".

Defence mechanisms are a good way to making yourself self-aware. Humility, and admitting to when you're wrong, can accelerate your relationships with everyone.

Taking time off to be yourself is fine. Give yourself a break. A high number of ideas come from when we are doing nothing.

If something is wrong, tell someone. Tell your manager, your MP, your customer service. You have rights. If not, report it or ask for help about it.

Not all your opinions need to be validated, and it's fine if you don't have one. See what comes naturally.

As from CharlieIsSoCoolLike: Opinions are things you carry around in a box. You should always be willing to change them out for something better.

As from Rick & Morty: Nobody belongs anywhere, nobody exists on purpose, everybody's going to die. Come watch TV?

As from The Office US: Fear plays an interesting role in our lives. How dare we let it motivate us. How dare we let it into our decision-making, into our livelihoods, into our relationships. It's funny, isn't it? We take a day a year to dress up in costumes and celebrate fear.

When you've hit rock bottom, you can only go up.

There is no courage without fear.


External reactions

At some point, someone will criticise you. Be ready. Be open to suggestions and constructive criticism. Remember not to take yourself so seriously and try to appreciate the lighter side of things.

If angry, or criticised, or judged, stay calm and give yourself a chance to formulate an answer. Give yourself a chance to analyse what they are saying, and admit if they are right. Don't be stubborn and defend your side for the sake of it. Nobody enjoys an argument, but everyone loves a laugh.

As from Charlie: If you want people to listen to you, don't try shouting. Try being quiet and speaking softly, and then people will actually have to try and hear what you have to say. (Although this isn't the real reason behind why anger should be avoided).

Similarly, give positive feedback and reinforcement. Comments on things.

Empathy and sympathy can help not just others, but yourself as well. If you put yourself in other's shoes, they will do as well.

To make friends, listen better to others and be interested in their lives. Open up yourself to others.

Respect others. 'Treat others as you want to be treated' is a flawed way of thinking, as if you are pessimistic, destructive, or welcome criticism, then this doesn't work. Don't take things out on others. Depending on the issue, hate the game, not the players.

Don't show off, it makes others jealous and envious. But be honest. Don't lie just to suit you. Lying to help others is ok. But not deliberately.

Don't just assume you, or anything else is right. If unsure then just ask, don't wander down a dark path without knowing where it will take you first, you might have to loop back around.

As from Charlie: Making a promise and sticking to it, and being right first time, is better than asking for forgiveness later.

Ask questions. Question reality and the status quo. Just because something is 'proven' to work doesn't mean it can't be improved. Feel free to bring things up.

Don't bite the hand that feeds. Nibble is okay.

You don't need a reason to help others.

Surround yourself with people you enjoy the company of; don't waste it on people who don't appreciate you.

More ideas from Charlie


21 December 2016

Mobile operating system market share

Android might have the bigger share of devices, but iOS has the largest rollout.
1.8b devices on iOS 10 & 9
1.0b devices on Android 7 & 6


Data sources Net Market Share: https://www.netmarketshare.com/operating-system-market-share.aspx?qprid=9&qpcustomb=1 Apple: http://www.apple.com/apple-events/october-2016/ (27/10/2016) Android: https://developer.android.com/about/dashboards/index.html (21/12/2016) GSMA Intelligence: https://www.gsmaintelligence.com/ (21/12/2016)

17 December 2016

My mobile phone history

Here's my chronological history of mobile phones I've owned.

First phone: BT Cellnet. This was basically a brick, and I remember destroying it with a hammer when it was time to let it die.


The classic: a Nokia 1110. Great battery life, resilient, and of course, Snake. Still works.



First color phone: Sony Ericsson W300i. Somehow it had "internet" but whenever I clicked it, I immediately tried to quit out of it. The flip part of it was cool, but not as cool as the Moto Razr.


First smartphone and touchscreen phone: LG Cookie (KP500). The same time that Android was released, and with iPhone 3G being just another phone back then, this felt less like a smartphone and more like a toy phone.


First slide phone: Sony Ericsson W850i. A chunky phone, but feature-rich. Doing any sort of internet on it however was never a good idea.



First Android phone: HTC Wildfire. Starting with Android Froyo, this was a good cheap Android phone. The downside was Network 3, and their complete lack of service. Network service, O.S update service, and customer service. Meaning eventually I couldn't stand the bad signal or buggy vendor build anymore.



First dual core smartphone: LG Optimus 2X (P990).With a name like a transformer, it took me a while to convince me to upgrade for the form factor. But I would never look back on Android again, and I still have the same data from that phone transferred to every new phone I've had since.


First work phone: Nokia 3110 classic. Excellent battery, however no Snake. Fortunately it was only for work.



First Google phone: Google Nexus 4. Since I moved to Google phones I never looked back. Mainly for the stock, no-frills experience, direct updates from Google, and good prices.


First 5" phone: Google Nexus 5. It took me several months to even consider getting a phone as big as 5" but I eventually went with it and loved it. It was thin, stylish and fast.



First Windows phone: Nokia Lumia 635. Provided through work and with Windows 8 it was a different experience that I still have to learn how to use today. Unfortunately I got the 512MB model so no access to Windows 10.


Largest phone: Google Nexus 5X. At 5.2" this is the largest phone and was still difficult to grasp sometimes. This one however was under-par compared to the previous line-up so my time with this lasted 6 months.



Most expensive phone: Google Pixel. With reviews from everywhere saying this was the best phone of 2016, and feeling let down by the 5X, I felt the need to upgrade, and haven't been disappointed since. I've also converted a lifelong iPhone user over to the Google Pixel and Android.



So that's it for the last 10 years of my phones. 

With modern phones now powerful enough to emulate games from the last 10 years, I can only guess that in another 10 years, in 2026, I will be laughing at how my phone will be able to play every game released to 2016, and fully emulate an Xbox One and Playstation 4, and I imagine Pokemon will now have a total of 15 generations including a Pokemon that looks like a clothes hanger (which would evolve into a revolving tie rack), a legendary Pokemon that creates humans, and a Pokemon that is the word Pokemon backwards. Nomekop. It's a garden gnome dressed as a police officer.

Based on the last 10 years, here's my big predictions.
  • Phones have grown from large bricks with tiny screens, to screens now taking over the entire front of the phone. However, screens still break, so I'd like to think that's fixed forever by 2026. Possibly by sapphire glass, or some kind of carbon fibre sheet.
  • Access to the internet and games has propelled them forward. I think games and VR will become more immersive. Maybe haptic feedback will make its way in there. I imagine by 2026 someone would have died because of VR as well (a la Black Mirror - Playtest).
  • I am going to think that more sophisticated apps will move over to mobiles too. Important things will move over to mobile like voting for elections, getting your prescription, and holding your passport. Android is already making way towards this with Instant Apps.
  • With contactless only been in the UK for the last couple of years, while being in Japan have had FeliCa since 2004, I think we will follow Japan and Sweden's suit and make it the standard everywhere - big stores and small. Amazon has just revealed shopping without a cashier, and I think that could take off.
  • Battery is the biggest thing holding back the phone, so I'm hoping that the phones by 2026 can last at least 2 days of constant use. Alternatively, charging wirelessly or everywhere will become more common, e.g. on buses, trains, and in shops.
  • Content delivery will change, I think stores will be able to ask you sign up as you enter them and you could get a discount sent to your phone for your next trip.
  • Overall they will get more advanced, I'd like to think Tony Stark's see-through super smart handset might become a thing. I'd like to see an AI like the beginnings of 'Her' making its way onto phones.
  • I doubt that the phones in Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror episode 'Nosedive' will make it into reality. However, the eyePhone from Futurama (or Brooker's "grain") could make it.




If you've come here from 2026, hope you're enjoying your iPhone 20 and Samsung Galaxy S23.


14 December 2016

Slow internet and December Windows Updates

The Windows Updates released yesterday are causing slow internet issues for some users.
If this affects you, try restarting your computer, or try the steps as mentioned below.
  1. Start > type “cmd” and right-click the Command Prompt result, then click Run as administrator
  2. Enter the commands:
    • ipconfig /release
    • ipconfig /flushdns
    • ipconfig /renew
More info:

4 October 2016

History of the Google Nexus and Pixel phone series

History of the Google Nexus and Pixel phone series by original price, total CPU GHz, RAM and Camera MPxs.


1 October 2016

Advice for using SSDs with Windows



There are several ways to get your SSD working properly and optimally, just searching for it is likely to bring up results.

  • Run winsat formal - see instructions here - in Windows 8 and above, Windows will need to have this run after installation to correctly identify the disk as an SSD, otherwise it will start defragmenting it which is not needed and reduces the life of your SSD
  • Upgrade the firmware
  • Disable write caching on the disk using Device Manager, see instructions here. Without this the SSD would often hang for 30 seconds at a time. See the section below for some error messages I used to get
  • Disable power management and energy efficiency - Change the standard and hidden ACHI power settings if available
  • Prevent the disk going to sleep - Change Power Options >  'Turn hard disk off' to 0 (Never) see here for screenshots
  • Upgrade the drivers
    • for Intel RST and under Performance, set Link State Power Management to disabled
    • for the SATA AHCI driver (use Device Manager)
    • for the Intel Chipset
    • If using an external SSD, do not upgrade the USB driver because it may cause a bluescreen. E.g. if you have a Renesas USB 3.0 driver or Intel USB 3 driver. There are no updates to the UASPStor.sys driver from Microsoft since 2006. Trying to slipstream the driver into a Windows 8 installation didn't make it use this driver
  • Hibernation or hybrid sleep - personally I prefer having the option of hibernation, however, external SSDs may not properly handle booting from hibernation properly, so you may want to disable it
  • Check 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.
  • Run TRIM on a regular basis - Once winsat has been run and defrag identifies your SSD correctly, you can optimise it - this will run the TRIM command to tell your SSD that free space can be reused. If you don't do it, then your SSD will get slower as it struggles to find completely zeroised sectors.
  • Zeroise free space on an occasional basis - If your SSD is becoming more slow, then zeroising the free space may speed it up. Use SDelete -z c: for this.
  • Improve boot time by disabling startup items using Autoruns, C-CleanerTask Manager or msconfig
  • Turn off unused drives - If using an external SSD, then use Disk Manager to take the internal HDD offline if you don't need to use it, and the Device Manager to disable the disk altogether.
  • Don't use regular disk monitors - 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.
  • Use one-off disk monitors - for example Passmark DiskCheckup
  • Disable search indexing
    • Empty the index (Control Panel > Indexing Options > Advanced)
    • Disable the Windows Service
  • Disable Superfetchthe Windows Club recommends disabling this 
  • Disable automatic boot into Windows - 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 doesn't always work)
  • If external
    • To install Windows without it being certified Windows To Go, use WinToUSB - requires an ISO or installation disk
    • Change the cable to a gold-plated one 
Issues with SSD

I've got these errors before in Event Viewer, these are caused by not following the first 6 configuration steps above.
  • Reset to device, \Device\RaidPort1, was issued (or RaidPort0)
  • The IO operation at logical block address 0x78f47c0 for Disk 0 (PDO name: \Device\0000003a) was retried
Screenshots here:




28 September 2016

Maintaining your PC



Just a simple list of maintenance tasks that I regularly use and carry out.
Also see my blog Useful Free Windows Tools, alternativeTo, FileHippo and Download.com

27 September 2016

Kaspersky Removal Tool Bug

I found a bug with the Kaspersky Removal Tool. It will break System Restore on Windows 10. I've reproduced this on 4 different machines.

The error message appears as below.



There was an unexpected error in the property page. System Restore encountered an error. Please try to run System Restore again. (0x81000203). Please close the property page and try again.

Fix

After exporting the registry before and after and then comparing, I found the UpperFilters were deleted for the Storage volumes class. As far as I understand it, you need both Upper and Lower Filters in any given case.


To apply the fix, copy the following blue text, paste it into Notepad, save it as "repair.reg", then double-click to Merge it with the registry.

Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Class\{71a27cdd-812a-11d0-bec7-08002be2092f}]
"UpperFilters"=hex(7):76,00,6f,00,6c,00,73,00,6e,00,61,00,70,00,00,00,00,00

After applying this, restart the machine and try to open System Restore again - the error will disappear.

Tools used to help investigate
This error is also caused by other programs like TuneUp Utilities - see this Microsoft support page.

25 September 2016

iPhone thinness

Nice little infographic I made of iPhone "thinness" over time.



24 September 2016

My policy on property in the UK


  1. Anyone not paying rent for over 3 months or damaging property must be evicted immediately
  2. Council properties will be repurposed into standard housing and put on the market. Current council flat dwellers will be moved to live in portacabins if they cannot afford rent.
  3. Redevelop all existing dilapidated, damaged, and uninhabitable property and get it on the market
  4. Unoccupied properties for more than 6 months are automatically put on the market
  5. As time goes on and properties remain unsold, their price must come down by 10% per year until it is sold
  6. Any new properties that are built must have an energy performance rating of A or higher e.g. LED lighting and insulated walls, and must not be built on floodplains - if unavoidable, the property must be build at least 2 foot above ground level at the lowest part of the house

Additionally:

  1. Target of 100% national employment rate should be achieved by 2025 which includes those on benefits. People on benefits must find paid or voluntary work (now mandatory) of some description even if it is online or community service.
  2. Transport will be improved for all locations e.g. buses and trains. 
    1. All buses and trains must now accept contactless only - coins and paper are now invalid. Only reusable cards can be issued by a cashier, if they are not intended to be kept then they are reused as temporary cards. Every station must now have a card reader, and a map of the local nearest facilities (toilet, defibrillator, seating), and must have a vending machine with essentials like water.
    2. All buses must now be running on 100% renewable energy. LED lighting will also be used. Wi-Fi should also be at 100% UK coverage by 2026.
    3. All trains should be running on 100% renewable energy by 2036. Same again for lighting and Wi-Fi.

9 September 2016

Some of my favourite TV shows as a kid


  • Bernard's Watch
  • Old Bear and Friends
  • Noddy
  • Wizadora
  • Oakie Doke
  • SMart
  • Art Attack
  • Zzzapp!
  • Finger Tips
  • The Big Bang
  • Jungle Run
  • How 2
  • Come Outside
  • Through The Dragon's Eye
  • Rosie and Jim
  • Brum
  • Button Moon
  • Rainbow
  • Postman Pat
  • Fireman Sam
  • The Worst Witch
  • My Parents Are Aliens
  • Spongebob Squarepants
  • Sabrina The Teenage Witch
  • Thomas the Tank Engine
  • Tiny Planets
  • The Moomins
  • Blue Peter
  • Teeny Tots
  • Get Your Own Back
  • Shortchange
  • Pokemon
  • Digimon
  • Raven
  • Basil Brush
  • The Queen's Nose
  • Bob the Builder
  • Hilltop Hospital
  • Grizzly Tales for Gruesome Kids
  • Clangers
  • The Wombles
  • SMTV and CD:UK
  • ChuckleVision
  • Animals of Farthing Wood
  • Bodger & Badger

2 September 2016

Renting Advice

Before putting down a deposit, I'd recommend following up on the following topics at your viewing, with the landlord or agency. For more information and guidance, see gov.uk.

The basics

  • Rent - What is your total income minus rent, bills, food, insurance, travel, etc. Can you really afford it and save up enough for the future?
  • Furnished - What stays and what goes? Things like beds, tables, television, microwave, washing machine/tumble drier, sofas, chairs, desks, racks.
  • Other viewings - How many other people have been or are coming to see it? From this you'll know how fast you need to respond.
  • All bills - Some contracts may advertise all bills but actually don't - often TV Licence is excluded, but from 1st Sept 2016, TV licences will be required even if you don't watch live TV.
  • Share bills - Are you all sharing the bills, who is in charge, and where does the money go?
  • Cleaner - Is there a cleaner for communal areas and perhaps your own room? Is there a rota for all housemates to cover, and who buys cleaning products etc.?
  • Landlord availability - How long does it take for the landlord to sort things out?
    • Does the landlord ever live in? Generally I wouldn't recommend these.
    • If you have issues what is the process - Estate Agent first or landlord first? Usually it depends on the issue.
  • Why moving out - Why is the room available? Why did the person move out?
  • Parking - Is there on-land parking, on-street parking, and parking for visitors? Are permits needed?

Health and safety

  • Mice, rats, slugs - Check if there are any signs of them, and check for holes
  • Police.uk - Check this website for crime rates and types in the area.
  • Damp - Check for moist walls, especially against the walls that on the building like near windows. Also check for where sections of walls have been painted over as this may be to cover up damage or damp.
  • Insurance - Do you have enough that you want to be insured?
    • Age of property - you will need this when setting up contents insurance
  • Fire extinguishers - (only required if H.M.O. property) are the indicators in the green zone? Is there at least 1 on every level?
  • Fire exit - Is there a clear exit on every level?
  • Fire/smoke alarm - Is there one and is it working? Usually a tap of the test button will do the trick.
  • Security - Do all external-facing doors have a rim/mortice lock or a rim latch lock, or a level handle lock? Each have varying degrees of safety and how easy they are to break in.
  • Gas safe - Are the boilers gas safe and checked within the last year?
    • British Gas Home Care - Is the property covered by this? I'd recommend it for immediate and professional cover of gas/electric issues.
  • Keys - Do you get your own set of keys for your room, windows, and other doors?
  • Windows - Do they all open, are they clean, who cleans them?
  • Street lamps - Are there visible street lights from the window that could distract you in the night? Is there adequate street lighting at all for safety?
  • Police check - Have there been any burglaries or any other criminal activities recorded at the property within the last couple of years? You can also ask the police or firemen to inspect the property for weaknesses.
  • Carbon monoxide detector - (Gas property only) Is there one near the boiler and is it working?
  • Documentation - Each property must have an EPC and annual gas certificate if applicable

Policies

  • Pets - Are you allowed to keep or bring over pets?
  • Partners and guests - are you allowed to have anyone over? Friends, guests, partners etc. How many nights per week is too many?
  • Rubbish and recycling - where are they bins stored and how often are they emptied? Who's job is it to take out the rubbish?

Comfort and convenience

  • Storage - What's the policy on storage, and is there enough room for all your stuff? If not, will the landlord allow you to get cabinets or an Otterman bed?
  • Noise - Is it noisy in the area - do you need silence to sleep? You're looking for traffic noise from nearby roads and motorways, noisy neighbours, and transport like trains and airports nearby.
  • Sunlight - Is the sunlight coming into your room - would it be a distraction - or is there no sunlight at all. Too much will discolor the walls and not enough means the room might be colder.

Utilities


  • Washing and drying - Is there a washing machine, dryer, and what is the policy on using airers/horses in your room/other rooms?
  • Bathroom - Is there an extractor fan and if so, is it working?
  • Hot water - How long does it take to get hot water from a tap? Is it mild or piping hot?
  • WiFi and cell strength - If there is no signal in your room, you might need to consider extending the WiFi or using Powerline
  • Latest router and specs - How old is the router? Newer ones are likely to be dual band, and grade b/g/n/ac, and should be fiber. Ask if you can get a speed test.

Features and fittings

  • Lighting replacement - who will replace the lightbulbs and batteries for fire alarms etc/? Are any of the light fittings loose or not working?
  • Wall mounts - Are you allowed to pin or stick anything up? Often white-tac is allowed, but some places may give permission to pin things up like paintings or hooks for keys/jackets.
  • Plugs - Are there enough of them in the room, are they in good condition, and are they in a good place for where you stuff will be?
  • Extra switches - sometimes properties have extra switches next to the lights, what do they do?

1 September 2016

Beautiful songs

Some of my favourite beautiful songs of all time include:

  • Lara Fabian - The Dream Within
  • My Morning Jacket - Touch Me I'm Going To Scream Part II
  • Moby - Porcelain
  • Simply Red - Holding Back The Years
More on my Spotify Playlist.


These are probably all good contenders for my funeral to be honest.

29 August 2016

Malware website example

I was browsing a news website on my phone and came across these screenshots.



The URL that Chrome loaded was this, which is sneaky. Repeat visits to this URL do not change the page being returned. Obviously it is Base64 so the decoded form is below.



It decodes into HTML of which contains the bad URL in the iframe tag below:



Some tips for reporting badware, malware, phishing sites, and sending email submissions.
Remember suspicious emails and attachments should be sent as a saved message, not forwarded as it will lose the originator's details.





24 August 2016

How to respond to criticism

It's very easy to become offended when someone criticises you. Here are some ideas on what is happening, what to do when it happens, and how to prevent it in future.

  • You might get angry, and raise your voice. Try to notice when this happens, and then just stop and think. Give yourself a moment to compose yourself and think about what is being said. There is absolutely no need to rush to respond to the person - just wait, sit down and have a think. Even take a break if you feel like it - but not storming off - just say you need a moment.
  • Some people do deliberately try and press your buttons, either to get you to admit your mistakes, see you go crazy for fun, or see what's under your skin. Don't let them.
  • It is in people's nature to complain rather than to praise. There is a good quote in Futurama - "When you do things right, people won’t be sure you’ve done anything at all." Working in IT is a good example - when IT works fine, nobody says thanks, but when something's wrong, everyone complains.
  • Try to think about the root of the problem. It's very easy for an argument to start at one point, and then you end up arguing about the fundamental laws of nature.
  • It's very possible to have a jokey argument about nothing without it getting serious. If you realise it's heading in a serious direction then just pass it off, forget about it, and move onto something else like the football or that latest YouTube video you saw.
  • If you can, try to find a way to laugh it off. Humility is a high level, mature defence mechanism. I'd even give this a good read anyway so that perhaps you can know yourself a bit better.
  • If there are bells ringing in your head that you are wrong, rather than defend yourself, it's better just to come clean, be honest, and say something like:
    • Oh wait, no actually, you're right yes, sorry, I understand now, it didn't make sense before, sorry I was a bit confused
    • I was playing you on, I wasn't actually being serious! I was just winding you up
    • Sorry, I've been stressed lately
    • It was my bad, sorry
    • Yes, actually now you point it out, I did make a mistake there
    • Oh now, that's definitely wrong isn't it, I can see that now yes. I can fix that.
  • Self-awareness helps, but not to an overbearing degree. Understanding that you are human and you want to improve and be better is the greatest step. Being yourself is also important, as cliched as it sounds - what's key is that you only do what feels natural and right - don't feel you have to do what others want to do or be. Don't feel you have to fall in line with everyone else (unless it is life threatening of course). And don't let others define you.
  • Getting defensive is fairly normal, and you'll try raising points or even go so far as to create cognitive dissonance. A good example would be a politician for example - they often don't like to admit their wrongdoings, and will defend their decisions. But it's more human to be honest - say you messed up, and you will do better in future.
  • Stubbornness doesn't help - someone who is particularly stubborn, if told they are being stubborn, are likely to say "No, I'm not being stubborn!" which is a perfect example of being stubborn.
  • A lot of this probably arises from the "fear" of being proven wrong - no one likes being wrong - we always think we are right in every decision we make - at least at the time. But it is perfectly human to be wrong just as much as you are right. If we never learned from mistakes we would never make any progress.
  • Constructive criticism is a thing, which you should always be prepared for, but there is also witty banter and roasting which can be uncalled for, seem out of order, or are directly and personally offensive. If it's not clear to you that it's a joke, then it's understandably offensive.
  • Hypocrisy is common when it comes to criticism - people sometimes can be more than happy to criticise others, but never when it's aimed at them - those people should be redirected to this blog.
Some other self help articles may also help like these on Tiny Buddha, LinkedIn, and Lifehacker.

23 August 2016

Useful Free Windows Tools



I have posted previously about recommended programs to get you started or if you have issues with Windows, but here is a good collection of all free tools that I use as well. A good website for finding more and alternative programs is alternativeTo, and there is also FileHippo and Download.com.

11 August 2016

The Shallows: Deeper Meaning (Updated)



I think the deeper (pun intended) meaning or lasting message of The Shallows is obviously a metaphor for her mother's cancer and her going through the same, or similar experience.

  • Cancer, when it comes, is like a shark circling round you - it's always there, and never goes away unless you do something about it. It won't go away on its own, and you're more likely to die of dehydration/cancer if you do nothing, than risk the shark
  • At first, you're not even aware that the shark/cancer is there
  • When you're in medication, especially chemotherapy and radiotherapy, you're very limited to where you can go and what you can do - like an island. Sometimes you can feel alone too.
  • Cancer can leave scars - not just physical (the one she left with) but also mentally
  • The medication can take the life out of you - you saw the colour leaving her lips and her constant exhaustion
  • A lot of people going in for treatment have someone or something they keep with them - in this case it was Steven Seagull. It is good to have some comedy to keep you tethered to reality.
  • You lose your hair through chemotherapy - although in this case she lost a massive amount of blood
  • Some people die from cancer/sharks very quickly, i.e. the other divers that were instantly killed
  • The dead whale is a suggestion that cancer can affect anyone regardless of their background, genetics, diet or health
Although, we never found out the name of the beach...

3 August 2016

Windows 10 Anniversary Update: Issues in upgrade experience

Overall, several improvements have been made to the OS, like customising the quick tools, better start menu, deeper search integration, and more tools to help you.

General advice


  • Temporarily disable your AV and protection program due to Windows making large changes to the system. In some cases (Avast), a complete uninstall might be needed.
  • Uninstall any programs surrounding network changes like VPNs, hotspots or virtual machines
  • Check you have at least 30GB free space if you are doing an upgrade because the Windows directory will be archived, and temporary files will be left on the system post-upgrade.
  • It might help to disable all Windows Explorer extensions. C-Cleaner and Autoruns can help you with this.
  • Disconnect any peripherals you have, including keyboard and mouse. Only reconnect them once you get the login screen again.
  • If you do have problems after the upgrade e.g. system crashes or locks up after you login, then try going back to the previous build. On the lock screen or start menu, when you click Restart, hold down the shift key. This will bring up the troubleshooter. From there you can go to Troubleshoot > Advanced options > Go back to the previous build. You could also try Safe Mode instead (Startup settings option) to figure out what is causing the problem - if there aren't any messages then Event Viewer might help here. There are also more reset and recovery options here. There is also a 'Start Fresh' option which will upgrade your PC and reset it.
  • In some cases I have seen people upgrade to Build 1607 and post-upgrade, the taskbar doesn't load, the desktop is black with no icons, and no programs open. In this case only a fresh install fixed it. This was on a Linx tablet PC.




A few problems during the upgrade

  • Did initially attempt Windows Update, and downloaded, however it disappeared and was not installed even after reboots, so I had to manually install with the Media Creator Tool instead
  • Audio was not working properly after upgrade - uninstall of driver and reboot solved this
  • Kaspersky removed its licence key so needed to be added again
  • Additional hidden network adapters were present which I removed
  • The UAC has changed - it no longer has a taskbar tab when a UAC is raised so it can be difficult (or impossible) to see it unless you close the program, in my example MediaMonkey needed COM Elevation but couldn't see it the first time.
  • Some of my "Quick access" shortcuts in Windows Explorer had been deleted, e.g. Desktop.
  • Mouse pointer speed had slowed down so needed to re-apply the settings
  • Some people have had problems with webcams after the upgrade - there is a registry fix available


Some notes as well

  • Windows Defender now has an Offline Scan built in, but it isn't clear the button will immediately restart and start scanning
  • Classic Shell, Adobe Reader and Steam all needed an update straight away
  • A KB update was already applied during the upgrade however is not in the Settings - only in Programs and Features / View installed updates - a second one is now available
  • Programs and Features reports many programs installation dates as the date of the upgrade
  • Machine rebooted 5 times during upgrade
  • Windows reinstalled the default Apps like Get Office, even though the latest version of Office was installed. Other apps include 3D Builder, Skype Preview, Paid and Free Wifi, Connect (Companion)
  • Some devices in Device Manager have changed names
  • As per any other upgrade, Windows will create a "Windows.old" folder and some other temporary files in the C:/ drive. You can use cleanmgr to clean these up. Below, it's using 22.44GB.
  • Some services appear broken, even when doing a brand new installation. But they seem to run ok.
  • I had to reinstall Chrome as Chrome did the thing where it just says "Loading" on every tab you open.
  • Some issues found for a client:
    • Outlook was no longer sending messages due to 'Outlook data file cannot be accessed'. This needed a delete of the Outlook profile and to be recreated again (emptying the AppData/Local/Microsoft/Outlook folder first). Signatures and Address Books are not covered.
    • Some programs like Solar Accounts may require re-registration
    • Windows may install different graphics drivers so applications like Design Builder which are picky about device drivers may not work anymore. Windows versions of drivers can be disabled using the Hide updates tool
    • Several antiviruses come with browser protection - so if installing again, disable any AV browser plugins - in some cases they make your PC less secure
    • Some antiviruses come with protection for private browsing and advert or banner blocking - however this may be incompatible with websites that require you to install a certificate on your machine
    • Some printers, if not connected, may be uninstalled entirely, and will need to be completely removed (from Device Manager, registry, Program Files, ProgramData and AppData) before they can be safely reinstalled again. Samsung in particular needs SP and then GDI installing.


After the upgrade

  • Reinstall your Antivirus and any extensions and startup items that you disabled
  • Run cleanmgr to free up space if you're happy, this will remove the "Windows.old" folder backup
  • Check for updates in Windows Updates
  • May want to tidy up your System Restore points to free up space
  • As above, check your apps work okay - they may need updating straight away
  • Check your network is working fine - if you view the network adapters in Network Connections and see e.g. Ethernet #2 but no #1, then you may want to delete the old secondary one from Device Manager.
  • Open the Store app and update all apps


27 July 2016

Ghostbusters 2016 Review


  • Feels like it was using the franchise far too much for its own benefit. 
  • There were 4 renditions of the main theme tune, which, sure, it is a catchy song, but it wasn't overkill in the original.
  • Why was the lead girl so "okay" with giving up her career on merging general relativity and quantum theory? That would be the biggest breakthrough in physics in ages.
  • Why did we not see the professor of the university again, like shocked or rejecting the evidence of ghosts and what the lead girl was up to? I feel that would have made it funny.
  • The lead girl said there was no science in her book at all, so how did Abby and Jillian create the technology? How did Jillian even develop the technology to be so portable so easily?
  • Bill Murray wasn't used well enough in the film at all, it felt more like he was poking fun at the film - more specifically the girls in it
  • Now that Rowan is dead and there aren't any more devices, why does the town even need the Ghostbusters anymore? Unless someone else starts making similar devices, but that would basically be a repeat of the same film. 
  • A lot of the jokes weren't funny, and the scenes were edited together so closely to make it really fast paced, but left no time for the jokes to sink in. It felt like they were cranking jokes in at every opportunity. A lot of the jokes were very childish as well, like the fart joke and Jillian's general responses. This isn't an Avengers movie, you can't do the Hulk/Groot thing with a human. 
  • The nuclear reactor on the top of the car was a major plot device that was not explained for being there, definitely deus ex machina
  • The CGI was very mixed - the proton packs and streams looked excellent, but the ghosts weren't all great
  • Sigourney Weaver could have been used better
  • Feels like the roles were better suited to men really, and Chris Hemsworth was the "dumb blonde receptionist", and his role change later in the film makes no reflection on him alone
  • Generally did not get what they were talking about sometimes (not the sci-fi technobabble) but even the jokes too
  • They could have expanded on the ghost that was at the end of the lead girl's bed for a year. Why did the ghost ignore her after a year? Why didn't they visit her house to see if the ghost was still there?
As there are so many questions I'm led to believe there will be a sequel.

16 July 2016

Afterlife



Evolution and nature

There is no afterlife, heaven or hell. There is no reincarnation. These are all things we have dreamt up to make us hopeful and protect us from the truth: that once we die, we are never conscious again. There is no such thing as a soul.

The reason behind this is obvious if you look at nature. What makes us so different from monkeys, from cats and dogs, and from the smallest little creatures? Why do humans get the privilege of an afterlife when other creatures do not? At what point did evolution give us this 'soul' and this ability to ascend to a different plane of existence?

From all this the truth is very clear: it is something we made up. We made up the idea of afterlife so that religion could be used as a way to control people, and cover up the fact that science is real. The argument between religion and science all started with religion wanting to cover up the facts that science brought with it, and throughout history has dismissed the ideas of many scientists and killed them.

This idea is instantly depressing. The thought that when we die we won't exist anymore. We won't be able to think, feel or do anything - we will cease to be. We shut our eyes and that is the end of our story. It's scary and deeply harrowing. But it doesn't mean that life is pointless.

Existentialism and influence

The resolution to this existentialism is to "do what we can". Your life is a gift - it is a chance to change something in this world. To make the world better. So that when you die, you can feel happy, knowing that you've left this world in an improved state than when you found it. Every single person that is born is another gift - another chance to change this world and make it better - to create your legacy. Whether that means to have children, to make someone else happy, to save the lives of others, to provide to others, and to push humanity in some direction that it will be better in the future.

Think about what you are passionate about, what makes you tick, and what you think needs to be fixed in the world - what is that thing that makes you think "Someone really needs to fix this". My lasting thought in life would to be in bed at the end of my life, surrounded by family, friends and loved ones, looking back at everything good I've done in this world and being happy that I made this world a better place. I have influenced the world and changed it to a different path than it previously would have been had I done nothing through my entire life and just "existed".

From this comes a philosophy of how to live your life as well - to never cause suffering. Try and make the lives of others better - don't hurt others, or anger them or upset them. Show them patience, care, kindness and tolerance and find how to move forward.

Origin of the universe

There is another concept that religion imposes - the idea of a god, or many gods. Knowing that each of us is made from stars, and that after all the stars have burned out in 100 trillion years, and the universe slowing cooling until the heat death of the universe, it does make you think, why does the universe exist? Is there a way to escape the universe? Can we live beyond it? Is there a way for humans to keep surviving, after the Earth is gone, and after the last of all the suns has gone out, to keep living for trillions and trillions years more, or is there even a way to escape the universe?

These are the thoughts that should drive us forward. If you strongly believe in god, then the pursuit of science and wanting to discover how the universe came about, kind of dissipates. To focus on something like a god is to distract yourself from trying to answer the real questions about the universe. To settle on a belief is giving up and avoiding answering the question. There shouldn't be a belief, instead, there should be a desire to want to know.