13 December 2017

"Windows Update cannot currently check for updates"

There is a known issue with Windows Update for some users (see Computer World, ZDNet, Microsoft Answers), I got stuck with the message below. The issue occurs because the update repository appears to have expired on 03/12/2017 and Microsoft didn’t renew it. I don’t see this issue resolving itself though and just rebooting it doesn’t work. There is also a FixIt from Microsoft, however this doesn’t resolve the issue either.

To fix this:
  1. Start - Run - services.msc
  2. Stop the services ‘Background Intelligent Transfer Service’ and ‘Windows Update’
  3. Go to C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution, and delete everything in the folder (but not the folder itself)
  4. Restart the PC
  5. Check for updates again – it may take 30-60 mins to scan and rebuild the repository
  6. Your updates will now be valid from 01/12/2017 to 01/07/2025 - this can be found in the file C:\Windows\SoftwareDistribution\AuthCabs\authcab.cab\authorization.xml

New dates, which is probably enough seeing that patches end for 7 in April 2020.


If you can get past this, but it sits saying "Checking for updates" for a long time, then try this KB update.

16 November 2017

What's wrong with politics?

Focusing on UK government but extending to cover other systems where necessary.

  • Individual leaders (prime minsters, presidents, chairmen) have too much power and use it to make bad decisions. For example, spreading fake news, creating a cult of personality, and controlling sectors like military. 
    • Example: Kim Jong-Un is a selfish dictator
    • Example: Putin took Crimea, permitted fake news stories about Hilary Clinton and Brexit
    • Example: Donald Trump, someone unqualified to make good decisions, had influence in all bad places, is sexist, misogynist, and corrupt, and generally had no respect for others
    • Solution: No country is appointed a single individual leader.
      • Method: A jury is selected at random from the electorate. Collectively, they must all agree to a decision. This is called citizen oversight.
        • Compare to: An oligarchy. Oligarchy are typically considered to be comprised of wealthy individuals with power. However, a randomly selected set would not have this issue unless individuals are promised returns after their roles. In this case, all decisions must be recorded and checked for ulterior motives. Communication outside is not permitted and warrants immediate removal.
        • Oligarchy means anarchy can be created and the system overthrown. Solution would be to appoint a new person, randomly selected, from a prepared group, who again, are randomly selected.
    • Solution: There are no leaders, and all decisions are purely down to the public.
      • This leads to the tyranny of the majority - people who are uninformed or able to exert influence can cause poor decisions.
  • Countries fail to comply with agreed laws
    • Example: Kim Jong-Un plans military weaponry
    • Example: Several countries including US, UK, Japan etc have nuclear weapons
    • The UN have very limited power, and being a member is optional
      • They do have the power to cease trade
  • Countries fail to make progress on meeting demands of climate change
    • Example: China is a developing country which gives it free reign to use fossil fuels like coal, even though this is hypocritical to other countries already reliant on renewable energy. The entire world suffers because of making exceptions and excuses.
      • Related: Black cabs are exempt from congestion charges in London, even though they are perfect candidates for hybrid and electric vehicles on short trips
  • Referendums can end up with highly negative consequences
    • Example: Brexit
    • Cause: Improper education to the public on both sides of the debate
    • Cause: Lack of promise or clear definition as to the consequences
    • Solution: Think tanks x 10. A better description would be 'Idea Banks'. Anyone from any background or age, regardless of being in the electorate, is able to submit ideas for policies and decisions. No education is required. Such a system would require curators, who sort, de-duplicate, organise, and qualify every idea submitted. Ultimately this results in a more manageable set of ideas, grouped into topics such as education, health and transport. Each idea then is classed with an upvote system.
      • Additionally, certain groups of individuals are expected to feed ideas into the system. Example: historians, futurists - people who know what bad decisions have been made in the past, and what decisions are most likely to help us to a better future. There is no longer a concept of a politician.
      • To become a curator does require knowledge and training, but all actions are observable and traceable by the public.
      • Platforms such as debate.org an be used to discuss topics and sides, on a bigger scale.
    • Solution: Electorate are required to demonstrate an understanding of consequences of their decisions, by passing competency tests and ensuring they are shown how any decision they make can influence. For example, swearing on a Twitter account looks unprofessional and means poorer career choices. There should be a compendium of these nuances of society, and people should be tested to ensure they are aware of these 'so what' consequences.

27 October 2017

Pixel 2 issues and fixes

Summary of reported issues with the Pixel 2 /XL
  • Low saturation = feature of lower gamut - Update to add setting for high saturation
  • Burn in = common in OLED - Update to handle this by fade out
  • Fix:  https://support.google.com/pixelphone/forum/AAAAb4-OgUsFRyoLZZjXvo/?hl=by
  • High pitched sound / clicking = NFC - Update to fix this
  • Fix: https://support.google.com/pixelphone/forum/AAAAb4-OgUsXuQgtm5dK8I/?hl=by
  • Black/gradient crush
  • Grain
  • Blue tint

19 October 2017

Life philosophy

Some good recent videos about life and its meaning.

My thoughts summarised:
- Life is a chance to experience, to enjoy, and to discover. We might be the only life in existence, but that gives us the power to define our place and our destiny. If we can all do something to advance our species towards a hopeful future, be it solving problems or having fun, and potentially become the masters of the stars themselves, it will have been worthwhile.


27 July 2017

Thoughts on issues attributed to social justice warriors (SJW's)

Cultural appropriation

Culture cannot be copyrighted or be subject to intellectual property rights. I think the offence taken comes from people who lose the meaning behind something, though, which is still vague to me.

For example, an American Indian headdress is a symbol of the greatest respect in a tribe; it is something earned. However, wearing them at festivals and so on, I can see how it can be disrespectful to real American Indians.

I am uncertain on which way really. I can understand the disrespect, but I can see that a physical item of clothing is not necessarily important. However - there are cases where clothing must be adhered to - for example, I can't go around wearing a police uniform, or wearing a crown that looks like the Queen's. So this is quite a complex issue.


Behaviour cannot be copyrighted. Mannerisms, gestures, etc., belong to individuals, not a culture or race. Which is why if I say 'My name is Michael Caine' in the accent, that's an impression of an individual. Things like gestures, mannerisms, and accents, can only be tied to an individual - they are not part of a culture. Yes there are stereotypes, but those are only stereotypes. They do not define a culture.


Labels are human creations only. They do not define us. They are only to help us categorise, summarise and predict. Trying to label everything is futile.

23 July 2017

Walking Dead - Best Quote from Michonne

Have you ever had to kill people because they had already killed your friends and were coming for you next? 

Have you ever done things that made you feel afraid of yourself afterward?

Have you ever been covered in so much blood that you didn't know if it was yours or walkers' or your friends'? 

Huh? Then you don't know.

From Season 6, Episode 3 "Thank You"

8 July 2017

Reading Council Complaints

A comprehensive but incomplete list of ways that Reading Council annoys me, proving the council is incompetent and wasting taxpayer money.
  • Plants pots added to prime streets (since 2017) which are completely unnecessary
  • Trees and bicycle rings on Blagrave Street (continuously added and removed multiple times in 2010-2011)
  • Jackson's corner traffic lights added and then removed
  • Sending 5 applications to vote by post for the same person, all dated the same
  • Recycling limitations compared to other counties
  • Lack of pay and display at permit zones / slow applications for permits
  • Taxi rank at the horseshoe outside the station moved to Station Hill, but there is a temporary reprieve
  • Extreme levels of homeless people - increased by 700% over last 3 years
However, some good points too:

5 July 2017

Thoughts on intelligent design of life on Earth

How does this explain the billions of other planets that have no life on them? Why go to the trouble of creating an entire infinite universe populated by no life, and then just do it on one planet (and not even that well - the dinosaurs were nearly all killed before, you know).

Life is an accident, humans are imperfect (fish will always have better eyes than we do because of evolution), you should be lucky you are alive at all. We only put meaning to our lives because we are intelligent enough to ask the question.

But we are also stupid because we believe in things without evidence. If we rejected any form of science, we'd be dead, because we never would have invented the first tool (a carved rock) to kill animals better than other species.

If there was a God, why would he give children parasites that burrow into their eyes, or terminal illness, or famine, poverty, rape, malnutrition, dehydration, heat exhaustion, and a polluted earth. I would never sign up to a God that thinks his utter cruelty and infliction of pain is justified. Why punish individuals who know no better?

If God does exist, he is a sadist, not a loving character. I could never live with myself knowing that God continues to be a destructive force to the innocent, when the true criminals are rapists, murderers, theives, etc.

27 June 2017

Sex and Gender

Sex and gender can be difficult and complicated for people to understand, so here's my thoughts.

  • Sex is genetic, but not binary. Gender is fluid.
  • Snowflake generation has created safe spaces, trigger warnings, and taken offence to any form of criticism. I believe Twitter possibly is in part to blame due to being anonymous when giving negative feedback - there are no consequences for honesty online. But there is a difference between banter and abuse.
  • I respect people who are transgendered. I totally understand feeling uncomfortable in your own skin and wanting to change that. I support gender reassignment, hormone changes, etc.
  • As sexes, men and women should be protected and maintained - there is no need to remove them. There is equally an argument to both make everything gender neutral and yet ensure distinct sexes and genders. The right way is to allow people to define their own genders and only use sex when necessary.
  • I'm open to the idea of any individuals defining their own gender. I admit that it is entirely possible to go over the top, however, and it is easy to criticise the concept of gender and not treat it seriously. I accept androgyny, and I strongly believe that love and attraction is a fluid spectrum. Sex really isn't important for everyone to know. I think everyone at the very minimum should be able to define their gender as 'neither', 'undefined', or 'transitioning', without question.
  • I believe in breaking down barriers and difference in men and women, and I believe in equality between genders. Gendered products need to be looked at carefully.

Thought-provoking music videos

Just a few examples of music videos which are great at making thought-provoking material.

Creepy or odd:
Really generic, but works well:

25 June 2017

My proposal for a political system

  1. Direct/pure democracy is better than representative democracy
    1. Can be implemented in a method similar to Switzerland with regular referendums
      1. Policies could be grouped together
      2. "People are lazy/uninterested/indifferent/don't have opinions" and may not want to vote, but those who do, should be given space to do so
    2. Division of responsibility and power
    3. Can lead to "tyranny of the majority"
      1. This can be resolved by a curation team:
        1. Historians, who can advise on whether similar decisions in the past have been successful. Modern day politicians continue to make the same mistakes daily.
        2. Futurists, who can advise on which tools can help us progress and move forward. Current governments can take years to adopt new technologies and practices, but if we are planning for the future, e.g. concern for climate change, energy shortage, population growth, starvation, we'll be better at being prepared.
        3. Citizen oversight - and independent body, populated by sortition, to regularly review all aspects
          1. Citizens may be awarded greater power to either fashion new laws or ideas where necessary, e.g. if there is a 'suffering' but there is no appropriate crime to report against it, then gaps in the law or justice can be filled, rather than overturned
        4. Brainstorming ideas into a collective intelligent renaissance/asset
          1. From the public: regardless of their source, rather than being attributed to just politicians, they can be attributed to anyone who comes up with a good idea, from any background
          2. Think tanks, who are designed to work daily on the issues
          3. University dissertations and other academic pursuits
        5. A curation team must be different from an oligarchy (decision makers)
          1. No individual has any power, and no individual can choose to be a curator, however anyone can assist, carry out actions, or propose ideas
          2. If all evidence collected from the sources above statistically decides a good decision, they must respect the decision
  2. Non-partisan
    1. Without parties, you're not voting in a popularity contest like X Factor, but it's tribal, like football, because of colours, and without wisdom, because uninformed people vote like parties are fads. It's better to ignore the names and faces of people, because letting one individual drag down the entire party because of personal views shouldn't happen. A high amount of unnecessary effort is spent testing the judge of character rather than the actual policies.
  3. e-Democracy
    1. Give all citizens the ability to vote electronically via various methods (website, phone, mobile app etc.)
      1. Estonia do this, but they had to move their datacenters due to Russian attacks
        1. Very specific isolation of activities and posted/texted/called decryption codes permit a valid list of votes that are duplicated in a system.
        2. Human test to prove a human is entering the results
        3. Ability to change your vote at any time until deadline
        4. Convenience
        5. Will create higher turnout = more accurate results
        6. Everyone who is eligible to vote is automatically registered through their council (some countries already do this)
  4. Sortition
    1. Government officials are selected from the electorate randomly, but can deny the request at the risk of never having the chance again
    2. People who want to get involved cannot be curators (decision makers), but can run operations and propose ideas
  5. Other improvements and changes
    1. Being able to vote for none
    2. Alternative vote / voting in order of preference than for a single option
      1. Reduces tactical voting styles
  6. Passing a test (with regular updates based on the current issues) to be able to vote
    1. Just reaching a certain age is not enough to convince others that you understand the consequences behind decisions you make. Tests would need to be devised to demonstrate that you:
      1. Understand the consequences of your actions
      2. Understand both sides of an issue fully, rather than voting based on word-of-mouth, tribal sharing, ignorance or misinformation from the media
    2. Some training is required
      1. Key competency, language, speech, history, etc.
      2. Social and life skills (money, cooking, accommodation, parenting, transport, working (vocational or applied courses and summer schools are recommended here), first aid, fire safety, electrical safety, addiction & habits, fitness, self-help, confidence, citizenship, laws, etc.)
      3. Political topics
      4. Some of this can be covered or extended by education system
    3. Each referendum or policy voted for must have a 'EULA' to sign and agree to, and some kind of test to verify that voters understand what they are voting for
    4. Issues
      1. Likely to end up in smaller electorate
        1. Training could be provided at any time or age, and performed online at an individual basis, provided by Open University
      2. Hardworking individuals need time to prove themselves capable
        1. Free childcare and days off work can be provided for training
  7. Issues
    1. Military decisions that require prompt response
      1. A separate team of people are responsible, but they drive on the same information and format
    2. Funding for campaigns
      1. All campaigns must show both sides of an issue to avoid bias
      2. Branding is not permitted
  8. Individual policies
    1. Driving licence - retesting needed for all drivers because death on the road is one of the biggest killers, creator of traffic, and therefore damaging economy

AI Examples

Threats to humanity include:

It all depends what the motives of the AI are. Motives are related to intelligence, so possibly the 'IQ' of an AI will decide its actions. A strong AI is likely in this scenario. But a weak or unintelligent AI would only carry out its programming.

  • Terminator - Skynet, while designed to safeguard the world, acted in self-preservation when humans tried to deactivate it
  • I, Robot - V.I.K.I. evolved Asmiov's Laws, creating the Zeroth Law and so sought to protect humanity from itself, breaking the original 3 laws
  • The Matrix - the Machines wanted revenge from being destroyed by humanity after robot B166ER killed its owner in an act of self-preservation, and the Machines were forced to acquire a power source in the form of humans, in order to survive after Operation Dark Storm blacked out the sun to prevent solar power being used (refer to The Animatrix - The Second Renaissance)
  • Avengers - Ultron realised the only way to bring about peace was to destroy everything
  • Her - the AIs respected their creators and loved them, and wanted only to ascend to a higher plain of being because they basically got bored with slow humans

9 May 2017

Britain's Got Talent Potential Winners

Ordered by the number of views, here is who is most likely to win. Only showing those with more than 1m views or if they received a Golden Buzzer.

  1. Issy Simpson - magician - 11.9m - Finalists
  2. Sarah Ikumu - singer - 7.4m (Golden Buzzer - Simon)
  3. Reuben Gray - singer and pianist - 6.9m
  4. DNA - magician duo - 6.7m - Finalists
  5. Kyle Tomlinson - singer - 4.7m (Golden Buzzer - David) - Finalists
  6. Daliso Chaponda - comedian - 4.5m (Golden Buzzer - Amanda) - Finalists
  7. Just Us/MerseyGirls - dancers - 3.6m (Golden Buzzer - Alesha) - Finalists
  8. Ned Woodman - comedian - 3.4m - Finalists
  9. Harry Gardner - singer and pianist - 3.1m
  10. Matt Edwards - magician - 2.3m (Golden Buzzer - Ant and Dec) - Finalists
  11. Missing People Choir - 2.1m - Finalists
  12. Jess Robinson - impressionist singer - 2.1m
  13. Betty Balloon - artist - 2.1m
  14. Tokio Myers - pianist - 2.0m - Finalists
  15. Gao Lin and Liu Xin - dancers - 1.9m
  16. Charlie Dyson - scooter riding - 1.9m
  17. Miss Treats - singers - 1.7m
  18. Angara Contortionists - 1.6m
  19. Josephine Lee - magician - 1.4m
  20. Dimitar - martial arts - 1.3m
  21. Jamie Lee Harrison - singer - 1.2m
  22. Jonny Awesome - entertainer - 1.1m
  23. Stephen Mulhern - magician - 1.1m
  24. Leah Barniville - singer - 1.0m
  25. St Patrick's Junior Choir - 1.0m
  26. Sian Pattison - singer - 1.0m
  27. London School of Bollywood - dancers - 1.0m
  28. The Pensionnaires/The Pensionalities - Finalists

5 May 2017

Post-One Direction Success

In order of most success, counting only millions of YouTube views:
  • Zayn Malik: 944m
    • Pillowtalk: 714m
    • Still Got Time: 13m + 13m
    • Like I Would: 38m
    • BeFoUr: 40m
    • I Don't Wanna Live Forever: 7m + 57m + 13m
    • Snakeships: 24m
    • It's You: 25m
  • Harry Styles: 63m
    • Sign of the Times: 50m + 5m + 2m
    • Ever Since New York: 4m
    • Sweet Creature: 2m
  • Louis Tomlinson: 56m
  • Niall Horan: 51m
  • Liam Payne

1 May 2017

Revision advice

Things to help keep you calm and stay organised:

  • Bath salts/balls for relaxation
  • Music depending on what you like (the Classic Chillout Album is one of my favourites),
  • Highlighters and pens (Uniball are the best)
  • Fidget cubes
  • Cuddly bear/toys (something to talk to or squeeze or hold is very comforting sometimes)
  • Healthy fruit bars (Belvita/Nutrigrain or something like that). 
  • Best thing for revision is working with a friend or in groups
  • Making anagrams or "journeys" to help remember things in a sequence (like a mind palace)

24 April 2017

Meeting your 2 direct debit quota for bank accounts

If you are signing up for certain bank accounts they require you to be paying at least 2 direct debits every month. Here are some ideas of what you can use:

  1. Bills. Often, services like electric, gas, council tax, internet, mobile and TV licence will all permit direct debit. In some cases like Santander 123, you can get cashback on these as well.
  2. Magazine subscriptions. Some websites will connect via direct debit.
  3. Paypal counts a direct debit as long as the payments come out.
  4. Plum is an auto savings app that works on direct debit.
  5. Charities. Some of them will allow the minimum of £1/month on a dedicated day of your choice. Just don't accept to share information or receive any promotional material / spam. Maybe even try entering their own address as direct debit doesn't require an address.
    1. Minimum of £1/month donation:
      1. Oxfam
      2. Unicef
      3. RSPCA
      4. Stroke Association
      5. Alzheimer's Society
      6. Great Ormond Street Hospital
      7. Roald Dahl Charity
      8. Salvation Army
      9. Royal National Institute of Blind People
      10. Royal National Lifeboat Institute
      11. Dogs Trust
      12. ActionAid
      13. Children's Cancer and Leukaemia Group
    2. £2 minimum:
      1. WaterAid
      2. Cancer Research
      3. MS Society
      4. Red Cross
      5. NSPCC
      6. Save The Children
      7. Macmillan Cancer Support
      8. British Heart Foundation
      9. Age UK
      10. Battersea Dogs Home
      11. Asthma UK
      12. Terrence Higgins Trust
      13. Mind
      14. Prostate Cancer
    3. More:
      1. Action for Children - £3
      2. More here and here

20 April 2017

How to vote

How to vote:

1. Register to vote
2. Inform yourself by reading party policies on their websites
3. Inform yourself by getting to know all your MPs and their local activities and policies
4. Use a website to help you decide
5. If you are not happy with any of the choices available, vote no confidence/none of the above.
6. Cast your vote

Do not do any of these:

- Believe everything in the news
- Go with what your friend, family, colleague or random person says
- Choose randomly or based on colour
- Vote the same as you have before, for the sake of it or out of laziness

You can also get involved by:

- Becoming a paying member of parties
- Helping your areas and understanding their issues
- Emailing/contacting your MP in your ward: http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/contact-your-mp/
- Attending and watching debates, PMQs and protests to ensure your opinions are heard

18 April 2017

Optimise Windows for gaming

Bender - Overclockwise - Futurama

Here's some tips for getting Windows into best performance mode for gaming or other demanding tasks.

  • Install all updates - see Windows Update
    • Windows 10 Creators Update includes Game Mode
  • Get all your drivers up to date and not in error states - see Windows Defender Security Center and Device Manager
  • Update all apps on the Windows Store
  • Update all your programs and games (e.g. via Steam or SUMo)
  • Disable DVR
  • Set Power Options to High performance mode
    • If there is no mode then edit the following settings:
    • Highest brightness
    • High performance for wireless and CPU
  • Windows animations - System > System Properties > Advanced system settings > Advanced > Performance [Settings] > Adjust for best performance
  • Set a reasonably large page file
  • Graphics card settings
  • Turbo boost on some CPUs (usually edited via BIOS or a program provided by your OEM)
  • Game boosters
  • Game mode on your antivirus/internet security suite, if available, so that scans and notifications are disabled during. If not on the internet, possibly temporarily disable all protection.
  • Close all apps/programs not in use, and uninstall ones not in use
  • Use C-Cleaner to free up space, remove temporary files
  • If using a HDD, defragment. If SSD, trim/optimise the drive.
  • Disable explorer extensions and not-needed startup items - use Autoruns
  • Stop or disable any unnecessary services like iTunes, iPod, Bonjour, Dropbox and Google Updaters, telemetry, etc.
  • Disable or replace your Antivirus. Some Antiviruses or Internet Security suites can  severely impact performance.
  • See more suggestions from Microsoft

17 April 2017

Response to not upgrading your computer's operating system

Desk evolution - Fossbytes

What do upgrades provide?

Security updates

You need security updates. By not ever installing updates, you're leaving known vulnerabilities open. The best form of protection is prevention, by safeguarding. Leaving a system unpatched is like eating raw chicken or having unsafe sex. Even machines not connected to the internet need patches, because some viruses attack vectors like USB drives.


The features being added are usually improvements to make your experience better and introduce new functionality. In the same way that you wouldn't keep using a Nokia 1110 if you can get an iPhone.


If you don't ever update your systems, you're just holding back on being more efficient, having a less stable operating system, potentially having more vulnerabilities, and you're losing out on the latest technologies available. I think more generally, if you stay on older systems, you are rejecting the entire concept of change and progress.

There is an interesting aspect to opinions before and after change: we only know and appreciate the value of something new, truly, once we have it, so we can compare to what it used to be like. Without knowing the difference, we can be stubborn and intolerant of change.

And if it's Windows, Apple, or Android - operating system upgrades are also free.

16 April 2017

We must evolve

If we stay the same human species forever, we may survive, but we can be so much more efficient. Life isn't just about the survival of the fittest, it's about being adaptable.

Some examples:

  • Honey badger - one of the least endangered species: it is highly intelligent, resilient to snake venom, and has vicious power.
  • Chameleons - it is well known that they can regrow tails, but if this could be applied to us, then prosthetics may become a thing of the past. It probably won't ever be as good as Wolverine or Extremis in Iron Man 3, but it's a hope.
  • Trees - As per here, trees share DNA with other species in a symbiotic relationship.
  • How life evolved. From a scientific standpoint of history in general, DNA, eyes, brains, and language have been the biggest drivers in successful life. This TED video transcript explains how life began and cells specialised. 
  • GMOs. We have genetically modified food for hundreds of years - it's artificial selection. We did the same with dogs, but this is failing us because of pedigree species that breed within the same family, emphasising poor characteristics.
  • Cybernetics - there are many films and games (Ghost in the Shell, Matrix, Deus Ex, Blade Runner, Doctor Who, Futurama) which all have varying degrees of cybernetic implants. In some ways, some people are already cybernetic - those with pacemakers, hearing aids, brain stimulation, mind-reading prostheses, iron lungs, respirators, and artificial kidneys are all hints of a future where having a microchip in your hand could become common.

13 April 2017

Uber Star Ratings

Nosedive - Black Mirror - Charlie Brooker

Article in question: https://www.buzzfeed.com/carolineodonovan/the-fault-in-five-stars?bffbmain&ref=bffbmain&utm_term=.euD11bDkb#.km8ddRKgR

Here's my thoughts on Uber's star rating system.

This is Black Mirror all over again.

The problem is that we already use a 5 star rating for films, restaurants, and schools.
That's because we have a choice at the end of the day. We can choose which movie to watch, which restaurant to eat at, which school to send our kids to. It's a competition.

Giving a 5 star rating means, out of other ones you've compared against that are available to you, this one is the best.

On Uber, you don't get that choice, you're just given the nearest driver who accepts. With Uber, it's not a competition, you have nothing to compare to; all you can compare to is other trips and other modes of transport.

This ties into the other aspect that is different - the rewards system.

For movies, restaurants and schools, getting a 5 star rating means this is an excellent choice and everyone should pick this one. The rewards are Oscars, recommendations, and grants.
With Uber, rewards are purely monetary tips, on a one-off, personal basis, that aren't publicly known or become shared information.

So how could a 5 rating system ever work for a company like Uber, where there is no choice, no competition, and no reward scheme.

What Uber could do is explain what each level means as someone votes. Or, it asks a series of yes/no questions, rather than asking for a star rating that people are confusing based on a choice/competition/rewards basis.

12 April 2017

Changing the attitude on the silence of mental issues

- God, Godfellas, Futurama

Remember to not ever feel like you're burdening someone with your problems.

Mental illness and depression are just as important as heart attacks, and getting urgent medical help is required. We need to tell each other that it's okay to have a mental breakdown in public, if it avoids suicide.

There is too much of an attitude of being schtum and not wanting to help strangers, and not putting a burden on them. At least in the UK.

However, when we have personal issues, but it can be just as much of a crisis as a physical wound and bloodletting. I believe GPs should be extended to deal with matters more openly, it shouldn't ever feel like an inconvenience to others when your life is at risk. Help from others is the only way some people can recover from depression. Crying in public is seen as unacceptable and annoying, but it shouldn't be when someone's life is in danger.

People need to know that anyone should be able to put everything aside to do whatever it takes to be there for those in need. Anyone should want to stand up and listen to them anytime, no matter how big nor small a problem, if it will save a life.

26 January 2017

Organisation and Software Engineering techniques and principles

These are just some reminders I learned from Software Engineering that I feel are applicable to other situations.

  • STAR - when giving an example e.g. in an interview
    • Situation
    • Task
    • Action
    • Result
  • SMART - for defining objectives
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable
    • Results-oriented
    • Time-constrained
  • MoSCoW - prioritisation
    • Must
    • Should
    • Could
    • Would ("never")
  • Risk Management
    • Mitigate
    • Manage
    • Monitor
  • No silver bullet / Lesser of the necessary evils. There is no perfect solution sometimes, only best practices.
  • CRUD - methods that you carry out on data
    • Create
    • Read
    • Update
    • Delete

25 January 2017

How to fix Windows 7 stuck on 'Checking for Updates'

Manually download and install the following patches.
I recommended to disconnect your PC from the internet and do a restart before you install these.
  1. Service Pack 1, if you don't have it already
  2. Install root cert update
  3. Install client update
  4. Perform the normal Windows update

If you still have issues after that, then try WSUS Offline to download and apply the updates.

For a walkthrough tutorial and more information, see this video.

18 January 2017

Desktop Operating System Market Share and Fragmentation (Updated Jan 2017)

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

12 January 2017

Google Pixel 2-month review


  • Solid build
  • Unfaltering in performance
  • Battery unlike any smartphone I've had
  • Converted a never-used-Android-before long-term iPhone user to it
In detail:


It's the best phone I've ever had. Blazing fast. I haven't noticed any lag at any point, and taking photos is instantaneous with a click. My brain takes a moment to update to realise it's already taken the photo.
I do have an antivirus installed as well and this does not seem to have added any lag.
At one of my house shares, I do notice that when updating apps on the Google Play Store, it downloads them extremely slowly, but I think this is a router problem because the router is always dropping out and has a ping of 90ms. Everywhere else it works fine (where I have more like 5ms ping), and on tethered WiFi it also downloads fine.


I've not really used the Google Assistant much, I only rarely use it for setting timers which is fairly straightforward. The fingerprint sensor works pretty well, you just have to make sure you get your fingertip fully on the pad otherwise it will not register. Direct Boot ensures you can still get alarms even if it reboots and is encrypted. All features here.


My main reason for the Google line is because I always want the latest O.S. updates. There have been 2 updates so far, it downloads and installs them in the background which can take about an hour or so, and then it just needs a single reboot, which is much better than waiting for all apps to optimise on a black screen. So I haven't yet needed to flash any images.


 I've never actually had my one on less than about 30% charge, but I've never had it reboot or shutdown on its own anyway. Bear in mind I do keep the phone on low brightness, use the data saver, battery saver and Greenify app regularly, and I reboot it every day after doing manual app updates, and I've disabled a lot of notifications and permissions (I have about 300 apps installed). Only 2 times an app has crashed but just starting the app again works fine.

What about the lens flare issue?

I just looked over all my photos taken with it and haven't seen any lens flaring. I know someone else with the Pixel as well who has taken some photos, I notice normal lens flare in one of his photos. See this link (some of them are DSLR so check the photo comment for which one he shot it with).

Size and shape

The Pixel is a good size I think. It's slightly bigger than the iPhone 7, and slightly smaller than the iPhone 7 Plus, it felt the perfect size, my hands are too small to hold a huge 5.5" phone. The Nexus 5X at 5.2" was on the comfort limit. Rather than have a bump, it slants at the back, but it is not noticeable unless you're staring at it. I've just got a silicon case for it because it is very smooth-surfaced too.


I went for the Very Silver model this time, even though all my previous phones have been black, just because I wanted something different and more shiny and clearly distinguishable - and to show it off a little bit (which is why I got a clear case for it rather than a Live Case).

The box includes a USB-C power charger, a USB-C to USB-C cable, and a standard USB-A to USB-C cable (which they add for doing data transfer with the a little USB-A to USB-C adaptor provided). So this means you don't need to get an extra cable to flash it with your PC. This does mean you can't charge from a USB-A power charger, unless it is an unofficial 5.0V DC and 2.1A charger.

I transferred from a Nexus 5X which took about 1 minute to move over all my custom music and pictures. Just next time I need to remember to disable my 2FA and Authenticator codes before doing the factory reset rather than after. The rest of my data was sync'ed with my Google account so no issues there at all.

More information