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Personal Blog

Okay, so I'm one of those people who was prepared to wait until Windows 10 was ready for my computer rather than trying to install it myself (well actually I did, but the thing turned into a nightmare, failing three times due to IMAGE_WRITE_FAIL, UNPACKAGE_FAIL and IMAGE_CORRUPT on each occasion, even using a different image each time).

I decided on July 29th to wait for it on my other computer and then on August 5th I decided not try and install it again on to my other PC until it was officially ready.

Nonetheless, two weeks later I still have not been informed that it is ready to install on either of my computers - my custom built i7 machine with a Radeon R7950 with nothing out of the ordinary and my Asus convertible tablet, released only in October 2014. 

To tell the truth, Windows 10 looked/looks like it will be worth the upgrade (afterall, I hated Windows 8 as much as anyone).

So where are my upgrades? (if this was Apple, I'd already have my update downloading but it would still have four days left to finish downloading!).

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
windows
10
wait
ready
install
failure

For some time I have been noticing that several error logs across my site have been filled with errors relating to attempted header updates in PHP that are failing.

I found out today what the problem is.

The error for most of them occurs on line 1, and it's because of Aptana Studio saving in UTF with BOM. BOM or Byte-Order-Mark is a single array of characters that is put at the start of a UTF file. The BOM can be seen with a hexeditor such as Notepad++ on Windows or hexdump on *nix machines.

It looks like this:

EF BB BF

Because PHP recognises this as output, it simply leaves it in and therefore PHP flushes the headers and the headers cannot be sent. Don't get fooled by this issue that has had me fooled for months.

Hex Fiend

There is more information here:

http://stackoverflow.com/questions/8028957/how-to-fix-headers-already-sent-error-in-php

http://ext.raneous.net/post/16512690236/my-utf-8-byte-order-mark-bom-adventure

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
php
headers
problems
sent
already
byte-code
byte-order-mark

Yes, it's true. I am beginning to like Microsoft again.

Let me tell you a little secret. Since Ballmer left Microsoft, I have slowly began to like them more and more. I'm not talking about everything - I mean certainly not the Nokia side of Microsoft and Windows Phone. But there are parts of Microsoft that I believe are good and doing well, and one of those is the way they are going with Windows 10.

I was not, latterly, a fan of Windows 8, but I do believe it works well with devices designed specifically for it - touch devices. 

Truthfully, I never disliked Microsoft, and I certainly don't dislike everything they do. I just became too obsessed with Apple. 

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
microsoft
apple
tech
like
jamie
balfour

Two's Complement is one of those tricky little things that you can easily mess up, but what if there was an easier way of doing it than the traditional methods?

Well indeed there is.

Let's do it.

Example 1

For this example, we're going try and calculate -64. This should be easy.

The first step is to figure out how many bits we are going to need. For this we will need 8 bits. As a result our first place holder will be 128.

128 64 32 16 8 4 2 1

But wait a moment, the next thing we do, and we do this before putting down the placeholders, is we want to calculate a negative for the first place holder.

So what do we do? Well here's my way of doing it, and I don't know of anyone else who does it this way but:

0 - (128 - 64) = -64

Now write that as the first place holder instead. We always have a 1 for a negative number (the sign bit) so put a 1 underneath it.

-64 64 32 16 8 4 2 1
1

The next step is to keep adding until you get to 0.

-64 64 32 16 8 4 2 1
1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0

Easy peasy.

-64 + 64 = 0

Example 2

Now for -34

0 - (128 - 34)

-94 64 32 16 8 4 2 1
1 1 0 1 1 1 1 0

-94 + 64 + 16 + 8 + 4 + 2 = 0

Like I say, I don't know anyone else who uses this, though I do know of a technique similar to it. If you're teaching this to students or pupils, I don't recommend using this to teach, just to check that they got the correct answer.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
twos
complement
school
binary
calculator

Lately I have been working to improve the cable management in my room and it feels like it's always an on going task. Now I've finally got to the stage that it's no longer an issue after completing it by buying an IKEA SIGNUM cable manager:

My cables in 2011, before my BlueLounge CableBox even

Around 30 cables run along here, yet they don't really affect my room at all.

8 of the cables run right around the desk and have zero impact on the appearance thanks to cable trunking.

My Mac mini, which is mounted to the bottom of my desk, has five cables (currently) that run to it and are neatly hidden in Ikea cable trunking.

Another three run all the way to the far side of the desk and are connected through the USB hub on my monitor

The cables that run around my bedroom are now trunked - reducing dust and making it more pleasant to the eye. I've left corners open so that they can reach the sockets

Finally, my personal switch in my room (which connects to our main network through an RJ-45 on the wall which has been there since 1999) is found in a basket under my desk.

You can also read about my other cable management tools such as the BlueLounge Soba cable management system or the BlueLounge CableBox and how they've helped organise my wiring better.

Oh yea, and I achieved this with flat cables too, which are a fantastic way of routing cables around a desk like this.

I will likely do a tour of my bedroom soon, as this is long overdue.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
cable
management
setup
cool
nice
smart
neat

I am always banging on about a better web, especially through the Twitter Hashtag #BetterWeb, but the technology behind the web is becoming better and better. Nowadays things like being able to access system information such as the battery life are becoming a real thing - meaning that the native app may soon disappear to the already multi-platform web.

If you do not already follow me on Twitter, please do so that you can get my latest ideas for improving the web.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
web
world
wide
internet
information
share
data

I have noticed this time and time again, but for all you people who have never experienced the Mac experience, this is how your PC looks from a Mac's Finder:

This is how Macs see PCs

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
mac
os
x
view
pc
lan
local
area
network

As much as one of my YouTube videos states that Windows 8 is in my opinion a recommendation, I will not be purchasing it. Sure DirectX 12 will not function on Windows 7 and that means I cannot take advantage of this great new API. Unfortunately, that is not enough to make me give up features that I use and need on a regular basis.

Windows 8

For a start, I do not think I could give up the Aero glass theme as I am and have always been a fan of the theme. I could live without it but I would rather not have to trade in something I love for something that I may prefer for features like DirectX 12. There's no real games for DX12 at present anyway.

The next reason is because I have bought loads of software for Windows 7 (much more than before) and a lot of this is now incompatible with Windows 8, for example Stardock Windows Blinds 7. Even if it is compatible, most of it loses its novelty. Additionally, my Logitech QuickCam Sphere is supposedly incompatible with Windows 8.

I will not be upgrading my desktop, MacBook Pro or netbook to Windows 8. In fact, this business is pushes me to love Mac OS X more and more by the day.

Finally, I have heard that because of the fact that it is a new design of the Windows operating system, it is glitchy from the kernel upwards. I am not going too much into this but I have discovered that a lot of drivers that I used on 7 do not work with 8. Therefore, compatibility is something that I would lose with a lot of hardware. I just could not use 8 without full compatibility.

Since I now own Stardock WindowBlinds 8 for Windows 8 after the recent release, I have since transferred over to Windows 8 and I am loving it. I have the Start8 from Stardock to bring back the Start button and I have a Dell S2340T touchscreen display.

Also, my Gigabyte board has since had drivers released for Windows 8, meaning I can use it together with Windows 8.

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
windows
8
upgrade
should
i
not
update

Firewire has suddenly become an obsolete connector in many areas of computing. When I build my previous computer in 2011(named the Zebra) it had a Firewire header and Firewire on the back (actually 2) and now when I'm building my new computer (due to a fault with the board) I've come across a huge problem when looking for boards that feature this connection.

It's becoming increasingly difficult to find the IEEE1394 standard anywhere now. Macs are starting to phase out a connector which they backed so hard and definitively for years until Thunderbolt came out. But Firewire still offers an excellent, CPU-free connector which is great for people who cannot afford a new hard drive with Thunderbolt (I wouldn't recommend USB because of it's topology and lack of daisy chaining).

To put Firewire into a PC is also getting more difficult as PCI is getting more and more obsolete by the day. Most Haswell boards do not feature PCI but feature PCIe x1 instead. Firewire cards in the form of x1 tend not to be hard to find, especially with an internal header.

I guess I better learn to embrace the future better...

Also, someone who agrees with my statement:

http://www.hispanicbusiness.com/2013/9/20/they_are_on_their_way_out.htm

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
firewire
gone
disappeared
replaced

Nokia's new advert suggests that "every day, more photos are taken on the iPhone, than any other phone". Nokia's Lumia camera may be better, but does that mean more people will change to Nokia's phones? Well clearly not as Windows Phone only has around 2-3% of the market share. I'm not criticizing Windows Phones themselves, but the operating system they run on.

For now my point is that if Microsoft don't do something with Windows Phone 8 and indeed Windows 8, then they will see the market slip out of their hands to both Google and Apple as BlackBerry did.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqfEE_X5cpQ

Posted by J B Balfour in Tech talk
nokia
lumia
bad
design
phone