3D Printing

Recently discovered that a lovely company called Printrbot have released an updated version of their simple 3d printer, now in metal.
So me and a friend bought one!
It is Fantastic!

The ability to make pretty much anything at home is amazing. Broke a shelf pin, print one. Broken a switch in the car, print a replacement. Want a snazzy stand for your games controllers?, model one and print it right at home!

I need to take some pictures of stuff that we have printed, including the printed upgrades to the printer itself!

We may have also already started playing with 3D scanning as well……

SSD pt 2

So its been a little while since I installed the SSD in my main PC. It has been said before, but the difference is definitely noticeable. My previous boot disk was a Seagate Momentus XT. This disk has 4GB (8GB on later models) of NAND flash which is used as an automatically managed cache for the drive. That was a quick drive. But a good SSD, properly configured is worlds away. The multitasking ability of a solid state drive was the first thing I noticed. Windows says its still starting up, not a problem, launch chrome or outlook and its ready in the blink of an eye regardless. Startup times are a little better for me, but I do run a heap of services and startup programs. The Samsung software is excellent, and aids even first time SSD users with correct setup. The drive also lets you create additional over provisioning to lengthen the service life of the disk.

Ok, enough praise of the mighty SSD, back to enjoying it.

SSD post 1

Ive just got myself my first SSD. Hard to believe I know, I am a little behind the times. I have been running a 320GB Seagate Momentus XT in my main machine for a while now, and have been very happy with it. The recent price drops have meant that I can finally excuse the price premium and get myself a proper solid state drive. I have chosen a 120GB Samsung 840 Evo. I nearly took the plunge a few months ago with the original 840, but the write speeds and IOPS were not the best on the smaller capacity drives. With the Evo, through what i suspect can only be witchcraft and magic, have managed exceptional specs, even on the small capacity drives. Specs
Just waiting on my icy dock carrier to arrive monday, then I will update with installation pics. Exciting stuff!

Steam issues

I was recently playing DotA 2 with some friends on Steam. We has a short interval between matches, in which I closed the game. Upon my return I noticed that DotA 2 was trying to update, and failing. “Alright” I thought, “I will just restart steam”. This was followed by ” I will just restart my machine”. Neither of these attempts to get steam to straighten up and fly right worked. To make matters worse, Steam was now refusing to start at all, getting stuck on a ‘searching for updates’ notification.
So I began to go through my usual method when Steam has a hiccup, called a ‘regeneration’. This involves deleting your entire Steam install, except for your SteamApps folder and the Steam.exe. Launching Steam again seemed to be proving fruitful, as it downloaded all the necessary files, and updated. Only it got stuck on the same ‘searching for updates’ followed by ‘Steam must be connected to the internet’ blah blah blah.
By this point I had spent 2 evenings and a good few hours trying to fix the situation.
The fix came completely by accident. Whilst trying to replace files from my working version from my laptop, I right clicked on the Steam.exe file, and was heading down the context menu to select cut to put it somewhere safe while I continued with my experimental fixes. I missed cut, and hit ‘Run as Administrator’.
It worked.
I wasted hours, when a right click and run as admin would have fixed it.

TLDR – If Steam is refusing to update, try right click – run as admin first!

QGIS vs ArcMap


I’m going to put the link first, because the GIS software available there is outstanding, and its free. I have been using ESRI ArcMap for years now, and while it is an incredibly powerful piece of software, I actually find myself leaning towards QGIS more and more recently. QGIS isn’t quite as polished as ArcMap of course, but it is completely free. I have been showing it to some colleagues recently, and they have all been impressed with it, even going so far as to say that it is better than ArcMap! Of course, you still need to know your way around a GIS to use it, but if you do, you can get some fantastic results from QGIS.

If you have any interest in GIS software, go check it out!

Gadget Show Live !

I have tickets to the gadget show live at the excel in London. I hope it is a hundred times better than LITS was last year, I felt robbed after that “show”. I’m looking forward to seeing all the new gear, and possibly buying some too !

Digital download madness

So a certain popular video games publisher has made their  newest game available digitally, but only through their own system, not through steam. I refuse to install another piece of software to launch games from, the reason I love steam is that it is everything in one place !

The second half of this madness is that it is a full £10 more to digitally download the software direct from the developer, than it is to order a physical copy delivered to my door.



Valves and Windows

I have recently decided that in the few moments of spare time I have to enjoy video games, I will re-visit the Half Life series. I have never played Half Life 2: Episode 2, so I’m giving that a shot. I would love to have time to replay the whole saga from the very beginning, Half Life is one of the fondest memories I have from my gaming childhood.

But I digress, I write to share with you a excellent tip that will allow you to play your favourite Valve game in a borderless window. Borderless windows are great in that they can be moved from screen to screen on a multi-monitor setup (You do have more than one monitor…..right?) , and they also allow you easy access to programs running in the background (Skype, Chrome etc.)

It is as simple as adding a line of text to your launch options in steam. Right click on the Valve game of your choice, choose properties, then launch options. The magic text is:

-window -noborder -novid       [ The -novid is not essential, but is another of my favourite Valve tips, it skips the Valve intro video]

And that’s it ! Enjoy !