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!

Postcode woe

I am at the moment working my way through a huge set of postcode data for a client for mapping display.  While using postcodes is a great way of simply mapping locations,  I am often perplexed by the entire postcode schema.  Some are 7 characters,  some are 6 or less.  Some datasets use extra spaces to make all data 7 characters,  some don’t. This tends to raise problems when converting to coordinate points.  Still,  it’s all part of the challenge,  and can usually be overcome,  albeit with a fair amount of head scratching!

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!


I’m Building a trolley for camping. It is designed to be collapsible when I reach my camp site, and breaks down into 3 component parts. The wheel, The handles, and the cradle.

So far the wheel assembly and the handles are ready, need to get creative with some tarpaulin origami for the cradle. Pics of progress below.

MCM London

Had an interesting weekend in London visiting the MCM Expo. The costumes people had made were amazing, the stalls interesting, and the artists and writers engaging and enthusiastic. Also, it was easily the friendliest group of 15 000 people I have been in the middle of. No barging or rudeness  just polite excuse mes and sorrys. A fun weekend, I shall be going again!

P.S. Pocky sticks are amazing snacks, if you ever see them, you should try them!

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 !


Customising hardware has always been a passion of mine.  I barely own a single item I have not disassembled at some point.  This often leads to a lot of broken things for me,  but I always learn from my mistakes.  One particular tinkering that always seems to satisfy is loading custom firmware on routers. Dd-wrt is my custom firmware of choice,  and can turn a bog-standard router into something particularly fancy, or revive a router that is long past its prime. I should probably mention that tomato firmware is also around,  although I am yet to try it myself. If you have a router that is flaky,  or just a little long in the tooth,  check out if it is compatible with one or the other,  I’ve always got a massive improvement over the stock firmwares.