We’re back!

April 13th, 2014

After a server move took out the database, I discovered that my automated backups were not as good as I thought. We’ve now gone back in time 18 months and now have to fill out the missing content, mainly some really good recipes :(, oh well, not the end of the world.

I have been reminded again of the importance of not only creating backups, but testing and verifying the restore procedure every now and then.

M

Frustration thy name is google

May 15th, 2012

Just having a whine about google changing the way they’re doing google apps for your domain. I’m sure that there are a lot of organisations out there for whom this is relevant, but really, would it have very nice to have been able to at the very least merge all my domain management accounts (eg adsense) into the admin account for my domain rather than having to go with a .gmail.com or an external email address.

I like to break up various tasks by uid under my domain, cest la vie.

Don’t get me started on the hassles that now abound with a GAFYD vs a standard google account :cry:

/whine over.

Original Starcraft – Graphics Fix – Win7 64bit

May 4th, 2012

If you like me had a hankering to play the original StarCraft and ended up with odd colour (color – for those from the USA) artifacting the following reg file fixed my issues (a fully patched to 1.16 at time of writing)

Just copy the following text into a new text document, rename it to a .reg – and play away.


Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Wow6432Node\Microsoft\DirectDraw\Compatibility\StarCraft116]
"Flags"=hex:00,08,00,00
"ID"=hex:ca,89,65,49
"Name"="Starcraft.EXE"

Review – Motorola Defy (MB525)

October 19th, 2011

Motorola Defy (MB525) – Telstra 3G Network.

Android 2.2.2 with MotoBlur.

Score: 1/5 – Buy an iPhone instead.

This review is not going to be flattering to either Motorola or Android, as I find it difficult to know where the root cause of a problem lies (Android, or the specific implementation as delivered by Motorola) I’m going to lump them together, if I perceive the issue with the OS, I’ll say it as I see it.

This phone is my introduction to Android, chosen because of the proclamations of being “life proof”. I naturally assumed that it would be able to be robust and integrate well into my day to day life. What a mistake to make.

The defy does have some good points, the best feature of this phone is the screen. The pixels are nice and dense rendering crisp, clear, clean text and images. It’s useless in sunlight, especially the unlock screens (grey on grey) but indoors it’s pleasing to be able to read such crisp text in SMS’s and the like. Swype that comes default with the defy is also an awesome piece of software and would have to be the one “feature” of the Defy (actually any Android device) that I would love to take across to the iPhone when I eventually return.

The rubber seals making it life proof are nice when new, but now 2 months into ownership I can see where the one protecting the charge port is going to wear out in about 6 months due to the need to continually feed this phone with power! I use it with runkeeper to track my runs, it’s nice and light and being sealed (at the moment) is comforting when you’re doing a sweaty workout.

The battery life on this phone was awful, I found one of my many googling of my issues that if you tick the USB Debugging option (Settings -> Applications -> Development) that I could improve the battery life from ~18 hours to not quite 2 days. The biggest hog was init/home that seemed to be using vast quantities of CPU resources, the phone would on occasion get quite warm and chew through 20% of the battery for no apparent reason. It appears that ticking this option, causes the issue not to occur and is likely related to a Froyo bug that many other manufacturers have fixed, but Motorola in their wisdom are not fixing for the Defy.

Compatibility with SD Cards (supposedly ones that should work) is sorely lacking. I attempted to update to a Class10 32GB Lexar microSDHC card. This caused all sorts of issues on the defy, which googling indicated have been issues for other manufacturers and the Froyo release of Android, many of those manufacturers have released updates to their OS releases, Motorola have chosen at this stage not to.

I would like to point out that while I would love for Motorola to release a Gingerbread 2.3 (or even a ICS) update to the Defy, I would be equally happy with a fixed version of Froyo that resolves a lot of the issues I am and many other defy users are experiencing.

Other issues I have experienced is applications randomly crashing, aweful pauses for not determinable reason, swype becoming unusable to to what ever the root cause of the init high CPU usage is (this seems to be resolved with the ticking of USB Debugging – which of course now leaves me open to more security risks). I would not at this moment in time recommend an Android based phone.

I could potentially see myself being happy with a Google Nexus One, S or Prime, given that Google support their older phones with software updates and refreshes. They don’t install vast quantities of bloat on it. I would not recommend any other Android based phone, and will purchase outright an iPhone 4S to replace this device of hatred and pain.

If you’re tempted by a Motorola phone – I would recommend that you flee, they may be pleasantly designed, have some cool features, but their after sales support is non existent.

Telstra : You also have a lot to answer for – I’d like some support and back up here please getting my issue resolved. I would like you to also enable people to get rid of all the links and other apps that you put on the phone’s image. I like a nice clean neat view of my system. I had a look at the apps you put on there. Most don’t interest me, give me a way to clean them up please, it’s my phone after all.

The phone gets a 1/5 because it’s got decent reception and clear voice calls. The just plain awfulness to use and odd behaviour prevent it getting any more than that. I actually dread making an outbound call, or creating an SMS, it’s just painful to do. Receiving a call and responding to an SMS is easy to do and once you’re into the right app it does work.

Moroccan Slow Cooked Lamb Shanks w/ Couscous

June 11th, 2011
  • 8 frenched lamb shanks
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 med brown onions chopped coarsely
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 2 small sweet potatoes chopped coarsely.
  • Toss lamb in flour. heat oil in frying pan and brown lamb. Put lamb in slow cooker. Add more oil and cook onion, garlic cinnamon, cumin, coriander until fragrant. Add wine bring to boil. Add honey and stock bring to boil. Then add spices and liquid to lamb in slow cooker.

    Bascially cook for the whole day on low and about 2 hours before you want to serve it add the sweet potato.

    For the couscous here are the ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups boiling water
  • 20g butter.
  • 2 tbsp lemon rind,
  • 3/4 cup seeded green olives chopped coarsely,
  • 1/3 cup cup parsley chopped coarsely,
  • 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds,
  • 1 medium green capsicum chopped finely
  • combine couscous with water and butter in a large bowl, cover; stand for about 5 mins fluffing with a fork occasionally. Then stir in the following ingredients: 2 tbsp lemon rind, 3/4 cup seeded green olives chopped coarsely, 1/3 cup cup parsley chopped coarsely, 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds, 1 medium green capsicum chopped finely.

    Thanks to Susanna for this one

    Microsoft Office 2010 – Trust

    May 20th, 2011

    How stupidly user unfriendly is the new Trusted settings in Office 2010, and how cryptic is the error message that pops up.

    Word experienced an error trying to open the file.
    Try these suggestions.
    *Check the file permissions for the document or drive
    *Make sure there is sufficient free memory and disk space.
    *Open the file with the Text Recovery converter.

    Instead of telling you why the document could not be opened (trust settings) it pops up saying an error occurred, it could be memory, disk space or file permissions. Of course none of the suggestions work. In the end I gave up and just disabled trusted documents (Which has to be done in each office product) as well as right clicked on the file selected properties (for a file I created in Google Docs, and then downloaded) and selected the “Unblock” button just to make it work.

    How about telling the users that it could be because Word has been set not to open untrusted documents, or providing some accurate description that it’s related to this (or that the file has been marked as blocked because you downloaded it from the internet).

    This would have to be one of the worst examples of user unfriendliness I have come across. The QA person who signed this off should be sent to some punishing place never again to work on software until they’ve learned their lesson.

    Andalucian Lamb Stew with Saffron

    November 5th, 2010

    Ingredients:

    • 1 teaspoon saffron threads
    • 4 cloves
    • 8-10 peppercorns
    • 1/2 teaspooon ground cinnamon
    • 4 cloves garlic
    • 2 tablespoon flat leaved parsley
    • 6 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1.5kg lamb leg cut into 1.5″ cubes
    • 1 green capsicum
    • 1 yellow capsicum
    • 2 onions
    • 2 carrots
    • 2 tomatoes
    • 4 potatoes
    • 200ml dry red wine

    Method:

    Place saffron, cloves, cinnamon, garlic, parsley, peppercorns and 1 tablespoon sea salt into a mortar, pound with pestle into a rough paste. Transfer into a bowl and add 100mL warm water.

    Heat oil in a large saucepan or cast iron casserole dish over medium heat. Fry the lamb in batches for 5-7 minutes or until browned on all sides. Transfer to a large bowl.

    Fry capsicum, onion and carrot in the saucepan for 10-12 minutes or until softened. Add tomato and cook for 5 minutes.

    Return lamb to the pan add the spice and water mix and the wine, and stir well. Bring mixture to the boil, cover and simmer for 1 hour over low heat, adding more water (a little at a time) as necessary.

    Add the potato and cook for 30 minutes or until the lamb is soft and tender, the potato is cooked and the sauce is thickened. Serve with steamed rice.

    I am tempted to add some flour to the lamb when browning it, but for first run will not try this modification.

    Recommended wine by Gormet Traveller Wine Mag: 2008 Gemtree Vineyards “Roja Luna” Tempranillo from the McLaren Vale. As we had issues tracking down any Tempranillo’s at short notice we’re going with a Priorat 2005 “Noster” (Grenache/Carigan blend from Northern Spain), should still be interesting.

    Tatachilla – Shiraz (Reserve) 2008

    September 17th, 2010

    This drop hailing from the McLaren Vale this is an interesting wine at the price point. (Currently available at 12.90 when purchasing 6 wines from Dan Murphy’s).

    Nose: This is nice and brooding, rather dark. Spicy, a little star anise and vanilla. It’s fantastic and seems to evolve in the glass, my favorite aspect of this wine.

    Palate: Nice grippy tannins that kick in right in the mid palate. However the only fault I can pick with it, it seems to leave a big hole at the back palate right at the end. The edge of my tongue and cheeks are still possessed with the tannins, but the area up the back is just empty.

    I wonder how this one will age, I suspect the hole may fill in a bit with a few more years. Definitely worth a look even in the $15-20 price range.

    Moving data off a dodgy disk

    September 4th, 2010

    Recently I had the joy of a brand new hard disk developing bad sectors, this caused all sorts of issues, and once I’d worked out that the disk was having issues (a failed backup due to read errors, which lead to a chkdsk, which lead to a hurried purchase of a new HDD) I immediately tried several methods of getting the data off.

    Method one – sector by sector copy – this method would attempt of course to copy the bad sectors, however after a while, this seemed to hang, left for 12 hours to have it progress no further, owch, what to do, what to do….

    Method 2 – XXCopy – rendered the system unbootable, attempted to work out how to make a Win7 install bootable after the fact, not much luck… this led me too RoboCopy

    Ended up using robocopy (Robust Copy) utility which is available on the Windows 7 boot disk, steps performed:
    1) Partition new disk
    2) Set active partition
    3) Format NTFS
    4) Run robocopy with the command string
    robocopy d:\*.* c:\ /TEE /S /E /COPY:DATSO /PURGE /MIR /ZB /NP /XJ /R:3 /W:2

    The source was D drive (D for Dodgy!) destination being the newly formatted Hard Disk
    /TEE – Output to console – this way you can see that it’s changing files
    /S – Copy Subdirectories excluding empty ones
    /E – Copy Subdirectories including empty ones
    /COPY:DATSO – What to copy for the files – (D)ata, (A)ttributes, (T)ime, (S)ecurity, (O)wner
    /PURGE – Deletes anything on the destination that does not exist on the source (added this due to having some files from other playing about)
    /MIR – Mirrors the directory tree
    /ZB – Use restartable mode
    /XJ – Exclude Junctions on NTFS filesystems
    /R:3 – Retry 3 times
    /W:2 – Wait 2 seconds before retrying

    This got me a bootable Win7 installation, and a dodgy disk has now been sent for RMA. It failed to copy 17 directories and 5MB of Data, no idea what’s missing, but I’ve experienced no problems thus far (touch wood).

    The first thing I did after all this, was a backup, then a full chkdsk – everything has been great so far.

    I’m glad I was doing my backups – if I wasn’t I might not have noticed until it was too late.

    Customer Service Open Comments – July 2010

    August 13th, 2010

    It’s time for a customer service update – and I have two experiences to share this time, I’ll start with a positive.

    Beiersdorf: Recently I had my Nivea for men shaving cream can malfunction from new. I let them know and they listened to my feedback, treated my concerns with respect and sorted the situation out to my satisfaction to the point where I don’t feel ripped off and have no problems using them again. 10/10

    Pizza Hut: Not such a great experience to report here. Ordered some Pizza online, plugged in credit card details and waited. Driver rocks up and expects cash – call store and they expect cash. Spoke to the manager and said if the system does not print out a credit card receipt is a cash order. Wonderful system, domino’s on the other hand, you order toss in your credit card details and pizza arrives no muss no fuss. Seriously Pizza Hut if you want to make happy customers make this process work better. For now I’ll be using Domino’s for pizza delivery needs.