My early computing days

Alex computer shennigans, Computers, General Nuggets, The Weird, Wired and Wacky World Of Alex Wornast 0 Comments

Although I was born in June of 1997, I am still able to remember my earliest computing experience.

It was winter of 2000, I’d probably seen the old 98 before, but up until now it was none of my concern. My father had evening classes in MS-DOS at that time and was having a break by playing on Microsoft Flight Simulator 98. I was watching Pingu downstairs with my mother, when my father comes down and says he has something he wants me to see.

Now when I was younger, I had a huge hunger for knowledge. I wanted to know how everything worked, but only on an operational scale. This means that if I can use it, then it’s fine and I know how it works. To put this into perspective, I was able to use an old stereo player (which took up a whole corner of the room) shortly after my second birthday just from watching my parents. I know this because I’ve seen my baby videos, obviously using the stereo wasn’t a great achievement.

He showed me the computer only touching briefly on the ‘floppy A drive’. It was white and incredibly bulky. My eyes immediately focussed on the screen showing a black command line interface with MS-DOS written at the top. “What is this?” I asked.
“The ultimate puzzle.” He replied.
He showed me how to do various things including accessing directories, creating files and setting the time. After this he booted up flight simulator and taught me how to fly and land the 737. I can still land it to this day, although I won’t be trying it in real life any time soon

GCHQ tracking YouTube and Facebook data

Alex Computers, Cyber Security 0 Comments

I doubt this will be a surprise for most people, but your usage of the internet is being monitored, yet again by the Government!

the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) which are Britain’s main security agency have been keeping track of YouTube traffic. There have also been similar cases found in Facebook as well as blogger and blogspot pages. This information comes from documents taken by Edward Snowden, that NBC news were able to obtain. These sources say that the GCHQ are able to tap into lines carrying global web traffic, to extract key data about the users. This initiative, called Squeaky Dolphin, intends to put broad data trends into context with world events and give the intelligence community a heads up for future anti-government happenings and conspiracies. Whats more is that this data is said to be shared with the US.

The GCHQ says claims that it’s work is within the limits of the law, while the NSA have stated “we are only interested in the communication activities of valid foreign intelligence targets”. Both Google and Facebook claim to be unaware of this spying and neither had given permission in any way shape or form to the UK government to do so. All I can say is that if they found my messages, I hope they enjoyed the ones that I wrote about the castle of glass and the one about the blind man

I highly doubt that…

Alex computer shennigans, Computers, The Weird, Wired and Wacky World Of Alex Wornast 0 Comments

Every week, my father complains about his computer. To give you a better idea of the picture here, it’s a four-year old Toshiba which he bought from comet (who have now closed) for £349.99 that runs Windows 7.

About 2 years ago we performed a test study on the best propriety security software out of McAfee, Norton and Trend Micro for cyber security. After completing the study, we found that Trend Micro was the best for our purposes. 2 years on I’m using Linux to control all incoming and outgoing data to provide extra security for the whole family.

On boxing day, we received the latest version of Trend Micro Titanium Security 2014, which installed in about 20 minutes on the windows side of my computer with absolutely no problems. It took about an hour for my father with multiple problems. He failed to use the golden rule of computers, if it doesn’t work, turn it off and on again. I was impressed with the new interface, while my father caring not for interface design said “It looks exactly the same. “ It really wasn’t the same.

All was fine after the install for my father, until last Friday (24th Jan 2014) in which he claimed that Trend Micro was preventing Google Chrome to boot. What really annoyed me is that he still can’t pronounce the name of the software correctly after 2 years of usage.  apparently micro is pronounced ‘micra’. It’s exactly like those people who pronounce the silent ‘G’ in the gnome interface in versions of Ubuntu  prior to precise pangolin (12.04 LTS). I understand the logic for this, however the proof of the pudding is in the tasting. “I highly doubt that!” I told him. I ended the Trend Micro process and the Google Chrome process and there was still no change. He wasn’t too happy by this and so went downstairs and started playing on his tablet. Just typical.

How to perform a GRUB rescue

Alex Computers, Linux, Software & Code 0 Comments

Introduction to GRUB Rescue

For those who don’t know, Grub stands for GRand unified boot loader and it’s commonly used for booting Linux.

My first experience of dual booting with a Linux operating system was very nerve-racking. After the most tense 30 minutes of my life, I was greeted with a command line interface with GRUB> on it. This was shortly followed by panic, because if GRUB fails to boot, you have no access to any of your operating systems. In the end I inserted my boot discs (thank God for Asus AI recovery) and was able to restore my system back to normal. A month later I tried again and had no hassle whatsoever

Of course GRUB rescue is painful, not for the computer itself, but for you its user. before I get started on how to fix this problem, I’ll explain why this might appear on-screen

  •  The Boot folder is broken Files can become corrupted and damaged or maybe the file has been deleted
  • The boot loader can’t find the boot folder – Maybe you have changed the partitions
  • You have no swap area – Linux uses swap areas for extra additional memory, for reasons of just in case (the J.I.C rule)

How to fix

Try the following commands first, removing any external storage devices.

  1. type in ls to view all your partitions – this will bring up all your partitions, each hd0 is a partition.
  2. find boot in one of the partitions – you can do this by using the ls command eg. ls (hd0)/ . If you can’t find any /boot in any of the partitions, then scroll down to the next method
  3. Set the boot to the prefix and root eg if your partition is hd0,msdos5: set prefix="(hd0,msdos5)/boot/grub"
    set root="(hd0,msdos5)"
  4. Insmod – Then just type in insmod normal
    normal
    this should bring up the GRUB boot loader
  5. Boot into your Linux distro – Just press enter
  6. After logging in enter the terminal – Press CTRL ALT and T at the same time to bring up a terminal and type in sudo su
  7. Install GRUB to Sda – Finally type in grub-install /dev/sda to get it all working again

If the above didn’t work, then we’re going to have to reinstall GRUB and your distribution of Linux.

 

Reinstalling Linux correctly

  1. Insert your live CD and boot into it
  2. Click on install
  3. select your language
  4. Acknowledge any information on-screen
  5. Click something else
  6. delete any current partitions with Linux on them, which should give you some free space
  7. Add a new partition by pressing the plus sign on the screen. Make it logical, about the same size as the RAM, change from EXT4 to Swap Area
  8. Then with the rest of your free space, add a new partition, make it primary and change the mount point to ‘/’
  9. Finally ensure the device for boot loader installation is /dev/sda (most computers) or /dev/hda (older computers with the exception of virtual box)

That’s it, complete the rest of the install and reboot the computer! If you’re still having problems, then contact me and I might be able to help you. I hope some of you have found this useful, if you have, please comment and share this post.

Kingsoft Office Review

Alex Computers, Linux, Reviews & Opinions, Software & Code 0 Comments

We’ve all heard of Microsoft Office and open office. If you’re on Linux, maybe you’ve got libre office and if you own an android device you’ve probably got Polaris office. While open office and libre office are free, their interfaces are utterly rubbish compared to a version of Microsoft Office, so what other alternatives do we have?

Kingsoft Office is the latest innovation developed by Zhuhai in China. It includes an interface very similar to Microsoft Office across writer (effectively word), Spreadsheet (effectively Excel) and presentation (effectively powerpoint) Download can be found here. This software is free!

Screenshot from 2014-01-24 19:11:11

Is Kingsoft Office any good?

Overall

Kingsoft Office is available for Windows, Linux and Android devices, however I will only be reviewing on the Linux and Windows platform.
Overall I was impressed by how well it performed and how it looked for a free office program. All interfaces were clear and I was able to use them as if kingsoft office was in fact a version of Microsoft Office 2010. There is even an option to switch its styling to an interface which looks more like the 2003 version of Microsoft Office which would be perfect for those who are more tailored to that version of the office suite. I personally think it is an amazing office suite, with a nice modern design even allowing you to automatically save in a Microsoft office format in the options. I give this product 4/5 because I did not agree with some of the styling in the Linux version of spreadsheet. It may just be a problem my end though. In addition to this, there were limited transitional effects in presentation. I would also love to see a fully integrated version, in which you could switch to spreadsheet, presentation or writer from any of the programs in the kingsoft office suite.

Installation

Relatively easy to install on all devices. .Apk file on android, an .exe on windows. On Linux, it was NOT available on the downloads page, instead you had to do a wget, build and install the package. This caused my terminal to freeze and my computer ran slowly. After a reboot, this problem was soon sorted though and I was ready for some testing.

Writer

Contains tabs which is ingenious! Just press the plus and you get a new document. It was very easy to navigate the menus. It was also easy to install languages and dictionaries. This is something I didn’t really have to do, but it’s good to know that the option is there for reasons of Just in Case. The crop is something I tend to use a lot and libre office (the default for Linux) it is absolutely terrible, but in kingsoft office, they have managed to tailor the experience to be similar to that of Microsoft word which is brilliant. In addition to this, libre would often freeze, but kingsoft office appears to be perfectly tailored not to freeze on the Linux environment. I got the same performance results on the windows platform.

Spreadsheet

The styling on the Linux version for this was definitely not to my linking. For me, Excel is the best part of Microsoft Office, but spreadsheet is most certainly  not the best part of Kingsoft office for me, I much preferred writer! Again, there was a wonderful intuitive system at startup, but the system on Linux seemed less high quality, but then again I suppose it is in Alpha for Linux. The performance was fast and fluid like before and the functionality you would need in excel was there.

Presentation

Many transitional effects, such as honeycomb which can be found in Microsoft Office 2010, were not present. The interface however was intuitive and easy to use. It did however allow background music to be played, it allowed notes for speakers, pre-made organisational charts to be added, which I’m sure would be incredibly helpful.

Download Links

Kingsoft Office For Windows: http://www.kingsoftstore.co.uk/download/index.html

Android: http://www.kingsoftstore.co.uk/download/index.html

Ubuntu based Linux distros: http://www.noobslab.com/2013/05/microsoft-office-alternative-kingsoft.html

I hope you have enjoyed reading this and if you’re an Ubuntu or Linux Mint user, I would strongly recommend giving this a go. It is so much better to use than Libre Office! If you have any queries about the installation of this software, please contact me and I’d be happy to help you. Any opinions feel free to share with me and I’ll post them on this blog.

Mobile may not be the future but it is the present…

Alex Computers, Reviews & Opinions 0 Comments

Mobile devices are everywhere, in fact in the past 4 years, mobile browsing has sky-rocketed. In addition to this, you are more likely to see tablets and smart phones rather than a trusty ol’ laptop in a regular coffee shop. This has been a big hassle for web developers who have had to mobilise web pages so that it is suitable to be viewed by various mobile devices. In more recent years responsive style-sheets and WordPress themes have been rolled out to tackle the problem, but many web developers just make a separate style-sheet which is able to detect mobile devices and display the site running a mobile friendly theme. Despite all this, it is utterly stupid that mobile phones cannot adapt the pages themselves to make the site mobile friendly.

The way that phones adapt most websites is not at all helpful, you often have to zoom in and out on a regular basis. I often hear people say “this website is terrible”, when talking about websites not optimised for your tablet or your smart phone. They’ll continue to moan and winge about it like a three child who wants ice cream and won’t take no for an answer. To people who are like this, I say the following sentence to them “Perhaps you would like to make a website and then mobilise it.” This gives a few different responses

  1. “Okay I will then”
  2. “That’s stupid they’re the developer”
  3. “I think I’ll give that a miss thanks”

This brings me on to my next point though, what’s to say in a few years time that augmented reality becomes available to everyone. Maybe mobiles will have gone, I highly doubt this though. I reckon mobiles will be like a bad smell that refuses to go away.  Mobile might be the present, but is it the future? I guess we’ll find out soon enough and until then , we’ll have to keep mobilising our sites!

Sussex Study Experience

Alex General Nuggets, The Weird, Wired and Wacky World Of Alex Wornast 0 Comments

On Wednesday the 22nd January 2014, I took part in the first session of the Sussex study experience (S.S.E) at Sussex University in Brighton. During this day, I met some like-minded people including a computer science student called Fred. I must say, I’ve never spent £6 on lunch before (The most is about £5.09), so that was quite a novelty.

After  an hour of feeling sick in the back of a minibus, we arrived at the Sussex University campus and were greeted immediately by people wearing sky blue hoodies which had the words “Ever thought about uni?” printed on the back of them in a suitable font . They showed us into Falmer house where we were given plenty of freebies, including a pen, a pencil, a ruler, a pencil-case, a notebook, a name badge with our chosen subject and a printed version of the prospectus (the item that I was most pleased to see) all in a bag. The timetable had said registration and refreshments, so after grabbing the necessaries, I opted for a cup of tea and a non-existent biscuit, describing my preference of tea to almost everyone in the room before taking a seat. Future thinking was definitely not what I was expecting, I thought it was a note taking exercise. A man known as Karim ran the workshop and  told us that many people mispronounce his name. The best way to remember his name was to think of strawberries and Karim (cream) or at least that is what he said. So after explaining some information on the left and right side of the brain, which I’d heard sometime ago in exam season when I was listening to BBC Radio 4, he involved us all in some activities including writing something without thinking for 180 seconds (3 minutes), which somewhat resembled a dream I had in the previous week,  how many uses could you personally think of for a paper clip and other intricate activities which could be referred to by other members of the public as “daft”.

After this we were given vouchers for lunch. Surprisingly, I did not take a picture of the burger which was in front of me, I’m not that sort of person. We were then taken on a tour of the campus, although we were only shown the library in full detail, which apparently shut early on Saturdays.  I thought was a little bit strange, but then again who would spend their Saturday night in a library? We did manage to lose a person referred to as the ‘chatty one’, who had probably made a trip to the loo.

We were then taken to a class room in which we were shown various Physics “experiments” involving dry ice (not -290°C, which is in fact colder than absolute zero) , an air compressor, a plasma ball, a very powerful magnet and a “Gauss Gun”. The tutors consisted of an astrophysicist and a particle physicist. They had also brought along some graduates. On leaving the room, we thanked the tutors and graduates moving down a flight of stairs into a hall where a special game of bingo was being held, in which you had to go round and find people who had certain traits on the sheet. I was utterly useless at collecting the information, but helped a lot of people out who required an instrumentalist and someone who could knit (one of my talents that I’m not so proud of)

The team building exercise was certainly an interesting one, it involved a future in which unnamed aliens had taken over the planet and wanted to abolish a subject and we had to produce an argument into why our subject should not be abolished. The overriding congregation opted for the approach all subjects need physics, we don’t need them. This could be described by other people as an arrogant approach, however we did use clear reasoning.  Here are some of the points brought up:

What would if happen never Physics existed?

  • Without Physics we’d have no means of transport including aircraft
  • We’d have no X-rays, MRI’s or medical equipment
  • We’d have no filament lamp which would mean lighting would never exist
  • No CCDs which are used in most modern-day cameras

In relation to subjects

  • Law – The laws of Physics are constant, laws get changed all the time
  • Media – Without CCDs digital media wouldn’t exist
  • English – We could always communicate in another language
  • Geography – You can’t take decent measurements, sending Geography back to a subject purely based on describing.
  • HistoryWithout Physics, some significant historical dates would cease to exist

There are probably a few points which I’ve missed here and some which probably never made it into the actual presentation itself, so I apologise  if I missed anything.

I’d like to congratulate our speakers for such great execution of the words you said and your extraordinary commitment to Physics.

After the presentation was over, there was a survey which took about half an hour, so I sat with Jared while we waited for people from Sackville to finish up. Sackville left the lecture hall and so we were the last ones out, yet the first to reach the minibus, arriving about ten minutes before. Overall I thought it was a great first session and I look forward to the next one which is on the 5th of February

 

Welcome

Alex General Nuggets, Site Information 0 Comments

Hello Everyone, I’m Alex Wornast, an Alpha Nerd. I’d like to introduce you to my new blog ‘Tetracious Frustration’. On this blog, you’ll find the following:

  • My perspective of the world
  • An introduction to super conscious thinking
  • Lucid dreaming
  • Recommendations
  • and other nuggets of information

I’d recommend signing up to stay subscribed to the latest information on the blog and if there is anything you’d like me to write about, please don’t hesitate to contact me.