Archive for January, 2006

Exams over, great night out!

Awsome in two senses really; my January exams finished yesterday, and they all seemed to go pretty well so I was happy with that. Got my first pint in as many weeks straight way afterwards with a few friends so that was cool, then straight up to York to see some more people.

Ended up that we just went to JJs bar in Halifax, bumped in to a load of committee people (ah, the memories!) and got really rather drunk there. We then weaved our way back through Halifax college, talking to random people and getting free beer from houses. One stolen traffic cone later and a stagger back to Goodricke college we ended up in Laura’s kitchen chatting with some people we had met just outside the block till I had to leave for the (2:14, Eeep) train home. It was a good night and great to see a load of people, both those for the first time and especially those I hadn’t seen in a while. See you all again soon! :)

In other news today, I got up early so I would be in time for the 10am closing time of the site office so I could check if my hard drive or RAM has arrived. Neither have. Grrrr. This means my PC is still in a state of slowness with data loss iminant. How long does it take to deliver something that was dispatched the same day it was bought which was over a week ago…..? Still, now I’m up I may as well stay up, despite the fact I am running on empty and am going out again tonight. I have a large amount of stuff to get through, and have to meet James in York at 5pm. Will I get it all done by Monday? You bet ;)

Big shout out to all going to see nu York State tonight in York, it’s going to be a great laugh, and for all those who want to see about the only time it’s possible for he who can’t dance to dance, now is your chance!

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HDD Errors

Lara now starts up with 10-15 hard drive errors. Looks like my stop-gap 20Gb hard drive is on it’s way out. I wish that new one I ordered would hurry up and arrive… and the RAM as well *sigh* Living with a dying hard drive and only 256Mb RAM is like living on the edge, only this edge has razor blades on it and someone keeps trying to push you off.

On the plus side, I have now managed get my ftp client running, along with the http and https servers. This means my dev projects should be online to try out and browse around soon, and people who used to have ftp access to things on lara will get it back too :)

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Two down, two to go!

Thats right, I’m halfway through my exams. They haven’t been too bad so far, and I won’t tempt fate by saying they went well, but I didn’t feel disatisfied with myself afterwards. Have Human Computer Interaction tomorrow, and then Computer Systems on Thursday.

Have a nice set of things planned for after exams though, drinks, jazz etc. so it should all be good. I also have a weekend of code up ahead of me as I fight to get on top of my projects after letting them lapse to allow me to study for the exams.

Ah well, no one likes to be bored do they :)

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Wish me luck!

I have my first of 4 January exams tomorrow. I’ve done loads of work, but its always an unpleasent experience when you have to sit an exam. Wish me luck! :)

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Computer games in class

I read in the news today that computer games are being increasingly used by teachers as a “teaching aid” in the classroom. I had to take my glasses off, rub my eyes, put them back on and read it again before I realised I hadn’t misread it. And you’re not mis-reading this post either.

Schools have “teamed up” with computer games manufacturers to try and produce games that work in the classroom, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they are trying out conventional games in class to see what learning benefit can be gleaned from them.

I’d venture to say, nothing what so ever. Except a lot of un-educated children perhaps and maybe some angry parents thrown in. Has the concept of hard graft and *real* learning gone out of the window to be replaced by hours of sitting in front of a screen making pre-programmed things work in a way they were pre-programmed to do? This is not learning, its foolishness of the highest degree.

A child learns by being enthralled by what they are seeing and hearing, by being able to ask questions of their teacher, by being able TO READ things in books and WRITE things down. By going outside and seeing examples in both the written word and the real world of what they have learned. What use is knowledge when it is confined to 17″ across and the thoughts and ideas of a team of programmers who wrote a game to a tight deadline? Knowledge and learning is broad and long and children need to be exposed to this concept from a young age. It is not possible to quantify this in any number of computer games. Knowledge is to be explored, not spoon fed by simply watching events unfold.

I like to think that for a child the sky is the limit, but when their teachers sit them in front of a screen and sell them out to big games corporations I’m not so sure.

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Norton 2006 destroys multiple PCs

Got a call from a good friend of mine today, said he had tried to install the latest version of Norton Antivirus on his laptop. Version 2006, not long released, bought and paid for online. He downloaded the install file and proceeded to run it and follow the instructions. Mid-way through the install process the program errored out with a message saying there had been problems with the install and to contact Symantec. Contact details were on screen, but the PC switched it’s self off just seconds after the message was displayed, not enough time to write down the details.

Restarting the machine revealed chaos. No icons were displaying, few programs were working, system was very unstable, shortcuts going no where, control panel all but inaccessible. Logging on as Admin in safe mode produced the same result, as did last known good config from the boot menu. System restore was also completely unavailable from all possible points of entry.

I spent around 10 minutes on the phone with him trying to talk him through possible restore options, long enough to realise that this Norton Antivirus 2006 installer had at best messed around with a lot of core system settings (like how it handles .exe files and such basics) and at worst virtually corrupted his whole registry. A blue screen of death frequently showed at startup.

I am going over there a week today to see what I can do for it with some restore tools, but it seems likely that it will need a complete re-install. He has backups of work, but all his music from iTunes will be lost due to DRM (yuk!), as will a whole host of installs of programs, updates that took hours to download etc.

Not being one to leave it at that, I asked around. Turns out Norton 2006 likes doing this sort of thing. Friend of a friend had to buy a new hard drive after a failed install (the thing wouldn’t even format – completely dead), and I have found whole lists of angry symantec customers who have had their PCs destroyed, recieved no support that is of any use (costing them money and ending up being told to contact their manufacturers), and have recieved no offer of refund, in fact have had it denied when directly asked for one.

Symantec, this is DISGRACEFUL. People buy your software to protect their PCs from viruses and worms, not to have their machines ruined in a way worse than many viruses can do! I used to use Norton AV on my laptop and indeed recommended it regularly – I shan’t be doing so any longer.

Many people will believe that this is an isolated incident, but don’t be fooled. I copy below real comments from all over the web from people who had the same errors. If this has happened to you, please post your story below as a comment. If you don’t have Norton 2006, don’t buy it. There is a high possibility will lose all your data – plain and simple. If you have to use Norton, just renew your subscription for an older version (although using an alternative in protest would be better IMHO!)

Here follows genuine Symantec customer comments who have had exactly the same experience:-

  1. I purchased the Symantec Norton AntiVirus 2006 and downloaded it from the web. During the installation, I was advised that a fatal error had occured, and that I should contact Symantec Technical Support. When I tried that clickable link, I found that I was no longer able to access ANYTHING on my computer. After extensive telephone contact with Symantec Tech Support, I was advised that I should contact Dell (my computer manufacturer)and that I would most likely have to reinstall my operating system. I contacted Dell, and am awaiting a disc from them to do this. My computer is totally non-functional at this time, and I do not know whether or not I will be able to restore many important documents and photographs. Symantec Tech Support told me that this has happened “in a couple of instances”. I will post an update to this after I re-install my operating system. So far the cost: 49.95 for Symantec 2006 upgrade, 99.00 for Dell 1-time incident support. Ian McIntyre, Miami,FL.Comment by Ian McIntyre — 10th Oct 2005
  2. Same thing happened with Norton IS 2006 and me. I was ‘helping’ my sister and this happened to her computer. Now active desktop is disabled and we can’t acccess anything on her desktop. Even restoring to last good config didn’t help. Wish I hadn’t done it. Now she’ll have to start over. I feel like it’s my fault, but it isn’t. This is why I keep my files backed up and hesistate downloading files. I’ll bet a couple of instances is bigger than they’ll admit. They’ve already been paid. I should have done a search for the program before I installed it.Comment by Jackie — 26th Oct 2005
  3. I tried installing the Norton Antivirus 2006 on my computer when a fatal error occured and I am unable to access anything on my computer. All applications (MS word, Excel etc), all files, etc all seem to have frozen. Looks like this has happened with others also. I am currently trying to get in touch with the telephone support and since you guys have already tried this stuff out, it does not help. I hope I am able to save my files.Comment by Chandramowli Krishnan — 07th Nov 2005
  4. i take norton system work 2006 and when i click for install it start.but when i remove it and all its components then my system is restated and a fatal error is being occered.i tried options like best known configurations,safe mode,start window normaly,etc but nothing happens .any body tell me how can i restore my system and obtain my data without formatting.Comment by chander — 23rd Dec 2005

Convinced yet? I am. Comments below please

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Gaim weirdness

Arrived home today, this is what I see on the screen. What the???

Strange Gaim Window

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Desk graffiti

Picture the scene; it’s silent, 8pm in the University of Leeds library. The only occasional sound is the rustle of papers, perhaps the closing of a book now and again. Everyone hard at work, clearly committed to their studies; after all exams are only a week away.

I’d been studying in there for most of the day and had just finished revising a chapter on the software development life-cycle. I had a little stretch and closed the text book. Moving my pad across the desk to get another one of my books, I was confronted with the word”BOLLOCKS” ingrained in the desk with a black biro. I won’t say I was shocked because after many years in the school system in days gone by it was something I’d seen on a regular basis, but it was still surprising to say the least. How can people, clearly clever enough and committed enough to study for a respectable degree in a respectable establishment, deface the desk with obscenities with one hand while turning the pages of the complete works of Shakespeare with the other? Quiet unbelievable.

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Get back to work George!

I received an e-mail from a good friend of mine, James, this morning directing me to a website concerned with getting George Galloway MP out of the big brother house and back in the houses of parliament. Website here

Well, all I have to say is that it’s insane. Not watching any reality TV at all (I consider it a waste of time and quite frankly a contribution to the further degradation of the human race, but I digress) I didn’t actually know that George Galloway was on the show. I side with the residents of Bethnal Green & Bow on this one though; George should be working for his constituency, not sitting on some pathetic television show in a vain attempt to get a little publicity. Politics has always been a little controversial at times, but today it really has gone mad.

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The magic of music

Every once in a while you hear a song that just leaves you completely swept away by the melody, the lyrics, everything. The song becomes you and you become it. This hasn’t happened to me in quite a while, but listening to Katie Melua’s latest album, piece by piece, I came accross the song towards the end of the album entitled Just like heaven.

Show me how you do that trick
The one that makes me scream he said
The one that makes me laugh he said
And threw his arms around my neck
Show me how you do it
And I promise you I promise that
I’ll run away with you
I’ll run away with you

Spinning on that dizzy edge
I kissed his face and kissed his head
And dreamed of all the different ways I had
To make him glow
Why are you so far away? he said
Why won’t you ever know that I’m in love with you
That I’m in love with you

You, soft and only
You,lost and lonely
You, strange as angels
Dancing in the deepest oceans
Twisting in the water
You’re just like a dream
You’re just like a dream

Daylight licked me into shape
I must have been asleep for days
And moving lips to breathe his name
I opened up my eyes
And found myself alone alone
Alone above a raging sea
That stole the only boy I loved
And drowned him deep inside of me

You, soft and only
You, lost and lonely
You, just like heaven

You, soft and only
You, lost and lonely
You, just like heaven

This is truely amazing track for those who like to sit and think every once in a while. My fave line from this song is now in the random quotes database, if you can spot it when it appears.

Oh, and for those who have been e-mailing me asking for all the quotes on a special page, they are coming ;)

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