Friday, March 30, 2007

Rant at Virgin Media

When I lived with my parents 4yrs ago, we had NTL cable TV + broadband.  It was cool.  4yrs Ago, I moved in with my girlfriend and wanted the same service, but Telewest served my new flat so I took out a good TV package, phone & broadband!

It's a nice package, and to be honest, I'd never had a problem.   3 Months ago, we started getting leaflets & post telling us that Telewest was merging with NTL to create Virgin Media, a conglomerate to take on Sky.

2 Months ago, the whole Sky vs Virgin Media thing appeared in the papers.. Neither firm could settle on a pricing scheme.  To be fair, from what I've read, Sky are taking the piss a bit, but still, never-the-less, we've now lost Sky One, and a few other channels, but that's not important!

Tuesday night, I was at home, having a game of Worms on my 360 when I had the "disconnected from Xbox Live"  message.. How strange.   I didn't pay any attention to it though. 

Yesterday, I jumped on my PC to download some photo's.  I got 10% through the download and then it failed.  Turns out my Internet went down.  My suspicions immediately went to my 'webstar' modem provided by Telewest.

I pulled the power on it, and turned it back on and the Internet worked.. Hoorah!

10 minutes later, it broke again.  A quick reset and i was back online... for another 10 minutes.  At this point, i was quite angry. I was trying to download this 70mb file of high quality pictures from my girlies brother's 21st birthday!  As you can imagine, every time my modem went to sleep, this download would fail!!!

So I phoned up Virgin Media.  And went through the same ol' script support.  "Can you switch off your computer and restart it for me please" and "Can we check the network connections please".  I had done all this already but you have to go through the motions. 

When I first spoke to the man on the phone, i said i think the Modem had packed up as it was disconnecting me after 10 minutes of use.  He said it wouldn't be that and carried on umming and aarring about the problem.

Eventually, after 45mins on the phone, he agreed that it was either my Modem that had gone barmy, or my wireless router... But get this.  Because I didn't purchase my wireless router from Telewest, they can't help me with the problem at all?

Even though, my wireless router (a netgear one) was from a Telewest promotion where they provided some customers with a free wireless router + setup disc.  Unfortunately i wasn't one of these customers, but i did purchase one from eBay.

So even though I've purchased an official Telewest branded netgear router from a 3rd party (second hand), and I've set it up using Telewest setup instructions, they cant help me!..

How ridiculous is that? 

So it's been left that it's either the router or the modem.  So what i've done is plugged my Webstar Modem straight into the PC (so i cant access the net via my Xbox or my Laptop) and see if that changes... I'm pretty sure i'll have the same problem, but I'm away this weekend so hopefully, any problems would have sorted themselves out by Sunday night...

Here's hoping anyway!

Thursday, March 29, 2007


So a few weeks (or months, I forget) back, I was reading my favorite RSS feeds when a few of them started mentioning Mr Neighborly's 'Humble Little Ruby Book'.  It's a free PDF download of a book covering the basics & more about Ruby.

As a lover of anything free, I downloaded it.  I've got no experience in Ruby, nor do I know the first thing about Ruby... but it was free, so it was saved and hidden in my crazy filing system.

So yesterday, I posted about sticking XAMPP on my USB Pen Drive, and then posted a second time about getting Ruby onto my pen drive to create a more flexible working environment, and also to allow me to learn Ruby.

You see, I'm always interested in developing my skills.  I've got a fair few books at home regarding HTML, PHP & CSS, but I want to learn more languages.  Stupid really, I'd rather master one language, rather than being a 'Jack of all trades, Master of none'.

So anyway, as I was saying.  I found the PDF today, whilst at work. And i accidentally (read: on purpose) pressed print, and printed out all 140+ pages before cutting & carving a box for it out of a bigger box, and stashing it in my car!

I don't know about anyone else, but I try and aim for a paperless work-space.  I'd sooner read the news online, before picking up a paper.  I can read hundreds of RSS feeds a day but when it comes to learning, then i cannot do on-screen doc's.  I'd much rather have a paper document in-front of me, something to refer to rather than switching from Adobe to what-ever program I'm using, and then back!

Maybe when i can afford my widescreen monitor / laptop display, i can run 2 programs side by side and not have to switch between the two, but for now...

LOL, I had intended on writing 2 lines on this post... ho hum!

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Ruby on... XAMPP?

Can I put Ruby onto my USB Key with XAMPP installed?  Any ideas?!  drop a comment if you know how to =]

CV Joint's-a-knackered

So that's the third one for the pug then!... It's been knocking for a good 6 months or so, but it's starting to worry me!  I do do a fair few miles.  I drive 10 miles to work and 10miles back everyday, so that's 100 a week on commuting.  On top of that, is going out, shopping, driving about etc, not forgetting the 300mile round-trip to Suffolk each month!

The more miles I put on the car, the sooner the CV joint will crack so I needed to get it done sooner rather than later!

There's no real point in this post by the way.  It's just here so I've got a record of when it was done.  Thank god for Search :). By the looks of it, i had one done in December 05 and one in April 06... Surely they should last longer than that?

+ Outcome (29 mar 07)

Well i got the car back last night.  He said it wasn't actually the CV Joint that was knocking.  He said it's something to do with the wishbone.  But he also mentioned the rear wheel-bearing was knackered so I got that done.  He also mentioned that the CV Gaiter was split (which i knew about),  So he put a new CV Gaiter on the car too!  Total was £155

Portable server environments

USB Pen drives truly are a god-send!  I carry 3 around with me.  One I originally bought for my PS2, it's a 'Max Drive' 16MB drive.  It's faar too small for anything so it rarely get's used.  It does, however, have my CV on it, so I carry that everywhere with me.

My second USB Drive is my 'stuff drive' and is 2GB in size.  Colcoo kindly donated it to me, which is very nice of him.  I think it's a USB1.1 drive though as it's very slow.  Regardless though, 2GB is a hefty amount of data to carry around.

The third drive is now my 'web' drive.  All my current projects are stored on here, along with several portable app's via the U3 interface.  So I can code anywhere using Notepad++ and upload using my portable FileZilla.  As nice as it is, I've always got to upload something to my server to check if everything's ok!  Which is no good if your uploading to a live site to check things are ok!

Surely, if your updating a live site, you should have a test-server or somewhere where you can test the data before sending it live?

And it's that reason alone that I've just installed XAMPP on my 1GB 'web' drive.  It's got Apache, MySQL, PHP + Perl all bundled into a nice little 100mb install.

True, it takes up a 1/10th of my pen drive, but it shouldn't be a problem.  I try and code as lightly as possible, and I don't have that many projects on the go!  So I shouldn't fill up 900mb with a bunch of CSS & HTML files...


I jumped on Google and searched for "localhost USB" and clicked on the first link I found (here).  It told me to go to the XAMPP website, and download XAMPPlite.   Now it's a pretty large file weighing in at 44mb (iirc).  But that didn't bother me, we've got broadband here, and it was pretty quick to download.


Once I downloaded XAMPPlite, I had to unzip it.  That created an 110mb directory, which I transferred to the root of my Pen Drive.  And believe it or not, that was installation done.

Running it

Running XAMPP is easy.  Navigate to the directory you copied it to on your pen drive.  Look for xampp-control.exe, and double-click it!  This will open up a GUI for XAMPP.  It will list 4 items (Apache / MySql / FileZilla & Mercury).  Hit the start button next to each item to start it and within seconds, you've got a working localhost.

In your browser, navigate to http://localhost and this should take you to the xampp start page, and if does, congrats!  You've got your own portable web-server just like me!


Note: As mentioned, I've just installed this and not really had a chance to give it a go!  I will post details at a later date on how to set things up!  I'm intrigued and wouldn't mind setting up a portable copy of Textpattern to test stuff!   If your running XAMPP or XAMPPlite, let us know about it!

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Stuff coming soon...

Apologies for nothing new happening here in a long time. I've been uber busy in every aspect and it doesn't look like it'll slow down anytime soon!  But I've got plenty of ideas on posts for this here website!

Also, has anyone else noticed the lack of advertising for the PS3? I caught a glimpse of an advert on TV the other day, but that's all I've seen!  How strange!

Still, the 360 RoXors!!1!!11! as some people say! :)

I promise i'll be back!  Also, Zooomr is almost at Mark III, and Kris has posted a quick note to say that they've removed all limits forever?!  Not sure if that's for existing users or new users too, but I'd get in their quick! 

Zooomr is like Flickr, only better (imho!)