Blog

These are my unedited rantings.

New Website!

Thu, 13 Apr 2017 20:29:00 +0000

This has been a long time coming!

I have finally launched my website, it has been my side project for a few years now, every time I have got close to launching it I have decided that I don't like the design and it doesn't reflect my current web development skills and I have started the whole project again from scratch. I have probably done this about 3 times.

I now realize that I am learning things so fast that I will never have my website built with the latest framework or methods I have learnt. Also it is better for me as a web developer to have a website that reflects my skills 6 months ago rather than 3 years ago!

My current site's front-end is using the bootstrap framework which has allowed me to quickly and easily develop a responsive website. The back-end is in PHP.

I by by using a colour scheme generator and then designing the site from that. I do think it looks a bit 'heavy' on the colour, I probably should have made it a bit lighter. My favourite page it the homepage.

I think I will make my next website a progressive web app, I have been wanting to make one for ages, but first I will get a few side projects out of the way!

Killer LAN Drivers wont install for MSI motherboard

Sun, 18 Dec 2016 21:41:00 +0000

TLDR;

Go to C:\MSI\LiveUpdate\DL_FILE and double click on Killer_Network_Drivers

Full explanation:

For some reason I was unable to get my computer to connect to the internet through an Ethernet cable after doing a clean install of windows 10. Luckily windows built in driver were compatible with my wireless dongle so I was able to connect to the WiFi to download MSI's Live Update.

https://uk.msi.com/page/live-update-5-manual

I installed everything I needed however the Killer LAN drivers were not installing and my PC was still not picking up the Ethernet cable that was plugged into my computer. After a restart things were still not working, I looked in the BIOS to check that the Ethernet was enabled, and it was, I was also looking at advice from Tom's Hardware which said that the drivers should be downloaded directly from the MSI website but all I got was a folder full of 'funny' files and no .exe to install the driver.

The Live update would keep re-downloading the drivers every time I clicked on update but unlike the other drivers they didn't show an installing message. I then went to the folder location where the download was going to (C:\MSI\LiveUpdate\DL_FILE) and double clicked on the Killer_Network_Drivers file. The screen flickered a few times and the command screen appeared and disappeared a few times and then it finally installed.

Yay!

New Laptop - Thinkpad x200

Wed, 14 Jan 2015 18:22:00 +0000

Now usually I am not much of a laptop person, and I advise people always to buy a desktop over a laptop if they don't need the mobility. Desktops are cheaper, easier to maintain and are cheaper/easier to fix. However I have started a post-grad degree at university and I have finally decided that I will need a laptop. I managed to survive my undergrad with just a desktop, but to ensure that I have the easiest time possible doing my degree I started browsing through the vast amount of laptops online.

I set myself a budget of £200, however I was offered an extra two weeks on the end of my contract at work so I nudged this up to £250. It is quite hard to find a brand new laptop at this price, many are chromebooks or have the entry level processors in them, which is fine for some people, but not for me. I do like my computer to be quite fast, I am not a patient person!

To avoid the entry level laptops I began to look at second hand laptops, I don't know a huge amount about which brand is better than another when it comes to laptops, however I do know that I have a very old IBM ThinkPad (R51) which refuses to die. This ThinkPad must be about 10 years old, it has a pentium M processor and (I think) 1.5gb of RAM and has been dropped on the floor several times and was even my little brothers toy when he was a toddler, and it is still going! I would probably still be using it if the processor was capable of running an OS that is newer than XP (unfortunately it is non-PAE so is running Lubuntu). So I began to look for a new ThinkPad, which are now made by Lenovo rather than IBM.

There are many models of the ThinkPad, I filtered through Ebay by putting in my budget and requirements. I wanted a mid-high end CPU so I only browsed for 'i' processors, these are the 'i3', 'i5' and 'i7' and I also wanted at least 4gb of RAM. I was also thinking that it would be nice to have a solid state drive (SSD) or the opportunity to put a SSD in within the budget. This spec would run much better than any laptop you could buy new at the same price.

The first laptop that caught my eye was the ThinkPad x201, these laptops can be purchased fairly cheap, most start around £120 and they are also much smaller and being the x series they are thinner than the average laptop. I also looked at other models in this series. the x200 didn't have a touch pad so I decided against that model. The x220 is newer than the x201 and has a newer processor, is slightly more widescreen and has a better battery life. I decided that paying the extra to have a x220 over a x201 was worth it. The x230 was just too much on the expensive side the average price on ebay seems to hover around the £400-£500 mark.

I purchased an x220 with an i5 processor, 8gb of ram and a 120gb solid state drive for £275. It arrived in fairly good condition, there were are few chips on the edges, a small 'dot' on the screen like someone had pushed a pin on it (not a dead pixel, hardly noticeable) and one of the USB ports had a bit of plastic missing from the inside but still worked. They keyboard was also a bit worn from typing but overall the laptop was in an acceptable state.

The laptop is very fast, it boots in under 10 seconds and instantly comes out of hibernate. Microsoft Word loads in 4-5 seconds. I removed windows 7 that came with it and installed windows 8.1. This only caused a few problems as the laptop is slightly more compatible with windows 7, this included me having to install custom fan control otherwise it was running at full speed constantly and there is an unknown 'PCI serial port' in device manager. Other than that everything works.

I also purchased a USB 3 PCI express card for £10 so that I could quickly transfer files to my USB drive and I also purchased the official battery extension. This is a large flat battery that clips onto the bottom of the laptop extending the life from 6-8 hours to 12-14 hours, this cost £40 from ebay and makes the laptop slightly fatter.

Overall I am very impressed, and I think going slightly out of budget was worthwhile, however the only thing that I wasn't too happy about is the graphics performance which limits the games I can play on it. If you want a laptop for games it is important to have dedicated graphics. I think this is a blessing in disguise because it means I will have to focus on my university work more!





Watchdogs Crashes Fix (NVIDIA)

Thu, 29 May 2014 20:03:00 +0000

I have recently installed the new watchdogs game. It runs amazingly, though unfortunately sometimes the game would crash mid session, usually at the same points each time. I found even with the latest graphics driver this would occur.

To fix this problem I reinstalled the latest drivers as a 'clean' install. If you do not know how to do this follow the instructions below:

1. Open up Geforce Experience

2. Click check for updates and install the latest driver using 'custom installation' (if you already have the latest driver installed click the 'reinstall' option).


3. Tick all the boxes and then press the clean install option at the bottom.



4. Once everything is (re)installed you should hopefully be able to play the game without crashes!

How to run Watchdogs

Tue, 27 May 2014 18:24:00 +0000

Hi there, I have been struggling to get watchdogs to run and I have found a fix, hopefully this will work for you!:

1. Download the uplay launcher from here http://t.co/DP4OaRvxAj (This is the link from their twitter page)

2. Install it and log in.

3. Run watchdogs from steam.

4. Enter activation code.

5. Click play on watchdogs!

I would like to be more detailed but I have a game to play!

How to get Magic Disc to work in Windows 8 (How to Disable Driver Signature Enforcement in Windows 8)

Tue, 08 Apr 2014 21:48:00 +0000

I had a problem getting windows 8 to run Magic Disc. The problem is that windows 8 rejects unsigned drivers and you need drivers to get magic disk to run. You should have an error saying that you need to be an administrator and there is a problem with 'mcdbus'. First uninstall magic disk, if it has a problem unistalling use the uninstaller in the program files folder.

First you need to go into settings on the right hand bar that pops out, and then in the bottom right hand corner you need to click change PC settings.

Start to type 'advanced start up options' and you should see it appear to the right. Click on this. You should get the following screen:


Click 'Restart now' under advanced start up.

Click 'Troubleshoot' then 'Advanced Options' and then 'Start up settings'

Now press the 'Restart' Button.

When the computer boots you will see a list, you want to select 'Disable driver signature enforcement' (Press F7)

When windows loads you will be able to install magic disk, it will ask you if you want to allow the drivers when installing, click yes. Hopefully it should now work!


How to get a wireless XBOX 360 controller to work with Windows with troubleshooting.

Sun, 26 Jan 2014 16:41:00 +0000

First things first.

You need:

A wireless XBOX 360 controller
An XBOX wireless receiver

Steps:

1. Step one plug in the wireless receiver and let windows automatically install the drivers. (if this doesn't work see troubleshooting)

2. Press the wireless connection button on the controller and on the receiver and let them sync.

3. Play some games! (you may have to go into the games settings and switch from keyboard to controller)


Troubleshooting

If your drivers are not installed automatically you will have to download them manually from the Microsoft website and install them.

http://www.microsoft.com/hardware/en-gb/d/xbox-360-wireless-controller-for-windows

Once this is done do to step 2.

Still not working?

You will have to manually force the drivers onto the wireless device. This usually happens when you buy 'unofficial' products, usually from china for 1/10th of the price. I have a wireless receiver I bought off ebay after my microsoft one died, mine came from china and you can tell the difference because mine has 'XBOX360' written on it rather than 'Microsoft'. Also my first one died after a year, my current one is about 3 years old and still working.

To force the drivers onto the device you need to do the following:

1. Go to control panel -> device manager and you should see an unknown device with a question mark next to it (if you have multiple unknown devices you will have to remove all the extra devices on your PC or download the correct drivers for them so that the wireless receiver is the only one left).

2. Right click on the 'unknown device' and go to update drivers.

3. Select 'browse my computer' and then 'let me pick from a list of devices'.

5. Select 'Microsoft Controller Common Class' and then 'XBOX wireless receiver for windows' and then next to install the driver. (You may get an alert saying that this could cause problems, click yes)

Then go to step two. Hopefully everything should be working now. If not, it could be a fault with your wireless receiver.

NZXT Sentry Mesh fan control unit for BitFenix Prodigy M Review

Sat, 25 Jan 2014 19:43:00 +0000

The final two parts of my new computer system have arrived, a 250gb Samsung Evo SSD and the NZXT Sentry Mesh fan control unit.

NZXT Fan Control Unit

First of all I have to say that is looks very nice and I can tell that it is a quality fan control unit. It has a nice finish to it and the sliders move very smoothly. I think that £22 is a fair price for it too, however, I did have some problems installing it in my BitFenix Prodidgy M case. This isn't the fault of NZXT as the unit has clearly been designed for a larger computer where a fan unit can be put in a full size CD drive bay.

Although this fan CAN fit in the case, it does block airflow to one of my top fans so I had to modify it slightly:

I hope I don't have to send this back for a refund!


As you can see it has been cut in half just past the first set of screw holes, it is still completely functional but now it can be put in without blocking the airflow to my top front fan.

The fans were easy to wire up, each of the wires is numbered so you know which slider it goes too. The unit is powered with a molex connector. One thing I have noticed is that even on the lowest setting my fans are a tiny bit louder, this might not be a huge issue for some, but my computer was almost silent so it is noticeable. On a louder build it would not be noticeable. I think that this is because the fans were controlled by the motherboard which allowed them to be dropped to maybe 20% speed whereas this controller's minimum is 50%. I might get some adapters to slow the fans down further if it does start to bother me.

I was worried that the mesh finish wouldn't match the mesh on my case panel, I can say that it is a perfect fit even though they case and fan control unit are made by two separate companies, it is pretty much flawless:

Fan Unit Close Up


Fan Unit Installed

There is only one small issue with the unit and that is that the white LED light also shines through the slider gap next to it. Not a huge issue and could probably be fixed by sliding something down the side to block the light.

Overall I am very impressed. 9/10.

My New Computer

Mon, 13 Jan 2014 22:33:00 +0000

I have started my first 'proper' job since leaving university and so I have been able to start building my new computer. My current computer is the following spec:

CPU: Intel Quad Core Extreme QX9650, 3GHz, 12mb cache.
Motherboard: Asus P5N-D
RAM: 4 x 2gb of 677mhz DDR2 RAM
GPU: Nvidia 9600GS in SLI x2
PSU: Corsair GS600
Case: Corsair 300r
And just over 3tb of HDD space.

This computer has been slowly upgraded over the past 5 years and I have got to the point where I have reached the limit of 'Upgradability'. Any upgrades I could possibly do would just be throwing money away so I decided on a new build. I started with a budget of £1000, I would be tempted to have a much larger budget but I am currently saving up for a masters degree so I cannot spend too much.

My current computer works fine but I find that when bits break and need replacing such as the motherboard, it has become increasingly more expensive to fix. My computer is on it's 4th motherboard and the last time I had to replace it, it cost me about £70 from ebay as they are becoming increasingly hard to come by. Knowing that I could buy the latest generation motherboard with this money, and that it would have a warranty, I have decided it would be much easier to buy new. However all my components are so out of date that there is nothing 'new' that is compatible with them, so I have started over.

New computer Spec:

CPU: Intel i7 4770k
RAM: 2x8gb of Corsair LP Vengeance
Motherboard: MSI Z87m Gaming
GPU: Yet to be decided but will be Nvidia GTX
PSU: Corsair AX860 modular
CPU Cooler: Dark Rock Advanced C1.
Case: BitFenix Prodigy M


CPU

To me the processor is one of the most important components, so I wasted no time looking for the best processor. I wanted a processor that would future-proof my build and be capable of anything I threw at it. I decided to go for an Intel processor over AMD for the following reasons:

- Much more energy efficient - For core clock speed against TDP Intel always wins. AMD processors consume a huge amount of power and give off quite a bit of heat doing so.

- Intel benchmarks better - If you compare an Intel Processor against an AMD processor of the 'same' spec the intel processor will outperform AMD by a significant margin. Single core performance is important for many programs and for game emulation.  The single core performance of processors can be seen at Passmarks CPU Benchmarks.

Another debate when choosing my processor was whether to go i5 or i7. When it comes to gaming there is only a small gain using the i7 processor, not enough to justify spending more on a processor. However I do plan to do video editing and use photoshop quite a bit so having an i7 processor will show a significant improvement over the i5. The reason why the i7 and i5 are almost give the same performance during games is because most games are only optimised to use up to 4 cores. The i5 and i7 both have 4 cores but the i7 is hyper threaded meaning that 4 extra 'virtual cores' are created giving 8 cores in total, however these are not used by the games and so are essentially useless unless you plan to video record your game-play at the same time (thus needing the extra processing power).

I have a feeling that games will be soon optimised for using more than 4 cores, evidence for this being that the new generation of consoles all use '8-core- processors and games created for them will be imported to the PC along with the ability to make use of hyper-threading. The new Battlefield 4 for many people runs much better on a hyper-threaded processor, although there were a few issues with this before the games was patched, but it does look promising for the future. Also Metro 2033 system requirements recommends that an i7 processor is used.

I also chose the latest generation of Intel Processor in the hope that they won't be changing the socket too soon, also I get the benefit of the latest 4600 graphics and all the weird and wonderful technologies that have just come out. I also picked the 'k' version processor over the standard one as I will be able to over-clock it more easily in the future.

I also had a glance at the i7 extreme processors, as much as I would like one I have decided that they are too far out of budget. The cheapest extreme processor was about the same price as the one I chose, however unlike older generation processors the extreme processors are a different socket, requiring a much more expensive motherboard. There could be no end to my spending.

RAM

RAM was an interesting one to look at. I knew that I wasn't going to buy the full amount of RAM in one go as this would be VERY expensive. My motherboard has 4 ram slots, so to maximise 'upgradability' I used the largest modules (in terms of GB) I could find. I bought two 8GB sticks to give 16GB so that at a later date I could add two more 8GB sticks, which would be the maximum my motherboard could take (32GB). Most computers these days don't really need a huge amount of RAM, for the average user 4GB would be more than enough but I do plan to use my computer intensively. 16GB will be more than I will need for the foreseeable future.

Also I chose 1600MHZ RAM, when benchmarking there isn't a huge gain between different frequency RAM and 1600MHZ is recommended for my processor. Also much higher frequency RAM is very expensive and money for performance is better spent elsewhere.

I also chose low profile RAM, which will allow me to put a large air cooler on my CPU without obstruction.


Motherboard

I decided to go for the MSI Z87M Gaming Motherboard. I wasn't sure whether to get the mini-itx version or the micro-atx. I wanted a small LAN build that I could easily carry around, mini-itx builds are usually the smallest but as the case I had chosen for a mini-itx build also I came in a micro-atx version that was the same dimensions, I thought 'Why go for a motherboard with less features?' and so I picked the micro-atx board. Reasons why this board is better than the mini-itx version are:

- Cheaper
- 4 RAM slots rather than 2
- 2 PCI-E slots rather than one allowing dual graphics cards.
- More BIOS features and an overclock button.

I picked this brand of motherboard because I have heard good things about it and when reading the spec of it I knew that this board would last some time. It has audioboost technology, lag kill, military class components, triple gold plated ports etc. Not to mention it looks amazing with it's red and black finish and dragon design and has been certified to last 25 years.

GPU

Update - I purchased the GTX 780

I haven't decided on which graphics card I will get but I know that it will be a NVIDIA GTX card either in the 600 or 700 series. I know that it will be the most expensive part of the build and I am thinking long and hard over what to buy.

I have decided on NVIDIA for many reasons, firstly I already have two NVIDIA graphics cards in SLI and they have lasted a very long time and it has been a pleasant experience using them. NVIDIA graphics cards are more widely accepted than AMD cards meaning more software and games support them. I know that AMD is getting more support but NVIDIA always gets in there first. The software that comes with NVIDIA graphics cards is great and they use technologies such as CUDA which can be useful.

I am leaning towards the 700 series graphics cards as they are newer, I have mostly been looking at the 760, 770 and 780. The 760 is around £200, the 770 is about £270 and the 780 is about £370. The 780ti at £500 is out of the question.

There isn't a huge amount of difference between the 760 and 770 and it is worth paying the extra to get the slightly better card, however if you look at the 780 benchmarks you will see that it leaves the 770 in the dust and is getting right next to the TITAN. I am still in budget with the 780, but it is a lot of money and I will have to pull my purse strings VERY tight over the coming months to make up for it. Also with the 780 I will not have to choose between the 2GB and 4GB card versions like with the 760/770 as it comes with a nice 3GB of VRAM.

There is also the option to run SLI, maybe buy a cheaper top range card and then buy another at a later date when I have more money. However I am slightly against this, even though my motherboard can support two graphics cards I'd rather it not. My case is quite small and I would imagine having two cards would mean it would run very hot. I would rather spend all the money I intend to at once for the better card, and perhaps in the very far future the card I want to SLI with will drop in price and could make a little upgrade.

PSU

I have the Corsair AX860. It was the first component I bought for my new computer, and for a while it was in my old build. I saw it for a very good price and so I purchased it. I decided to go with the Corsair brand as I know they build quality PSUs and the AX series is their 'best'. There are plenty of much cheaper PSUs out there but from experience I know to avoid these. Cheap PSUs break much more easily and the cheaper they are the more chance you have of them taking down a few of the other components too. Being part of the AX series I know that my computer will get a continuous and efficient supply of electricity.

PSUs can be given a rating from bronze to platinum (titanium is coming soon), the AX series is platinum meaning they are over 90% efficient meaning cheaper electric bills. My PSU is also modular meaning the power cables to the components can be removed and added as needed which is ideal if you have a small case and do not have room for the extra un-needed cables.

CPU Cooler

My CPU cooler is the Dark Rock Advanced C1. I have purchased this cooler previously for my old computer after reading many good reviews and it lived up to expectations. It is silent, when I got it I thought it was broken because I couldn't hear anything, so I took at look at it and saw the fan spinning away!

It looks very nice too with my black/red interior, I find that silver coolers look cheaper no matter how expensive they are. My PC idles at around 30 degrees.

The Case

(see also The Motherboard)
I was leaning towards a mini-ITX build and making my computer 'steambox' style. However I decided that going for a bigger case would be cheaper (as specialist small components don't have to be purchased) and it would have better airflow etc...

I decided on the Bitfenix Prodigy M in black as it is small, compact and has good reviews. It was a little tricky getting all the components into the case but it was managed. I will give a full review of the case at a later date.




Where is Rana? - Elder Scrolls Online Beta Bug

Sun, 12 Jan 2014 14:53:00 +0000

I'm currently beta testing the new Elder Scrolls Online game. If you cannot find Rana you will find her in her Office, it is the building next to the one marked on the map (the one with the biggest stairs).