SSD Tweaking

May 15, 2012

Summary of tweaks I’ve made so far. Note that there are two sorts of tweaks out there on the net depending on your objective. One is to reduce the amount of I/O to the SSD to prolong it’s life, others are necessary to prevent the kind of system freezes and lock ups I’ve been experiencing.

  1. Turned off anti-virus
  2. Turned off Windows Defender
  3. Turned off Shadow Copies/System Restore
  4. Disabled a whole pile of junk that starts up within Windows using msconfig
  5. Turned off System page file
  6. Disabled Superfetch and Prefetch
  7. Disabled both Scheduled Defrag and the one that runs at boot time, plus some other stuff described here

So far the system is running OK. I’m really only using my laptop now for:

  1. Browsing – using Google Chrome
  2. Reading Acrobat and Office docs
  3. Taking notes using OneNote
  4. Drawing diagrams using Visio

SSD Upgrade

May 14, 2012

In order to breathe new life into my ageing Toshiba Portege R400 I recently purchased an KingSpec KSD-CF18.6-128MJ SSD drive.

To migrate I booted Ubuntu from a USB stick and did a bit copy from my old drive to the SSD using the dd command. This didn’t really work – I could boot into Recovery mode but not Vista itself (it said my System partition was corrupt).

So I booted from my old HD and did a full Windows backup to a USB drive, booted from the SSD and from Recovery and did a full system restore. I was then able to boot into Vista from my SSD.

I’m getting an occasional system freeze but otherwise enjoying the extra disk space and performance. I am researching various suggested SSD tweaks but as my laptop is old I’m only interested in performance gains, not extending the life of the drive.


Work Hard Play Hard in India

February 19, 2011

Averaging 9 hour working days at present, so all the time saved not commuting is going on work. Taxi leaves hotel at 0930 and leaves office at 1930. Usually get back by about 2000. Hotel breakfast is crap, for lunch there is no option but to eat at the office which is basic at the best so we have to go out at night to get a decent meal – which is invariably curry of some sort, so beer is kind of functional. Everything shuts at 11pm here, 1130pm if you’re lucky so we’ve only got a limited time. So it sounds great but in reality it’s all a bit hectic. There is no Internet access at the office so difficult to keep in touch, although I discovered a Wifi access point by reception on the ground floor today, so I can Skype from there and pick up email – but only on my phone as personal laptops are not allowed in the building. I’m also not allowed to take photos of the office. Today was a working Saturday, started pairing with the developers and feel like I’m starting to contribute now, which is a good feeling. I’ve spent the last week trying to understand what they’re trying to build, and assess how best to help. We’re trying to introduce a way of working called Agile which basically gets people to communicate, contribute as part of a team and take ownership of the issues that arise. So far it seems to be helping, but there is a huge amount of work still to do and not much time to do it in.


On arriving at Bengaluru

February 12, 2011

Here I am in a tiny hotel oasis amid the chaos that is the suburb of Bengaluru. There are so many people here, so much traffic and so much simplicity. Outside the hotel is a busy one way street down which flows a never ending stream of mopeds, tuck-tucks, cars, lorries and everything in between. The most used accessory on a motor vehicle is the horn. In the UK it has occasional use, I can go months without ever needing to use it. Here it is normal to sound your horn constantly, because no one trusts the attention of anyone else. There are no traffic lights here. The streets are lined with people, with stalls selling flowers, offering ironing services, shoes, or food. Across the road are three cows, lying on the pavement – tied to a lamp post. Above the heads of the passers by are three-phase electric cables, hanging perilously to what appear to be makeshift pylons. Below your feet is a concrete obstacle course, with broken slabs partially concealing shallow pits of rubbish and drainage. Everywhere is the odour of spice and stale water. The sewers must be full to capacity with the density of housing. This is a real culture shock.


Commuting by Bike

June 3, 2007

I recently created a Google Map to show my route to work. I can also upload photos that I take on route, so I’ll need one of those camera mounted cycle helmets.

I cycle in London to get between Kings Cross and Paddington in good time. I can manage 12 minutes on a good day with the lights in the right order. It takes nearer 20 minutes by tube by the time I’ve walked to and from the station platforms at either end, and with the way the trains work this means I then have another 10 minutes to wait for a connection to Ealing Broadway.


Hamachi

May 22, 2007

Thought I’d mention a great utility I discovered the other day. I was looking for a way I could attach a laptop bag to my bike, a Dahon Jetstream P8. This is a great folding bike but because it has front and rear suspension (tried cycling through Cambridge city centre recently? Cobblestones look nice but shake Bromptons and their riders to bits) I haven’t been able to find a suitable rear (or front) rack/pannier. Anyway in my travels through Google I came across a conversation trail which started with the pros and cons of carrying around a USB memory stick instead of a heavy laptop, and moved onto the service provided by www.logmein.com.

Remote desktop services are now built into Windows, and tools like VNC and Netmeeting have been around for years, but what this makes this nice is that Logmein provide a hosted service so that I can run up their application on my laptop at work and this connects to their central server. When I get home I boot up my desktop (assuming Son #2 is not playing Fifa 2006) and it connects via the Logmein server to my laptop and voila I get to remotely control my laptop.

I currently use two main products at work. First is Enterprise Architect. This is a per-seat licenced tool and Logmein lets me remotely work with this tool. The second is a local installation of MediaWiki. Now I can access this by using a remote instance of Firefox but of course I want to do better than that!

On the LogMeIn site I found a link labelled ‘Labs’ – and through that I came across their Hamachi service. Hamachi provides a flexible peer to peer network bridge between a cooperating set of user machines. It creates a new network interface on each machine on which it is installed and lets users create ad-hoc network communities that behave like a local LAN. The immediate benefit is that it lets game players form lan based multiplayer games without having to connect to a third party server (including FIFA 2006, but I haven’t told him yet…). The real benefit is that I can install hamachi on my Ubuntu Linux desktop at work, bring up a local instance of Squid as a Web proxy and thus gain access to the intranet instance of MediaWiki.

Now I don’t really want to route all my web traffic through Hamachi, then to work and out through Squid so I needed to find a way to selectively route only requests to my wiki. Firefox lets you configure a Proxy but the way that works is that you can specify sites not to proxy, but not the other way round. The answer is to create a small file called ‘Proxy.PAC’ and implement a small Javascript method. Here’s mine (with the relevant names and addresses changed to protect the guilty)

function FindProxyForURL(url, host){
 var proxy="PROXY 5.16x.xxx.xxx:8080";
 if (shExpMatch(url,"*.company.co.uk:*/*"))              {return proxy;}
 return "DIRECT";
}

So now I can access my company Wiki at home. The only disadvantage is that I can't boot up the laptop while I'm on the train and work offline but given the level of overcrowding on my train at present I don't always get the opportunity to work in this way.


Web 2.0 in a nutshell, part 1

December 29, 2006

Web User Experience is primarily achived through the delivery of HTML to Browsers. HTML provides a structured framework within which it is possible to create a rich, dynamic customer experience. Along with ‘static’ content such as News articles, sports reports etc. it is possible to provide ‘services’ which are in effect highly personalised, dynamic content such as email, IM etc.

But to the browser, these are just HTML delivered over HTTP. The only thing that might differentiate is that the HTTP headers may indicatate a shorter time to live, or that the content should not be cached at all.

Recently Industry best practice has evolved HTML to align with the more tightly specified XML. Migrating to HTML 4.01, through XHTML 1.0 to XHTML 1.1 many of the inconsistencies and ambiguities in the language have been removed and it is now possible to leverage XML technologies such as XSL transformation engines, modular schema definitions and verifying parsers.

Formalising HTML creates a cleaner object model within the browser, known as the Browser Object Model – BOM. This is a true object model and contains data, style and behaviour. There are industry standards over how to deal with badly formed HTML, it depends upon the browser implementation.

Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) provide a rule-based approach to appearance. CSS features a syntax that uses selectors to apply presentational style to HTML structure. CSS styles are applied in a layer manner so that there is generally always a fallback to the most generic case, whilst specialised styles can be applied in an increasingly targeted manner to apply more specialised styles as required by the UI designer.

XHTML supports the addition of the generic attributes ‘class’ and ‘id’ which can take arbitrary string values that add additional semantics to whatever HTML base tag they are applied. The rules for these attributes are simple: the id attribute provides a unique identifier to a tag within a given scope, whilst the class attribute is used to group several similar tags into a set. Using these attributes with CSS selectors allows much finer control over presentational style.

Microformats are predefined patterns of HTML tags and class attributes that provide additional semantics to structure and facilitate machine based interpretation of content allowing richer interaction and improved accessibility through complementary browser extensions.

XHTML provides structure, content and semantics; CSS provides presentation. The Browser uses these to construct an implementation specific object model and provides the default behaviour for user interaction. Through careful observance of standards XHTML and CSS are sufficient to provide a rich user experience.

CSS and Javascript may be embedded inline in the XHTML or referenced as external resources. Javascript provides dynamic behaviour that can modify browser document object model – including content, structure and presentation.

The XMLHttpRequest object allows the Javascript to make a new HTTP request, and retrieve content in the form of character data – which can be structured as XML or JSON. As the browser exposes suitable APIs it is possible to use this data to update or replace sections of the DOM – thus dynamically changing the appearance of the page with new content.

 


ADSL Continued

November 29, 2006

The 4 port switch I ordered from Ebay turned out to be a dud. No problem, the seller refunded me in full.

I found how to configure my 1 port router as a ‘pure’ modem, so my Netgear Cable router ends up providing a single firewall.

The trick is to configure the device in ‘Bridging Mode’, and to use the PPPoE settings on the Netgear box to provide the necessary authentication. My trials and tribulations on this saga are recounted here.

My biggest regret is going with Madasafish as ISP provider. The 5Gb cap they implement is just too small. I really need about 8 or 9. I’m now over the 6 months honeymoon period so the £10.99 a month rate has now jumped to £18. Its still competitive but I’d rather have gone for an all you can eat bundle at a slower speed. Live and Learn.


Moving from NTL Part 2

November 29, 2006

The second problem with moving from NTL was that I lost my Cable TV feed. I don’t particularily want to watch lots of pay TV but I do like a good quality wide screen signal. So I decided to go for Freeview.

The downside to this was I had to shell out over £300 for a good quality aerial since I apparently live in a ‘dodgy’ area for Freeview. Well at least thats what the aerial fitter told me. At least my aerial fits inside my loft and I don’t have Jodrell Bank bolted onto the side of my house.

The nice thing is that I can receive digital TV now throughout the house, and I have a cheapo set top box in my lounge and a new flat screen Humax mounted on the wall in the Kitchen.

Having had multi-channel TV from NTL, including movies and sports I can honestly say I don’t miss them. We now have 4 channels each from BBC and ITV, and a further 3 from each of Channel’s 4 and 5. We supplement this with a ‘light’ subscription to LoveFilm which gives us 4 DVD movies a month. This is more than enough for us!


Viz Top Tips

November 29, 2006

I shouldn’t really admit this but I actually find the purile, toilet humour of Viz occasionally quite funny. Reading through the Top Tips or occasionally the Profanisaurus. I like Top Tips because they are largely user generated content, and frequently demonstrate great insight and very sharp wit. Having read such a post the temptation is to ‘have a go’ yourself and post a comment in a similiar vein.

John Wayne. Never show any pain when receiving the beating of a lifetime, but wince when having your wounds tended by a woman

Shoe bombers. Increase your payload by becoming a clown.

LEPRECHAUNS. Protect your finances by investing in a tracker fund, rather than relying on an ailing currency and leaving a 300foot technicolour arrow in the sky pointing to where you have hidden it.


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