Tag Archive: Drive

Synology – Better Than Most Backup Solutions for Me!

What is the Best Backup for Windows in a Small Home or Office?  (SOHO)

This is the question I asked myself over two years ago.  At the time I recommended the SynologyDS210j and I still would if they made it!

It’s now been replaced by the DS212j, that’s it on the left.

This though, is essentially the same as my old one and in fact, in appearance it’s the same.  My DS210j has functioned perfectly for well over two years.  It just sits there, quietly doing its own thing and has never let me down.

I’ve uprated the internal operating system (called DSM) several times and it now stands as version DSM 4.2-3202.  Synology have said that this will be the last incarnation of this software and that there’ll be no further versions for me on this hardware beyond version 4.

If I was buying now, I’d just buy the latest version.  It does everything anyone would want, is quiet and reliable.

New Kid? The D-Link ShareCenter 2 Bay….

Well nearly, but it’s not for me.

My friend has just bought a D-Link ShareCenter 2 Bay Cloud Network Storage Enclosure since they didn’t want to spend so much…

It’s less than half the price of the Synology and tomorrow evening, I get to set it up!

The specifications, included software, and operating system functionality are almost identical to my Synology.  You know, stuff like media server, web server, iTunes server, backup drive, security camera monitoring, the list goes on..!

  • The reviews, however, say that it is noisy, though my friend says this isn’t an issue since it’s going in a cupboard with the router and internet gateway. It does seem to have a smaller fan than my little white cutie, so that could be it.
  • Some reviewers had difficulty setting it or its software up.  Well actually, I’ve had a few difficulties myself with the DSM software from Synology – if you’ve not done things like this before, it can be difficult and confusing.  It’s not Windows after all!

So, watch this space.  I’ll get back later when it’s all done.

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Cameron Reveals the Second Totalitarian Democracy

Totalitarianism Hits Britain

The End of Freedom –  Here is the News

Today, dozy Brits sleepwalked into a slightly-uncomfortable oblivion.  No-one blinked.

Monument at Hitler's Birthplace

Monument stone at the site of the birth of Adolf Hitler reads: For peace freedom / and democracy / never again fascism / millions of dead remind us. The stone is from the quarry at the Mauthausen concentration camp.

Following on from yesterday’s news that everything any of us does will be recorded, anything and everything, it’s now the end of justice as we know it and a sharp veer to the Nazi/Soviet/Zimbabwe model of total surveillance, secret police and secret trials.

The BBC said, David Cameron defends secret courts and web monitoring plans, and the comments are cascading in fast.

Can no-one see this?  Where is the common sense that we British are reputed to have, or is that just a sham like our justice as well?  Something to brag about when criticising Little Johnnie Foreigner but not something we do at home?

As long as the lights still work and the Proles can drive to the burger shop they’ll all be happy.  Is that what the powers-that-be think?

It certainly looks like it.

Men in Suits

David Cameron

David Cameron (Photo credit: Nick Atkins Photography)

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (left) of Bahrai...

King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa (left) of Bahrain responds to a reporter’s question during joint press availability with Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld (right) outside the Pentagon on Feb. 4, 2003 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hitler and Mussolini

Hitler and Mussolini

Mugabe

Mugabe

Stalin

Stalin

 

Who Are What?

Now, instead of medallioned shouty people brandishing fists, swords and tanks like Hitler or Stalin, we find our freedoms are removed by men in suits.  Men like Cameron, Clegg, Brown and Blunkett.  Men like bankers and offshore tax advisors.  Men on hidden committees and quangos.  Men on secretly funded so-called “focus groups” that are nothing but sham cover-ups for the men in suits.

Other men taking away “other people’s freedoms” they slag off as bad, bad, bad.  Actually, most of them are!  People like Mugabe are obvious.  Less obvious is the King of BahrainHamad bin Isa Al Khalifa or the King of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud.  They wear their own sort of suit.

But like Hitler (say) before,  they all remove power from the people and misuse their army, their courts and laws as a disservice to the common man.

Islam Karimov, president of Uzbekistan

Islam Karimov, president of Uzbekistan

They all wear suits and they’re all bad people.  Cameron finally reveals his spots.  Obama, the false hope is just the same.  Chanting loud the voice of nationalism and national security, in actual fact they are the public face of non-accountable multi-national powers of huge influence.  They all had a chance to “change” things, but have been sucked into the greater, totalitarian void that multi-national capitalism is.

They are Borg.

Resistance is futile.

Smile as your freedom goes.  At least you’ve got a job, mate!

We are Borg.

We Are THe Borg Unicomplex

We Are The Borg Unicomplex

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Testing Windows 8 Developer Preview Version

Windows 8 Developer Preview

Win8 Dev Logon Screen

Win8 Dev Logon Screen

I’ve finally decided to test the next Windows edition, probably to be called Windows 8, although things like that are never certain in Microsoft-land.

Virtual Box

Win8 Dev VirtualBox Installation

Win8 Dev VirtualBox Installation

I did a Virtual Box install, which is fairly straightforward.  There are many tutorials on-line now which show how to do this, so I won’t do a walk-through. I installed the 64-bit version which I downloaded from MSDN using my licence.  You can get the installs from the Microsoft Website here, which come in ISO format.  You can also find out more from the horse’s mouth here.

You can also set aside a partition on your hard-drive and install to that.  However, Virtual Box is the safe way to go should the partition install fail and corrupt your current installation somehow.

What I will say, is to use more memory allocation to the virtual installation than recommended elsewhere or as the default,  and to use as many virtual processors as your host machine has.….. My machine is an AMD 955BE, which is quad-core running at around 3GHz.  In other words, if you don’t want it to run like treacle, give it plenty processor and memory room;  at least the recommended values for Windows 7.  You can see all of this in the VirtualBox settings screenshot above.

Fast Install (added 24/11/11))

Windows 7 vs. Windows 8 time to upgrade

Windows 7 vs. Windows 8 time to upgrade

Microsoft, on their MSDN blog, have made a big thing about the rapid installation for Windows 8, particularly for the upgrade route.  See Improving the setup experience.  I can say now that the clean install into the VirtualBox environment was very fast….

Briefly:

  1. You make a virtual machine in Virtual Box
  2. You set it’s parameters – processors, memory size, footprint size, IDE/SATA storage etc
  3. You set the downloaded ISO image to boot from in the settings.
  4. You boot by “Starting” the virtual machine.
  5. You install Windows into the filespace that you’ve previously set aside for it – I gave it a dynamic sized 50Gb.
  6. After that, let windows do it’s thing.  It took 10 minutes or so.
  7. Let it reboot.
Win8 Dev Loggged On Screen

Win8 Dev Loggged On Screen

Following this, you get a green screen from which country specifics are added, a username and finally, you enter your Live.com identity, if you have one, and if you want to!

Appearance

It’s a big green screen.  I don’t have a touchscreen, but it’s obviously designed for one.  It has massive buttons to a host of online services like weather & stocks, plus a few to your computer’s functions.

Win8 Dev Logon Screen

Win8 Dev Logon Screen

If you log off, you get presented with an American Rockies vista of a lonely winding road.  Essentially, the entry into Windows 8 is like a smartphone.  But what’s it like beneath the surface?

Windows 7 Legacy, and Vista Too!

Win8 Dev Double Click Control Panel Screen

Win8 Dev Double Click Control Panel Screen

Obviously, this is a development preview release, and we can expect more of the same to come.

Win8 Dev Double Click Explorer Screen

Win8 Dev Double Click Explorer Screen

But most work has gone onto the main intro screen because beneath the surface, all the various apps and settings controls are the old (current) Windows 7 interface.

Bizarrely, some screens even have vestiges of the green Vista, notably the main screen itself.

Personally, I think it’s very, very dour.  I can’t believe that two years of effort has gone into doing something that Android does on a more than twice-annual cycle….

Win8 Dev Left Corner Hover Screen

Win8 Dev Left Corner Hover Screen

Accessing the menus is the most unintuitive thing I’ve seen for ages!  Following on from the impressive Windows 7, it’s truly not just a user let-down, but somewhat infuriating as well…….    Whereas previously I just typed into the run bar to do almost anything, now I can’t even find programs or files!   No doubt there’s a way – but after Win7, it’s not intuitive and not helpful either.

I hope that’s not the end of the run box, because that feature in Windows 7 is awesome.

Control Panel

Win8 Dev Double Click Control Panel Screen

Win8 Dev Double Click Control Panel Screen

I haven’t checked through many apps (except a few desktop ones like the weird child-like paint thing and the weather which won’t do anywhere except California) but this is the control panel.

Win8 Dev Control Panel More Settings Screen

Win8 Dev Control Panel More Settings Screen

You then drill-down to get the old Win7 control panel on “More Settings”.

Initial Investigation Ends

Well that’s it for now.   To say I’m un-impressed by the big green monstrous front doesn’t give my opinion justice.  There doesn’t appear to be an easy way out of the front-screen apps and to have an app made for a  3-inch screen sat on a 23 inch desktop monitor really demonstrates the infantile  apps for what they are.

Way back in the nineties Microsoft tried their in-house Microsoft Network (MSN) which was a disc install that gave you a black desktop that gave dial-up access to features giving almost the same as this big green toy-town monster.

Not happy.

Watch this space as I delve more….

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Blakes 7 Federation Troopers on Streets of Britain

Metropolitan Police Wear Examined

The appearance of “our” police is becoming more and more like some hellish dystopian vision of oppression from all the best science fiction of the last century.

Compare and contrast the two shots below; one from the finale of the BBC series Blakes Seven, the other from the Whitehall kettle during the recent student protest against fees increases.

Blakes Seven Federation Troopers

Blakes Seven Federation Troopers

Student Protest

Student Protest

Blakes Seven Overall Plot Examined

Now check out the script description from the Internet Movie Database (IMDB) entry for Blakes Seven and you will realise how far along the route to totalitarian oppression we have really come since the futuristic script was written….

In the third century of the second calendar, a corrupt galactic federation, with Earth at its center, drugs its billions of citizens into placid submission. A rebel named Roj Blake, who once tried to organize a resistance group to overthrow this regime, was caught and divested of his memories.

But Blake’s revolutionary spirit is revived when he witnesses a mass slaughter by police that is covered up by the federation officials. He escapes exile on board a prison spaceship and, together with a lovable band of outlaws, takes over a vacant alien space cruiser of awesome drive capability. Naming their new ship as “The Liberator”, Blake and his group travel the Milky Way to seek any opportunity to undermine the evil federation.  (the emphasis is mine, SP)

Thank Goodness for Wikileaks!

Of course, this is exactly why Wikileaks is so necessary nowadays.  But just because it has become so wearily tiresome to see the endless evidence of corruption, torture and nepotism done in our name, does not mean we should not see and know about it!

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How to Clean Up Outlook Contact Phone Numbers using VBA

Introduction

VBA for Fix Phone Numbers

VBA for Fix Phone Numbers

I got a new phone and when synchronised with Microsoft Outlook, the phone numbers don’t dial out properly because of spaces & STD bracketing.  It’s an LG – the previous Nokia was great, as was it’s synchronising software!

Solution

I used VBA in a workaround via Microsoft Excel!  (If you don’t have Excel, this won’t work…).  It will convert phone numbers like (+44) 1234 456789 to 0044123456789.  It also removes “-” entries and ones with multiple spaces as a number, like ”   ” which are invisible but muck stuff up!  [but see later addendum for later code additions, code is here: FixPhoneNumbers – SP]

First Step

Export the “Contacts” folder from Outlook as an Excel spreadsheet to your hard drive.  Give it a sensible name!

Second Step

Open the Excel file and then press Alt + F11 to open the Visual Basic Editor (VBE).  We’re gonna write code now!

Third Step

Insert a new code module.  You can give it a name if you like.  I didn’t and just left it as it was.

Fourth Step

Copy this VBA code into the module in the VBE. (That’s a screenshot of my code above!)

Option Explicit

Public Sub FixPhoneNumbers()
Dim rg As Range
Dim r As Integer
Dim c As Integer
Dim wks As Worksheet
Dim s As String

Application.ScreenUpdating = False
Set wks = ThisWorkbook.ActiveSheet
r = wks.Cells(1, 1).CurrentRegion.Rows.Count
c = wks.Cells(1, 1).CurrentRegion.Columns.Count

With wks
     .Columns("AD:AT").NumberFormat = "@"

 For c = 30 To 46 Step 1 'all phone fields
      For r = 2 To .Cells(1, 1).CurrentRegion.Rows.Count
      Set rg = .Cells(r, c)
           s = rg.Value
           s = Replace(s, "(", "")
           s = Replace(s, " ", "")
           s = Replace(s, ")", "")
           s = Replace(s, "+44", "0044")
           s = Replace(s, "+", "00")
           s = Replace(s, "-", "")
      If Len(s) < 7 And Len(s) > 0 Then s = "01278" & s 'assume local phone #
          rg.Value = s
      Next r
 Next c
End With

Application.ScreenUpdating = True
Set rg = Nothing
Set wks = Nothing

End Sub

The key is the lines with the Replace function.  Additional lines can be easily added if more gotchas are spotted in your own numbers.

If you don’t need a line to run, remark (Rem) it out by putting an apostrophe at the line beginning, like this one here… ‘

Fifth Step

From the Debug menu in the VBE, compile the code.  This ensures that no typos etc have got in.

Save the file.

Sixth Step

Now run the procedure called “FixPhoneNumbers”.  The simplest way to do this is to make sure the screen cursor is somewhere within the code you’ve copied in – and then hit F5 on the keyboard.

If this is confusing, go to the main Excel screen, hit Alt + F8 and run the macro, which unsurprisingly is called “FixPhoneNumbers”!!

Seventh Step

Save the file again if the changes look alright.

If they’re not, then close the file without saving, then re-open, and adjust the VBA code to suit your columns, which will be the most likely thing you’ll need to adjust.

Then do all the above again, from the Fifth Step onwards.

Eighth Step

Import the file back into Outlook.

Overwrite old contacts with the new ones.

There should be no need to map fields etc because we haven’t mucked about with them!

Caveats

  • The code is designed to work with a standard output dump from Outlook.  If you’ve added or removed fields from the contacts part of Outlook, the export will be different and you’ll need to check which columns contain phone numbers.  Modify the VBA code to suit.  In total, there were 92 columns in the export from Outlook, so if you don’t have this number then you’ll probably need a quick code modification. (That’s why I checked the count at the beginning of the code with the CurrentRegion bit so that I could get the dataset size.  In the end, I only needed a row count, but I’ve left the code in so that you can step through the code using F8 to check yours out.  Clear?  Don’t worry. )
  • Some entries I had were local phone numbers.  My code is 01278 so this is added and will need changing to suit your own local STD code if you’ve entered phone numbers without the exchange.
  • I check that the UK international code is correct.  Change the 44 to your own as appropriate.
  • There’s no error checking in the code.  But it should work – it did for me!

ADDENDUM: New Code Version!

This code is smoother and has more features than previously, although I still don’t error check.

It’s advantages are:

  1. It checks all columns and looks for the words “Phone” or “Fax” in the data headings.  In this way, any logical Outlook customisations are taken care of!
  2. It prompts the user for their local STD and National codes, placing these in the correct place.

Next Steps:

  1. I’ll turn the code into an xla add-in with a one-click button.
  2. I’ll make the whole thing work directly on the Outlook contacts from within Outlook.  I’ve used the Outlook object model before, just not very often!  So watch this space as current Outlook addins are pricey and a bit of a kludge from what I’ve read…

The New (Improved) Code Version

Download plain text version: FixPhoneNumbers

Option Explicit

Public Sub FixPhoneNumbers()
Dim rg As Range
Dim r As Integer
Dim c As Integer
Dim wks As Worksheet
Dim s As String
Dim LocalCode As Variant
Dim NationalCode  As Variant

Application.ScreenUpdating = False

LocalCode = InputBox("Do You want Full Code for Local Numbers?" _
                     , "Enter local STD/City dialling code" _
                     , "01278")
NationalCode = InputBox("Do You want cleaned up National Code? e.g. 44=UK" _
                      & vbCrLf _
                      & "+44 goes to 0044" _
                     , "Enter National code" _
                     , "44")

Set wks = ThisWorkbook.ActiveSheet

With wks
       .Range(.Cells(1, 1), .Cells(1, 1).End(xlToRight)).Font.Bold = True

          For c = 1 To .Cells(1, 1).CurrentRegion.Columns.Count Step 1 'all columns
              s = LCase(.Cells(1, c).Value)       's picks up column heading
                                                  'lower case to match search string later
                                                  'as text compare doesn't work
                'now find phone/fax fields and if found, fix numbers
     If (InStr(s, "phone") + InStr(s, "fax")) > 0 Then
            .Columns(c).NumberFormat = "@"      'make text format for tel nos
                                                'allows leading zeroes!

                     For r = 2 To .Cells(1, 1).CurrentRegion.Rows.Count
                         Set rg = .Cells(r, c)
                         s = rg.Value            're-use s
                         s = Replace(s, "(", "")
                         s = Replace(s, " ", "")
                         s = Replace(s, ")", "")
                             If Len(NationalCode) > 0 Then 'not empty string
                                  s = Replace(s, "+" & NationalCode, "00" & NationalCode)
                             End If
                         s = Replace(s, "+", "00")
                         s = Replace(s, "-", "")
                             If Len(s) < 7 And Len(s) > 0 Then s = LocalCode & s
                              rg.Value = s
                     Next r

     Else
        'nowt
     End If
       Next c
End With

Application.ScreenUpdating = True
Set rg = Nothing
Set wks = Nothing

End Sub

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