100,000 views on YouTube

It’s taken a while, but I’ve finally got over 100,000 views on my YouTube channel. You can find it at: http://www.youtube.com/procomputersupport

The most popular one, and the most disliked is the Repairing Broken HDD video – they’re all silly videos but people take them far too seriously!

Please share the videos if you find them amusing!

Converting FAT32 to NTFS

I needed to convert a FAT32 drive to NTFS today and as it was 500GB I wasn’t sure how easy it might be. I contemplated backing it all up then formatting it, but then I found out you can do it on a live drive.

Backups are always recommended – I made an educated decision not to on this occasion but if it had of gone wrong I would have lost over 400GB of files.

Below is the output from command prompt. In Windows 7 I searched for CMD and ran it as an admin to do the below. E was the drive I was working on and the command is;
convert e: /fs:ntfs

Microsoft Windows [Version 6.1.7601]
 Copyright (c) 2009 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.
C:\Users\Kev>convert e: /fs:ntfs
 The type of the file system is FAT32.
 Enter current volume label for drive E: LOCAL STORE
 Volume LOCAL STORE created 01/05/2011 19:16
 Volume Serial Number is 8BA5-BE5E
 Windows is verifying files and folders...
 File and folder verification is complete.
 Windows has checked the file system and found no problems.
 488,256,704 KB total disk space.
 1,085,472 KB in 534 hidden files.
 181,248 KB in 5,590 folders.
 415,408,448 KB in 102,391 files.
 71,581,504 KB are available.
32,768 bytes in each allocation unit.
 15,258,022 total allocation units on disk.
 2,236,922 allocation units available on disk.
Determining disk space required for file system conversion...
 Total disk space: 488375968 KB
 Free space on volume: 71581504 KB
 Space required for conversion: 808979 KB
 Converting file system
 Conversion complete
C:\Users\Kev>

Fibre Optic Broadband

I just thought I’d write a quick post about fibre optic broadband. I’ve finally got it. This is a good thing.

I’ve wanted to upgrade to FTTC for a while now as I do a lot of work online and commonly have a need to download 300/400/500 mb from one place, and upload them to the other. As such doing that on a 13MB ADSL connection with a 1MB upload was a little painful. I’d often queue the work up till late on an evening when I didn’t need to use the connection, or do it through the day when the house was empty.

I looked at Virgin Media. They do a 100 (possibly 120) MB connection but with a limited upload. It’s £30 a month. They also traffic shape badly, and have bad reviews for doing so. Peak times slow you right down and they block certain features. I decided in 2011 that I wouldn’t entertain Virgin anyway as they are awful (see previous posts on my bad customer service).

So I waited for fibre optic broadband to come along. I started looking in January 2012 and it had by exchange down to be done in the summer. So I waited, and the summer passed. Then Autumn came and the date for enabling my exchange came and passed. The date was changed on the BT Openreach page and I slowly started to give up hope.

These are the steps I took to keep check on FTTC enabling in my area;

  1. You can see when your exchange will be enabled by visiting http://www.superfast-openreach.co.uk/where-and-when.
  2. Once you have a date – follow @Openreach_news on Twitter. That service tweets when exchanges are active. If you’re really sad subscribe and you’ll be alerted everytime they tweet.
  3. Wait around 4-6 weeks following your exchange activation date. This is how long it took for BT Openreach to replace the cabinet near my house with a new fibre cabinet.
    Click here to see a fibre cabinet. 
  4. Place your order with an ISP. I opted to stay with Sky. Sky charge £50 for the activation and installation whilst BT Infinity is free. However BT Infinity have caps and also traffic shape so I opted to remain with Sky. It took a week from order to installation.

So I now have Sky Fibre Unlimited Pro. I opted to pay £10 a month more to have a 20MB upload. This means I can do my work a lot quicker, and not bother the partner when she is playing on Xbox live.

My YouTube Channel

I thought I would share my YouTube channel with you all, on it I make stupid videos about how to fix computer equipment. One of the videos has became just a little bit popular and it’s one of my best – so I thought I would share it;
.

 

If you fancy having a look through the other ones,  see my ProComputerSupport channel.

2013 Onwards

I decided this month to turn KevAtkinson.co.uk into a full time blog, it was hard to keep up to date and with all the other things I do these days I just wanted something simple to manage, and an easy way for people to get in touch.

I’m always busy on Twitter too, find me @kevatkinson

I’ll hopefully be sticking bits and pieces up on here to keep it interesting. nearly 2,000 people a month come here and I’ve no idea why so hopefully I can entertain you somehow. I’ve uploaded a misheard lyric piece of audio for a bit of fun. Here it is;
[audio:http://kevatkinson.co.uk/blog/audio/cock.mp3]

What does Alexandra Burke love taking? Guesses in the comments section!

Check before you buy!

I’ve been buying products & services online for probably close to 10 years, and one thing I always do before I buy is to shop around to compare pricing, to find out if the price is fair, or to see if I’m being ripped off. Now I don’t do this for every single thing – but if I’m buying electrical items or services online I’ll always look around for reviews and pricing.

I recently received some unsolicited email from a hosting company which was a little odd because their website domain was nothing like their company name. They were offering web hosting and had emailed me most likely via my listing on MediaUK.

To cut a long story short, they were selling a variety of ‘unlimited’ hosting packages, very very underpriced streaming packages, and to top it off, they were even selling stuff I could get for free if I spent 2.36548 seconds Googling what they were selling.

The point of this small blog is to point a few things out.

  1. If a company promises ‘unlimited’ – they can’t deliver it, so what else are they lying about?
  2. They haven’t invented the unlimited hard-drive yet.
  3. Google what you want, you might be able to get it for free.
  4. They still haven’t invented the unlimited hard-drive yet.

 

Updating iPhone Error 2003

The better half recently got an iPhone 3GS to replace her 3G. The main reason being that the iOS5 announcement included the 3GS but not the 3G – that’s been abandoned by Apple, and if I’d paid circa £500 for it 18 months back, I’d be pretty annoyed.

So before selling it to an electronic ‘recycling’ company, it needed to be formatted and returned to factory settings, this proved a little problematic. By that, I mean the following error;

The iPhone “iPhone” could not be restored. An unknown error occured (2003). Searching Apple’s support website had no fix for error 2003, it wasn’t even listed.

The problem is initially caused if you’re connected on a USB 1 port. My PC is fairly new so I seemed puzzled by this, but then I remembered a lot of the front panel ports don’t run at proper USB 2 – so switched it to the back of the PC.

Still though, error 2003 returned.

Those with iPhones will know that the supplied USB lead is pretty short, so I was using one of those USB extension leads – about a foot long. So I removed that, and hey presto the update started working.

Until. The same as the above, but this time error 14. Apple had a support article for this though, here.

I checked the cable I was using and it wasn’t an official Apple one, a cheap spare from eBay. So I switched to the official Apple cable to do the restore. Hey presto. It’s all working now.

High Mileage Fun

My car hit 185,600 last night. This is super great because firstly it’s a huge number, and secondly I enjoy telling people the super high mileage and seeing them go WHAT!?

I intend on keeping it till it hits 238,857 miles. That’s how far the Moon is from Earth.

I wonder if I could make a fortune on eBay for it if I sell it at 238,857. The next step would be to get home from the Moon, so the mileage would have to hit 477,714. I quite fancy the challenge really.

Byker Scrap Yard Fire 19/5/2011

It could be seen from the Scottish Borders, the Farne Islands, Teeside, and Consett. It turned Byker into the number one trending topic on Twitter in the United Kingdom, and made the national news.

It was also for me, the first example that social networking and smartphones are vital in breaking news situations including the incident today in Byker, Newcastle upon Tyne. I had no idea my Tweets would end up being viewed and re-tweeted around the world.

Around 12:25pm, a colleague remarked that there was a big fire – pointing out of the office window. Hearing sirens in the distance I decided to take a look and noticed a huge plume of smoke not far from the office. Naturally the first thing that occured to me was to check it out.

A couple of minutes later and I was aware the fire was serious, classified now as a major incident. I immediately took to social network site Twitter to send a picture out of what I was seeing. The first picture taken as I walked along the Newcastle Quayside is below, I initially thought it was a housing area on fire, but quickly realised it was in the Ouseburn area.

Minutes later I was very close to the fire. There was already significant interest in the fire and crowds were gathering, so another picture was taken and quickly sent onto Twitter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Interest in the fire was quickly picking up speed. My phone started ringing with friends and colleagues in the media requesting information. I also received a tweet from @bbcnewcastle requesting permission to use my picture above. Permission was given as long as I was credited, and soon appeared on the BBC News website article.

I then thought I’d take a quick video so people could get an idea of what was happening, you can see it on YouTube here.

I then decided to get a shot of the fire, including the huge plume of smoke that was billowing into the sky.

More and more Fire Engines were arriving, Police, Ambulance, NEDL Emergency Electricity & Northumbrian Water, but no TV or Radio were in sight.

Pretty soon NE1fm.net was updated with information on the fire, with up to date pictures and information on the area – then the bigger outlets arrived. BBC Radio Newcastle, Tyne Tees TV and other TV stations.

So the fire was in full swing. My Twitter and Facebook started going mental with more and more people asking for pictures and updates on what was happening. One thing I noticed pretty quick was that as crowds and crowds arrived, the 3G signal quickly disappeared and I couldn’t send anymore pictures. Luckily I managed to gain WIFI access via a local business after a bit of a blag, and could continue to send more pictures.

Alongside the above picture, my second favourite picture taken today is on the right.

It occured to me how much media these days rely on social networking for content. There were quickly thousands of people there, most likely using Facebook or Twitter to show people what they were seeing. BBC and the Evening Chronicle were two outlets I was aware of immediately who were using pictures from these websites to show the rest of the world what was happening.

Had this have happened even as soon as 5 years ago, before smartphones and social networking took off, most would be waiting until tomorrow to see what I’ve put above.

You can see all of the pictures I tweeted here. You can use them if you wish, but please credit me and link to my Twitter account if possible. My YouTube videos are linked above, there’s 4 in total. 3 decent ones and one of the police helicopter landing on Spillers Wharf.

What I enjoyed most about it was being part of the social media generation. My pictures helped people far away see what was happening, they made national news articles, and I could see pictures others were posting from as far as 30 miles away. I was able to see a huge viewpoint of the event from all around the North East – all on my iPhone.

Update

When a big event happens, Google is pretty clever with its live results, viewable here. It displays a graph showing the popularity on networks including Twitter.

The benefit of this, is you can scroll to the very beginning of the event to see who started talking about it first. The results of which can be seen below. I was the joint second person in the world to Tweet about it. Superb.

Do feel free to leave a comment if you’ve enjoyed reading my blog today.

Some Podcasts I Like

If you know me, you’ll know I like podcasting. However I like to be the person behind the podcast, and my podcasting hosting company does just that.

So I thought I’d recommend a couple of podcasts who are customers of mine, and that I like listening to!

DJ Play’s 52 Ways Podcast

 

 

 

 

 

DJ City USA POdcast

 

 

 

 

 

Milkshake Nights Podcast

 

 

 

 

 

Paradisco Podcast

 

 

 

 

 

Let me know what you think!

Synergy+ Mouse/Keyboard Sharing Software

I just thought I’d share a piece of software I use daily now, which I’d be lost without.

At home, I have my email/internet/messing around PC on the left (PC1) and my music/production/radio PC on the right (PC2) – as it’s two seperate keyboards I used to have 2x mice and 2x keyboards taking up deskspace. This wasn’t ideal so I wanted a solution where I could use the one keyboard and mouse on both machines – but I didn’t want a KVM.

A bit of searching let me to Synergy+ a free, open source programme that ‘shares’ your mouse and keyboard from one PC and the others can pick up on it.

You can then setup the application with hotkeys. So for example if you’re on PC1 and want your mouse and keyboard to work on PC2 you can press 2, to go back to PC1 you’d press 1. So it switches immediately. You can also set it so it works like an extended desktop. So moving your mouse to the far right of PC1 immediately moves it to the far left of PC2 with keyboard inputs moving with whatever screen the mouse is on. You should use obscure keys you never use, as you can’t type them once the application is running.

It still has some progress to be made, they openly admit the sharing methods are less then secure but if you’re on a firewalled home LAN you’re OK. It also works on Mac/Linux etc… so you can move between Windows/Mac if needbe!

Let me know if you use it!

My Poor VW Passat

I’ve had a pretty expensive few days thanks to the largest pothole known to man behind Chillingham Road in Byker.

Saturday night driving down there to turn around, my front N/S wheel goes into the pothole (I didn’t see it) and the weight of the Passat appears to have sheered the lower suspension arm off at the hub. It was probably ready to go, but looks like someone put an angle grinder clean through it. The wheel went up into the arch and it was stuck flat on the ground.

Cue an hour for the recovery truck to get a skate to move it, and us two in -8 at 10pm trying to figure out how to jack the car up when it’s sitting on the ground. We figured it out in the end. So I get it recovered to a garage in Byker , ERB Services / Newcastle Auto Centre. I’ve used them for 6 years, and removed my valuables from the car.

Fast forward to Monday morning and I’m up sharpish to get to the garage. They’re told straight away the car is immobile without a skate or some other way of moving it. “Not a problem” – I book it in for Tuesday morning and leave it in their care.

Early Tuesday afternoon I call for an update, by this time my bank have supplied a free Golf 1.4 TSi courtesy car as part of the package. Boy is it a beauty. Supercharger and Turbo on a 1.4 – thumbs up.

Anyway, back to the garage and I get through to the manager there. She advises they can’t move the car so she will not let her guys work on it. I tell her they said it wasn’t a problem and she bluntly gives me the “tough luck if you can move it we’ll fix it”. It ‘might’ get fixed in January she advises, an excuse regarding snow is also given. Instantly getting my back up I tell her to kindly take a walk and arrange a different garage – and with that another flat-bed recovery booked (£40) to get it shifted.
Wednesday morning, withheld number calls. It’s the Police. Some scumbag has screw-drivered the door and then smashed the window and had a good rummage around. Nothing missing (including radio) as I emptied it out. Turns out 7 cars were done over. Great. The manager at the garage reasserts nothing to do with them. I slowly boil over at her complete lack of any sort of humanity.

So anyhow it’s been sorted by Bonello Auto Services. Newcastle Auto Centre seemed to not care in the slightest they were loosing a 6 year customer. Their loss. Expensive Christmas for me though. Hopefully I’ll be able to put a good set of pictures/damage/costs and pass to Newcastle City Council – might even probe some parasite no-win-no-fee solicitor-company if they reject as it’s costing a bomb so close to Christmas.

Damage
Screwdriver around door.

Nice shiny inside

The damaged arm

Sat waiting for Autoglass

Art TubeMP

I do a lot of vocal recording at home, so I bought an Art TubeMP. About 6 months back, I started doing a lot of recording at the radio station so put all my kit away here back in its boxes and in the cupboard.

Today, I got it back out to play with. Everything is working spot on apart from the Tube MP. It has the worst of crackling coming from it through the audio line. Everything else works fine so by elimination (swapping wires/mics) the MP is at fault. It was stored away safely in its box and hasn’t been touched, dropped, damaged, hurt, punched or anything.

Typically, it’s now out of warranty so a waste of nearly £50. So I sent them an email saying I won’t be buying their stuff again. You never know, they might replace it anyway to keep my happy. Here’s hoping.

Complain Complain Complain

Apparently British people don’t complain enough, it’s written down somewhere, probably on the internet.

I like to complain though, and Virgin Media have been the company who have bore the front of my complaints the most in the past 12/14 months.

November/December 2009
Back then, we had the difficult task of moving NE1fm 102.5 to new studios. This was a massive undertaking, and took 4 weeks to move. We were advised 7 days for Virgin Media to move the services. However 4-6 weeks was the actual amount of time Virgin Media required to transfer services and install. Their staff suprisingly did everything required to gain their bonuses, but nothing to actually make anything happen.

Fast forward a bit, 15+ telephone calls resulted in a threat of me going to their London office. It was ‘laughed’ off. That evening their Chief Exec got an email, I got a phonecall back within 5 minutes and within 3 days we were magically sorted and compensated generously.

December 2010
Our cable connection went down. That’s fine, things break. But the first realisation I was going to struggle to get any sort of anything out of them occured when the ‘technical support adviser’ told me Virgin Media Cable Modems will not turn off if you turn off electricity. They magically will not turn off, somehow.

So, annoyed I was told an engineer would call on Thursday. That didn’t happen. I called them, he’ll call on Friday. You guessed it, no call Friday. I reminded them their Service Level Agreement was closing in and they wern’t interested – so I decided to threaten them with the Newspaper. They didn’t seem too bothered. So I called the paper and a story appeared Saturday morning.

Pleased with the first level of action, I called Virgin Media on the Monday. An engineer will be out this afternoon. 4pm Monday, I call – no engineer. I gently remind the guy on the phone that a newspaper has already ran a story on it, that they’ve failed their agreement, and the paper will run another story if it isn’t fixed on Monday. The drone advises he will ‘inform management’.

Fast forward. 16:55 Monday, newspaper has been notified. The story runs on Tuesday. Just before 5pm another phone call. Oh, Virgin Media and their first callback that week. An engineer will attend 9am Tuesday morning.

They attended 9am Tuesday (2x engineers/ 2x vans) and fixed the problem. But they were too late. The story ran anyway. If it hadn’t of been fixed today their Chief Exec would have got this instead of my blog. But hey-ho.

Apart from this being a small insight into something not very exciting. The moral of the story is to complain, and complain. They laugh it off until the big guns get involved – then they give you the service you should get anyway.