Living in the Now!

Learning to enjoy my life more!

A Big Change

Why Change?

So recently I was working on a web site as part of my college project and after a discussion with another student I realized I have never paid for my own professional web hosting or domain name. It has always been something I wanted to do but never had much need of in the past, I always worked with people who already had hosting and never needed to do anything with domain names. My friend Richard Arkless pointed out how much it would cost to host a site for a year using Go Daddy, so after looking up all the options I decided to take the plunge as the client for my current university project would need hosting with some options.

The Change

This means that I will be stopping updates to this blog and moving it all over to An Unrelenting Mind for the next year at least. Also I plan on morphing that web site into something a little different to this one, but for the time being it’s going to just be the new home for this blog.

My Experience with Go Daddy

My experience with Go Daddy UK wasn’t as easy as I would have hoped, the whole experience of purchasing was a comedy of errors without the comedy. I just want to point out that below were I talk about supporting charity, supporting a charity is a good thing regardless of what country that charity operates, but I live in the UK and I would rather support a charity that does work in the UK or globally. An example is that one of the three charities was supporting US solders, and while I believe supporting soldiers is good I would give my support to my own countries forces before I support another countries forces.

Here is some of the feedback I left Go Daddy UK:

“Well when you try to encourage me to donate to charity I would be more likely to donate to a charity that is a) world-wide or b) UK specific. Also when you say “Charity of your choice” don’t then limit my choices to three US-based charities.

Also had issues with promo code’s, I tried to use the “Linux295” code from the Linux action show. But after realising my mistake and seeing it actually increased my order amount because I didn’t realise I was getting the domain for free. I tried to remove this code but no matter what I did it seemed to be reapplied to my order. it wasn’t till I removed it and added another “go20off6″ did I get the value of the order back down to what I had been offered previously.

Also don’t then notify me that you have changed the amount after I have entered my payment details, I had to go back and look to see what was added. If your going to add tax do it at the start, I am now wondering if I’ve been billed twice and will not be looking forward to explaining this to the bank if I do get billed twice.

It’s almost as if whom ever runs payment processing for your site has no concept of usability and user friendliness. Can’t say I’m impressed, I expected more of such a large name company as yours.”

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A Raspberry Pi Update

To Start With

A macro shot of the Raspberry Pi’s logo printed on the circuit board.

At the moment it’s still in development, and its very much a learning tool to teach technical concepts. But that doesn’t mean that this is not suitable for kids, they will be fine. The whole thing will be a learning experience just like it was for me when I was 8-9 years old with my Commodore 64. But unlike then there is so much help available on the internet that anything can be over come with a little time searching around.

From what I’ve heared of Eben Upton (the guy behind the Raspberry Pi) it sounds like he wants to bring back this raw basic form of comuting to children so that they learn that a computer is more than just how you use the mouse and how you use word. its about how you properly formulate a IF statement. Yes its a complicated subject to grasp but just because most adults struggle to open a word document doesn’t mean that a kid can’t program.

And yes its a confusing and complicated subject but that’s because computers are complicated, it doesn’t matter how much companies make using a computer as easy and friendly as possible because all they are really doing is making it harder and harder for people to actually know what’s happening behind the interface and develop these things.

For those that may have problems with the terminology used in the rest of this article or want to know more about a specific thing I have provided links to more information. If I’ve missed something then please comment or send me a message on Twitter @dfragglet, thanks.

First Experience

Using the Pi and my net book late at night just like when I was a kid hacking away on my Commodore 64

An example is when you first get it you have to download the OS (Operating System) image to your computer and then unpack the image on to the SD card. First time I did this I did it in Windows and used the tool suggested, work flawlessly. After a few weeks there was a new version that they were asking people to beta test, I downloaded it and used a tutorial I found in Linux Format magazine to help me write the image to the SD card using the command line. This worked fine for the original image but when I tried it with the new updated image it messed the SD card up and made it unrecognisable to any OS I plugged it into. Eventually I found that despite my computers not recognizing it my camera would read it and say it had an error but allow me to format it and that fixed the issue of it not being read in any OS.

Eventually I found that the tutorial in the Magazine had a few steps missing so I followed the official tutorial on doing it through the Ubuntu terminal and it worked fine. Now in Windows you can do it through the command line or there’s a special tool, same for Linux and Mac.

When Ubuntu Terminal sessions go bad.

some unusual output from a terminal session on Ubuntu.

Once the SD card is prepared, pop it into the Raspberry Pi and power it. Now if the image is written correctly it’ll boot (first boot will take a little longer as its setting it’s self up to the hardware) after that it will just stop at a Linux command line asking you to log in. Default log in is username: pi and the password: raspberry.

Once logged in your still at the command line and to start a graphical desktop to do some work you need to type “startx”. then it loads a GUI called LXDE. its a Debian based Linux distribution but unlike alot of the other distribution for desktops this comes with tools to get started but nothing else.

The next step was finding a WiFi dongle that works, really long and technical process or trawling through the Raspberry Pi wiki finding the dongle that people have got to work and then following the steps that are there to make it work. Took 8 hours with the help of Phill at first to research and refine the process for using one of the WiFi dongles but after that we managed to refine that process down to 6 steps that took 5 mins to complete.

Expectations

It will not give you an easy ride but you will learn a lot from just using it. I know more about Linux from using my Pi for a month than I did from running Ubuntu for the past 2 years. mostly because Ubuntu is refined and well developed OS. The raspberry pi, not yet, there’s still a lot of performance to be unlocked from it as there’s no driver yet to use the GPU, no login manager (Note: the link to the left take you to a page for a login manager, it has a very good definition of what a login manager is but I am unsure if this particular Manager will work on the Pi) to make starting it up easier or package manager to make installing software easier by default, but there is a way of adding these things later.

If you want a little computer to view web pages, word process and play games or to just generally use out of the box then this is not for you. If you want to get dirty and learn how it works and get involved in then yes its for you. Its basically the same with a car, you want to own and use a car but don’t care or want to know how it works then stick to the well know manufacturers. You want a car that’s going to force you to learn how to keep it on the road then you get and MGB GT or any other classic car.

Other Impressions

The guys over at Jupiter Broadcasting have done a review of the Raspberry Pi and if you want to hear what they thought you can either got to the site Jupiter broadcasting or watch the embedded video right here. 

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A few months

So a few months has past since my last post, lots of things have been going on, my uncle died, and old school friend died. Family members being taken ill, some one stealing money out of my wife’s Pay Pal account. It’s been a real challenge trying to keep positive and to keep on, things are starting to look brighter though. I’m getting some entertainment from some person that seem’s to like trolling my blog (see last post for comments.). I’ve also been enjoying the latest updates to Project C.A.R.S.

My latest Project C.A.R.S. video. (Had a few little incident’s, due to using a control pad but it also shows some of the crash dynamics)

This weekend I’m off to Monmouth for the night with Vicky (my Wife) and her parents, Nice to have a bit of a break from my latest addiction Anno 2070, me and my mate Phill have been playing it a fair bit. Also been doing a lot of emulating on my media centre, Commodore 64, NES, SNES, Mega Drive (Genesis for those in the US) and Gameboy. I upgraded the memory in my Net book from 1GB DDR2 to 2GB DDR2, my desk top from 4GB DDR3 to 8GB DDR3 but I think my media centre could do with another 2GB DDR2 and its a bit sluggish with full HD content. Also I’ve put my order in and paid for a Raspberry Pi that should be here soon I hope, will write about it after a little while.

Also working on a short story, some times me Vicky and my brother in law Tim set each other little challenges to write short stories by giving each other a title, word count and a deadline. This time however we have only given titles. So I’m working on a science fiction story based on Mars called the Dragons Daughter, research is nearly done and a rough plot outline is forming. And unlike my previous work I can actually publish this, my last one was based on existing characters so I’m reluctant to show it to the world as I wouldn’t want to fall foul of copyright or trademark laws.

Although I have just rediscovered my love for Mystery Science Theater 3000 thanks to You Tube and made a convert of Vicky.

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Waiting for my PI

Never stop learning

In the last year at college I was taught Java, nothing against my tutors who are quite good but I don’t feel as though I’ve learned much. I know syntax and commands and structure of statements but I cannot think or problem solve using Java or any other language except HTML and CSS (although more a presentation language rather than a programming language). So while I’m taking my little sabbatical from college I plan on changing this. I am wondering would it be better if I started from the beginning using another language to try and approach it all from a different angle or stick with what I know and cut out some of the learning curve with Java.

Raspberry Pi Logo

The Raspberry Pi Logo

One of the things that is driving this little push toward learning programming aside from always wanting to learn is the recent article titled coding for success by Andy Young @ The Kernal.org. this opened my eyes to what I may need to do in order to succeed at learning to program. But another thing that’s peaked my interest is a wonderful little product called the Raspberry Pi, its a ultra cheap, very small, ARM based computer running Linux and potentially any ARM based OS that can run on 256 or 512mb RAM. it might be low power and the lower end of the specifications spectrum but it is also only $25 to $35 or there about.

Time away

I am also going to watch Kevin Smith and Jason Mews do Jay and Silent Bob get old in Hammersmith this month, hopefully I will also be stopping at Bletchly Park on the way home and I’m going to try and convince Vicky my wonderful wife to stop in Brooklands museum either on the way there or if we got time on the way home. Also at some point I plan on writing a story I’m planning on turning into a comic book that I might also illustrate.

In closing

There are a lot of other things I have in the works like spending more time with Project C.A.R.S and uploading more videos to my YouTube channel. Running events on the Hob Nob’s and Murder gaming communities Minecraft server. Although Project CARS is still looking for funding and anyone who gives money to the project will share in its profits and get access to builds of the game as it’s being developed. Also Hob Nobs & Murder have a new YouTube channel and we are always open for new members, if your interested join our Facebook page, Google+ page, Desura, Steam, YouTube or our blog and post some information about your self.

Because its Valentines day approaching here is a little Google love for everyone. Paste this into Google sqrt(cos(x))cos(300x)+sqrt(abs(x))-0.7)(4-x*x)^0.01, sqrt(6-x^2), -sqrt(6-x^2) from -4.5 to 4.5 and smile. ❤

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Up date

I’ve been having a bit of a rollercoaster month and haven’t even had time to think about my blog let alone write in it. Been ill for about 3 weeks with an ear infection that messed my balance up, then it was my 30th birthday followed by a BBQ for me and my wife Vicky (her birthday is only 2 weeks after mine.) Then my wife and her father have been ill. All this has been interspersed with epic weekends of motor sport and gaming.

So I’ve been busy and as a note to a previous post about Linux, I have not done the trial of openSuse but I did live with Linux Mint for over a month. I will give my impression about this some other time, I might garnish that post with my impressions of Google+.

But for now I’m going to enjoy this lovely day and spend an evening with some friends.

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Time to change the penguin!

For the past few years I’ve been running Ubuntu as my everyday OS of choice when not Gaming. And I became quite a fan, I still am! And was looking forward to the latest release 11.04 Natty Narwall with the new user interface Unity. I was excited, here Connonical (the organization behind Ubuntu) had created a new UI that seems to be made for touch screens from day one (even though its a re-engineered UI from the netbook edition). Yet after trying to use it for 2 day’s I became incredibly frustrated with it as thing’s didn’t work the way I expected. So I put this down to me not “getting” the way it work’s. but then after watching the Linux Action Show I saw that I wasn’t the only one, I held hope that I might be able to make it work the way I wanted but there are no options.

Ubuntu Logo

Ubuntu Logo

Something new

So I’ve got two choices

  1. Go back to Ubuntu 10.10 or 11.04 in classic mode.
  2. Download and try a new distribution.

For this I didn’t want to download loads of DVD ISOs and spend age’s sifting through the ok to find the good.

So I narrowed my choices down to two, openSUSE and Linux Mint. I had used openSUSE year’s ago (version 7 I think) and found it easy and well built. And Linux Mint had always been touted as Ubuntu/Debian based and just as easy to use. so I though these are most likely the better distros for me to try.

openSUSE logo

openSUSE logo

Testing times ahead

What I plan to do is install openSUSE 11.4 first and try living with it for a month then installing Mint and living with that and at the end I’ll see what distro I will use till Ubuntu make Unity better or until I feel I need to change again.

Although that might be tough since Gnome 2 is now reaching the end of its life and I am not a fan of KDE at all. So I might have to learn to love Unity (I don’t hate it) or wait and see what Gnome 3 offers.

Mint logo

Mint logo

So I will post new article to update with my findings, I’m not doing any special tests just trying to do what I would normally do in an OS. If I cant do these things then I will move on to something else.

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Projects I want to work on

The past few days I’ve come up with a few ideas that I want to do, but atm its a little impossible as I have two assignments to finish and two exams to study for. First one is a texture pack for Minecraft, replacing all the tools with knives, forks, spoons etc. The next project is making a film in Minecraft using the audio from “army of darkness”.

tower bridge and art

Village tower

Because of all the studying I have to do I am keeping these ideas for the summer holidays. I also want to go to the gym once a day throughout the summer break and brush up on Java and databases before the new term. Also if I have time I want to learn more about the level editor “Hammer”. I think its good to have a goal for the summer holidays, stops me wasting my time and keeps away boredom.

On top of this me and my wife Vicky are going to celebrate our 30th Birthday with a BBQ. I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful best friend.

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More projects

Left 4 Dead army base map
Based in a British army camp you have to work your way through a town to get there, then work your way through the base to steal a tank. That’s just a very basic out line for the campaign, I will add much more but the basic idea is there.

Apple logo with death star
Basically taking the apple logo and turning it into a Apple shaped death star from the film Star Wars: A New Hope, Return of the Jedi & The Empire Strike Back.

Just an idea I had while on my idea throne (don’t ask, you don’t want to know!) Thought it was a fun idea, struggling with a caption for it, iDeathstar seems a little obvious for my taste. Perhaps I will have a caption competition.

Desktop wallpaper
2880 x 900 desktop wall paper of fallout 3 brotherhood of steel power armour like the one on the games cover, maybe adding some interesting scenes around it. I love making desktop wallpapers and my own machine has a dual monitor setup so the width is huge so I like to span a scene across both.

Other news
I have broken my racing wheel that I use on my pc to play race simulations, not very happy about it as its my favorite way to relax. So for the moment I’m stuck in the paddock without a brake pedal, it’s even more annoying as I’ve only just got rFactor, Gand Prix Legends and GT-R so I can’t even try them out.

Any way, drive safe
Neil Griffiths

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